The Way Everlasting

by Christina Rose

Search me, 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

God speaks to us through His Word; the more we study it the more likely we are to recognize and obey His voice. We can pray to release any anxious thoughts that might be interfering with receiving His words. We can also pray to receive more wisdom from the written Word and to trust in what we hear.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6 NIV

When Moses led the Israelites to freedom they reached the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit. Moses listened for God who told him to raise his staff over the Red Sea which then parted allowing the Israelites to cross. Once they were safely through, God then told Moses to again raise his staff so that the walls of the sea would descend upon the advancing Egyptians thus destroying them.

It was Joshua’s listening to God’s instructions that allowed the walls of Jericho to fall and the city to be conquered for God’s glory.  It was Noah’s listening to God’s instructions on how to build the ark that saved him, his family and the animals of the earth from destruction. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NIV).

 During a very challenging time when sleep escaped me, I cried out, “God, I can’t sleep!”  I heard God answer me, “Talk to me, I never sleep.” My worries dissolved as I poured out my troubles, listened for answers and journaled into my notebook. “He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping” (Psalm 121:3-4 TLB).

My eyes fell on a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers as I entered the market, but when I reached for them, I heard, “No, buy pink roses.” This made no sense to me, so I dismissed it and put the sunflowers in my cart.  I then heard, “Your flowers are dead, buy pink roses.”  Strangely enough my sunflower bouquet seemed to be wilting and turning brown right in front of me.  Again, the words “pink roses, pink roses,” kept overwhelming me until at last I returned the sunflowers and bought the pink roses.

Michelle was entering the market as I was leaving.  Her eyes fell on the pink roses and she collapsed in heart wrenching sobs. “Michelle, what’s wrong?” I asked.  She answered, “Today is the anniversary of Caroline’s death. I’ve been up all night praying that God would send me a sign to show me that Caroline is okay and that He hears me.  When Caroline died, everyone sent me pink roses and my house was filled with them. Pink roses remind me of her. They remind me of all the people who cared about us.  Now seeing your pink roses makes me think that God hears me and cares.” 

Michelle’s daughter Caroline was about to enter 3rd grade with my daughter a few years ago when she was carried away by a sleeper wave and drowned. She was a beautiful little blond girl full of joy and smiles who followed her mom everywhere. “Michelle, I wasn’t going to buy these pink roses, but I had such a strong feeling that I must buy them. I know God was the one guiding me to buy these for you.” I handed her the pink roses, and we hugged some more.  When we ask God to know our hearts and commit our ways to Him, He will lead us in the way everlasting.

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  Matthew 13:43 NIV

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 made a choice clear for you? What happened? Please share!

Disobedient Thoughts Escape Captivity in the Night

by Carol McCracken

Search me, 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)

I reached down to transfer my wet laundry into the dryer and tugged at the tangled clothes which seemed anchored in the washing machine agitator. The agitator. How fitting.

It was 4:17 AM and the wrestling match of trying to sleep was continuing for a second night in a row. My ruminating thoughts were obsessing anxiously on things that did not make me proud. Prior to doing laundry, when I had stumbled into the kitchen to feed my coffee addiction, the Keurig had begun my agitation by jamming.

Too much testing already. Passing any test was highly unlikely at this point.

Something wasn’t right in my spirit, and it appeared my sleep deprivation was the open door to self-examination. But I didn’t want to examine my heart. I already knew negative thoughts occupied real estate in my brain. The more I stuffed them, the more disquieted my spirit became.

The irony of my recent book publication on wisdom taunted me. Though the launch team had given me great feedback, I felt far from wise. I instead battled spiritual darkness along with the darkness of the night.

I climbed back in bed with a pen, paper, and my gratitude journal and wrote, “God loves me even with my ruminating, obsessive, not-able-to-sleep thoughts.”  I added, “God will search my heart and correct and center me as needed when I ask.”  Interesting. I had never asked God to search my heart.

It isn’t as if He didn’t already know what was in my heart; the exercise would be for me to see what was there. So, since sleep was evidently not on my agenda, and with plenty of time for self-examination, it was time to get to work. Looking through my gratitude journal, one reflection stood out: “Think of all God’s blessings–His salvation, hope, wisdom…we can look to God…ask for His wisdom.”   I had written on this very thing.

So, I asked for His wisdom, and He gave me this verse: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). I began to write down those thoughts that were running rampant in my head while sleep escaped me. Those tangled, agitating thoughts, some of which escaped understanding. Some of which I was afraid to see.

Over time, God revealed issues I would have to keep bringing before Him because only He could heal them. And He opened my eyes to some lies from the enemy my heart believed– some big insecurities.

Perhaps that’s why God had Paul use the pronoun “we” in that verse. It is not in our power alone to make our thoughts obedient to Christ. Willpower is not enough. It is for us to lean into Jesus’ power to help us. We may be reminded that working with Jesus in that way, can be a process. Avoiding a heart search or a test keeps us in potential captivity when Jesus can release us with His help. That’s wisdom. His wisdom rather than our human wisdom.

Oh, the dryer just buzzed. Apparently, the benefit of a good spiritual cleansing is clean laundry before dawn. Clean heart. Clean laundry.

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

About the author: Carol McCracken has been a Bible teacher for over twenty years. She currently serves on church staff as Minister of Discipleship. Her passion is to make the Bible come alive for women and connect it to a real relationship with Jesus Christ in today’s busy and demanding world. She is an AWSA Associate and Destin Word Weavers member.

Carol is a contributor to ChristianDevotions.us, Arise Daily, and Mustard Seed Ministries. Her new book, Wisdom: Where To Find It If You’ve Lost, Forgotten, Or Never Had It released in November 2020.

Join the conversation: What damaging thoughts plague you in the dark of night?

Seven Ways to Know God is Watching Out for Us

by Janet Perez Eckles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nope. C’mon Nana, let’s jump.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

janet perez eckles

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

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

A Scary Prayer

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Search me, 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

Some years ago, I attended a three-day conference for Christian speakers. The sessions covered things like techniques and presentation styles, how to do outlines, and how to engage your audience. Every afternoon, we broke into small groups to practice what we were learning. We evaluated our peers on delivery, personality, body language, and more.

On the final day of the conference, we delivered our most important presentation. Not only did our group leader evaluate us, but the founder of the training organization also popped into various groups at different times. I wasn’t overly nervous, but when my turn came, SHE walked in the room and sat down. My speaking ability would be evaluated by my peers, my group leader, and the very experienced founder of the organization.

I felt exposed and vulnerable. What would SHE think? What flaw would she spot? What weakness would she discern? As it turned out, she was very encouraging and helpful. But she couldn’t see everything about me. She didn’t know my insecurities, my failings, or my motivations.

What about you? Have you ever been evaluated? Maybe it was in a speech class, piano recital, or a yearly job performance review. We’ve all faced an evaluation at some point. But we don’t usually ask for it. We don’t often initiate the scrutiny.

But that’s exactly what the psalmist David did. And it wasn’t just some other lowly human he invited to take a really close look. Nope. David asked God Almighty, the One who knows all and sees all, to thoroughly examine his heart and mind.

That sounds super scary to me. I know God knows it all already, but to purposefully make myself so incredibly vulnerable… That’s like one of those dreams where you walk into a room full of people only to discover you wore your birthday suit.

But here’s the thing. God is totally faithful. Completely trustworthy. He wants only the best for us. He desires for us to grow into our full potential so we can be useful and effective for His good purposes. That requires spiritual refinement, transformation, and growth. It requires getting rid of all our junk and replacing it with Jesus.

This prayer, modeled by David, expresses a willingness to be laid completely bare before the Father. To invite His examination and scrutiny of our inner self. Every thought in our minds. Every inclination of our hearts. Every motivation. Every passion.

But if we are going to trust anyone with our lives, with ourselves, shouldn’t it be God? He already knows us better than we know ourselves. Let’s allow Him to have His way. Scary, yes. But also glorious and miraculous. Search me O God.

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A Scary Prayer – encouragement and insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Have you ever prayed this prayer? Does the thought scare you a little?

Weeding It Out

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

“Search me, 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

The weeds in Texas are gargantuan, and they spread like… well, weeds!

We have a beautiful back yard with lots of lawn in which the dog can scamper around. When we moved here almost ten years ago, the lawn was green and lush. Over time, the weeds have taken over, and my golfer husband is offended by the nonsense they create. Golf guys (and gals, I’m sure!) do rather enjoy a nice bit of green grass. Over the years the weeds have crept in further and spread their message of choking defiance all over the place.

Of course, we’ve tried all kinds of ways to get rid of the weeds. First, we mowed them down. They were gone but not forgotten and popped up in cheery disobedience the very next season. Then, we tried a weed killer we’d used at our previous house. Once again, it looked hopeful, but this time only some of the weeds died. The rest continued to blossom as if they were prize blooms in a flower show. Rude!

Why did these pesky plants ignore us every time we attempted to serve them notice?

One afternoon I found my husband on the horticulture pages of the internet. He wanted to know exactly what the weed in our yard was. We needed a more powerful and direct approach that would get down to the very root of the nasty pest. We needed a specific solution to a specific problem.

My clever husband identified the precise plant, found the correct chemicals for exact extermination, and we were in business! Let me tell you, we haven’t won this battle outright quite yet and will no doubt be reapplying this wonder mixture for quite some time, but we are at last on the right track. Perseverance will lead to the final elimination of this pasture of pestilence!

We needed to be specific in our attack.

In our pursuit of an answer, I was reminded that this is how I should pray over the sins and “weeds” in my life. I became aware that sometimes I pray a “blanket” prayer over the messes I see. I ask for forgiveness for the outcomes caused by my wrong behavior.

When I pray like that, it should be no surprise to me that those sins, like the weeds in our yard, may disappear for a short time but don’t get eradicated for good. In His kindness, God showed me that I ought to be specific about how I seek forgiveness.

Now, don’t get me wrong – God hears us when we call to Him and there’s not a  “right” way to pray. He loves it when we pray – period. But the Father seemed to ask me this question, “Are you more concerned with the result of the sin than the root of it?” You see, I need to spend intentional time and look for the root of my repeated wrongs. I need to seek God’s wisdom as I search to find the origin of my errors. It’s then God can bring healing on the specific issue and transform my heart and mind.

Let’s choose to ask God to examine the deepest parts of our hearts, so we can live a life of true freedom. And just like the recurrent application of the weed killer on our grass, let’s put ourselves under the repeated cleansing of God’s Word and wisdom, until the weeds that spoil will no longer have root in the lawn of our hearts.

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Weeding It Out – insight for dealing with the “weeds” in our spiritual life from Sharon Tedford, @61Things, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action.  Her book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Join the conversation: What is the sin that keeps reappearing in your life?