Our Go-To Behaviors

by Meredith Kendall

For years, my husband and I have taught churches how to respond in a biblical manner to those in the community who found themselves living in poverty. During the training, we explain about the mindset of someone who has grown up in this lifestyle, and that until their brain is retrained to think differently, their brain will always find the path of least resistance. Our brains are actually very lazy; they can spot patterns very efficiently, and therefore begin running off memory when they see something familiar. This is also known as our “go-to behavior”. 

My aha moment came recently when I was reading my Bible. God spoke to me and said, “You know, you live with a poverty mindset.” Hearing those words was so profound, I got out my journal and wrote them down. I then I started to pray, asking God to show me what He meant.

This started me on a journey of realizing how many times, while knowing God’s Truth, I don’t actually live a life to the fullest in those truths.

I can quote verses about how amazing God is and all I can do through Him, but it is just that, words that come out of my mouth.  Things I can regurgitate because I have memorized a few words. Just like those we have served in our ministry, until they retrained the pathways in their brain to take a different route, they would find themselves making the same decisions over and over again.

I have a couple of favorite verses that I like to meditate on, but the main one is from Ephesians 2. It says that we are God’s masterpiece, and that He created us anew in Christ Jesus.  Why did He do that?

So we can do the good things He has already planned long ago. 

Growing up, I was told I would never amount to anything. I heard that over and over again, so I unfortunately lived into those lies. What I felt God was telling me recently is that I have been living a spiritual life of poverty. I read Scripture and believe the statements that I am a masterpiece created to do great things, but my go-to behaviors usually win out over what I believe to be true. I am having to retrain my thoughts to believe and live out Ephesians 2:10.

For 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 (NLT).

Has God said something similar to you? Start today retraining your thoughts to live up to the words the Lord has said about you.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Speakers and Writers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Meredith Sage Kendall, is a change agent, driven by her God-given passion to equip struggling families to achieve their unique God-given potential. As a nationally recognized sales leader, Meredith learned how to build bridges and make connections with the heart of what people need. God called her to co-found Advancing the Gospel which serves those who are often forgotten. Today she uses her giftings to help people understand the root causes of their struggles and find freedom through Christ. Visit her online atwww.meredithsagekendall.com.

Join the Conversation: What is your go-to behavior that you wish to change?

Seven Ways to Know God is Watching Out for Us

by Janet Perez Eckles

The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. Psalm 121:5 NIV

Fall is almost here. We go into it with memories of hot summer days, walking on the sand and splashing in the water. This not-so-silly episode in one of Florida’s beach stands out…

“C’mon, Nana.” My granddaughter impatiently pulled my hand. Even at four years old, she knew to lead her blind Nana.

“Don’t go too far,” hubby said, from where he relaxed on a lounger.

With her small hand tight in mine, our feet sunk into the hot sand as we drew closer to the water. We jumped over the waves, giggled, collected shells, and giggled some more.

After a long while I realized I had no idea where we were—maybe too far from hubby. Was he still watching us?

I got on one knee and held my granddaughter’s wet cheeks between my hands. “Sweet baby, look at me, do you see Papa anywhere?”

“Nope. C’mon Nana, let’s jump.”

Suppressing the panic that cramped my stomach, I said silent prayers, the kind that blurts out from the heart. The kind you want to word just right so God would be quick to answer. And my silent pleas were those that bordered on self-pity. “Oh, if I could only see a little bit, this wouldn’t happen.”

With all traces of patience tossed into the sea, I quickly drew closer to a group of folks talking. “Excuse me,” I waved in the direction of their voices. Would you have a cell phone?” I said. “I think I lost my husband.”

As I gave the first few numbers for them to dial, I heard a familiar voice right behind me. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, there you are.” I grinned with relief at my hubby.

“I was watching you both the whole time,” he said.

A little shame swept over me. Not because of what had just happened. But I remembered how often, during tough times in my life, I doubted, I panicked, I feared that God took His eyes off me. I worried I had drifted too far from His love, His provision, and His care.

We all do that sometimes, don’t we? We listen to the news; fear grips us. We learn of the growing statistics of the virus; anxiety invades our peace. And the whole time, we wonder is God there? Is He watching? Does He care?

Even in the midst of our well-meaning prayer, doubt creeps in, because we’re still walking on the hot sand of uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fear leaves, doubt ends, and faith comes. They do when we follow these seven steps:

1. Readjust our priorities. Do we seek the answer to our prayer with more passion than we seek God Himself? Some seek answers first, but here’s God’s order of priorities: “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

2. Resist the temptation to recite memorized, perfect prayers, with lovely words and deep insights. God simply wants the genuine expression of our heart. He’s listening. He even knows what we need before we ask Him, “…when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7 NIV).

3. Recognize that sometimes we don’t know how to pray or what our requests should be. So, we can freely ask for Him to show us what to pray for. Confident that He’s aware of every detail, we whisper to Him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV).

4. Remember that His answer is always in His timing, not ours because a thousand years in God’s sight are like a day that has just gone by (Psalm 90 NIV).

5.Relax and relish in the fact that while we wait, He’s at work in us, in our heart, in our situation because, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

6. Remove anxious thoughts. In the silence of the moment and in the power of His presence, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6 NIV).

7. Embrace profound confidence, not in the world or government, but in the power of God because “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14–15 NIV).

Father, we praise You because You have Your watchful eye on us and You observe our anxious moments. Knowing that each tomorrow is in Your hands, peace fills us. In Jesus name we thank You.

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Seven Ways to Know God is Watching Out for Us – insight from author Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez eckles

About the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker, author and founder of J.C. Empowerment Ministries. Through her books and conference messages, she empowers thousands to overcome fear, conquer worry and live triumphantly. Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite go-to verse when you struggle with doubt or fear?

Discombobulated: When Your World Goes Awry

by Patti Richter

As a child, I always hoped to draw the “cozy cottage” card when playing The Game of Life. It was not until years later, as I began unpacking boxes in a much smaller home than what we had left behind, that I realized the folly of my game plan.

It may not have been a life-threatening ordeal, but my new challenge sure felt like preparation for the next life. The cross-country move, saying goodbye to family and friends, and down-sizing to that interim home tilted my world a few degrees off its axis.

As I had packed, my mother-in-law warned me, “It’s much easier to move up than down.” Her words proved true as I tossed perfectly good furniture and household items overboard. I commiserated with America’s settlers who abandoned bedsteads and pianofortes alongside wagon trails to lighten their load.

I wasn’t the only one struggling. For weeks, my husband had repeated Luke 12:15 (NIV) like a mantra to console himself: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  His power tools and lawn equipment didn’t make the keep-list, either.

Just one week into the unpacking, I had thrown everything else aside in the interest of making our new place comfortable and homey. But I soon realized it would take months of undivided attention to accomplish that goal. This was a luxury I did not have, as I believed God had brought us to this place for a better purpose, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). I knew my time was not my own. I needed to center my priorities on however the Lord led me to serve.

I used to think ill of King Solomon for his priorities. He spent seven years in building God’s temple. But after it was complete, he then spent thirteen years on his own house (1 Kings 6:38 – 7:1). Now, after moving and becoming consumed with me, myself, and dozens of unopened boxes, I realized Solomon actually did have his priorities right: He put God’s house first.

Whenever life takes a turn, whether toward adventure or misadventure, it’s easy to become self-focused and lay aside the things that really matter. While our faith might be fully functional when life is in order, new circumstances can disrupt our “holy habits.” Bible study, devotions, corporate worship, fellowship, outreach, and service to others can get put on hold or completely drop off our radar screen if we’re not careful.

We can too easily fall for the lie: if I can just get this list of things done, I will turn my attention to more spiritual matters.

In one of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia books, The Silver Chair, a girl named Jill is summoned to Aslan’s country on a mission to find a missing Narnian prince. But Jill keeps getting distracted and forgets to look for the signs she’d been told to watch for. Fear of the strange surroundings, along with natural desires for creature comforts—food, warmth, clothing—become stumbling blocks to completing what she had set out to do.

The apostle Paul mentioned losing a co-laborer who abandoned their mission, “because he loved this world” (2 Timothy 4:10 NIV). These words finally nudged me to get unpacked enough to be functional and out the door. Even better? Get out the door and let the boxes wait.

[Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.   2 Corinthians 5:15 NIV

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Discombobulated: When Your World Goes Awry – encouragement from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an

indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What challenges have made you lose sight of important priorities? How did you rectify the situation?

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.

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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)

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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?