Getting to Know Him Better

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Consider it a great joy…whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.   James 1:2-4 CSB

I remember the week I got to know Jesus a little better.

When I say that, you probably know that I’m not referring to experiencing a great vacation, or receiving a huge check in the mail.

No, when God shows me more about Himself, it’s usually during a week when nothing seems to go right. It started with disappointing news from a friend, then a car repair I couldn’t afford, and then a bad case of food-poisoning that left me wiped out physically for three days.

It was then that I remembered a treasured truth from God’s Word.

In Romans 8:28, we are assured that “all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Verse 29 tells us how God works all things for good in our lives: ” For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….” (CSB)

There it is. All those “bad things” (like disappointments, unexpected expenses, and illnesses) God promises to work for good in our lives by making us more like Christ through them. He can make me more understanding and gracious toward others through my disappointments, more dependent on His provision through my unexpected expenses, and more thankful for my health and His other blessings to me when I seem to lose mine.

With that in mind, our tough times really pave the way for our Jesus makeover. It is our God encounter. It’s how we get to know Jesus a little better.

When we filter every circumstance of our lives through the grid of His unfailing love, we will see every test and trial, every desert and disappointment, as a loving gesture on God’s part to draw us closer to Himself and make us more like His Son. From that perspective, there is no room for bitterness, worry, or fear.

The Bible says “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear… (First John 4:18). I believe that means if we love God perfectly we will trust Him implicitly. And where there is absolute trust, there is no fear.

If you’re going through a situation – or several — you don’t like right now, don’t fear. And don’t fight it. Instead, trust that the One who is allowing it is giving you a priceless opportunity to get to know Him a little better.

Lord, help me to cling to you during times of uncertainty, loss, or desperation, knowing that You are in absolute control.

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Getting to know Him better – @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 When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), 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, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: How has God revealed Himself to you in a trying situation?

When I am Counting. . . One, Two, Three

by Edna Ellison @DrEdnaEllison

“Thirty-four, thirty-five. . . Lord, what are you doing with my life? This tedious counting feels like such a waste of time.”

Have you ever felt that way while you waited in a place where God had placed you?

While I taught English in our local high school, I served as the sponsor for the yearbook staff. When the teen staff didn’t finish their deadlines on time, I usually took a stack of their hand-written reports home with me after school. After dinner, with my two small children nestled in bed, I pulled out the stack of yearbook reports to finish shaping them into camera-ready pages. As my husband watched television, I counted characters to fit each line into proper columns for the yearbook. (Yes, those were the dark ages!)

One, two, three…thirty-four, thirty-five. One, two, three…thirty-four, thirty-five…

Ten years later, I was still counting characters during the school year, but one summer I visited a writers’ conference with a friend, Sandra, who wanted to publish a book. I slipped into a devotion writing workshop, just for fun, and to my surprise, I came out with a contract to write six devotions for a large Christian publishing house!

When I told Sandra, she said, “Edna, you can’t do that. I’ve tried it, and it’s complicated. I’ve written a nice devotion and then had to cut out so many words it took weeks to fit the words into an editor’s specifications!”

I believed her. After all, she was a book writer. I was an amateur who hadn’t planned to write anything! Much less the most complicated article of all, at least according to Sandra: a devotion.

When the specifications came in the next week’s mail, imagine my grin when I read the instructions: write 25 lines of 35 characters each! For over ten years, I had been writing for those exact specifications for our yearbook. I could write those specs in my sleep—had done it in my sleep on some occasions! That week I chose as my life’s verse Romans 8:28—“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV).”

God had called me to teach in our town’s high school–and I knew every high school was a mission field–but God had also been preparing me all those years, through the word counts of the yearbook pages, to breeze through these devotions. The contract to write six devotions turned into renewed contracts for over 100 devotions, which were compiled later in a book. To date, I have written or co-written 40 Christian books, and have served for ten years as a national Christian women’s magazine editor, all based on the daily practice I received as a yearbook sponsor.

God always has a purpose for our lives. He doesn’t waste a minute, working in the background, laying the foundation through practice, habits, and training we need for future ways to serve Him.

When we are bored or weary from the tedious hum-drum of daily life, we can remember, He has no random acts in His plans for us. All things in our lives have an eternal purpose in God’s overarching plan. They work together as he calls us to share His love.

Join the conversation: What has God called you to speak about? To others? In your community? To your children/ grandchildren? Speak up! Please share with us. 

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.   Psalm 139:16 NIV

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When I am counting. . . one, two, three – @DrEdnaEllison on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

edna ellisonAbout the author: Edna Ellison, an award-winning author, has written/co-written 40 books. Woman to Woman: Preparing Yourself to Mentor, (called the classic book for mentors by Publisher’s Weekly), is a best-seller for New Hope Publishing, which has published many of Edna’s books.

Edna loves to speak at women’s conferences. She’ll tickle your funny bone and then touch your heart with a personal message from God. Contact her (website above or at ednae9@aol.com,  Edna Martin Ellison on Facebook, or YouTube.)

Join the conversation: What has God called you to speak about? To others? In your community? To your children/ grandchildren? Speak up! Please share with us.

Blunders to Blessings

by Fran Sandlin

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”   Romans 8: 28 NASB

Where is it? I felt along my right side for the little black purse, and it wasn’t hanging there!  My heart leaped in terror. Where could it be?  I had attended the Christian Bookseller’s Association Convention and was now returning home to Texas. Traveling alone in the Orlando International Airport, I had hurried to the Disney store to buy an item for my granddaughter only to discover I was missing my most important accessory. Yikes! I had retrieved my attaché case at security but not my purse. I wondered….Will I ever see it again? My credit card, driver’s license, a few dollars?

With a pounding pulse and a sickening emptiness, I prayed silently as I ran to catch the people-mover for a ride back to the main airport lobby. In my haste I accidentally boarded the wrong one that took me to the opposite side of where I needed to be. After another ride back to the gate area, I found the correct ride to my original security check point—all the time thinking… It will be a miracle if my purse is still there.

At security I asked the female attendant if she had found a small, black purse. Without hesitating, she reached in a drawer, pulled out my purse, examined the drivers’ license, and said, “This looks like you. Here’s your purse.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

The plane now boarding, I raced back to the gate check-in counter. The flight attendant said, “All the seats are taken, but I will scan the computer one more time.” I waited. “Okay”, she exclaimed, “I found a middle one.”  As I finally buckled in, with a sigh of relief I thanked the Lord that after all my boo-boos, I actually made the flight.

The distinguished white-haired gentleman in the aisle seat introduced himself as the consultant for Word of Life Press, responsible for selecting materials for Christian publishing in Korea. Also coming back from the booksellers’ convention, he wanted to know more about my books. We had a lively conversation, and he seemed genuinely interested in our work.

A few months later, our publisher notified us that both books were being translated into Korean. What a nice surprise!

I’d never lost my purse before and haven’t since. When I recall that incident it reminds me that God is in charge of “divine appointments.” He works all things together for good for those who love Him—He can even turn our blunders into blessings.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are interested in the details of our lives, and your unconditional love guides us to unexpected joys–even when we mess up.

fran sandlinAbout the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. and has co-authored others. Jim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren.

Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com

Join the conversation: How has God directed your path lately?

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No Conflict

by Julie Zine Coleman

In the week following 9-11, at faculty devotions we heard several stories of friends or relatives who had miraculously escaped death on that terrible morning. A Pentagon employee someone knew was out of his office when the plane hit. Someone’s friend missed the morning bus, causing her to be late for work in the Twin Towers. Many teachers responded to what they’d heard by praising God for His goodness to those individuals.  No one doubted one bit that God would somehow use the previous weeks’ events for His glory.

Yet after the meeting, I couldn’t help but think of how those grieving their loved ones that were killed in the tragedy were feeling about the goodness of God. Would God bring Himself glory at their expense?

We tend to equate the idea of God’s goodness with His acting in ways we feel is appropriate. The truth of the matter is that God is always good, whether He is doing what pleases us or not. He cannot be anything but good. Goodness is an essential and uncompromising piece of His character.

When the Israelites arrived in the wilderness, it didn’t take long for them to reveal their true colors. While Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Law, the people were in the valley below fashioning an idol out of gold. They had already rejected the One who had just brought them safely across the Red Sea.

God reacted in swift judgment: three thousand men fell that day. In desperation, Moses pleaded for God to forgive and not abandon them. God responded by promising His presence would remain with Moses and the people. Possibly needing further assurance, Moses then made a request of God: “I pray You, show me Your glory!”

God responded, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” (Exodus 33:19 NASB) Note the change in nouns; Moses asked to see God’s glory. God told him he would be shown His goodness. You see, by showing His goodness to Moses, God would be revealing His glory. (The two words are used interchangeably throughout the rest of the account.)

Did you notice how God defined His goodness to Moses? Yes, God was good. But Moses needed to trust Him no matter how He might appear. The goodness of God did not stand in opposition to His justice, wisdom, and righteousness. All of these existed in perfect harmony together in God. No conflict at all.

When difficult circumstances come into our lives, they make us wonder if we must choose between believing in the goodness of God or in His ability to bring glory to Himself. Romans 8:28 promises us, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. . .”  All things. Planes careening into the twin towers, a tsunami dragging thousands out to sea, and an earthquake trapping hundreds of students under a crushing pile of rubble will all be used to bring glory to God. “My glory I will not give to another,” God proclaims in Isaiah 48:11 (NASB). Yet He also promises to work only toward our good in the worst of times.

God’s concerns for our good and His glory are never at odds. They mutually exist in a God who loves us wholeheartedly yet works to demonstrate His glory to the world at the same time. One does not preclude the other. We can trust Him to do the right thing even in the small details of our lives and run the universe at the same time. His goodness is just another compatible dimension to the glory which is His.

“Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.”                                                                                                                             1 Chronicles 16:24 NASB

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. 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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What difficulty has God used for your good? How did He reveal Himself through it?

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