Never Thirst Again

by Ginny Dent Brant

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will  thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14 (NKJV)

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the watering hole, He actively sought her. He compared the water in her well to the Living Water that only He could offer. Her water would not completely satisfy one’s thirst, but His Water would give eternal life, welling up and supplying every need by its freshening springs. This woman of ill repute knew she was a sinner and accepted His gift of Living Water.

I, too, was a sinner, when I began to drink from the Living Water at age 16. Jesus sought me and bought me, but my father, Harry Dent, thought I was drinking too much from His Living Water.

For years I’d prayed for my father’s salvation. I even asked my professors at Columbia International University (CIU) to pray for him. My father had forbidden me to go there, but I went to drink in wisdom from the Bible. In due time, God answered my prayers. At age 48, he drank from the Living Water, attended the forbidden place—CIU—and jumped into the Lord’s work with both feet. Those professors who’d shaped my life became his mentors.

I never dreamed my father would spend 25 years serving God, write five Christian books, and develop a ministry in Romania. The one thing my father feared the most when I attended CIU was that I would become a missionary in a third world country. Little did he know—he would become that missionary!

In 1998, I traveled with my father to Romania. What a privilege to see the many churches he had helped to plant from the underground. At the request of the newly elected President of Romania, my father helped him bring Romania from communism to freedom.

After seeing all God had done through my father, I would lay my head on my pillow and shed tears of joy and gratitude. I was amazed God had gone so far beyond my prayers. In my spirit, I sensed difficult times were ahead, but I was never to forget what God had done in my father’s life.

Those difficult times came in the form of a disease called Alzheimer’s, which quickly diminished my father’s brilliant mind and left him in a constant state of confusion. I made a video of his life to remind him of what he had done in life. In a few years, he no longer knew the man in the video. For my family, our journey with this disease was like traveling through a dark tunnel. We desperately wanted to see a glimmer of light at the end, but we were engulfed in a cloak of sadness with no light in sight.

In my father’s last years, he did not know who we were or what was happening around him, yet one thing was certain. When he heard Christian music or heard the name of God, his countenance would light up. Sometimes, he would shout an “Amen” or bow his head to pray. As he was dying in my arms, his eyes were calmed with the gospel hymns I sang to comfort him.

The Living Water never dies. Those who drink from it, never thirst again.

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

About the author: Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Her recent book, Unleash Your God-given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer, was written with an oncologist after her cancer journey. Cancer prevention blog and more info at http://www.ginnybrant.com.

Join the conversation: Who have you seen transformed by the Living Water?

The Best Exchange

by Nancy Kay Grace

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. Psalm 30:11 NASB

Have you ever made a worthwhile exchange?

Exchanges happen every day. Consignment stores are popular, where an agreement is made between a seller and buyer, exchanging gently used items for money upon sale. One person eliminates the unwanted item in exchange for money. 

As we grow in our Christian faith, the Holy Spirit helps us eliminate the old way of thinking in exchange for a new way, reflecting God’s love.  Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV) instructs us to remove from our minds the lies that contaminate our souls and exchange them for the new self that reflects the Lord: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Simply put, the old way is sin; the new way is living in Christ.

Consider these thoughts to eliminate and exchange through the transformation of the Lord:

  • The old way thought “I am not worth anything,” but the new way believes in being treasured to God.
  • The old way condemns through whispering the lie “I am not acceptable to anyone.” The new way recalls acceptance by God.
  • The old way of thinking believes “there is nothing beautiful about me.” The new way remembers being made in the image of God.
  • The old way shames with “I can’t be forgiven for my past.” The new way accepts the grace of forgiveness from God. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) we read about the powerful exchange from old to new. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away and the new has come.”

This last verse opened my heart to realize I needed to exchange my sinful self to be a new creation in Christ. The words brought hope to my soul. The Lord would eliminate the lies of low self-worth in exchange for the abundant life of faith. A beautiful exchange occurred, transforming my heart from despair to hope in Jesus Christ.

We lay aside the former ways to be clothed in the righteousness of God. These new garments are not temporarily ours on consignment, but a new wardrobe forever.

Have you come to the Lord to eliminate the old way and exchange it for a new heart? It’s the best exchange!

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

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is thankful for the gift of peace in the face of turmoil. She is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives.  

Visit https://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for her monthly Grace Notes devotional newsletter. You can also connect with Nancy on Facebook or Instagram.

Join the conversation: What exchange that God has made for you do you value the most?

Spiritual Truth at the Movies

by Elaine Helms

Recently we watched a really old, black and white, award-winning movie called Rebecca. It was about a young, immature woman who amazingly married a very wealthy widower and moved into his palatial home by the ocean. There were several spiritual analogies that came to mind as I reflected on this Alfred Hitchcock suspense tale.

First, the new wife reminded me of immature believers. She could not believe that this polished, successful man really loved her, since she was ordinary and not polished or glamorous at all. The matronly head housekeeper fueled this perception by telling her about how beautiful and brilliant the previous wife (Rebecca) was and how much her husband and everyone else loved her. This all added to her insecurity, making her think that she was unable to compete with this ghost of the past.

There is another spiritual analogy seen in a scene where the housekeeper whispers in her ear that she should just end the futility of it all by jumping from the window to her death. That housekeeper reminded me of the devil, the perpetual “accuser of the brethren” who is “prowling around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (Revelation 12:10, 1 Peter 5:8). He looks for weakness and pounces. Discouragement, defeat, and depression are just some of the flaming darts he throws at us. That is why we are told in Ephesians 6:11-12 (NASB) to take up the whole armor of God, especially the shield of faith, to be “able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Truly “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB).

The third parallel is to God’s love for us. The story had a dramatic climax when the new bride discovers that the widower had not loved his first wife at all. Apparently, Rebecca was an evil, vindictive woman who made his life nearly unbearable. They only kept up appearances for the family name’s sake.

This new knowledge of her husband’s genuine love for her, transformed the new bride into a much more confident and mature woman, who stood by her husband in the face of possible imprisonment. Their love was the key to both of them being transformed into the people they needed to be.

How often in our Christian walk are we like the insecure, immature new wife? Not really sure of God’s love for us and wooed by the devil into believing that we are worthless and unacceptable to God. We live defeated lives, maybe even thinking suicidal thoughts spurred on by the devil, until we finally hear the truth and believe what God says in His word, that He truly loves us (Jeremiah 31:3; 1 John 3:1, 4:16).

Like the bride in the story, we go through an amazing transformation when we live in God’s genuine, unconditional love. We can rise above the lies of the devil and stand on the promises of God. We can now step out in faith with confidence in Him. He will fill us with His power to do whatever He calls on us to do. We can now walk in the works he planned before the foundation of the world for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We can now pray with new boldness because we know God hears our prayers. He delights in the prayers of the upright (Proverbs 15:8b).

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive . . .

For the Father Himself loves you.” John 16:24, 27 NASB

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

About the author: With her passion for God, humor, vulnerability and spiritual strength, Elaine Helms encourages audiences and readers to draw closer to God and live the abundant life Jesus came to give His followers. Prayer Coordinator for both the Southern Baptist Convention and My Hope America with Billy Graham, Elaine has 30 years of experience in church, national, and interdenominational prayer leadership.

Her book, Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know is used by thousands of leaders across the country and around the world to train and equip intercessors to pray personally and corporately. Journey through Scripture, find inspiration in stories of others, and learn simple yet effective strategies for prayer. www.ChurchPrayerMinistries.org.

The Power of the Spoken Word

by Fran Sandin

How then will they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  Romans 10:14 ESV

In 2012 my husband, Jim, and I were ministry partners for “The Singing Men of Texas” and the Michael and Jan Gott International Ministries. We traveled on mission to Crimea.

In Sevastopol, where the Russian Baltic fleet is based, we visited a lovely area that had a shaded park and a large, decorative, white archway with steps leading down to the water’s edge—a great photo op. A small adjacent street market sold fashionable large-brimmed hats, and Jim bought one for me—a perfect black and white stripe. On a hot spring day, the extra covering came in handy.

At the Singing Men’s concert that evening, I met Ira. She grew up in a non-Christian home, but her parents were interested in her getting a good education. Ira did not want to be a Christian, because they endured constant discrimination and got the worst jobs. So she was fine with her life as it was.

However, when an opening came up for an interpreter at a Baptist church, her father encouraged her to apply so she could improve her English-speaking skills. Also, she might get a better job as a result. Yay! She got the church job.

One of her first services was to translate an English-speaker’s words to Russians. The pastor was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a strong southern drawl. She said, “I could barely understand him, much less translate!” But after listening to his sermons several times, she was beginning to understand.

One Sunday morning as she was translating the gospel message, Ira understood for the first time the love of Jesus in giving His life to save her. That very day she gave her heart to Him, with tears streaming down her face. She was converted through the sermon she was interpreting. That is the power of the spoken Word.

The Bible tells us words have power. Especially God’s words. He told Isaiah, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 ESV). His words are more than inspiring. They are transformative.

Now Ira is married to a church leader, and they are parents of two children. She supports women’s ministries, has done magazine editorial work, and actively participates in her church and community. Ira is enthusiastic about her faith. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she has a gift of encouragement. She is an asset in God’s Kingdom, and I feel so honored to have met her.

Dear Heavenly Father, Your children come from all parts of the globe. They are gifted in so many ways and are eager to spread the good news of salvation to all who will hear. Help us not take for granted the sacrificial gift of Jesus’ death in our place. Let it be fresh in our hearts every day so that we will want to share the good news of His love for others. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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

About the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She has authored See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. This devotional is an excerpt from her new book, HOPE on the Way, DEVOTIONS to Go, published by Roaring Lambs Ministries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For more information visit Fran’s website: www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: How have words influenced you?

Night and Day of the Zombies

by Patti Richter

We sat on the floor hugging our knees to our chest for protection, wide-eyed at the scene before us. Several people with the same ghastly appearance stumbled forward— not in living color but in half-dead black and white.

That was my first encounter with zombies, when Mom allowed my sister and me to stay up late one Friday night to watch a scary movie. It may have been the only time I forgot to eat my popcorn.

Zombies have maintained a steady following for decades, which may have something to do with people facing their fear of disease, or death, or life after death. But it’s a gruesome type of therapy to entertain yourself with the walking dead—rotting flesh, infected and infecting.

I recently observed some modern-day, civilized zombies (although they might refer to themselves in another way since their particular form of mindlessness begins with exercise). I’d seated myself at the only empty picnic table under a shade tree for an hour of reading while my husband and son hiked.

The group of young women sat cross-legged in a circle on a blanket with several babies stowed in a playpen beside them. I assumed they gathered for social and health benefits, but after some low humming they rose and surrounded my shade tree. As they caressed the tree with long strokes, they chanted unintelligible words. When the women’s voices grew shrill with laughter, the babies began centering on their own self-actualization—wailing for their mothers’ attention.

I felt sorry for those women and children. They’re soaking in the world’s counterfeit light in place of “the light of the world” (John 8:12 NIV). Tim Keller says, “Christ gives us true things to think about that overcome the darkness of this life, while others say ‘just hum loudly and look away.’”

However, I do not condemn those who seek to fill a spiritual void since I, too, was once a zombie. According to the Apostle Paul, I was dead in my sins while I “followed the ways of this world” (Ephesians 2:2 NIV).

Paul, sent by the Lord to minister to Gentile nations that did not know God, explained that, without Christ, we are the walking dead. “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Eph. 2:3 NIV). He observed the futility of those “separated from the life of God,” who have “lost all sensitivity” (Ephesians 4:18 – 19 NIV).

The nations currently hope for a return to normal through an effective vaccine against the deadly virus that plagues us. But our normal world features untold suffering from the problem of sin. Greed, strife, deceit and all kinds of depravity will continue to plague our world. And troubled souls will still seek relief through escape mechanisms and mind-altering substances.

However, “a new and living way opened for us” that allows us to “draw near to God” (Hebrews 10:20, 22 NIV). We don’t have to stumble through life infected with sin.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) foretold of the transformation the Messiah would bring: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” This Old Testament promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save the spiritually lost and confused, even those who were demon-possessed.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 NIV  

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Night and Day of the Zombies – encouragement from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Have you been transformed into the land of the living?

The River of Life

by Lori Altebaumer @lori_altebaumer

And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.                                                               Revelation 22:1 NKJV

Standing beside the mountain stream watching the crystal-clear water rushing by, I am reminded of the river of living water spoken of in Scripture. The urge to remove my shoes and step into the flow is strong. But this stream carries snow melt straight from the mountaintops. The water is so cold it makes my bones feel like they might shatter. It’s not even close to pleasant.

Yet the beckoning is strong, an irresistible invitation to step into something sacred. My shoes slide off, and I brace myself. And in the momentary pain⸺ until thankfully my feet go numb⸺ I am a part of this river that comes from far above and flows down into places I will not see or know.

The water captures the light, illuminating the variegated colors of the rocks beneath its surface, transforming the ordinary into extraordinary. The pure water swirls around my ankles in a dance that sparkles and hops as it hurries on.

Tranquil pools of water bring a sense of much needed peace, but it is the active, flowing water that transforms the rocks and hard places of life into something so lovely we can’t resist the urge to step in.

Our lives are full of hard places, some of our own doing, some as the results of the actions of others. There is no life that escapes these stones of bitterness: hurt, fear, insecurity, grief—the list goes on. Whether they are our own hard places or the hard places of others spilling over, they make a solid lining for the pathway of our lives.

But our hearts long for more. We’ve lived with the hurt and disappointment, the confusion and doubt for so long we may have buried the longing so deep within us we no longer recognize it. But it’s there. And even more, we thirst for a beauty that inspires us, something so beautiful we can’t resist its invitation to step in. Like the river flowing from the mountain tops, quenching the thirst of all it touches, moving with purpose toward its final destination, we find our purpose in the movement of our lives. And it is there, too, we find the beauty.

What a joy to know that the hard places in our lives can be made beautiful beneath the pure, living water of our Creator. What a comfort to know He has a plan to redeem the ordinary and unwanted, to transform it into something extraordinary. That plan is the River of Life which flows from His throne to carry us into His eternal blessings when we step in through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the first blessing is to know the beauty of those transformed hard places of our lives has the potential to inspire others. It invites them into the River of Life that has the power to transform them as well.

Like stepping into the frigid waters of the mountain stream, it may be painful at first. But as the apostle Paul declared, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV).

Today I face the momentary discomfort and invite the River of Life to pour over the hard places in my life, giving God the sovereignty to transform it for His purposes, in the hope another may be encouraged to step in.

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The River of Life – encouragement from @Lori_Altebaumer @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. With her boots on the ground, head in the clouds, and heart in His hands, she is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart in search of life’s best adventures. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Her first novel, A Firm Place to Stand, released in January 2020. She also

A Firm Place to Stand by [Lori Altebaumer]

blogs regularly on her website www.lorialtebaumer.com. In between writing, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here.

Join the conversation: What is there in nature that really speaks to you about God?

Love or Nothing

by Patti Richter

“Isn’t love the most important thing?”

My friend’s mother had just repeated the question for me a second time as I attempted to share my born-again faith.

“Of course,” I had to agree. We both knew the Apostle Paul’s admonition to love: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal . . .  and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, ESV).

I was a college student at that time, maturing but still growing, and my concept of love was yet unformed. But even as a new follower of Christ, God’s Spirit and His Word were already transforming my heart and mind.

I was much like a woman who marries a man with children and later realizes her commitment entails much more than one relationship. Loving God requires loving others, and I had a long way to go in this area.

When I shared my testimony of coming to Christ with long-time friends who also needed a Savior, they didn’t respond as I hoped. But instead of praying for them and keeping in touch, I gave up these friendships without considering Paul’s words from that lyrical chapter, “Love is patient and kind” (v. 4 ESV).

My superior attitude likewise threw cold water on the home front, where I tried to enlighten my parents by comparing their longstanding faith traditions to my fresh understanding of the gospel.

And when my younger brother interrupted me, I yelled at him.

Obviously, I needed to memorize those verses in 1 Corinthians 13 regarding love, which “is not arrogant or rude… does not insist on its own way… is not irritable or resentful” (vv. 4 – 6 ESV).

Though I valued the biblical way of love, I seemed to fail at every opportunity to practice it. My heart throbbed with love for God but harbored some stubborn deposits of selfishness.

When I look back at those early days as a believer, I can easily see how much I needed to grow. The challenge of loving as God loves had barely begun for me.

God had much in store for that young woman all those years ago. He would use her eventual marriage and then having children to continue her education. Through those challenges, she would learn to lean into Christ’s power, which would enable her to love in a way that would please and glorify him.

Yet, while God saw every dark spot in my heart, He would never give up on me because of his amazing love—so patient, so kind. Experiencing His awesome love must have inspired Paul’s clear descriptions, “Love bears all things… endures all things” (v. 7 ESV). God is our foremost example of offering truly selfless love.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…. We love because he first loved us…. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:16, 19, 21 ESV

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Love or Nothing – insight from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Patti Richter headshot 2017-1nAbout the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She writes and edits global mission stories for The Gospel Coalition and her faith essays appears at BlueRibbonNews.com.

Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of SufferingIt is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What have you learned about love since you came to know the Lord?

Impatient with the Process

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The year my husband spent abroad after graduating college, he taught for several months at a Bible school in the Fiji Islands. There was a missionary there who was much-revered for his wisdom and excellent teaching. After one particularly inspiring class, the students surrounded the godly man and asked: how long did it take him to prepare for such a profound lesson?

The old missionary smiled at the eager students. “Oh, about 45 years and a half-hour,” he told them.

Some things take time. A long time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a godly Christian. Yet often, we struggle with impatience at our lack of maturity. Why can’t we be wiser with our words? When will we ever feel confident in our Bible knowledge? Will there come a time when our foolishness is at an end?

When are we finally going to get it all together?

A look at scriptural examples of God’s time frame in transformation to maturity can also be discouraging. Moses spent the first forty years of his life in the Pharaoh’s palace. Then, after murdering an Egyptian guard, Moses fled into the wilderness. There he remained for forty more years. It wasn’t until Moses was the ripe old age of 80 that God called him to lead his people out of Egypt.

Then there is the story of David. The prophet Samuel anointed him to be the next king when he was quite young, still tending the family sheep out in the fields. While David knew what the future held for him, few others did. Life did not change quickly for David after the anointing. But eventually King Saul saw him as a threat, forcing David to flee into the wilderness. There he remained in exile for many years, continually pursued by Saul and his army. It was a long wait before God would finally fulfill His promise.

Even Jesus spent time in the wilderness in preparation for His public ministry. For forty days, He fasted and endured temptations flung at Him by Satan.

Clearly, preparation takes time. And it is in the wilderness that God often does His most important work in preparing people for their purpose.

Why the long wait in the wilderness for each of these future leaders? The writer of Hebrews gives us a clue (in reference to Jesus): “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB).

Jesus perfected His obedience through experiencing suffering in the wilderness, as did Moses and David.

Being in the wilderness, with its isolation and difficulties, can have a valuable outcome. Through our experience there, we see the reality of just how much we need Him. When we do, it is only then that we are best equipped to do His work: our hearts fully open to His leading and ready to choose His will over our own.

Time in the wilderness grows us into much more effective servants. Paul learned this when dealing what he considered to be a thorn in his flesh. “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me,” he wrote. “And He has said to me, ‘My power 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 12:8-9 NASB). Paul learned the power of Christ through his “wilderness” experience.

Are you suffering in the wilderness today? Hang in there. God is doing a work in you as you wait on Him. Someday you will be able to look back and see what He accomplished in you during that time. And you will count it worth the cost.

I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.                                                                                     Philippians 1:6 NASB

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Impatient with the Process – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie 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 walking her neurotic dog. 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 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: How has God used a wilderness experience to transform you?

Fighting Enslaving Behaviors

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Though I trusted in Christ for salvation as a child, you never would’ve believed this, had you encountered me in my young adult years.

It was like I’d grabbed hold of the fringes of eternal life but not the full expression of it.

I had a tainted, partial view of God. I saw Him as lofty, for sure. The One who not only set the rules but had every right to do so. I also knew I didn’t deserve the gift of grace He’d given me. In fact, I felt so undeserving, I was certain that was how He viewed me as well. As if He tolerated me on occasion but was mostly just disappointed.

He certainly had cause to be. I wasn’t living anything like my Bible said I should. I went to church on Sunday and Bible study on Tuesday, then got drunk with my friends on Friday. I took my daughter to play dates and acted the responsible and emotionally stable adult. Then, while my husband and daughter slept, I spent the quiet night hours binging and purging in a desperate attempt to fill all my empty places inside.

I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength, apart from Jesus, and I was failing miserably. Each night, I’d promise God the next day I’d do better, only to find myself falling into the same self-destructive behaviors.

Then one day, I stumbled upon Jesus’ response to temptation. You may be familiar with the story. Scripture tells us the Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He was bombarded, again and again, by the forces of darkness. Yet, He remained strong. Unshakable. Victorious. As I read Matthew 4:1-11 and all the ways Christ engaged in a more intense spiritual battle you and I ever will, it was as if He were holding His hand out to me, saying, “Come on. Watch what I do. Follow Me.”

So I began to do just that. I started to look at my faith differently; less about what I needed to do or not do and more about what God wanted me to learn. My first and most important lesson: discovering who He was. Gaining full knowledge of His love and glory, because only then could I truly live in Him.

In John 14, shortly before His death, Jesus spoke to His disciples. He left them final instructions regarding a rather overwhelming assignment—launching His church during a time of intense persecution. This by a group of men who, in a few short hours would abandon Him. In other words, individuals who, like me, were nowhere near strong enough or wise enough for the task.

But Jesus said to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1 NIV). In fact, He used the word believe six times in the span of fourteen verses. A paraphrase of the whole passage might read: “Believe not in yourself, your might, or plans, but in Me.”

As I fought against old behavior patters, it was as if Jesus was saying the same to me. “I have so much more for you, Jennifer. I’ll show you precisely what that is, in due time. But today, believe in Me. Lean on Me, and learn from Me (Matthew 11:28). We’ll take this journey together.”

That was just under twenty years ago, and I’m grateful to say, Christ conquered each one of those enslaving habits and more, as He’s molded me, slowly but steadily, into His image. This transformation hasn’t been quick or easy, but it’s been freeing and sure.

He’ll do the same for you.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV

TWEETABLE
Fighting Enslaving Behaviors – insight on #FollowingGod from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Jennifer’s latest book is Restoring Her FaithShe left belief behind…but could this family change her mind?

With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds that his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Join the conversation: Have you been set free from an enslaving behavior? Please share!

Building Redemptive Relationships

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

I’m forty-four, and I’m still learning how to maintain healthy relationships. God recently sparked a major mind-shift in me on this, one that arose smack in the middle of tension, confusion, and heartache.

But in the end, the situation resulted in incredible hope and peace.

My two most important relationships are with my husband and daughter. Naturally, I am motivated to love them well, in a way that deepens intimacy, creates wholeness, and builds trust. I’ve discovered that being purposeful in those things long term has a greater impact than a quick solution for an immediate problem.

As the saying goes, we can win the battle but lose the heart.

This past week, my daughter has been dealing with some hard stuff. It’s been crazy-difficult to watch her struggle. My instinct is to want to immediately “fix” the situation. Whenever I give in to that tendency, however, not only am I getting in God’s way, but I miss out on opportunities to participate in His transformational work.

When I seek His heart and will, not for the problem, but for the person, my vision becomes clearer. More Christ-like. God is much more concerned with His work within us than external problems.

But our natural inclination is to focus on the now. We want solutions, to alleviate the pain of today. It’s easy to forget how often God uses our struggles to bring about His greatest and deepest work. This was my mind shift—to focus on growth rather than behavior. In short, to reach, protect, and equip the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” To the ancient Jew, the heart involved much more than a person’s emotions. It was the core of their being and encompassed their will and intellect as well.

My daughter is facing the prospect of merging two families from different cultures. As her mom, I was tempted to center on the small, immediate solutions. But God impressed on me: This conflict is a good thing. You have an opportunity to show her what healthy dialogue looks like and how to communicate with others who may not share her perspective.

So, setting aside my “fix-it” tool belt, I chose a mentorship role. I planned a picnic for her, her future fiancé, and my husband. Together, we simply talked. We addressed tough issues, shared thoughts and feelings, and honestly…solved nothing.

But something greater was built that afternoon. A foundation of trust was laid, hopefully one that that will enable a lifetime of good communication. They got a chance to experience healthy discussion and learned how to persevere through hard conversations with a balance of love and truth. This will have a much greater impact on her future marriage than any decisions she and her boyfriend make today.

It’s easy to believe the immediate problem is the problem. But God’s vision goes so much deeper. Scripture says He uses all things for our good (Rom. 8:38)—to mold us into the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:39).

God’s goal is never merely behavior modification. He works toward our transformation. The process is more important to Him than any quick fix. I’m learning to keep the big picture in mind. I want to trust in His wisdom, know He has a plan, and is even now working that out in those I love.

Resting in who He is frees me to love well, focusing on long-term growth.  This is what it means to develop redemptive relationships.

TWEETABLE
Building Redemptive Relationships – insight on #GodsLove on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Jennifer’s latest book is Restoring Her FaithShe left belief behind…but could this family change her mind?

With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds that his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Join the conversation: Have you ever had a role in someone’s long-term development?