Believing for God’s Best

by Christina Rose

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

It was time for a new car, but it was hard for me to let go. Our 2003 Honda Odyssey was filled with memories of camping trips, carpooling kids to practices and tournaments and trips to the beach and Disneyland. It seemed like yesterday when I would glance in the rearview mirror to see the volleyball girls laughing and enjoying a movie with popcorn, red vine licorice, and Gatorade after a game. The van was now almost 20 years old with dents and defects, but I couldn’t give it up.

My kids were now driving new cars and pleaded, “Mom, this is embarrassing, your car smells like old dogs and soccer shoes and it looks like junk. Get a new car.”  One day another dad pulled up next to me at the grocer’s.  Elby had a life size cardboard cutout of Julia Roberts strapped to his passenger seat with a bungee cord.  “Hey Christina,” he teased, “Why are you still driving that dinosaur? When are you gonna get real that you’re not a soccer mom anymore?”

I laughed, “The day you get real that Julia Roberts is not your girlfriend!”

I began the search for a new car and decided that a little white car would be nice. Since it had been almost 20 years since I bought a new car, the high prices overwhelmed me. Nonetheless, I printed out a picture of a little white car and put it on my altar next to my Jesus painting. Each day and night for months I prayed, “Thank you God, for the grace and favor for my new car.”  Despite this, I still couldn’t let go of my old car.

Until it got totaled. Declared a total loss by the insurance company. I felt sick and frozen with anxiety as I said goodbye to my car, recalling years of happy memories. It was like losing a best friend. I fought off fear, knowing that since I couldn’t let go of this car, God was now taking it out of my hands and had a new car for me. While I searched for it, I soon found out that my fixed budget wouldn’t buy much. As I was about to settle for an old piece of junk that looked like a garish dented blueberry, I heard God speak to me, “I don’t do junk. Go get your little white car.”

I picked out the perfect little white car just a few miles from my home and gave a ridiculously low bid, yet it was instantly accepted. Within a few hours I had the keys and was happily driving down the freeway, confessing, “God, thanks for taking care of this for me and please increase my faith about everything.”  I wanted that peace that surpasses all understanding.

I was given the vision of Peter, walking across the water towards Jesus in a terrible storm. He wanted to have faith and believe that he could walk on water just as Jesus could, but midway through, he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm instead.

But when he saw the strongwind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:30-31 NLT

Focusing less on our circumstances and more on the object of our faith helps us to face seemingly impossible situations. If we have compassion on ourselves and accept that as humans we are not expected to shoulder every burden, we can let go and trust that God knows our every need. Sometimes he may rip the control out of our hands if we refuse to let go, as he did for me to show He wants nothing but His best for us.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Ephesians 3:20 NLT


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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever supplied what you needed and more?

Looking Past Our Imagination

by Julie Zine Coleman

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” Ephesians 3:20 NASB

Every Christmas Eve, our kids carefully chose the best Christmas cookies and arranged them on a plate alongside a glass of milk. One year we even left hay for the reindeer. I can only hope Santa brought that hay up on the rooftop to them, rather than invite them into our family room. But in any case, it made the holiday that much more fun while my children were young.

Like it or not, Santa is a big part of the American traditional Christmas. He is pictured as a benevolent old man, working all year up at the North Pole with his elves to prepare for his delivery of Christmas gifts to the children of the world. Unless, of course, you have been naughty. Then it is coal for you.

I personally love Santa. I don’t mean to offend any of you Santa-haters out there. I just had such wonderful memories of rushing down the stairs as a child to discover if HE had come. I wanted my kids to experience the same magic for a least a few of their early years. So we always left a snack and a note of encouragement for the old guy before snuggling under the covers on Christmas Eve. And we were never disappointed when morning arrived.

Where our many ideas of Santa come from? How did the original St. Nicholas, very real and very human, morph into a sort-of omnipresent being who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake? Since when did the benevolent man, known for his generosity toward the oppressed, start making a list on who is naughty or nice? How did he get the magical ability to slip unhindered down the flu into the fireplace below, only to rise back up to the rooftop with a twitch of his nose? I suspect many of our current traditions on Santa have come from the poems, stories, and songs written about old Kris Kringle in the last few centuries. In short, he is a product of our collective imaginations and bears little resemblance toward the original third century character.  

I wonder if we have reduced the meaning of Christmas story details in much the same way. Our remembrance and understanding of a quaint manger scene and angels’ pronouncements can bear little resemblance to what God was revealing about Himself through them.

In reality, the events surrounding the birth of Christ speak volumes about the power of God.

Let’s start with the angels. While we might tend to think of angels as harmless characters, fluttering their wings to hover over the roof of a stable or fields of a shepherd, they are really quite the opposite. For example, in 2 Kings 19, God sends an angel to destroy the army of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, killing 185,000 men. An angel killed the first-born in every Egyptian household the night of Passover in Exodus. Jesus referred to angels as a formidable army when he asked Peter, “Do you think I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53 NASB). These are no cherubic, impotent beings. Yet God uses these frighteningly powerful creatures to announce the good news. His very messengers displayed the power of God.

Another power-revealing aspect of the Christmas story is in how God orchestrated circumstances to fulfill prophecy given hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. He prompted the great Caesar Augustus, the most powerful man alive, to require every family to go to the city of their family origin to register for a census. Thus Joseph and Mary were forced to go to Bethlehem from Nazareth, just as she was preparing to give birth, in obedience to this decree.

How did the Wise Men know where the Savior had been born? God placed a sign for them in the night sky prompting their trip to Israel in recognition of the birth of a king. We don’t know if the “star” was a super-nova, planets in alignment, a comet, or even some supernatural event. We do know God performed the supernatural in the heavenlies at other times, such as the day the sun stood still in Joshua 10 or actually moved backward in 2 Kings 20. Whatever it was, God placed “the star” in the sky as an unmistakable sign guiding the wise men to come and worship.

Circumstances of the first Christmas were perfectly arranged by one very powerful God.

St. Nicholas had a real history, but that reality has been replaced by the whims of our imaginations. Let’s not miss the intended impact of the details in the Christmas story. While the quiet manger scene pictured in nativity sets around the world is dear to our hearts, it should remind us of more than the generosity and goodness of God. The coming of Christ was more than a sweet baby asleep in the hay at the edge of town. It was an unmistakable display of the power of God.

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About 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 revealing 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 fun traditions does your family practice around Christmas?

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?

 

Claim Your Promise

by Evelyn Taylor  @drevetaylor

So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you?”                                                                                                                                           Joshua 18:3 NIV

I tend to book early flights.

I like to get to my destination early in the day, so I can arrive and still have time to enjoy the sunlight of the day. This means I have to plan. Airports can be exhausting, and when I’m standing in a TSA line before sunrise, it helps to know I have a window seat waiting for me when I get on the plane.

Imagine my surprise when I recently boarded a plane only to find another passenger in my assigned seat! Now, on a midday flight, I don’t mind settling for an aisle seat. But the window seat is the best place for sleeping at that early hour. No worries about getting knocked by the beverage cart or slumping onto another passenger.

I’m not always the most assertive person, but in order to receive what was promised me, I had to inform my seatmate of his mistake. It meant a bit of shuffling and reorganizing as the middle seat was also occupied. I felt a little uncomfortable that I was causing my fellow passengers some inconvenience. But I couldn’t be timid. I needed to claim what had been promised.

Just before entering the Promised Land, Joshua told the Israelites that they should lay claim to what God had already given them. They were to take God at His word and step forward in trust. It would take action to receive their inheritance.

As with the Israelites, God has given us blessings that we have yet to claim. They are already ours, but we must step forward to receive them. Our obedience to God is the action necessary for him to release his promises to us. When we yield ourselves to his will, we are positioned to receive all that he has promised. As the Lord told Isaiah: “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19 ESV).

When we belong to him, we don’t have to live in fear and anxiety. He promises to keep our hearts and minds in perfect peace as we step forward to trust him. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). In the stressful times in life, we can receive the peace of God.

As Moses spoke to the Children of Israel encouraging them, we can have faith trusting that God will always be with us as well. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

The Apostle Paul wrote concerning the magnificent abilities of our God: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV) We can be assured that he is able to do more than we can imagine. We don’t have to settle for less, nor do we have to worry that our present reality is all that he has for us. There is no need to be afraid to ask for what is rightfully ours.

Focusing on the promises of his Word rather than on a surrounding disturbance will allow you to enjoy all God has promised. Ask in trust, confident in a God who keeps his promises. Faith is more than saying we believe. Faith actually believes.

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Claim Your Promise – encouragement from @DrEveTaylor on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

evelyn johnson-taylorAbout the author: Evelyn Johnson-Taylor is a professor of theology, author, speaker, and coach. She shares her life experiences through mentoring and encouraging others to move forward in whatever God has called them to do.  Evelyn believes that nothing is wasted with God and that everything He allows us to walk through in life is to be used to help someone else. You can connect with her on TwitterInstagramLinkedin, and Facebook.

Evelyn shares her experience of caring for her husband for a decade in See Me Hear Me Know Me: From The Heart of a Caregiver, a book that she and her husband wrote together. God has given her a passion to enlighten caregivers on the importance of self-care and has graced her to share a message of hope and encouragement.

Join the conversation: What promise of God do you need to claim today?

My Heart’s Desire

by Christina Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Heart’s Desire – insight from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What desires has God placed in your heart (and fulfilled)?

Wishes and Dreams

by Louise Tucker Jones

I was thirty years old when I gave birth to my youngest child. Jay was quickly diagnosed with Down syndrome and congenital heart disease. My little bundle of joy was a very sick baby. His immune system just didn’t kick in.

It was only the beginning of discouraging news. Time after time, year after year, we were given a devastating prognosis for our son. I often feared the worst, having already lost one child to heart disease. But apparently Jay wasn’t listening to all of the “doom and gloom” reports from doctors. He went right on living his life to the fullest.

This year, my son, who was never expected to live into adolescence, celebrated his 43rd birthday. I call that a miracle! God grants them at times, you know. He also granted some wishes and dreams along the way. One took place on Jay’s 30th birthday.

Of course, we planned a huge party for such a milestone in his life. I puzzled over a gift for this momentous occasion. What would be really special? Finally, I did the obvious—asked Jay what he wanted. His answer surprised me. Along with a new necktie for his 200 plus collection (believe me, he is the best-dressed guy at church), Jay wanted a limo ride to Sonic.

Jay’s favorite thing in the world is a Coke from Sonic. We go every single day to fill that order. No hamburger and fries. No ice cream. Just a medium-size Coke. And on his 30th birthday, he wanted a limousine to pick him up and take him to Sonic for that Coke. He got it!

So why am I telling you a story about a young man with Down syndrome and severe, irreparable heart disease who wanted a limo ride to Sonic for his birthday? Because Jay dared to dream during those years that doctors told us he would never live. He made wishes that might seem unusual to some, but he didn’t let that bother him. He never let anyone or anything steal his joy or rob him of his zest for life.

Unlike Jay, I sometimes lose hope. Grief and sadness steal my joy. Maybe you know that feeling. During trying times God often encourages us to revisit past wishes or dust off old dreams. In fact, He may ask us to dream new dreams. Granted, it’s risky. I’m right there with you, trying to build a future in this new life called “widowhood.” I can’t describe how difficult it is. I never expected to be single in this world again.

But I’m trying to fulfill a promise to my late husband, Carl, who upon diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, requested that everything be done for the glory of God, just as we are instructed to do in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV): “…Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

 And it is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone.

How about you? Are you in an uncomfortable place? Do you struggle with an unexpected happening or detour in your life? Perhaps you are measuring your performance against others rather than God’s standards. That will definitely rob us of our hopes and dreams. But God knows our heart’s desires and designed dreams especially for each of us.

I love the lyrics to a song in the animated movie, Cinderella. It says, “A dream is a wish your heart makes…” So, how about it? Ready to make a heart-wish? Be like Jay and wish big. And bring that request to God.

Take Carl’s advice and do all things for God’s glory. Don’t allow anyone to steal your hopes or your dreams. And who knows? We just might see you at Sonic in a limo!

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… Ephesians 3:20 NIV

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Wishes and Dreams – insight from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is speaker, columnist and award-winning author. 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 book, Special Needs—Special Ministry. 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.

Louise’s book, Extraordinary Kids, is a Gold Medallion award winner. It provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you dreamed big?

Fearing the Worst (or Believing the Best)

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11 NIV

The email subject line from my editor read: “The email you’ve been waiting for.”

Yet I was still afraid to open it.

I’d had a rash of bad news lately. What if my editor means it’s the news that I’ve been WAITING to hear, but not exactly the good news I’m HOPING for? 

I said a quick prayer: “Lord, get me through this,” and read the email.

It turned out to be great news. And immediately I thought about that critical (I defensively call it “protective”) mode in me that takes over when I fear disappointment: Don’t get your hopes up, just in case. It can’t all be good, so beware.

How that lack of faith and absence of joyful expectation must hurt the heart of my Heavenly Father, who enjoys delivering good news to His children.

Our critical sides can rule us, at times, can’t they? We’re hesitant to hope, lest we be disappointed. We’re afraid to apply, lest we don’t get the job. We refuse to audition in case we don’t get the part. Yet, when we expect disappointment we are clearly saying to God – and others – that He is not capable of coming through for us or giving us anything better.

The Angel of the Lord rebuked Abraham’s wife – a doubting 90-year-old, barren woman – by asking her: “Is anything impossible for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Yet I have my own list of “impossibles” that I tend to think God can’t or won’t allow. But that is simply my lack of faith.

I love how Ephesians 3:20 (HCSB) sets me straight every time: “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” 

Did you catch that? God is able to do — not a little more, not even much more, but – above and beyond all that we ask or think. Immeasurably more. So much more than we believe is possible.

God measures what we receive in eternal proportions that we can’t see or even fathom. He measures out what is best for us eternally, rather than temporally; what is best for our character, rather than our sense of convenience.

The God who numbers the hairs on our heads and has thoughts of us too numerable to mention wants to blow our expectations out of the water by coming through in a mighty way for each of us.

Instead of expecting the worst, will you start believing the best?

Lord, I will expect immeasurably more today because You are an immeasurably big God who is capable of doing the impossible!  

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Fearing the Worst (or Believing the Best) – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and award-winning author who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. For more on her resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi is the author of 17 books including Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. You know what drama is…in your circle of friends, extended family, and in the unexpected circumstances of life. Truth is, we’ve all been both actor and audience when it comes to life’s dramas. But here’s another truth: You don’t have to let it sweep you away. You can find peace even when emotions overwhelm you.

Join the conversation: Has God ever surprised you when you were dreading the worst?

 

Believing God for More

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?                                                                                                                                                         Jeremiah 32:27 NASB

I am waiting upon God to come through for me in a particular way. But when I tell others of the hope I have, I often hear the words “at least.”

“At least you have a roof over your heads.”

“At least the two of you have jobs.”

“At least you’re healthy.”

“You might as well at least ask.”

Oh, the sting of well-intentioned remarks. And, oh the sting of those two guilt-ridden words: At least….

As I’ve ministered to women over the past 30 years, I have seen so many settle for “at least” in their lives.  And yet, I believe that if God went to such great extremes to show His love for you and me by having His only Son die on the cross for us, then He did not intend for us to be content with “at least.”

Yes, God’s Word says we are to be thankful in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  It also tells us godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6) But God doesn’t want our gratitude and contentment to be a form of resignation (“I guess I should be happy with this, since it’s all I will ever get anyway”). Rather, God wants His children to be full of anticipation for the “more” that He is so capable of giving – to the point that we thank Him ahead of time for all that He is about to do. This God who tells us to be thankful in all things actually raises the bar when we decide to settle for less or at least what life brings us.

In Ephesians 3:20, we are told that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (NIV). You and I often hear or think or say the words “at least” when it comes to our lives. And yet God’s Word says “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24 NIV) and “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

Perhaps God would like us to ask for a little more of the impossible.

I don’t want to be reluctant to pour out my heart to God. I don’t want to doubt He can or will do this for me. Instead, I want to honor Him by remembering He can do anything.

Lord, help me to be content in all things, and surrender to Your best for me, but don’t let me settle for less when You are the God who is capable of going above and beyond all I can think and ask for.

TWEETABLE
Believing God for More than “At Least” – wisdom 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 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, or to learn more about her coaching and consulting services for writers, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, When God Sees Your Tears, addresses our struggle during heartache: “Where is God when you need Him most? Doesn’t He care?”

Yes, you are precious to God. He knows the longings of your heart even more than you do. Place your trust in Him and rest…as you await the unfolding of His plan for your life.

Join the Conversation: When has God done the impossible for you?

Bring Them Here to Me

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

 “Bring them here to me,” he said.  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass.                                                                                                                      Matthew 14:16-19 NIV

“I’m a pastor in northern Wisconsin and just read your article and found it to be refreshing and inspiring. Next week, I am preaching a sermon on getting unstuck spiritually — and that is how I stumbled across your writing.”

This is an email from a stranger who had just read an article of mine. Nothing makes my heart more joyful than hearing how my words (whether written or spoken) have been used by God to impact others. But what if I hadn’t been obedient to write it? What if I had allowed fear or pride to keep me from putting it out there? What if I believed my words were not good enough to be read?

In this story from Matthew, a large crowd gathers in the hope that Jesus will heal their diseases. Jesus tells the disciples to feed the crowds with what they have on hand. The disciples complain there isn’t enough. Jesus miraculously provides for everyone, multiplying the few loaves and fishes they have.

But there is a sentence that is often overlooked: “Bring them here to me.” When we bring Jesus what little we have, He uses it for His glory.

We may think, as the disciples did, that we don’t have much to offer. When we compare ourselves to others, we find ourselves lacking. Why would God want what I can give? Surely He can find someone better. But God wants us to be willing to give what we have, even if it seems insignificant in our eyes.

This story of the feeding of 5,000 leads us to three powerful truths:

 If we don’t put our words out there, we’ll never know how God will choose to use them. I’m convinced that part of the joy we will receive in heaven will be from people that come up to us who say things like, “Thanks for writing that article on sexual harassment. Because of it I was inspired to speak up against the harassment I was experiencing at work.” Or “Thanks for that blog post on the dangers of giving your kids cell phones at a young age. It kept me from bowing to the pressure of giving my child a cell phone like the rest of his friends. He now enjoys more social activities because of that.”

We need to be thankful for the gifts He gives us. In John 5:19 Jesus says, “The son can do nothing himself, he can do only what He sees His father doing…” (NIV) Jesus knew that only with His Father could He can multiply those loaves and fishes. He could not do anything apart from his Father. Neither can we. When we keep this perspective and enlist our Heavenly Father for help, He will multiply what we have to give in ways we may never know or see on earth.

Even though God can do what needs to be done Himself, He enlists our help. Jesus could have passed out the newly multiplied bounty, but instead he chose to ask the disciples to do it for him. It is a way He blesses His children. When we are willing to do what God is calling us to do, He is faithful to put that message into the ears and hearts of those who need it.

In our limited perspectives, we may worry we have little to contribute to the Kingdom. But God wants our obedience, for us to willing give our resources, time, and energy to the Him. And when we bring what little we have to him, He multiplies it in ways we could never imagine.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…”                                                                                                                    Ephesians 3:20 NASB

michelle lazurekAbout the author: Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, national speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she loves to help people encounter God and engage with the world around them. When not writing, you can find her enjoying a Starbucks latte and collecting vintage records. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random numberrighteous and lost generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Michelle’s book, Righteous and Lost: Finding Hope for the Pharisee Within,  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: 1 Corinthians 12: 7 tells us “to each one  is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (NASB) What has God give you that He wants to use in the life of others?

Photo by Bryan Burgos on Unsplash

 

 

Leave Your Parachute at Home

by Edie Melson

 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 3:20

Sometimes, actually more often than not, I get caught up in the process of life. The details grow large and overwhelming and I lose sight of the bigger picture. It happens because I’m an analytical sort of person, and definitely a planner. With every project I tackle, I map out what’s ahead, trying to anticipate any possible potholes and pitfalls. I build timelines and set expectations.

I should probably mention that I’m also a recovering perfectionist.

For years I didn’t acknowledge that fact. Partly out of ignorance and partly out of denial. My perfectionism shows itself in strange ways. In the past it has kept me from trying anything I thought I couldn’t succeed at. Because I set such high expectations for my own performance, fear of failure kept me in a box of what I knew I could achieve. That kept me from pursuing my dreams.

In the past I’ve gone to great lengths to build in safeguards that keep failure at bay when I tackle a difficult project. I always thought of these things as packing a parachute. They’d be a built-in safety net that would keep me from crashing and burning if I hadn’t covered all the possibilities.

But the biggest turning point came one day as I had my devotion time. I came up with the idea that following God was like getting ready to skydive. I began to record comparisons between packing a parachute and all that skydiving entailed in my journal—certain I’d hit on a wonderful metaphor for life.

Until I felt a metaphoric tap on my shoulder from the Holy Spirit. He whispered a question I’ve never forgotten.

Are you skydiving or flying?

God reminded me that He is in the business of helping us to fly. He’s not interested in skydiving, and He has no need of parachutes. Parachutes are the baggage of those who are trying to do things apart from him.

I won’t argue that there are things we need to do to get ready to fly, but packing a parachute isn’t one of them. God wants us to fly free, chasing the dreams He’s placed in our hearts. His plan doesn’t include the encumbrances of safety nets and parachute. When He’s in control, they’re just extra baggage that can keep us from soaring high. So whatever dream God has planted, go for it. And leave the parachute at home.

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Edie’s book, While My Child is Away,  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: What fears are you carrying around that might keep you from flying?