DONE

by Tammy Whitehurst

There comes a time when we are done. Done with crying. Done with anger. Done with bitterness. We are done. Flat out…..DONE.

We cannot afford to waste our days. Life is short. Spinning our wheels and waking up every day to a new day, but never in a new way must cease.

Yes, the unthinkable happened. It was understandable to grieve. To cry. To weep and wail. I have walked in those shoes and slid on the slippery slope of falling flat on my face.

Finally, one day I walked the path of giving the situation to God because I could not handle it anymore. My heart and flesh cried out for God to rescue me from the heartbreak and broken relationship.

The moment we surrender it all, He can take control and begin to work things out like we never imagined. We may never understand why something happened, but we can understand that we have a MESSiah for every single one of life’s messes, for every heartbreak, and every time we have felt like we were finished. He will cover us in peace when we seek His face.

Here is what I had to learn. Time flies and it does not return. Years pass and we never get them back. Enough precious time has been wasted.

We cannot wait all of our lives for something that might never happen. We can prevail over setbacks and emotional pain. We can move past the disbelief. The distress.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but I do know this: God has a plan to bring you above water again. You will not drown when He is the rescuer. It might not be what you expected, but it can be more than you ever imagined.

Begin to notice the sunsets again, the beauty of a sunrise, the sound of laughter, the chirping of birds and the fragrance of a rose. Hold up the white flag of surrender and worship while you wait for God to unravel the tangled up mess. Surrender all the pain and live life again.

It’s past time to seek the sunshine, plan the vacation, a day with friends, or a trip to the coffee shop. Open the doors once again and invite people for dinner. Don’t just seize those moments, squeeze those moments!

If we wait for the perfect time to begin living again, we might wait so long we run out of time. It is never too late for a new beginning.

Battered and wounded troops—it’s way past time–let’s roll. Forward March!

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NLT

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

About the author: As an author, blogger, and full time speaker, Tammy encourages and challenges audiences to live life kicked up a notch. She is the co-owner of the Christian Communicators Conference. She struggles like the rest of us with dust, dog hair, cellulite, junk drawers, and wrinkles. Find out more at TammyWhitehurst.com, or on Facebook and YouTube.

Join the conversation: Are you DONE?

Search High and Low—Without the Low

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I just finished digging through my purse for about 20 minutes, desperately searching for a business card that I’d stuck in there a few days ago. Know what I found instead? Yeah, besides the candy bar of unknown origin. Or age. I found instead the list I spent 20 minutes searching for yesterday. I have proven once again that it’s not just about the looking. It’s also about the overlooking. And, multi-tasker that I am, I can do both simultaneously. Even while eating a candy bar. (Don’t judge. It was chocolate. It’s not like I had a choice.)

My husband doesn’t judge. He doesn’t even tease me when I can’t find something in my purse. One reason is that he’s a really nice guy. I’m pretty sure the other reason is that he knows I see his office on a regular basis. Not that I’m comparing Richie’s office to my purse or anything. Nevertheless, I have to say, if he added nail polish, some lip gloss and a travel-sized can of hairspray, I could picture myself putting a shoulder strap on that office and hauling it to the mall to find shoes to match. We recently had to rummage through his office on a hunt for his keys. We searched high and low before we found them. I was glad to make it out of there in one piece. And without tetanus.

Today I was also rummaging around in Scripture—though it was an entirely different kind of rummaging—and the word “seek” caught my attention. “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4 ESV). I may look for a business card, look for a list, look for the keys—even look for the candy bar I didn’t know I had. But no search is as vital as this one. It’s a three-pronged search that I never, ever want to overlook. We’re told to seek the Lord, seek His strength and seek His presence. And to do this searching “continually.”

It’s a high search. To seek the Lord is to actively desire a connection with Him. It happens through reading His Word, through prayer, through worship—and through keeping fervent our desire to know Him more and more. Seeking His strength is recognizing that all might is His and that there’s nothing we can do in this life without His empowering. Seeking His presence is understanding that He is in us and that He’s at work around us. It’s surrendering to Him, asking for His filling. It encompasses a stubbornly determined, unrelenting desire to love Him more completely and serve Him more passionately.

Guess what happens when we seek the Lord continually. All the other searches in life fall into perspective. That’s a happy place—with or without the candy bar. The verse right before says, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!” (Psalm 105:3 ESV).

A heart that’s rightly seeking is a heart that will rejoice. I want to glorify His holy name in the way that I seek. I want to be all about the looking. Never the overlooking. That’s definitely a key element in a life well-lived.

Incidentally, any time you find a key element, you might want to make sure you don’t leave it in my husband’s office. Or my purse.

But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29 NASB

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Search High and Low—Without the Low – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for the Messy to Meaningful series, with My Purse Runneth Over coming soon. Edie Melson and Rhonda have a new book as well, Unruffled—Thriving in Chaos.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How has God revealed Himself to you when you have sought Him out?

Deepening Our Knowledge of Christ through Surrender

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Our relationship with Christ begins and is sustained through surrender.

For years, I held a distorted view of God. I knew intellectually that He was loving and kind. But my actions and fears, demonstrated my true beliefs—beliefs that hid so deeply in my heart, my conscious mind wasn’t aware they were there. Through a series of events, God allowed my world to completely unravel. At least, that was how it felt.

In reality, He was unraveling lies and fears never meant to be part of my world, so that I could truly come alive in Him.

It all began when my husband quit his job—twice, in under a year—and moved our family across the country. Through a three-year upheaval period that followed, I realized, while I claimed God was my provider, sustainer, protector, and guide, my continual fight for control proved I believed otherwise. In many ways, I knew of God, but didn’t truly know Him, not at the deep, peace-sustaining level.

Otherwise, I would’ve had no cause for alarm or striving and no reason to self-protect. As I surrendered, through gritted teeth at first, I came to understand just how true all those truths Scripture reveals truly were. That terrifying, mind-shifting experience resulted in an intimacy with Christ I hadn’t even previously thought to pursue, and a much deeper understanding of who He is.

I’m learning to say, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord …” (Phil. 3:7-8, NIV).

Those words in Philippians were written by an ancient church planter named Paul who truly had forsaken all things in order to know Christ. Prior to his conversion, he’d known of God but he didn’t come to truly know Him, personally and intimately, until He surrendered. And through his continual surrender, his intimacy with Christ grew to a level I suspect few of us will experience, because few of us will ever truly understand what it means to say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

As I said, our relationship begins, and is deepened and fueled, through surrender. Less of us, more of Him. As we rely on Him—His power, protection, strength, and provision—our understanding moves from mere intellectual assent to a deep and abiding knowledge that forms a strong, unshakable foundation.

“This is eternal life,” Christ said, while praying to the Father, “that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3, NIV). The word our Bibles translate as know, ginóskó in the original Greek, points to a deep intimacy acquired through experience. But even this word lacks some of the depth revealed through its Hebrew counterpart, yada. This is the same word used to describe the union Adam and Eve experienced through intimacy with each other. Genesis 4:1 says, “Now the man knew his wife Eve …” (NRSV).

Our culture has turned sex into something selfish and ugly, but God designed this most intimate of acts to, in some mysterious way, unite two individuals into one. It’s a complete unveiling of oneself, to live “naked but not afraid.” To know one another fully, without shame or fear.

This is the level of intimacy Christ longs for with us, to usher us into a relationship so fulfilling, we, like Paul, would consider all else rubbish for the sake of knowing, truly knowing, Him.

We reach that place of ever-increasing intimacy through surrender.

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Deepening Our Knowledge of Christ through Surrender – @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Join the conversation: How has surrender transformed your life? What did that involve? We want to hear your story!

 

 

Power On

by Nan Corbitt Allen

I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven.  Ephesians 1:19-20 NASB

Last fall, most of my extended family, who live in the Florida Panhandle, were unwelcoming hosts to a despicable guy named Michael.

Hurricane Michael.

I watched on TV the path of this huge storm and started praying (and worrying) about them as soon as I discovered that their town was being targeted by this Category 5 storm, packing 160 mph force winds. Though they are inland 60 miles, the eye and the outer bands of the storm were aiming right at them, threatening to devour them.

They were hit hard. Roofs went flying, and gaping holes were left by falling trees allowing in the torrents that all but destroyed drywall, carpet, and flooring. The water left behind mold, muck, and mud. It was not only frightening, but the aftermath was disgusting.

Of course, the electricity went out—and stayed out for weeks. My family can tell you exactly not only how many weeks, but hours, seconds, and milliseconds they were powerless. Some had generators which got its power from gasoline, which eventually became scarce, but even those generators provided a very limited amount of power at best.

This event made me, and them, aware that we are entirely dependent on someone else for our power. And not just the kind that turns on our lights and keeps our refrigerators running. As believers we have the privilege of drawing our daily power from the Lord. In Philippians 3:10, Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.” (NASB)

The Scripture at the top of this page says that the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is available to us, and not just when we die. What could be better than that!

Henry and Melvin Blackaby wrote in their book Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter that Changes Your Life “Your hope of the resurrection isn’t just for the future when you physically die and go to heaven; it’s also for now, while you’re living on earth …”[1]

Yes, the same power that breathed new life into the dead body of God’s Son is available to us. But realize that God won’t necessarily force this power upon us. Sometimes He allows us to be in vulnerable, powerless situations, but it’s up to us whether we’re going to accept it or not. The first step to accessing God’s power is recognizing that we’re powerless. Often it’s the difference between commitment (imposing our own power into a situation) and surrender (admitting that we are powerless and calling on Him to be our strength).

The Apostle Paul refers to a “thorn in his flesh” that he endured “…to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!” There is conjecture about what the metaphorical thorn was, but Paul saw it as a hindrance and he asked God on several occasions to remove it.

But God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB)

Draw power everyday by surrendering to the resurrected One who can switch it on for you.

[1] Blackaby, Henry, Melvin ©  Random House, 2007

TWEETABLE
Power On – Thoughts on #FollowingGod from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the resurrection power available to you?

 

The Kingdom of Me and the Joy of Christ

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Often, it’s the good things, what I often think of as the  “God things,” that most keep me from Him. It’s sad how easily my heart is swayed. One would think I’d learned by now, that I’ve become adept at putting effective guardrails in place and being extra diligent to guard my heart. But so often, busyness, pride, or selfishness seeps in, and my service that began with such pure intentions becomes ugly and self-elevating.

I’m all too proficient at building my kingdom, when my efforts should be centered on the things of God.

The more I surrender to Him, the more I yield to His Spirit within and align my heart with His plans and purposes, the more joy and freedom I feel. The more I slip, bit by bit, from this, the more miserable I become.

At every moment, I’m worshiping someone—God or myself.

The god of self is a vicious, defeating, deceiving contender, one I’ve found quite difficult to kill. She rises up when I least expect her to, whispering lies in my ear, making promises—to give me joy and fulfillment—which she has no power to fulfill.

As C. S. Lewis put it, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Every promise made by my Savior is certain and true, and here’s what He tells me: joy, peace, and deep, soul-enriching fulfillment is found only in Him. He is my prize, and He alone can fill me to overflowing, in abundance, with the very life I crave.

This is the promise He’s made to all mankind. This invitation to love and live loved, made by our Creator Himself, resonates so deeply, upon hearing it, our souls leap for joy. Until we encounter something flashier or louder or momentarily more alluring. And we begin amassing our wealth, our toys, our successes, and our homes, until the voice of God, the call of God, fades.

Unfortunately, building the kingdom of “me” comes much too easily.

This was certainly true for the ancient Israelites, returning home after captivity. Their journey had been long and arduous. Their sorrow deep, when they arrived in their beloved city to find the Temple of God—the place where He Himself communed with His people—reduced to a pile of rubble.

And yet, they began to rebuild, for a time, until opposition hit. Then, they started building the kingdom of me. “‘My house lies in ruins,” says the Lord of Heavens Armies, ‘while all of you are busy building your own houses.’”

Please note: God was speaking about so much more than a building, as glorious as this man-made structure once was. His Temple housed His presence.

God was inviting His people into relationship. To leave all their false gods behind, once and for all, and to connect deeply and intimately, with Him. Upon their return to the homeland, they had responded enthusiastically for a while, craving the very thing God promised.

But then they stopped and shifted their focus.

I get it. I’ve been there. And unfortunately, I’ll likely land there again. But when I do, God offers me the same invitation He did His people, so long ago. “Return to Me,” He says, “and I will return to you” (Zechariah 1:3 NIV). He is only a prayer away, and He offers much more than the kingdom of Me ever will. He gives Himself without measure, inviting us to meet with Him, to be held by Him. To be loved deeply and completely, and in this, to be filled with joy and peace.

“I will fill this place,” God says, speaking of His Temple (Haggai 2:7 NLT), which, thanks to the blood of Jesus, is us. He alone can fill our deepest, darkest, most hidden places with Himself.

And in that moment, when the power and glory of our Creator fills us completely, we’re reminded yet again, He is our prize, and He is enough.

More than enough.

TWEETABLE
The Kingdom of Me and the Joy of Christ – insight from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryJennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Drawing Near, a 90-day devotional by Wholly Loved Ministries: Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.

Join the conversation: What lures you into serving the Kingdom of Me?

Lord, I’m Just Wondering…How Will This Be?

by Pat Layton @patricialayton

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34 NIV

I remember the first Christmas after believing in Jesus back in 1984. I had always loved Christmas and all that it entailed, but that year was different. Quieter. Sweeter. Personal.

It had been just a few months since I laid my messy-self down at a physical alter and completely surrendered to Him. I brought my heartbreak and shame from a life of bad choices, including the heartbreak of abortion. I brought my broken-to-pieces marriage. I brought my overwhelming sense of failure and worn to the bone weariness from trying to make it all better. With a clear head and a humble heart, I had just heard exactly what the “Gospel” meant for the first time. I enthusiastically received Jesus as Lord of my life and never looked back.

As the Christmas season approaches, I have been contemplating this verse with a fresh heart. I have been thinking about how the unexpected turn of events might have left Mary with even more questions than she started with! Talk about an “unplanned pregnancy”!

Mary’s “How will this happen?” challenge was answered by the angel with “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” It was a reply that offered more questions than answers. Surely she was left wondering: when He does come will I know? Will He tell me when He is coming? How does “the Holy Spirit” feel?

Today’s verse and good news shows us God is not afraid of or offended by our questions, just as when Mary asked, not with doubt but with a sincere wondering, “HOW Lord? I am a virgin.”

So friend, what is going on in your life today that prompts the question….”How will this be Lord?”

Here are some tips I wrote down for myself as I reviewed these verses:

  1. Study God’s Word for a promise that pertains to your CURRENT need or question.
  2. Check your Bible concordance and see where all your need is mentioned. (Be sure to look at the context to make sure you will not be putting words in God’s mouth.)
  3. Decide to believe what God says.
  4. Journal/record your question and God’s answers and state your faith as a prayer. Say it out loud so YOU can hear it.
  5. Let God speak and change your heart.Leave it with Him. He is able. If you find yourself carrying the question again, remind yourself that “God’s Got This!”

Mary had that kind of trust. “May it be done to me according to your word,” she answered.  And lived out that simple trust one step at a time.

Lord, you are amazing. You are good to me. In fact, you are GREAT! I trust you. I surrender to you. I look for your constant leading today, tomorrow and for as long as the questions loom ahead of me. I am thankful for the comfort of The Holy Spirit who walks with me through my questions and gives me the strength to believe. This is the day that you have made. I rejoice and believe!

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What prompts you to ask, “How will this be?” @PatriciaLayton on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

[a lifestyle photographer]About the author: Pat is a passionate and inspiring author, speaker and life coach who has founded and led a variety of organizations during her 25 years in full time ministry. She has published 6 books including her best-selling post abortion recovery Bible study, Surrendering the Secret, released by Lifeway and Life Unstuck: Finding Peace with Your Past, Purpose in Your Present and Passion for Your Future. Visit her website at http://www.patlayton.net for more information.

Join the conversation: What thing in your life did you think of when you read Mary’s question?

When You Don’t Like God’s Plan

by Debbie Wilson

If God has a plan for your life, and you have a plan for your life, whose plan do you think is better?

During my senior year of college, I attended a conference called Senior Panic. The term aptly described me. Graduation loomed just months away, and I wasn’t sure which path to pursue. But I knew what I didn’t want—ministry.

So, when I sensed God’s call to join Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), I resisted. Strongly. I was sure our perfect God had made His first mistake. He had the wrong gal.

Like Jacob, I wrestled all night with God. Like Moses, I offered up every excuse why He should pick someone else. Not only was I not qualified, the idea of living in a hut in the jungle didn’t appeal to me. And I was sure, if I completely surrendered to God, that is exactly where He’d send me.

But God wouldn’t relent, so finally worn out from resisting, I surrendered.

During my staff interview, a woman asked me how sure I was of my calling. “100%,” I said, “because this is not something I would choose.”

Cru accepted me—on PROBATION—of course. Hadn’t I already told God about my limited Bible knowledge and lack of ministry experience?

Training and Transformation

At staff training in Fort Collins, Colorado my heart softened. I realized I wanted to serve Christ wherever He decided to put me. On completion, they assigned me to a team in Boston—instead of a hut in the jungle.

Our team director modeled a close walk with the Lord. He taught us how to study the Bible in a simple format. He assigned us to spend two hours with God every morning before our staff meeting. The Scriptures began to speak to me like they never had before.

I learned to savor my time with God. His Word became fuel for my soul. It’s no exaggeration to say my life was transformed. As my love for God and His Word exploded, a passion to connect others to God’s heart was born.

I met my husband on staff and after 11 years in youth ministry we sensed the call to pursue training in biblical counseling. That led us into different venues of ministry.

After serving God in vocational Christian ministry for many decades I can say, God didn’t make a mistake when He called me. I now realize, He doesn’t call us for what we can do for Him, but for what He can do in and through us.

God’s plan is not always easy. Sometimes it includes setbacks and suffering. But we can be sure it’s always best.

Do you have a plan for your life that collides with God’s plan for you? Whose plan do you think is better?

The only way to live a life without regret is to live a life of surrender and obedience.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Join the conversation: Has God’s plan ever surprised you?

Photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash