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

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 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?




Seeds and Supplies

by Michele McCarthy @MicheleRMcC

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.                                                                                                 Proverbs 1:5 NASB

Piles of notebooks, paper, crayons, pens and backpacks line the shelves that greet incoming store customers right now. Back to school talk rings in the air. “I hope I have Ms. Smith this year,” or, “I can’t believe summer is almost over,” or “Whose class are you in?”

New school supplies feel like promises yet to be fulfilled. Empty notebooks await new ideas and crisp, unread books beckon. Office supply stores and bookstores smell of organization and potential. A glimpse down the aisles, messy from the crowds of buyers, unleashes memories of beginning many new school years myself.

Some dread heading back to classrooms and harbor only bad memories of school. Some fail to strike a balance between work hours and school, squeaking by on overload. Others muddle through the school day only to get to the pep rallies and social functions. Some anticipate the year with joy, excited to learn and grow.

People attending church can have varied motives as well. Some slip through the doors then back out again, subconsciously fulfilling an “obligation” to check the box. Some listen to fill their storehouse with knowledge. Others are excited to worship and anticipate revelation from the Holy Spirit they can put into practice.

These variations in response to hearing the Word of God remind me of Jesus’ parable of the sower. The Good News seed was sown, but some seeds were snatched away before ever germinating. Other seeds sprang up quickly, but in the shallow, rocky soil, they were unable to grow roots and withered. Still some seed fell among the thorny weeds, and as they grew, the worries of the world choked out the plants. Finally, some seed fell on good soil. The Word was heard and nourished and produced a crop-thirty, sixty or one hundred times what was sown (Matthew 13:1-23).

Last fall, I enrolled in school to learn more about living out my Christian faith. I didn’t want what I knew to be stored away, never to be applied. I might be a life-long Christian now with grandchildren, but there is always room to go deeper.

And go deeper I did—I found a more profound identity in Christ. I learned to love like Jesus does and to step out like the believers in Acts. I was given a way to read Scripture that assures His word is spoken both into my mind and heart.

I will forever be learning. Yet the more I learn about Jesus, the more I realize I don’t know.

God wants us to seek Him with excitement. His mercies are new every morning. His plans are fresh each day. Bad memories and dread will never describe our time with the God who looks at us with love in His eyes.

He longs for you to look up and see His smile. Be His student, for in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction,  for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate,  equipped for every good work”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He will fill your empty notebook and tutor you in the truth. It will be worth the effort.

Seeds and Supplies – insight from @MicheleRMcC on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

michele mccarthyAbout the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves, reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

Michele’s book Daddy and Me, is the story of the unconditional love of the Father. It is a reminder of how important and influential our words are to children. In Daddy and Me, daddy’s form is left to the imagination. Every child is free to picture their own daddy and most importantly their heavenly Father. The Father who loves them perfectly, without reserve no matter what, while gently holding each child in His hand.

Join the conversation: What has God taught you about Himself lately?