Trust and Obey, Then Get Out of the Way

by Twila Belk

God blesses those who obey him; happy the man who puts his trust in the Lord.
Proverbs 16:20 TLB

Sometimes God asks us to do crazy, scary things. While he hasn’t called me to build an ark or to lead a country, he’s challenged me over the years with some pretty intimidating requests.

I was on the faculty of a writers conference and had arrived at my hotel just in time to freshen up before the pre-event meet-and-greet with other faculty members and conferees. The heavily promoted keynote speaker that year was the fabulous Chonda Pierce, an especially popular stand-up comedian. I had big plans to become best friends with her.

As I ironed my clothes, the phone rang. I picked it up, said hello, and the pleasant voice on the other end began talking. “Hi, Twila. This is Barbara Wells. I’m the director of the conference. We haven’t met, and I don’t know much about you, but we need your help. Chonda had to cancel because of a family emergency. We’d like you to do the three keynotes.” She went on to tell me that the first one would be the next morning. “Oh, and by the way, we’ve invited the community to tomorrow night’s session.”

I listened to Barbara, but had a side conversation going with God at the same time. “You want me to do what, Lord? Are you kidding me? Do you know who Chonda Pierce is? Do you know that everyone coming to the conference is expecting her? You know it’s impossible to fill her shoes, don’t you?”

Then Barbara said, “I’m confident you can do it. I’ve been to your website.”

After a few seconds in stunned silence, I asked, “Can I pray about it?”

“How long?”

Very funny, Lord.

She continued, “When I asked God what we should do, I heard a voice in my spirit that said, ‘Twila Belk is here.’”

At that point she had me—I knew it was a God thing—so I told her I’d do it, but she had to promise prayer covering. Minutes after that conversation, I went to the meet-and-greet. I couldn’t tell anyone about the new development. They’d all find out the next morning when I was introduced as Chonda’s substitute.

Wow. Just wow.

What did I do? I called home and asked my husband to send an urgent request down our church’s prayer chain. I paced and prayed and prayed and paced. I rehearsed the many sermons I give to others, reminded myself of God’s bigness, and remembered his track record in my life.

Then I showed up the next morning with less than two hours sleep, stood on that stage, and delivered the first keynote. My mouth moved. God’s message came out. And nobody booed. In fact, the audience gave God a standing ovation at the end. I survived, and God assured me that he knew what he was doing. Now, five years later, I’ve been asked to return to the conference as the publicized keynoter.

It’s amazing what God can do when we trust and obey, then get out of the way.

Lord, as I think about the crazy things you ask me to do, I can’t help but smile because I’ve seen how you work. The things you ask usually aren’t normal or easy, and most of the time they’re scary. They challenge me to trust you. But that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it, Lord? You want to keep reinforcing who you are and how big you are. You want to keep reminding me that anything you call me to do will have your equipping, power, and presence involved. Thank you for teaching me that when I trust and obey, then get out of the way, you always show up and show off. May you receive all honor, glory, and praise.

(This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.)

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you a crazy, scary assignment? What was it? How did you respond? What did you learn about God at that time, and how does it encourage you to trust him more today?

 

 

Get Your Eyes Off Yourself

by Twila Belk

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.”  Exodus 3:11–12 NIV

The story in Exodus 3 and 4 is fascinating. Moses, tending his sheep in the desert, sees a burning bush, but the bush isn’t consumed. He goes closer to check it out and hears a voice. “Moses! Moses!” It’s God. Realizing he’s standing on holy ground, Moses removes his sandals.

Then God reveals his great plan: “I’ve seen the misery of the Israelites. I’ve heard them crying because of their slave drivers, and I’m concerned about their suffering. It’s time to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Good news, Moses! I’ve chosen you to make this happen.”

If Moses hadn’t been barefoot, he’d be shaking in his boots. “Wait a minute, God. You’re sending me? Who am I to do a job like that? I’m just a grownup basket case. I can’t do it. Can’t you ple-e-e-e-e-a-se send someone else?”

God’s response? “I will be with you. It doesn’t matter who you are, Moses. It matters who I am.”

Once Moses took his eyes off himself, he accomplished amazing things for God.

I’ve had many “Moses moments” in my life. When asked years ago to play piano for Bible Study Fellowship, I questioned why God didn’t choose a better musician to do it. “I’m a scriptural pianist, Lord. My left hand doesn’t know what my right hand is doing.” God reminded me that he didn’t call someone else; he called me.

When God made it clear he wanted me to write, I said, “Lord, how am I supposed to write? I can’t even talk without problems.” God reminded me to trust him.

When God wanted me to become a speaker, I protested. “But Lord, don’t you remember the excuse I gave for not writing? You know how I get tongue-tied.” God reminded me of the time he used a donkey to get his message across.

Each time I’ve feared my inadequacies, my underlying thought process was: “What if I fail or look like a fool?” And God reminds me that it’s not about me; it’s about him. If it’s about him and for him and by him, doesn’t it just make sense that he will help me do his work?

God doesn’t need our help. He can get the job done with us or without us, but he chooses us to carry out particular works so we might be blessed and bless others. We can take courage in the fact that God never gives us a job without equipping us for it. He doesn’t want our competence. He wants our obedience. And if we walk forward, hand in hand with him, he will come through for us every time. Guaranteed.

God, I have big problems when my eyes are on myself instead of on you. I see my insecurities, my weaknesses, and my shortcomings, and I forget that it doesn’t matter who I am. It matters who you are. You don’t want my competence, and you certainly don’t want my excuses. You want my willingness to do what you ask. So rather than questioning, “Who am I?” like Moses did, would you help me to say, “Look who God is”? Lord, I want to accomplish big things for you. The only way for me to do that is to step out in obedience and to trust you for the results.

(This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.)

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Has God ever asked you to do a particular task that was scary, or that you didn’t feel competent to do? What was it? How did you answer God and how did it work out? What is he calling you to do right now?

Accept Help and Support from Others

by Twila Belk

So Joshua did as Moses said, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the hilltop. Now when Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and when he lowered his hand [due to fatigue], Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy and he grew tired. So they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other side; so it was that his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed and defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.  Exodus 17:10–13 AMP

I have a confession: I’m not perfect. Hard to believe, isn’t it? What I’ve written below is humbling, but I’m laying it out for the world to see.

My responsibilities include working long hours at home to provide an income for my family, care-giving for my husband, handling my son’s ongoing issues, doing all the shopping and heavy lifting, cooking, coordinating multiple medical appointments, wrestling with never-ending paperwork, making important life decisions, managing my own health needs (when I can fit that in), attempting to keep the world spinning, and … and … and … The truth is I can’t do it all. I get weary.

At times I struggle just to hold my head on my neck, yet I’m embarrassed when visitors see my clutter and the piles of unwashed pots and pans on the counter. I don’t want them to know the real me—someone who has shortcomings. I’ll admit I occasionally have trouble letting people into my life because of a crazy feeling that I’m being judged for what I haven’t done.

Yes, I know that’s flawed thinking—the kind of thinking I’m overcoming after years of trials and with no recourse but to rely on other people’s help. I’m finally grasping this reality: I can’t survive without support and assistance.

Even Moses couldn’t. When Joshua fought Amalek, Moses stood at the top of the hill with his hands raised in prayer. While they were lifted high, the Israelites prevailed. But when Moses struggled and his arms dropped due to fatigue, the enemy overpowered them. Aaron and Hur brought a stone and encouraged Moses to sit, and they stood by his side to uphold him until the sun went down. Because of their support, the battle Moses oversaw was won.

Likewise, we can endure our battles with the help of others.

On many occasions friends, family, and church members have come alongside to keep me from falling. I had emergency gall bladder surgery that required a seven-day hospital stay three weeks after my daughter was born. I wasn’t able to carry her for seven weeks. I also had a twenty-month-old son at home. It would have been an impossible situation without help.

After our run-in with the drunk driver, friends and acquaintances filled in at our Christian bookstore and vending company. They did chores, kid duty, ran errands, and watched over me.

During agonizing times with my husband’s health issues and hospitalizations, my friend Jennifer mothered me, and my friend Nancy cared for our three children.

Most recently with my cancer treatments, numerous people have sustained our family through monetary gifts, meals, yard work, house projects, prayers, and encouragement.

Does accepting help mean that I’m weak? That Moses was weak? That you’re weak? No. It means God provides what we need to keep us strong. It’s a message worth remembering.

Loving God, thank you for the support and help of caring people. If I had to face my battles alone, I don’t know how I would endure. Thank you for knowing who I need and what I need and right when I need it. You are so good to me. I like to think that I can do it all, and I get frustrated when I can’t, but the reality is that nobody can. You created us for friendship and fellowship and to uphold each other. Even Moses became fatigued and needed help. Thank you for reminding me that accepting assistance doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means you love me enough to keep me strong through others.

(This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.)

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How are you at accepting assistance from others? What battles have you faced that you couldn’t have survived without the help of other people? How did it make you feel to have their support?

 

Quit Playing the Comparison Game

by Twila Belk

For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].
Ephesians 2:10 AMP

Linda brought several boxes filled with handmade pottery to our meeting and gave each of us the opportunity to choose one item as a gift. She had a wide variety of beautiful pieces—vases, plates, pots, and bowls—which made for a tough decision. I gazed at the assortment and considered the options, and then I discovered a pot I couldn’t resist. It had my name written all over it. Unlike any of the other pots, it was full-bodied, lumpy, lopsided, and had a warped mouth. I loved it.

My special acquisition now sits on a shelf in my living room and serves as a visual reminder of how the Master Potter created each of us differently. I share the unique characteristics of that pot, at the risk of sounding peculiar, because I’m that kind of  vessel. A unique creation God can use mightily for his work.

I know that. I teach that. Yet sometimes I get distracted by a person named Penelope Perfect. If I fall into her trap, she causes me to doubt who I am and leaves me in a state of discontentment.

You know Penelope, don’t you? She …

  • is witty, charming, and wise;
  • makes her own clothes, is a fabulous cook, and maintains a spotless house;
  • has obedient, well-behaved children who excel in everything they do;
  • leads a weekly international Bible study;
  • publishes a new best-selling book every month;
  • is an eloquent, hilarious, and dynamic communicator;
  • runs a fortune 500 company and owns a private jet;
  • established multiple charities around the world;
  • plays fifteen musical instruments—some while standing on her head;
  • has a flawless body with muscles and curves in all the right places;
  • and when she enters a room, awe-inspiring music plays and heads slowly turn.

We can find Penelope on Facebook, in meetings, at church, and lots of other places, reminding us of how perfect she is and how much we lack. She’s dangerous!

We might say, “Why can’t I be more like her?” We might envy her life. But doing that is unproductive. It undermines our confidence and strength and causes us to question our purpose.

One day I had an aha moment while reading Psalm 139:16, which says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” If I’m so set on being someone else and living their ordained days, who will do the things I was created to do with my ordained days? Who will tell the stories that only I can tell? Who will touch the lives that only I can touch?

No one can do me like I can do me. No one can do you like you can do you. God gave us our own ordained days to do things nobody else can do.

We’re incomparable. Let’s be strong in who we are.

Penelope Perfect is a dangerous person, Lord. When she distracts me, she causes me to forget who I am. She tempts me to be just like her. But you didn’t create me to be like anyone else, Lord. I’m incomparable. And you have things for me to do that nobody else can do. Who will do them if I don’t? You have a purpose and plan for me, and it’s not Penelope Perfect’s purpose and plan. Help me to be strong in who I am. I want to be the best me I can be, and I want to serve you in incomparable ways. Thank you for the one and only me!

This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Do you ever have problems with Penelope Perfect?

 

 

Gain Perspective

by Twila Belk

What will I give to the Lord [in return] for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for His precious blessings?]  Psalm 116:12 AMP

A dump isn’t a normal place to visit in a foreign country, but when you’re involved in a mission trip to Ecuador with the theme of “Never the Same,” it’s the type of thing you do. I was a chaperone for a team of teenagers, and our ministry one day was to the adults and children who made the heaps of rotting rubbish and discarded trash their home.

As our bus entered the site, the stench overpowered us. We could barely breathe, yet eighty-five families lived there. How is that possible? Our observations messed with our minds. Small cardboard shelters jutted from the mountain range of spoiled food products that were intermingled with soiled diapers, shards of glass, and the broken pieces of people’s lives. Garbage trucks arrived with regularity, and as they unloaded their contents, flocks of eager dump dwellers rummaged through the “fresh” goods.

On our way to the location, we had stopped at a market to purchase boxes of basic food staples to take with us. Many of us brought small toiletry items we had collected at home—soap, shampoo, lotions—the type of things hotels provide. While a group of teens and chaperones distributed supplies, others engaged the kids with activities.

We had barely stepped off the bus when a long line formed. Before us stood the most beautiful, filthy, sun-baked people with scraggly hair I had ever seen. Tattered, mismatched clothes hung on their bodies, and a few had feet covered with pitiable shoes they had found among the refuse. The rest were barefoot.

As soon as I opened my bag of toiletry items, hands reached out on all sides of me. A woman with deep creases in her face and dark, longing eyes looked up at me and begged, “Champú, champú.” When I gave her a tiny bottle of shampoo, her face beamed as if I had given her the key to Fort Knox.

The whole experience tugged at my heart. I cried out to God, “Oh Lord, please help me to never, ever forget that picture. You’ve given me so much. I have super-sized bottles of shampoo that I don’t even think about. This woman’s world became a better place with just an ounce. I have a bed. I have a roof over my head. I have clothes. I have soap and water. I have food—food that goes to waste. Everything these people have comes from a garbage truck.” I ended my plea to God with, “May I always maintain a grateful heart.”

The rest of the team had a similar revelation. Once back on the bus, many of them removed their shoes and articles of clothing, and they zealously dug through backpacks to find other items they could leave behind as gifts.

We all gained a new perspective that day. Rather than being discontent with what we didn’t have, we realized what we did have, and left the dump forever changed.

Oh God, thank you for the gift of perspective! I don’t realize how much I have until I see others who have so little. How is it possible that they can display such gratitude for their meager possessions and I act as if I am in need? Forgive me for not acknowledging the abundance of blessings I enjoy every day. Would you give me an awareness of things I tend to take for granted? Would you nudge me to share what I have with others? Would you help me to live in the reality of how blessed I am? I want to have a contented and grateful heart.

This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Take a few minutes to reflect on how much you have, and thank God for the things you normally take for granted. What’s on your list?

 

Extend Grace to Others

by Twila Belk

Bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.
Colossians 3:13 AMP

I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Gratitude is our ability to see the grace of God, morning by morning, no matter what else greets us in the course of the day.” One October many years ago, the grace and gratitude connection became very real to me.

The crisp fall evening was perfect for a square dance in the country—starry sky, lively music, hay bales, yummy food, sweet fellowship. A night to remember in so many ways. My husband, our six-year-old daughter, my mom, and I had a delightful time with church members and friends. Shortly before the party ended, we said our goodbyes so we could get Mom home.

A few minutes later, our full-size conversion van lay upside down in a ditch from the impact of a speeding car. A drunk driver. We had planned to deliver Mom to her Pleasant Valley address. Instead, God welcomed her into heaven, and doctors didn’t expect me to live.

In an instant, our lives changed dramatically. I lost my best friend, our kids no longer had their grandma, we had to rely on others’ help at home and with our businesses, and I entered into a several-month period of recovery. Yet in the midst of the shock, healing, and grieving, my husband and I were able to forgive the man whose choices caused this unnecessary tragedy.

As you may know, the ability to forgive doesn’t come naturally. When someone has wronged us, we want to retaliate, or hate the person forever. Many times I’ve thought about how we were able to release those feelings, especially after having to endure the man’s false accusations and a horrible court trial experience. I can honestly say it was only because of God’s grace. During all this, God gave me a glimpse of how much he had forgiven me. To not offer the same gift to another would be like saying I was better than God.

It may seem strange, but extending grace to those who’ve wronged us is an act of gratitude for the grace we’ve received from God. We are, in a way, saying, “Thank you, God, for your kindness and mercy. Thank you for your unmerited favor. Thank you for your unconditional love.”

And whether the person acknowledges our gift—or even has awareness of it—we do it more for ourselves. It’s a gesture that brings freedom. By letting go and pardoning others’ actions, we’re able to move forward with our lives. We’re not stuck in the rut of bitterness, resentment, anger, and all those negative feelings that imprison us.

Over the years I’ve learned that grace can’t be explained; it can only be experienced. And when we realize the amazing gift we’ve received, we can’t help but be grateful. God sees our hearts and smiles when we’re able to extend the same grace to others.

No, it doesn’t make sense, but it feels so good. And that makes me grateful all the more.

God, your grace is amazing. I don’t deserve it, yet you so readily pour it out on me. Thank you for your gift of forgiveness, and thank you for making it possible for me to extend forgiveness to others. It’s not always easy to do, Lord, but it brings such a feeling of relief and reminds me of the mercy and grace I’ve received from you. Regardless of what happens during my days, would you help me to always see your grace? I may not be able to explain what it is, but I sure know it when I experience it. And I’m eternally grateful.

This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.

twila belkAbout the Author: Twila’s new book releases TODAY!! Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Have you ever thought about the grace and gratitude connection? How does receiving grace make you grateful? Is there anyone you need to forgive right now? Ask God for the grace to make that possible.

 

 

Fix Your Thoughts

by Twila Belk

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8–9 NLT

Be still. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Sometimes I wish I could flip on a little “be still” switch to pacify myself, especially when I have days like today. Right now I’m struggling to gain control of my churning insides.

I’m currently dealing with several major life stressors—undergoing treatment for an aggressive breast cancer, caregiving for my husband who has a rare and progressive muscle disease, carrying a huge burden of financial responsibilities, handling concerns about my youngest son’s circumstances, and facing a looming book deadline. Add to that, in the last couple of days, both vehicles stopped working, my faithful recliner broke, and wasps are entering the house through the bathroom vent.

Then this morning, after putting in many hours on a special project for a person I greatly respect, I received a harsh email rather than a thank-you for my hard work. Reading that email, while being physically and mentally exhausted, pushed me into a not-so-good place. I turned into an emotional mess. Although the person apologized a few hours after sending it, my memory naturally wants to replay the narrative again and again, which agitates my spirit more and more.

And here I am with the task of telling people how to be still. Seriously?

I’ve learned over the years that God likes to give me plenty of opportunities to become well-versed in my topic. And this is one of those times. So after much consideration, I decided I need to change topics. I want to be well-versed in something else! (Perhaps I’ll change it to “How to be happy with a million dollars while living in the Caribbean and looking great in a bikini.”)

For now, I’m reverting to self-talk mode. “Breathe in. Breathe out. Calm down, Twila. It’s time to remind yourself of the sermons you so readily give to others.” In other words, I’m giving myself a pep talk to practice what I preach.

And one of the important truths I like to remind people of is this: whatever we focus on becomes magnified.

If I keep my attention on my problems and heartaches (or hurtful words), they become overwhelming to me and tend to control my life. But if I fix my thoughts on God, he becomes magnified in my heart and mind, and I’m reminded of who he is and what he’s able to do. My attitude changes, and my unsettled spirit quiets down. It takes resolve, but it’s so worthwhile.

Philippians 4:8–9 encourages us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. If we put that kind of thinking into practice, peace will be ours.

Lord, when the pressures of life become too much for me, and my circumstances are the foremost thing on my mind, I become stressed and overwhelmed. Would you help me to fix my thoughts on you? I want you to be magnified, not the stuff I’m going through. You are excellent and worthy of praise. You are able to calm my agitated spirit. You are the giver of peace. Thank you for being with me.

(This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.)

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT). What have your thoughts been fixed on lately? What current issues are keeping you from being still?

 


 

Set Him Always Before You

by Twila Belk

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.     Psalm 16:8 AMP

Do you ever forget anything? I do. Sometimes I’ll get on an elevator and wonder why I haven’t reached my floor. And then I’ll discover it’s because I hadn’t remembered to push the button. I forget where I’ve put things. I forget the names of my kids. I forget why I went to the other room. And if I’m not careful, I’ll forget meaningful dates or events. If I don’t keep a sticky note or some sort of reminder in front of me, I’m in trouble.

Several years ago on an August day, I realized how important those reminders were to me. I went about my business as I normally do, but I had a niggling feeling that I was forgetting something. Halfway through the day, I came across a significant document while sorting a stack of papers on my table. It was the first day of school, and I had forgotten to take my kids! Yikes!

Because I hadn’t kept that important information at the top of the pile and smack dab in front of my face, I had to put up with friends and school personnel who laughed at me and questioned my mental stability.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is a clichéd expression, but it’s proven to be true in my case.

Unfortunately, that’s also often the case with many of us regarding our relationship with God. If we don’t keep him at the “top of our pile,” we forget that he’s with us. We forget that he wants to help us. We forget that he is I AM. And because of our forgetfulness, we’re troubled needlessly with a load of care.

David wrote the words in Psalm 16:8 shown above. He knew the key to being still or (unshaken) was to have a constant awareness of the Lord’s presence. Here are some of the ways he kept the Lord continually before him:

  • Talked honestly with God and carried on a running conversation with him
  • Meditated on God’s words
  • Journaled his thoughts and prayers to God (see the Psalms)
  • Passed down his God stories to the next generation
  • Sang praises to God
  • Proclaimed God’s goodness
  • Talked to others about God
  • Danced before God
  • Opened his eyes and heart to notice God at work
  • Immersed himself in the truth of God’s Word

As with us, life wasn’t always easy for David. He faced storms, dealt with wicked people, confronted giants, had to make difficult decisions, and wrestled with inner turmoil. But because he knew God intimately and kept him at the “top of his pile,” David was able to trust him. God proved himself to David again and again and will do the same for us.

I have problems with forgetfulness, Lord, but I don’t want that to happen when it comes to you. Help me to learn from David and to keep you continually before me. If I do that, I won’t be shaken by the worries and cares and troubles of life. With you at the “top of my pile,” I’ll remember how big you are, how good you are, and how trustworthy you are. Thank you for being at my right hand.

(This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.)

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What kinds of things shake you? How would setting God always before you help you keep from being shaken? What are methods you could use to help you have a constant awareness of God in your life?