The Cushions of Life

by Carolyn Newell

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11 NKJV

As we walked down the sidewalk, Iva, my guide dog, swerved to avoid something. “Great job, Iva!”

We continued our walk, but my curiosity began working overtime. What was on the sidewalk that Iva avoided? I considered going back, but that might tell Iva we need to rework a mistake.

The next day, I slowed our pace as we neared the same area. When Iva swerved around the obstacle again, I stopped. “Great job, Iva! What a good girl!” Plenty of praise told her she didn’t mess up. I could see a white square on the sidewalk behind my left shoulder. I knelt down and carefully touched it with my index finger. Styrofoam. It looked like the type of styrofoam that cushions electronics in a box. Mystery solved.

Whether we purchase a computer or a toaster, we don’t want it banged up before it gets home. If we order something from Amazon, we find bags of air to keep items from moving around. Styrofoam packaging and air pockets cushion our stuff to keep it safe. But we have other types of cushions in life, and I’m not referring to the throw pillows on your sofa.

If possible, we like having a nest egg, some money saved up for an emergency. Sometimes, we like a little extra in our checking accounts to protect us from an overdraft. Also, over the past couple of years, stocking up on household items like toilet paper and groceries has given us some cushion. Having extra things on hand has become the new norm for many.

But what happens when the cushion is removed? What if we use that last roll of toilet paper, and the shelves at Walmart stand bare? What happens when one emergency wipes out our entire nest egg? What if the stock market drops and our 401K takes a major hit? We panic! Our hearts pound as we grab our heads. “What are we going to do now?”

Friend, we have one cushion that will never flatten or let us down. Jesus Christ! Nest eggs and stockpiles have limits. Jesus knows no bounds. He will provide our every need because He is our Creator. Would He bring us into existence without the means to sustain us?

Did our calamity catch God off-guard? No. In fact, He saw it coming because He has already been in our tomorrows. He knows no limits in time. Our perfect Father provides for all His children. As sovereign Lord over every aspect of our lives, He will never leave us emptyhanded.

Lord, we thank You and praise You that the righteous will never have to beg bread (Psalm 37:25). You are our provider, Jehovah Jireh, and we trust You. Amen.

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

About the author: Carolyn Dale Newell is a speaker and the author of five books, including her series, Guide Dog Tales, where she includes devotionals just like this one. Carolyn knows what it is to live with blindness, but she calls her disability a gift from God. She shares her stories of vulnerability and conquered fears in a vast buffet of topics suitable for retreats or conferences. She is accompanied by her beautiful guide dog, Iva, a black lab who is adored by all. Carolyn resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her husband, Tim. She loves reading, pizza, and discovering new independence with Iva. You can connect with Carolyn on her website, https://amountainoffaith.com/.

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/carolyndalenewell/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC126VS7qlK8MFwJgdyiqCQQ LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/carolyndnewell/en

Join the conversation: On what “cushions” do you depend?

He’s Got Your Back

by Julie Zine Coleman

One evening, a few of us sat around swapping labor stories. I had to laugh—we are all well past childbearing age—but each labor experience was as fresh in our minds as if it were yesterday. There are some things you just don’t forget.

I sheepishly informed my friends: I wasn’t much on natural childbirth. In fact, I considered myself the president of the Epidural Club. I walked into labor and delivery each time and announced to all within earshot: My name is Julie Coleman. I want an epidural. Please have the anesthesiologist standing by. (This worked two out of four times for me. I had my twins naturally, but not by choice.)

Some of you childbearing-supermoms out there are probably offended. Please forgive me, for I’m no supermom. I hate pain. If you’ve never had an epidural, let me tell you, they are amazing. Once it is administered, you lay in your hospital bed, totally relaxed. Once in a while you notice the needle indicator on the monitor climbing. Wow, you calmly think. This is a strong contraction. Then you close your eyes and take a little nap.

Yes, I am a fan of epidurals. They render you totally numb below the waist. You see the contractions with your eyes, but that’s as far as the affect goes. Beautiful.

The writer of Psalm 91 had a similar kind of experience. “You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon…you will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.” The psalmist was no idiot. He was well-aware of the danger that lurked around every corner. But he was also aware of God’s protection.

Some danger we can see with our eyes. But there is a second kind of danger. Paul warns us of this unseen threat: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The bigger threat to our well-being exists in the spiritual realm.

We may not be able to see it, but it exists, alright. We get a rare glimpse into the world of the unseen from 2 Kings 6. The prophet Elisha had offended the King of Aram, who angrily sent horses and chariots to surround the city where Elisha and his servant were staying. When the servant rose in the morning, he saw the city was surrounded. “Alas, my master!” the servant gasped. “What shall we do?”

Elisha could see the threat as well as his servant, but he didn’t blink an eye. “Do not fear,” he encouraged the trembling man. “For those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha then prayed that the Lord would open the servant’s eyes so that he might see the reality of God’s protection. The writer of 2 Kings tells us: “The Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Like the writer of Psalm 91 or a woman in labor after an epidural, Elisha looked with his eyes and acknowledged the danger, but the sight did not bring fear to his heart. Why? He knew there was more to the story than what his physical eyes could see. And this knowledge made all the difference.

We have an enemy bent on our destruction. Peter tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour. He goes after our weaknesses, finding any place he can use to gain a foothold in our lives. He purposes to extend our anger into bitterness, temptation into disobedience, and pride into narcissism. We give him an inch; he turns it into a mile. He is a formidable foe. He is aided in no small part by our own sinful nature, that part of us that relentlessly drives us to act in ways that oppose the God we love.

We exist side-by-side with things bent on our destruction. So how can we live without fear? The psalmist answers that in the last stanza of his song, giving voice to God Himself: “Because he has loved Me, I will deliver him… He will call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see my salvation.”   

We can look dire circumstances in the eye with confidence. What we see with our eyes should not bring fear to our hearts. Why? God has our back.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Zine 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 crafting. 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 revealing 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: Of what are you afraid?

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?

 

 

Finding True Love

by Louise Tucker Jones

Recently, I watched a movie where a young woman was talking with an older gentleman who had been widowed after a lifetime of marriage. “You found your one true love,” she stated.

I love the man’s response. “I know that now,” he said. “But it wasn’t always so clear. Loving someone is the hardest work there is. We messed up plenty…disappointed each other…but never let that keep us apart. It wasn’t true love because it was easy. It was because we worked at it. We fought for it.”

Now that’s love! The kind of love that lasts “till death do us part,” as stated in most wedding vows. And isn’t it interesting that God set the precedent for this kind of love with the forgiving, merciful, selfless love of his Son, Jesus Christ, knowing that “true love” would also require a selfless sacrifice. Otherwise, how could marriage possibly last?

God knew that many of us would need not only His love, but also that of a partner in life. Someone to hold us when this broken world in which we live falls apart and shatters our spirits. Times when we need the arms of human flesh to surround us, even as we hold onto the divine love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV).

Love. It makes us feel safe and secure. It’s starry-eyed romance bound by deep commitment. It’s the arm around you when no one is looking and the sweetness of knowing you belong to each other.

Real love doesn’t come with a Webster definition. It’s a verb—an action word—as well as a noun. And this kind of love…well, it never dies. It doesn’t even grow old. It simply…grows. True love takes us to worlds beyond anything we ever imagined. It trudges through the dark times, races though the ordinary and soars through the extraordinary. It tiptoes quietly into hospital rooms and sits silently in cemeteries when that forever love is carried to heaven on angels’ wings. Love lasts. Love holds. Love lifts.

The Bible tells us that one of the names of God is “I Am,” (Exodus 3:14, NIV), meaning He was, He is and He will be forevermore. Past. Present. Future. Love is like that. True love is precious, like a pearl in an oyster, waiting to be opened and cherished. And if you treat love the way God intended, then you will have a treasure to hold in your heart forever.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.                                                  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

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Finding True Love – wisdom from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly HusbandsLouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: What other qualities does true love have in your experience?

The Love of My Life

by Rebecca Price Janney @rebeccajanney

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Romans 8:35 NIV

The earliest love of my life was my Pappy Harry, who taught me about baseball, took me to carnivals, and ate my pretend cooking. Unfortunately he died when was I was five, and as I grew up I wanted to learn more about him from others. My grandmother once told me his story, how they weren’t married until they were both in their sixties, she a widow, he a bachelor.

“Why didn’t he get married when he was young?” I asked.

“During World War One he met the love of his life in France.”

“My starry eyes reflected my romantic bent. “What happened?”

“She loved him, but she wouldn’t leave France to marry him.”

That captivating Frenchwoman deeply disappointed my grandfather and changed the course of his young adulthood.

Maybe in your own life, a special love has not been requited. The truth is, however, even when love is returned, fallen creatures—including redeemed ones—cause each other pain sometimes, and death eventually parts the greatest of loves.

There is, however, a deeper love we can rest our lives on from birth to death. The love of Jesus is ever-present and everlasting, secure for all eternity. Romans 8: 35-38 (NIV) proclaims, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Imagine never being separated from the Love of your life! Yes, there are human loves that enliven our spirits and bring us great joy, but we cannot always be with them. A dear friend and his bride are currently apart for several weeks while one of them works in India with a team from his company. They treasure each other beyond anything else in this world, but for now, they can’t be together. There is, however, no getting away from Jesus when we belong to him. There is no journey you can take anywhere on earth, or even in space for that matter, no condition or trial, no tragedy or downward spiral that can separate you from the One who holds you in the palm of His hand.

This is a “love divine, all loves excelling.” We can depend on God’s love for us throughout the course of our lives, from the time we are born until the time we depart this life. Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) puts the matter this way: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” There is no greater love!

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The Love of My Life – encouragement from @RebeccaJanney on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Rebecca Price Janney Author Photo 2018About the author: Rebecca Price Janney is the author of twenty-three books including the Golden Scroll 2019 Historical Novel of the Year, Easton at the Crossroads, and second place winner, Morning Glory. Her latest book is Sweet Sweet Spirit: A Woman’s Spiritual Journey to the Asbury College Revival. She shares her love of American history and the Lord at speaking engagements and through her podcast, “Inspiring Stories from American History.” She lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with her husband, teenage son, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Join the conversation: Who is the love of your life?

 

 

Undos and Do-Overs

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

I love the “undo” button. You know the one on the computer—that little arrow that curves to the left. When you click it, the last thing you did magically reverses. Make a mistake? No problem. Click, it’s fixed! Accidentally deleted something? Not an issue. Click, it’s back!

But “undo” isn’t an option for everything. Like Christmas morning, when I got distracted and “overcooked” the cinnamon rolls. Sadly, it’s not possible to uncook something.

Wouldn’t it be great if life had an “undo” button? I could click it to magically erase the unkind words I blurted. Or wipe out my selfish behavior. Or eliminate the wrong decision that proved to be oh, so bad. I could “undo” all those things that brought unwanted consequences or now weigh heavy on my conscience.

“Do-overs” would be another great life tool. For instance, it would come in really handy when the trials and difficulties of life pile up around us until we’re overwhelmed. When every path forward is blocked we’d just call a do-over. We could simply start over like on one of those puzzle apps. No more moves? Okay, let’s just begin a new game.

Yep. I think undos and do-overs for life would be very popular. When everything is messed up, when nothing is right, we could get a clean slate. Then we could start fresh.

It might sound too good to be true, but for Christians, that’s exactly what we received when we entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. A clean slate.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV

Our “old” life seriously needed a do-over. It looked like the ungodly world around us. We were burdened with the weight and consequences of self-centered living, bad decisions, and poor choices. But our “new” life is radically different from the world, holy and set apart to God. A life of holiness brings glorious freedom and joy. Freedom from the weight and consequences of sin.  And joy in a deeper intimacy with our holy God.

Sometimes Christians living the new life of faith can still get off track. We may fall back into old habits or allow the things of the world to distract us from following Christ. But praise God, He continuously invites us to repent and return to Him.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

We will not be perfect in this sinful world. Even as we grow spiritually to be more like Jesus, we will sometimes fall into temptation. But our faithful God will continue to give us second chances, undos, and do-overs until Jesus returns. Then we won’t need them ever again.

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Undos and Do-Overs – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” will lead you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.

Join the conversation: How does the possibility of a do-over affect your walk with Jesus?

 

More Than Called…

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” Jude 1:1-2 ESV

Are you feeling drained? Has serving God become a burden rather than a privilege?

Each of us has been called to serve our mighty God in a unique way. But we can become so busy fulfilling our call that we focus on the “doing.” We want to do better—to write well, to teach effectively, to do whatever we’ve been called to do to the best of our ability.

Yet our ability can be limited. Then we struggle with our inadequacy as we represent the King of Kings. That inadequacy drives to seek His empowering to accomplish His purposes.

To be conscious of our calling is to serve with an awareness of the privilege of being used by God to advance His kingdom. But that’s only a partial picture of what it means to be called. In the New Testament, Jude wrote, “To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:1-2 ESV).

Jude made a point of addressing his epistle to those who are called, loved, and kept.

How often have I been so busy ministering the love of God to everyone else that I’ve forgotten I’m also a recipient of that same love? We are loved by the God of love, not because we serve, but because He lavishly pours out His love on us through Jesus Christ’s atoning work.

Not only are we loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), we are also kept. Our Heavenly Father sustains us and protects us. He holds us in the palm of His hand. Regardless of our circumstances, there is no safer place to be.

He saves us by the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, and He seals us by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We have everything we need to do all He has called us to do. More importantly, we have everything we need to be all He has called us to be—chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, and sealed.

When we understand who we are—and to whom who we belong—God releases His power in us and through us to serve Him. The order is important. Identity comes before service. Being comes before doing. Reveling in His mercy, peace, and love comes before ministry in His name.

Before you write your next chapter, teach your next class, answer the twenty new emails sitting in your Inbox, or even change that next diaper, take a moment to consider this reminder:

“I am loved with a lavish, everlasting love. This love is unrelated to what I do, but it has everything to do with who I belong to. I am a beloved child of the King kept by His almighty hand.”   

Once we understand God’s love and His keeping, we are free to serve Him without fear, equipped in every way to fulfill the purpose to which we are called.

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More Than Called… -insight from @AvaPennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What has made you question the goodness of God?

Overcoming Fear of Rejection

by Jennifer Slattery @Jenslattery

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me.”   John 16:32 NIV

There’s one fear that can keep me paralyzed, that can dramatically hinder my obedience. Oh I’ll push through the hard, jump out into the unknown, and persevere through difficult and discouraging circumstances, so long as relational risk isn’t involved. But if I think there’s even a chance I might experience rejection, especially from someone I care about, I grow anxious and weak-kneed, and frankly, disobedient.

As a result, I’m tempted to skirt around tough conversations and pursue my comfort instead of obedience.

Unchecked, our fear of man—what they might or might not think of us, how they might or might not react—can hinder our obedience to Christ. And while our heart’s desire is to please our Savior in all things, trying harder leads to short-lived behavior modification at best.

Jesus demonstrates a better, deeper, and longer lasting way.

Throughout His ministry, He initiated tough conversations. He consistently had the courage to choose the unpopular route, to remain silent when ridiculed, and to give Himself completely to those He knew would abandon Him in His darkest hour. In John 16:32 we learn how. All will abandon Me, He said. But that’s okay, because I’ll have the love of the Father.

Jesus’ security came from His Father’s enduring love. That’s where ours will come from as well. When we’re filled with the love of the lover, our hunger for man’s approval subsides.

When you feel the sting of rejection weighing you down, may it serve as a reminder to draw close to the One who knows you fully, loves you deeply, and will never leave.

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Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte) or Instagram.

Join the conversation: How has a fear of rejection impacted your life?

Adoption is More Important Than You Think

by Kathy Collard Miller

Did you know that in the Roman culture when Paul wrote his letters, a Roman father could disinherit a son born into the family but an adopted child could not be disinherited? The idea was a father had no choice as to what he received when a baby was born naturally into the family. If the child grew up and disgraced the family, the father could justify disinheriting him by saying, “I didn’t know he had all these flaws, otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen him.”

But an adopted child was chosen specifically with full knowledge of his strengths, weaknesses, appearance, and anything else a family considered important. Therefore, a father could not justify disinheriting him. A father could never say, “I didn’t know what I was getting.”

This fact refers to a significant meaning for Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians: “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (1:5 ESV).

Paul’s wording didn’t just say we are sons (or daughters). He included the fact we are adopted. Paul fully knew the Roman culture—he was Jewish yet had Roman citizenship. His readers knew the significance of not only becoming a son but an adopted son—a position which could not be taken away regardless of performance or flaws.

I hope this speaks to you as much as it speaks to me. God wants us to know we cannot be disinherited—we cannot lose our salvation! He chose us fully knowing we would not be perfect. But he also wants us to desire to please him out of gratitude for the great salvation he has given us. As we live in that assurance, we’ll give glory to God.

When you read through Ephesians 1, it’s striking how often God’s glory is mentioned. You’ll find it in:

  1. 6: his grace brings him glory
    vs. 12: we are to the praise of his glory
    vs. 14: the gift of the Holy Spirit brings praise to his glory
    vs. 17: God is the Father of glory
    vs. 18: we can know the riches of his glory revealed in our inheritance.

What glorious connections to our inheritance.

If you are a Christian, you are secure. You may not always “feel” it, but you are regardless of your feelings. Because you are chosen and adopted.

…God sent forth His Son…so that we might receive the adoptions as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6 NASB

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is passionate about helping women know their inheritance in Christ. She has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries including China and Indonesia. Her 53 books include Christian Living titles and the Daughters of the King Bible study series. Connect with her at KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: What does your adoption into God’s family mean to you?

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash