~ Written by Viki Rife

After several days of traveling, I was relieved to pull into my own driveway. I was not ready for the shock that greeted me. Something had been digging among the plants in the front yard and had fully dug up one of my favorite plants. It had been torn from its trellis and lay on the ground a foot away from its original hole, looking pale and rather wilted.

I hurried over to check it. My brain was processing the steps I needed to take. First it needed to be restored: put the roots in water right away and let it rehydrate. It needed to be established—replanted. It would need some plant food—but not too much or it would burn. As it began to produce new growth, I would need to help it attach itself to the trellis again for support.

The progression of my thoughts made me laugh. Just that morning I had read 1 Peter 5:10: “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while” (CSB). We were going through some hard times, and I had decided I needed to memorize that verse. But memorizing is not very easy for me these days.

Now I had a great visual to help me learn it! I could visualize the steps: restore, establish, strengthen and support. God allowed me to care for that suffering little plant so I could know exactly what His intentions are toward me! I felt ready to let Him root me in the Living Water.

~ Written by Tabby McMonagle

You don’t always get what you want. How many times have I explained this to my children? Yet here I am, explaining it to myself. This darn instant gratification world we live in constantly screams, “You can have it your way!” Well, I am sick of it. I’ve been bamboozled for the last time!

Life doesn’t always go our way. Bad things happen to good people. There’s not always an answer or solution to every problem. Sometimes we have to sit in disappointment. I have been seeing this reminder all over the place lately. I just read about it in Lysa Terkeurst’s book It’s Not Supposed to Be Like This.

We all need to hear this truth again and again to let it sink in. That fact tells me that the voice I hear in my head is louder than the one in my heart. My head is saying, “You can have it your way! Fight for it. Figure it out. There has to be a way.” But my heart is saying, “You have done all you can do. You don’t always get what you want. God’s plan is more important than yours. Patience, humility, gratitude, and obedience is the answer.”

I don’t know about you, but that is not what I want to hear. I enjoyed the voice that told me to keep searching for things to go my way. I was getting comfortable in my “fix-it” hat. Sure, there was discouragement, but there was more self-gratification to be found. If I listen to the still small voice in my heart, however, I know it is right. But that means I am going to have to sit in disappointment.

That’s hard for me. I don’t like disappointment and I will do anything to get away from it. So, when the still small voice told me to sit, and that my strength will rise when I wait upon the Lord, I finally surrendered to its song. We don’t always get what we want; however God’s ways are better than our ways and His plans always turn out better than our own. We may not see it or even understand it, but when we surrender it always works out, like Don Moen’s song,

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way;
He works in ways we cannot see,
He will make a way for me.

Let’s not be bamboozled!

~ Written by Viki Rife

For several years I’ve been asking God, “Where is the thrill I used to get when I read my Bible?” I used to be like a hummingbird, savoring all the rich nectar of each passage as I held myself poised in the air by the rapid beat of my wings. I rejoiced in the bright colors and rich promises as I read through God’s Word. My stomach fluttered like I was on a roller coaster.

Now, I read chapter after chapter before the tickle in my stomach happens, if it happens at all. The colors of familiar passages don’t attract me like they used to. So my question to God about losing the thrill of reading Scripture has come from a deep concern that I’m losing my first love.

God is so gracious in answering! He pointed out an eagle to me on a recent outing. “Do you see how that eagle just spreads out her wings and relaxes? She lets the wind carry her. She sees more than just a few flowers. She has the whole vista: mountains and streams and trees, all flowing together.

“When you read your Bible now, you aren’t marveling in the same way in anticipation of the rich promises I’ve made. You have experienced My answers in so many ways that instead you are hearing the Spirit gently prodding, ‘Remember when you saw Me do that?’ Part of the thrill you felt was tied to your efforts to find Me. Now your faith has developed confidence that gives you wings to soar!”

~ Written by Samantha Freds

Whose favorite household item is a sponge? Probably no one’s. That little yellow rectangle is a reminder of all the cleaning to be done, not to mention all the dishes in the sink! We use sponges for a while, then throw them out without thinking twice. What if I told you there is a deep theological lesson in a sponge?

The purpose of a sponge is to absorb and transport water. Sounds simple enough. Soak up. Pour out. It follows, then, that a sponge full of water is only serving half its purpose. In fact, if left full between uses, the sponge starts to harbor bacteria. On the other hand, a sponge out of water for too long becomes dry, hard, and useless.

The Christian life is like that sponge. We need to absorb living water. The water of the Word gives us life. But, like the sponge, if we stay in the water we aren’t serving our purpose. We are at risk of harboring pride. We are called to share the Living Water with the dry, dirty, hurting world around us. But, if we do not return to the source of Living Water we burn out. Doing for God begins to take priority over being with God. We need to learn the balance.

I call this the “Soak up—Pour out” rule. While some seasons may require us to hold water as we survive the heat of this life, those times are exceptions to the “Soak up–Pour out” rule.

I encourage you today to set up two columns. Under the heading “Soak Up,” list the ways you absorb living water throughout the week – quiet time with the Lord, church services, Bible studies, life-giving conversations with a friend, etc. Then list the areas where you are pouring out under the second column. Things like work, taking care of family, and volunteering at church will fill up the “Pour Out” column. The result doesn’t have to be a perfect perfectly equal columns, but we should be looking for a healthy balance.

If you are feeling dry today—go to the Source and spend some time soaking up living water!

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

My husband and I ask each other the same question every night, and never get the same answer. It’s been a spiritually silent season in our home. We’ve learned the hard way that if we don’t push ourselves to focus on Jesus, we’ll never look for Him. So, even on the days where God seems more like a topic than an active character in our lives, we challenge each other with a repetitive question:

“Where’d you see God today?”

To be honest, there are days I don’t want to answer when my time comes. Some days, my spiritually-lethargic attitude takes over and I inwardly grumble about how I don’t really care about pointing to Jesus. Sleep sounds better than talking about Him. But inevitably, the Spirit inside me whispers as long as He needs to until my heart knows that God was seen throughout the day.

Then, even when my heart is heavy, I can’t help but fall asleep with praise on my lips because God proved He was involved in the silence.

If you, like me, sometimes struggle to see God’s hand in the everyday monotony, are you looking for Him in the first place? Even when the times you’ve seen Him seem inconsequential, have you taken the time to praise Him for those moments simply because it proves your God is an ever-present God?

So, I’ll extend the question to you. Where’d you see God today?

~ Written by Viki Rife

Curiously looking for information on the Third Temple project being discussed in Israel, I stumbled across a Jewish discussion forum. The debate involved the question of whether or not animal sacrifices would be a part of the new Temple. Many argued that animal sacrifices were cruel, bloody, disgusting, barbaric, and unthinkable; they didn’t belong in this enlightened age. Others added reminders that such sacrifices were a law of Jehovah himself given to Moses, so they were still necessary.

A participant in the discussion then made a comment that gripped my heart. He said, “I think that when the Messiah comes, as great as he’s supposed to be, he’ll have the intelligence to come up with some ingenious plan for eliminating the animal sacrifices while still satisfying Jehovah’s demands.”

Doesn’t that make your heart ache and rejoice at the same time? My heart aches because this person is so close to the truth yet does not recognize that the Messiah has already come. But I rejoice because it is such a real-to-life description of what Jesus did. He did indeed come up with an ingenious plan—to sacrifice Himself to satisfy God’s demands.

As we celebrate this holy week, may we be aware of the brilliant solution God provided that frees us from the ugliness of the eternal consequences of our sin.

~ Written by Samantha Freds

I could tell you stories of when my self-worth felt attacked – moments of low self-esteem. The times I was picked on and made to feel worthless. The mornings I looked in the mirror and thought, “You’re a mess.” Or the times I’ve felt completely invisible. But I know you have plenty of those moments of your own. And yours are far more real to you than any story someone else could recount. So pause for a minute and remember those emotions.

Seriously, take 30 seconds. Don’t spiral; remember.

Do you remember those feelings? Rejection. Heartbreak. Worthlessness. Insignificance. Those emotions are probably just the tip of the iceberg. The thing about those feelings is, too often, they become mixed up with our identity. “I feel invisible” becomes “I don’t matter.” “I feel worthless” becomes “I am worthless.” Boom. Identity.

Listen to this truth. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You are knit together by the God of the universe and made in His image. You are God’s masterpiece. His Masterpiece! You are a beautiful daughter of the King. You are chosen. You are loved.

We are adopted children of God. Forgetting that reality of our untouchable value leaves room for our emotions to run wild. That’s the thing about self-esteem. It doesn’t have any roots. It is based solely on how we feel about ourselves in this moment. But our God-given self-worth is deeply rooted in the truth of His Word. It’s rooted in His love. So we have to discipline ourselves to look at our emotions through the lens of God’s Truth. No one can take away your self-worth if it is grounded in the truth of your God-given identity.

Rest today in your value as a daughter of the Most High King!

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