Whose World Is This Anyway?

by Sheri Schofield

The other day when I was playing on my keyboard, looking out over the view of forest, mountains and sky, I saw a herd of deer crossing our property. I was playing This Is My Father’s World. The deer all paused and turned their ears toward me, reluctant to move on. They were listening to the music. A robin hunting for his breakfast cocked his head at the sound and hopped up onto the roof, moving closer and closer to the song.

Yes, this is indeed my Father’s world! The animals and birds know it. In the midst of a world in panic, I can be still and know that He is watching over me. Psalm 139 tells us that God knows all about us. He sees us at all times, for we who believe in Him are His children.

The psalmist David wrote, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! (Psalm 139:16- 17 NLT).

I trust God with my present. I can trust Him with my future. No matter what happens on earth, I know I will spend eternity with the One who loves me. Therefore, I will not be afraid. This is my Father’s world. He is in control, whether in times of calamity or peace. Why then should I fear that which can only touch my body? My soul – the real me – is secure!

What is in store for those who have given their hearts and lives to Jesus? The Apostle Paul, quoting the prophet Isaiah, wrote, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9-11 NLT).

The Apostle John tells us that someday God will bring a new heaven and a new earth into being, an earth without a sea. (So those of you who love the beach, enjoy it now!) To this new earth, God will bring the holy city, the new Jerusalem, prepared beautifully, like a bride for her husband.

I love what John writes next: “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:3-5 NLT)

 This is what is in store for those who love Jesus. Eventually, when time has ceased, we will spend eternity with the One who wipes away all tears and pain, the One who has conquered death and will eliminate it forever.

I do not know what tomorrow holds. No one can. But I do know the Lord of tomorrow! Jesus, the One who loved us so much that He died for us, holds us close to His heart and speaks peace to our souls, peace in the midst of the storm.

So I will sing with the birds this spring and smile at the future. My life is in His hands forever, no matter what happens on this fallen planet.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.    Song of Solomon 6:3 NIV

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Whose World Is This Anyway? – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: How does a secure future affect your life in the here and now?

In the Palm of His Hand

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

…In your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.                                                                                              Psalm 139:16 NASB

It’s easy to feel right now that the world is spinning out of control. Disease runs rampant. The economy is struggling. Our fears or concerns mount. Yet, our God has it all under control. He has the world – and all who are in it – in the palm of His hand.

Psalm 139 tells us how intimately acquainted God is with all of our ways. Not only does that verse tell us God has searched us and known us and that He knows our every whereabout, but it also says He protects us.

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” (verse 5).

What peace there is in knowing God is here with us in the dark, in the light, waking up, going to sleep, going out, and coming in.

Psalm 139 reminds me that I never need to worry about anything concerning my life or the lives of those I love, because of God’s ever-present watchfulness. From Psalm 139 alone, I am assured that God is One who:

  • searches us and knows us from the inside out (verse 1)
  • knows our every action and thought (verses 2-3)
  • knows what we will say before we say it (verse 4)
  • “encircles” us and places His hand of protection upon us (verse 5)
  • follows us everywhere we go – or stays with us when we can’t go anywhere (verses 8-12)
  • formed us and watched over us while we were in the womb (verses 13-15)
  • wrote out our life story in His book before we even lived it – meaning even this time of quarantine doesn’t take Him by surprise (verse 16)
  • thinks innumerable thoughts of us (verses 17-18)
  • knows our concerns and anxieties – especially during uncertain days like these (verse 23)
  • convicts us of our offenses and leads us in the right direction (verse 24)

That Psalm reminds me that God is intimately acquainted with us and our loved ones. And He is aware of what is going on in the hearts and lives of those we can’t be with on a daily basis. It assures me that there is nothing I can do, and no place I can go where His love doesn’t follow. That means there is never a reason to worry or feel alone. I am safe – and you are safe – in the palm of His hand.

God knows every detail of the paths we walk, the decisions we make, the words we say and the actions we take. He also knows every detail about the world we live in. He will never let us out of His sight or out of His heart.

Lord, thank You that You know the condition of this world and the condition of my heart. Thank You that Your love follows me everywhere I go and I am safe and secure in the palm of Your hand.

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In the Palm of His Hand – encouragement 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 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 copies sold), God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart by [Cindi McMenamin]God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Which truth from Psalm 139 means the most to you this morning?

 

 

From Mess to Masterpiece

by Jennifer Smith Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is familiar with all my ways (3)

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

He created my inmost being (13)

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

His works are fearfully and wonderfully made (14)

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

He searches me and knows my heart (23)

He leads me in the way everlasting (24)

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

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

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From Mess to Masterpiece – encouragement from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with your worth?

Continual Change

by Doris Hoover

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.                                                                                                                           1 John 3:2 NIV

I love to watch clouds. As air currents glide through them, cottony wisps morph into dream pictures. Mountains change into oceans which transform into deserts with horses galloping across them. Continuously clustering and stretching, the clouds form new pictures by the minute.

Clouds remind me that I’m also in a process of change. God has a perfect design for me. It evolves in increments. As the Holy Spirit glides through my spirit, causing subtle transformations in my attitude, values and priorities, I begin to morph into a different person. I may not know what I will become, but the Lord has a vision for me. He has a vision for each one of us. Little by little, He reshapes us to conform to His beautiful design.

Change has been a constant since the beginning of creation. The Lord began with a dark void which He transformed into light, sky, water, and land. His vision evolved until the world was complete. Then the Lord admired His masterpiece. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV).

The Heavenly Father works a master plan in us, too. Like chalk blown across a sketchpad, the Lord breathes across our lives, gradually moving us toward His vision. As we yield to the Spirit’s influence, we’re transformed.

David asked the Lord to make changes in him. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV). By asking God to change his heart and attitude, David became as malleable as a cloud in the wind.

Circumstances are also in the process of change. They’re not permanent, even though, at times, it seems that way. We may wonder how long we have to endure the responsibility, the stress, the hurt, or even the mundane drudgery of each day. But our situations aren’t static. God works in them as powerfully as He works in us. Our “lot” in life isn’t permanent. We may think we’re stuck in a situation that will never improve; however, the Lord moves through our circumstances in imperceptible ways, making alterations according to His perfect plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I read through my journal entries, I see the cloud pictures of my life. The unfolding of my story amazes me. Through the Lord’s intervention, situations which seemed hopeless became victories.

Invisibly, the Lord moves through our circumstances and our hearts as He creates His masterpiece. We usually don’t notice the revisions until we look back over the years. Each breath of divine air moves the filaments of our lives closer to a heavenly design. Even when we smudge our pictures, the Lord is able to blow over the chalk to turn our smudges into something good. Such modifications take a lifetime, but the Lord works in us until His work is finished. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

We may not know what we will become or how our circumstances will evolve, but each day the clouds remind us that changes are happening. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

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Continual Change – thoughts on walking with God from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Looking back over the years, can you see the progress God has accomplished in you? Please share a before-and-after example!

God Understands

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Lord, You have searched me and known me. Psalm 139:1 CSB

I sat across the table from my friend at lunch as she tearfully recounted the ways I had disappointed her. I hadn’t called in quite awhile. I rarely took the time anymore to check in on her. We didn’t get together as often as we used to.

I had hurt her. And in hearing about it, it hurt me.

I was frustrated at the fact that, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have known what to do differently in order to not hurt this friend.

“I give up,” I told God aloud as I drove home from lunch that day. “I don’t want one more conversation with a friend who is going to tell me how I’ve disappointed her. I don’t know what to do anymore to keep people happy.”

It was one of those days when one complaint felt like a million – when one woman’s unhappiness with me represented the whole world’s disappointment with me.

If she could just see my heart, I thought to myself. Then she would know I had never intended to make her feel that way.

I turned to Psalm 139, a song of comfort that often reminds me of the One who knows me unlike any other.

“You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways” (verses 2-3, CSB).

It was comforting to know that God could see my heart. He knows my intentions. And He knows every time I mean well but don’t express it, every time I mess up but didn’t intend to, every time I’m misunderstood and miserable. He knows. And He extends grace anyway.

I wrote out a card to that friend and mailed it that day. I reminded her that I loved her and apologized for failing to show it. And I made a conscious decision that day to extend a bit further and call more frequently when it came to that friend.

If you’re feeling alone today because you’ve been misunderstood, or because you feel you haven’t been the best friend you could be, take heart: There is One who knows all about you and loves you just the same.

Lord, may You be the One I run to when I am frustrated from disappointing another person. Thank You that as many times as I’ve disappointed You, You still call me friend.   

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Being misunderstood hurts, but God always understands – insight 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 Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: When was the last time you felt misunderstood?

God is Always Present and Accounted For

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

My first clue was when the garage door opener wouldn’t work. As as I walked to the front door the hair on the back of my neck prickled when I noticed all of the outdoor yard lights weren’t on, yet my neighbors had power. A voice inside of me began to warn caution, as I put my key in the door only to discover it was already unlocked. The voice in my head practically screamed go back. This time I listened. Fortunately, it turned out to be a problem with the main power line to our home—nothing nefarious.

But the experience reminded me that God is always directing our steps. Sometimes He moves us through circumstances that we encounter. Other times He chooses to speak to us in small voices instructing caution, listen carefully, go, or wait. Finally, even though it didn’t happen that evening, there are times God might choose to let us go through something with Him by our side. I praise God that my incident didn’t turn out that way, but I also praise Him, that if it had, He would have been right there with me.

How do I know this? Psalm 139 is about the omniscience of God–that He is everywhere and always with us at the same time. The Psalmist asks:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”                                                                                                                                               (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV)

David is believed to have written this Psalm. He’d experienced the presence of God through many years of living in exile, trying to escape an angry king. When David sinned and tried to hide it, the prophet Nathan assured him God didn’t miss a thing. There was nowhere that God wasn’t.

So David speaks from experience: the universe is filled from top to bottom and side to side with the presence of God. No matter where we go, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, He is there. And He is not just a passive presence but an active participant in all that we do.

It’s a comforting thing to know when you find yourself in a scary place. No matter where you are, no matter what is happening, we can be absolutely sure that God is present with you. You can count on it.

If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.  Psalm 139:9-10 NASB

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God is Always Present and Accounted For – @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri cowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace. To learn more about Cheri, visit her website http://www.chericowell.com or follow her on social media https://www.facebook.com/authorchericowell/.

Join the conversation: Has God ever made you aware of His presence in a trying situation?

You Are Never Truly Alone

by Cindi McMenamin

I leaned my head against the window as the plane began to ascend.

How long will I fly alone?  I thought to myself, as I pushed my head harder against the window and felt that familiar tinge of loneliness. Another long flight by myself. Another lonely night in a hotel room. Another weekend alone.

As the plane ascended higher and a layer of clouds covered my view of the high-rise buildings on the ground, I remembered the One who said He’d never let me out of His sight.

David the Psalmist, who must have felt alone at times, comforted himself with a song he wrote about God’s “staying power” and His amazing ability to track us everywhere we go:

If I go up to heaven (if I’m on top of the world and in a place where I think I don’t need You) You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (if I sink to a place where I am helpless), You are there.
 If I live at the eastern horizon (if I move to a place where no one knows me), or settle at                            the western limits (or crawl into a cave where no one can bother me again),
even there Your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold on to me.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, (if I say “I’m in too deep or too dark of a place                        for You to follow”)
Even the darkness is not dark to You.
The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You.”                                                                                                                        Psalm 139:8-12 CSB, emphasized words added

I’m comforted knowing that there’s no place I can go where my God will not follow. No place I can seek out where His presence is not already there. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide (as if I’d want to).  He follows me like a shadow. Not only will He never leave, He’ll never let me out of His sight.

What are you facing today that you think you’re going into alone? What are you dealing with that no one else knows about or understands?

The Bible tells us “there is a friend who stays closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 CSB).  And He stands ready to go into that situation not just with you, but before you…leading the way.

Lord, the next time I begin to feel alone, calm my heart with the reminder that there’s nowhere I can go where Your love will not follow, and no place I can venture where You have not already been.

“…for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 CSB

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 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marwhen God sees your tearsriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

 

Join the Conversation: Where do you feel alone?

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash.

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