Parenting Can Have Its Moments

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

One Sunday afternoon, as I tackled the pile of dishes in the kitchen, I heard a distinct dripping sound coming from the foyer. Upon investigation, I found a large puddle on the tile floor. The ceiling above it was bowed with water. Where was all that water coming from?

I dashed up the stairs to find the hallway bathroom sink running full-force, plug down, water cascading over the edge like Niagara Falls. The bathtub was also plugged up and nearly filled to capacity. I shut the faucets off but could still hear water running. A quick check revealed the master bathroom had been rigged to overflow as well.

I knew there could be only one culprit—make that two—THE TWINS. I marched into their room to find them up on the top bunk surrounded by every stuffed animal in the house. “Hi Mommy!” my four-year old daughter cheerfully greeted me. “We’re playing Noah’s ark! Joseph is Noah, and I’m his wife!”

Apparently, with the animals safely aboard, they were just sitting back, waiting for the flood.

Motherhood has its moments, right? We had four children in the space of 3 ½ years. I could curl your hair with stories from those early days. Someday I’ll write a book.

Whenever I read James, I have to wonder if he was a parent. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 NASB).

This verse should be stamped on the forehead of anyone attempting to raise a family. Experiencing trials? It’s not a question of if, but when.

Consider it all joy, my brethren…

How much joy did I experience as I mopped the floors that day? There was no cheerful whistling nor a single happy thought as I repeatedly wrung out my mop, I can assure you. But is that what James meant by joy?

A look into the grammar of the original language reveals that James was identifying the type of joy a person should have. It is a state of being, not an emotion. If it were, we could equate joy with happiness. But seriously—who could possibly be happy about spending time reserved for a Sunday afternoon nap soaking up gallons of water? Not this girl.

Joy is something deeper, more consistent than what certain circumstances would allow. It can be had in any situation, because it is a steady, thankful trust in a God who uses even the hard things for His glory. It is not so much of an emotion, but rather a way of thinking. It is the lens through which we should view everything this world throws at us.

Trials are an opportunity for us to put the viewpoint of joy into practice.

The testing of your faith produces endurance…

There’s something else in James’ exhortation worth noting: “…the testing of your faith produces endurance…” How do trials like water dripping out of a ceiling test our faith?

What we believe about Him is the content of our faith. In His kindness, God allows trials for the purpose of testing those ideas and revealing what we need to reevaluate—in a good way! Trials grow our understanding of Him.

So, next time a trial comes down the pike, think: how is God revealing Himself? What He may be showing you can produce endurance in your ability to trust Him. Even the little challenging moments of parenting can have a real impact on our spiritual well-being.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.                                                                                             2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB

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Parenting Can Have Its Moments – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Do you have a parenting trial story? Please share! (Surely I’m not the only one!!)

 

 

Persuaded  

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee…when the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”                                                                                                                 John 2:1-4 NASB

The supply of wine had been depleted. Not one drop left. And the party was still going strong.

Mary shuddered at the embarrassment the oversight would bring on the hosts. She instinctively turned to her son to relate the news. He would know what to do. But Jesus seemed impervious to the problem. “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” he queried. “My hour has not yet come.”

Unfazed, Mary turned to the servants. “Do whatever he says,” she simply told them. And Jesus turned the water into wine.

This story has its puzzling moments. But one big question towers over the rest: why would Jesus refuse to help, even going so far as to state his reason for not helping, then turn around and do the miracle anyway?

There were other times Jesus refused to perform miracles.

We are told in Mark 6 that in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus “could do no miracle there except that he lay his hands on a few sick people and healed them.” Why? “He wondered at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6 NASB).

Several times, religious leaders (and also Pilate) asked Jesus to perform a miracle for them. He flatly refused, for they had not asked in faith (Mark 8:12 NASB).

His miracles were not meant to create faith; they merely served to confirm it. Faith is a necessary component to any request we make of God. Jesus would not perform a miracle without it.

When two blind men asked for healing, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” When they affirmed their trust, Jesus gave them their sight (Matthew 9:29). He asked a father to confirm his belief before ousting a demon that controlled his son. Why? He explained, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

In these and many other cases, belief in Jesus’ mercy and power was required before He would help them. When faith is expressed, God responds.

Mary’s instructions to the servants at the wedding of Cana were brim-full of faith. Whatever he says, do it. She trusted Jesus would do the right thing. Jesus responded by turning water into the finest of wines.

The Greek verb pisteuo, translated as believetrust, or to have faith often carries the qualifying connotation of being persuaded or convinced. The Greek lexicon defines it as “to cause to come to a particular point of view or course of action.” Trust comes as a result from what one has found to be true.

Mary raised Jesus. He had always lived in unfailing obedience to the Father. What she had observed of him in the past persuaded her to trust him now.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He demonstrated his power and faithfulness to them over and over, first with the plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, provision of water and manna, and the dramatic giving of the Law. In short, he was teaching them to trust him. But the months they spent in the desert weren’t enough—they balked at entering the Promised Land, refusing to trust God for his provision.

So God spent the next 40 years proving to the new generation just how trust-worthy he was. And when it again came time to go into the land, they were ready to follow Him anywhere. Knowing truth about God is foundational to trusting Him.

Trust doesn’t come naturally to us. So God brings along hardship, times when we struggle to perceive his presence or guidance, times when everything seems hopeless or overwhelming. We hate those times and dread their appearance. But He will use them to give us a deeper understanding of just how faithful He is. We will emerge from the darkness with a better capacity to trust him. And the conduit of trust opens the way for his blessing and mercy.

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Persuaded – thoughts from @JulieZColeman when trust doesn’t come naturally, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What do you know about God that gives you the ability to trust Him?

Plunge into the Depths of Obedience

by Leigh Ann Thomas @lthomaswrites

My sand-encrusted body moved with darts and spins as my dad emerged from the pounding waves to chase me along the beach. Dad’s laughter surfed the ocean breeze, and within moments of his pursuit, scooped me into strong arms and turned back to the water.

I squealed with giggles, then with terror, as I realized his intent. My tiny frame clung to his massive one as Dad waded into froth-filled breakers—into depths well over my five-year-old stature.

Earlier, Dad had disappeared beyond the surf. In my mind, he might as well have been across the sea. The vast ocean with wet arms that reached to grab me as I played was to be avoided. I was content, safe on the shore with my seashell treasures and endless sand between my toes.

My dad wanted me to go deeper.

He wanted to take me out of my safe zone, to expand my pint-sized world. He wanted me to trust him. To rest in his love and know he would never beckon me into a place where he wouldn’t be.

He knew the mystery waiting beyond the breakers—an unseen sandbar that would provide a place to stand. And he anticipated the pleasure of seeing his timid daughter wriggle with delight at the new adventure and perspective.

Oh, what a sacred image of how our Lord calls to us.

How He longs to lead us into deeper wells of faith and life. How He wants us to trust in His love and purposes and to reach beyond our places of comfort.

Paralyzed with doubt, our knuckles whiten as we cling to what we know. But, Lord I like it here. My world is comfortable. Pleasant. Seriously, I have no desire for change. Haven’t I earned a little down time? I’m rather, um, tired. Besides, I’m doing good stuff here!

 Scripture is filled with men and women whom God pursued on the shores of comfort-filled waters. Abraham and Sarah are just two of the Old Testament saints who stepped away from the familiar into God-sized joys and blessings. Fledgling New Testament Christians chose to remain steadfast, when in the midst of earthly persecution, God relocated them around the known world, making the Gospel available to all.

But there is none greater than the ultimate example—our Lord Jesus Christ—who left the glories of heaven to lay down his life for us, defeating sin and death when he rose again the third day. Jesus modeled the ultimate obedience to give us the gift of reconciliation with the Father.

The God of Abraham, Sarah, and the early Christians still moves in our hearts today, drawing us, wooing us to leave the shallows and explore the depths. To refuse the stagnation that comes with disobedience.

He wants us to trust that He will not leave us treading water, but will provide a new place to stand.

How do we know when it’s time to move and to go deeper? Discernment begins with an immersion—a saturation—in the Word of God. In Romans 12:2 (NIV), the apostle Paul writes: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Whether to a new area of ministry, or to share the Gospel with the neighbors down the street, God will never call us where He is not already at work. He can’t wait to see our full measure of resulting joy as we plunge into new depths of obedience and faith.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14 NIV

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Plunge into the Depths of Obedience – Thoughts on #FollowingGod from @LThomasWrites on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

LeighAnnThomas_headshot2About the author: Leigh Ann Thomas is passionate about encouraging women to seek God’s best. She has penned four books and is a contributing author in 12 books and compilations. She is married to her best friend, Roy, and they are thankful for the gifts of three daughters, two sons-in-law, three amazing grandsons and a grand princess. Learn more at LeighAThomas.com. Connect on Facebook and on Twitter @LThomasWrites.

Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone—Inspiration for Women in the Middle, uses Scripture, prayer, and the power of story to show women in midlife how being smack-dab in the middle of God’s plans is the best place to be.

Join the conversation: Have you become complacent in pleasant shores? Is the Lord calling you to go deeper with Him?

 

 

 

What Good Can Come from Bad News?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“The vet called. The tests on Max came back positive.” My husband’s words punched me in the stomach. Have you ever felt slugged by unwelcome news?

Max is our standard poodle. If I could use only one word to describe him, it would be magnificent. Max’s beautiful tail waves like a banner when he glides down the sidewalk. His coat is as thick as lamb’s fleece. When he was a puppy, we marveled the first time he watched a distant plane cross the sky. His sensitive spirit knows when to be gentle and when to play hard.

Max also impresses strangers. One man ran out of his house to get a closer look. Another pulled his truck over to ask about him. Perfect strangers want to have their pictures taken with him.

The vet had tested Max for Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM). I’d hoped Max’s issues were a side effect of Addison’s disease. The descriptions of MMM are too horrible to fathom.

Knowing Max’s challenging health issues, you might think we wish we’d chosen another puppy. Not at all.

As my daughter said, even if MMM takes Max, it has been worth it to have him. We wouldn’t trade a few years with Max and all of his problems for decades with another healthy dog. A day doesn’t pass without him making us laugh. He has taught us much about love, life, and faith.

Our son Brant expressed how Max’s challenges have refined his faith. “I had to ask myself if I’ve really trusted God with my eternity,” he said. “Because if I can trust Him with something that big, shouldn’t I be able to trust Him with Max?”

Brant was expressing the truth of 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB): “…you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold…may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Fire purifies gold so that it will gleam for a little while on earth. Trials purify faith so it will sparkle for eternity. Watching Brant’s faith shine has filled me with joy. We have great hope God will transform Magnificent Max into our Miracle Max. But, no matter how this turns out, Max has been worth it!

If we can say that about Max now, imagine how we will respond when we are finally able to see how God used our temporal pain to bring us eternal joy. Grieving a loss, a beloved family member, friend, or even a pet, is not wasted when it polishes our faith. With the Psalmist, we learn to say “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25, NIV).

God cares about our challenges and uses them to polish our faith. One day, we will see the result and gasp—it was worth it!

Max was only two when we learned his diagnosis. He is eight now and though he has experienced some setbacks, he continues to fill our lives with joy. He is indeed our Miracle Max.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT).

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What Good Can Come from Bad News? – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: What trials have you experienced that ultimately grew your faith?

Yes, Brenda, There Is a Real Jesus!

by Brenda Poinsett

 The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us.                                                                                                                                                    John 1:14a TEV

When I was around eight years old, a classmate informed me that Santa Claus wasn’t real. There’s probably not an eight-year-old alive now that believes in Santa, but I did back then. My mind began working furiously trying to sort out the truth. Santa Claus? Not real? Dear wonderful Santa had to be real.

I had to admit I had been suspicious. How could Santa get down narrow chimneys with his round belly? How did he get into homes without fireplaces? As I thought about all this, I realized my classmate was right. There was no real Santa Claus.

I was disappointed and angry. I thought, Maybe this means baby Jesus isn’t real either. If one was a made-up person, then the other one probably was, too.

I didn’t want to be caught unaware again, so I began observing adults to see if the baby Jesus story was also a legend. Like Virginia, the famous little girl who wrote to a newspaper to see if there was a Santa Claus, I wanted to know if Jesus was real. I didn’t write to a newspaper, but I watched and listened, especially at church. If Jesus wasn’t real, then surely there would be clues. Some adult would slip with the evidence. As carefully as I listened, I didn’t pick up any clues. Everybody at church talked and acted as if Jesus were real.

Our pastor said, “Jesus forgives sin, and everyone sins.” I recognized that as truth! I knew that I had done some wrong things. The pastor encouraged us to confess our sins to Jesus and proclaim faith in Him. The thought of doing that in front of the church scared me, but eventually I did. I asked for forgiveness and confessed my belief in Jesus.

Then I experienced something that has been the hallmark of my relationship with Jesus ever since. He responded. He forgave my sins. One has to be real to respond!

Jesus continued to respond as our relationship grew and developed through the years. I could count on a good conversation with Him any time. He responded to my concerns with understanding and guidance. Sometimes when I was lonely and thought no one liked me, He assured me that He was my friend. He gave me courage to leave home, strike out on my own, and become an independent adult. He led me to a mate and helped us raise our children. Even at times when I wasn’t as faithful to our relationship as He was, I knew I could call His name and Jesus would answer.

Over and over as He verified His realness, an inner voice bubbled up within me, saying “Yes, Brenda, there is a real Jesus. He is ‘the Word of life’ (1 John 1:1 TEV). That’s why I exclaim with the apostle John, “We have heard it, and we have seen it with our eyes; yes, we have seen it, and our hands have touched it. When this life became visible, we saw it; so we speak of it” (1 John 1:1-2 TEV).

I may not see Jesus in the literal flesh the way John did, but I see Him operate in my life and in the lives of others. I hear His voice; I feel His touch; I sense His realness. That’s why, like John, I have to say, “What we have seen and heard we announce to you also” (1 John 1:3 TEV). I announce to you this Christmas season that Jesus is real! I write this as a reminder so “that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4 TEV).

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Yes, Brenda, There Is a Real Jesus! – encouragement from Brenda Poinsett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

brenda poinsett (2)About the author: Brenda Poinsett works with women who want a new lease on life and with adults who want to know Jesus better. She does this through writing, speaking and teaching. She’s the author of more than 20 books.

The Christmas season can often be a time of great stress and pressure for women feeling the weight of expectation for a “perfect” holiday. This can overshadow the spiritual joy that can be found at the feet of Jesus. The 25 reflections in Can Martha Have a Mary Christmas will help the “Martha” in each of us realize that she is entitled to the “Mary” time with Jesus that He desires. Focusing on Christmas themes in a lively and amusing manner, this book ministers to any Martha’s emotional and spiritual needs.

Join the conversation: How do you know Jesus is real?

 

More Gratitude = More Faith

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 136:1 NASB

Turning onto the main highway through Annapolis, I knew I needed to spend the next half-hour’s drive in prayer. Several things were weighing heavy on my mind. But before beginning my list, I decided to spend a couple of minutes thanking God for how He had already blessed me. I thanked Him for my family, naming them one by one. I thanked Him for my church, His provision in my ministry work, for the people in my life who were so important to me. I thanked him for our home, our neighborhood, and provision for our physical needs.

There was so much to be thankful for. Before I knew it, I had arrived at my destination. And I was still thanking God. I hadn’t even gotten to naming my requests! Those urgent items I had been stewing over? Suddenly they didn’t seem so urgent after all. My heart now brimmed with trust in a God of provision and love.

In Luke 17, we find three passages that together remind us that gratitude is vital to trust.

Jesus encountered ten lepers on the road to Jerusalem. In response to their desperate request for mercy, He told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” It was an odd thing to say, because lepers were not welcome in the temple. But the men turned and in faith did exactly what He said. And on the way, they suddenly realized they had been healed.

Most of them continued on to finish doing what Jesus commanded. One turned around and headed back to Jesus. His heart was too full of gratitude to continue forward.

Jesus had just finished talking with His disciples about their need to forgive. If someone sinned against them seven times a day, they were to forgive them seven times. The disciples were taken aback. “Lord, increase our faith!” they cried.

So Jesus told them a parable about a slave who spent all day working in the field. He returned to the house exhausted and hungry. But his master told him, “Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink.”

Jesus finished: “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to do.’” (Luke 17:7-10 NASB).

The very next thing Luke records is the story of the ten lepers. Are we supposed to connect these three sections? I believe we are. Luke tends to group his stories together to make a point.

The disciples had asked for more faith. Without it, what Jesus was telling them to do would be impossible. When the one leper came back to fall at His feet and thank Him, Jesus told him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” That was the kind of faith the disciples had just begged for. Where did it come from? A heart full of gratitude.

Why is gratitude so key to increasing our faith?

Gratitude supplies the correct perspective. Remembering what God has done puts Him at the center instead of us. When we thank Him, we are expressing belief that the good things in our life are evidence of a God who is at work on our behalf (James 1:17). We are acknowledging that our lives are in His hands. He is in control. That puts everything else we have been focusing on in proper perspective.

Gratitude teaches us to trust. When we remember His past faithfulness, we are empowered to trust Him for the future. Psalm 136 is a great example in this. As the psalmist recalls the works of a mighty God, the audience repeatedly responds: “His love endures forever” (Psalm 136: NIV). What better way to increase their faith in Him?

We need to stop thinking like a slave, and start thinking like a leper. A slave focuses on obligation: what he needs to do to keep his master happy. But a leper focuses on what he has been rescued from—and his heart overflows with gratitude.

So in these days before Thanksgiving, remember who He is to you and what He has done. Then spend time thanking Him from the bottom of your heart. The very act of expressing gratitude will provide an accurate perspective on his power and help you to go deeper in your trust.

Be that leper—the one whose full heart makes doing anything but adoring Him impossible. Start with simple gratitude.

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More Gratitude = More Faith – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: For what are you most thankful today?

 

Passing the Deep End Test

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.     2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was no lover of deep water.

From eight to eighteen, I spent significant portions of my summer at a Christian camp, first as a camper and eventually as staff. Campers were barred from the deep end of the swimming area unless they could pass the swim test – three laps the length of the docks. For most campers, it was not a strenuous swimming challenge. For me, it was the English Channel. I was a chubby, non-swimmer, usually outfitted with a skirted swimsuit.  Still, I coveted access to the deep end.

Every summer I would screw my courage to the sticking place and make the long walk to the far end of the dock. Plugging my nose and hyperventilating in anticipation of the effort and humiliation, I would jump in and begin my quest.

By my third summer, Harold the lifeguard would extend the rescue pole over my head the moment I made my initial plunge. Near the middle of the second lap, I would grasp at the pole sputtering and gasping like a kitten emerging from a pail of water. I was well into adolescence before I achieved admission to the deep end. But the most I ever did with the privilege was tread water before lying on the far dock to tan.

Looking back, what strikes me is that as badly as I wanted to swim in the deep end, and as much as I dreaded the yearly humiliation, I never did anything that would help me achieve my goal.

I didn’t request guidance. I didn’t take lessons. I didn’t practice in the shallow end. Nothing. I just expected every year that somehow, magically, I would eventually be able to pass. Eventually, I did, but it was a lame, straggling pass, and I’ve never enjoyed the deep water, nor  progress as a swimmer beyond that point.

That’s how many of us approach our spiritual lives.

We long to swim in the deep end of faith. We know there will be testing to merit that privilege. But too often we spurn counsel, effort, teaching and training. Yet, we expect that we will somehow, magically, be able to pass the test of faith and gain admission to spiritual deep water. When God extends His rescue pole and fishes us out – exhausted and floundering – He shakes His head – like Harold the lifeguard.

At times when we do manage to reach deep water, we feel lost and out of our element. We don’t know how to really process the experience, and the most we manage is to tread water before heading back to shallow water near the familiar shore.

There is nothing we can add to the sacrifice of Christ to earn eternal life with God. But we can put effort into pursuing those qualities that equip us and keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our faith. Peter provides guidance, but we must invest the effort to applying it.

I long to spend my life in the deep end, not just to arrive there but to be adept there, at home and able to support the efforts of others who venture out that far.

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Passing the Deep End Test – insight 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: What efforts do you make to deepen your faith to avoid spending life in the shallow end of God’s great adventure?

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?

Big Faith

by Christina Rose

He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Matthew 17:20 NIV

My niece gave birth to her first child in a fierce whiteout blizzard in South Dakota.  It was impossible to reach the hospital as they lived in a remote area. Tica settled into the bathtub with towels while Dusty called her mother Karla, a labor and delivery nurse.  Dusty stayed on the phone while Karla coached the young couple through labor.  After several hours little Faith was brought into the world, perfectly healthy, while the swirling wind and snow continued to rage outside.

A few years later, I was visiting and passed three year-old Faith on the stairway.  “Oh my,” I said, “There’s little Faith!”

She climbed a few stairs to reach my height, and her big blue eyes stared directly into mine. “I’m not little Faith, I’m big Faith!” she boldly announced. She continued to march up the stairs and glanced back at me as if to say, “Don’t ever call me little Faith again!” In that moment Faith taught me that there is nothing small about faith of any size, we just have to own it and declare it.

David, the scrawny shepherd boy, declared his faith when he defeated the giant Goliath with merely a small stone and slingshot. It looked impossible that he could slay him, yet he did.  “ David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’ ” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV).

Moses led the Israelites to safety by faith in following God’s commands. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground’” (Exodus 14:15-16 NIV). Once they were safely through, Moses faithfully followed God’s command to raise his hand over the sea, and it swallowed up the Egyptians who were trying to kill them.

Queen Esther risked her life when she dared to request an audience before the king. She had faith that her purpose was to boldly step forward on behalf of her people, and they were spared.  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:14 NIV).

There was a woman who could not stop bleeding for twelve years, and no one could heal her.  She knew that Jesus was passing by, and although the crowd was overwhelming, she believed that if she could just touch him she would be healed. She fought through the crowds, came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. Instantly her bleeding stopped and she was healed. “Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from  your suffering.’”  Mark 5:34 NIV.

The Bible is full of testimonies of faith. Jesus told His disciples that trusting God was the key to tapping into His power. “Have faith in God…truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”(Mark 11:22-24 NIV).

Life throws us tests that we would never have imagined. Some days it feels as though we’re slaying giants and crossing stormy seas. But as Jesus tells us, faith as small as a mustard seed is big enough to enable us to do whatever God asks of us in serving Him and His perfect plan. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1.

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Big Faith – inspiration 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: Do you have a story of when God carried you through a challenge? Please share!