How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

[Speak] to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father. Ephesians 5:19-20 NASB 

Every time I slid behind the wheel of my cheerful yellow car, I gave thanks. The Lord had provided this used car at an affordable price just in time for a cross-country trip. It was perfect for hauling my toddler and preschooler and a direct answer to prayer. That’s why I couldn’t understand why I had to lose it.

My husband, Larry, and I spent a month on a mission trip in Eastern Europe. The experience filled our hearts and emptied our pocketbooks. Our mission organization required us to raise money for our salary and the trip. Donations came in designated for the trip, however, we returned to short paychecks. We realized some donors had diverted their regular support for our trip, not added to it.

Larry’s elderly grandfather passed away, and Larry’s parents offered us his 1973 green Buick La Sabre. Since Granddad’s car wouldn’t sell for much, Larry decided to sell my car to solve our financial shortfall. The green giant had baked in the hot Arizona heat during Granddad’s decline. Rust spots showed through oxidized paint, the vinyl roof peeled like a bad sunburn, and the dingy interior recalled Granddad’s years of smoking.

Larry and I worked with high school students in one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Their up-to-date sports cars highlighted our rundown vehicle. Our church parking lot gleamed with polished Mercedes and BMWs.

One day, a young man helping me carry my groceries said, “Let me guess which car you drive.” He pointed out cars I wished I could claim. Reluctantly, I pointed to the green dinosaur. “Oh. I like vintage cars,” he said politely.

The car was also unreliable. One morning it stalled on at a busy eight-lane intersection with my children in their car seats. A kind stranger in the next lane saw our predicament and motioned for us to join her.

A friend, wanting to surprise Larry, arranged to have the car painted and a new vinyl roof installed. Our dated monstrosity returned sporting a fresh exterior, but it was not the sporty car I still missed. Disappointment washed over me. That night, as I returned home after carpooling students from Bible Study, I sensed the Lord interrupt my pity party. Debbie, have you thanked Me for this car?

Thank You? How can I thank You when I am not thankful?

Scripture filled my thoughts. “Give thanks in all circumstances…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV). “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

To refuse to give thanks now would be blatant disobedience. Oh Lord, You know how I feel about this car. How can you ask me to be thankful?

The pressure persisted. “Lord, I do not feel thankful. This car is ugly and unreliable.” I took a deep breath and went on. “But if you insist—THANK YOU; thank you for knowing my needs. Thank you that this is your will for me now. And thank you that you will use this for my good.”

Although I did not wake up to a new car, I woke up to a new attitude.

My grudge and self-consciousness vanished. And whether because we’d replaced every hose and valve or because of God’s grace, the car stopped breaking down.

The next year we moved from sunny California to northern Indiana. The green giant’s spacious interior and smooth ride provided a delightful trip. It started every morning in the below freezing temperatures with the first crank. Its heater never failed. While fellow seminarians worried about how the salted roads would tarnish their cars, we had no concerns.

The car became a great blessing and moved us to Oklahoma, where we finally sold it. This unwanted gift taught me a valuable lesson in the art of giving thanks. It’s not hypocritical to thank God before you feel thankful. Giving thanks is about trusting God, and God really does work all things together for the good of His children.

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

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How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful – insight on #Gratitude from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to be thankful?

Put On Your Shield of Faith

by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:13-16 NIV

Do you feel as if your faith is faltering? To be honest, sometimes I do. I look at the uncertainties and tragedies in our world and I wonder if things will ever get better. Then I look at my own circumstances and feel impatient that some of my most-spoken prayers haven’t been answered…at least not in the way I hoped.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul urges the church at Ephesus to recognize that our spiritual life is a battle, and we have been given weapons which protect us and help us defeat our enemy, the devil. One of those weapons is a shield–but it will only help us if we use it (“take it up”). In other words, we need to be aware of Satan’s lies–pictured as fiery darts– (such as “things will always be this way” or “God doesn’t really care about me”), so we can defend ourselves with God’s truth.

The Greek word Paul used for shield is thureos, from a root word that means door or gate. During the days of the early Church, a Roman soldier’s shield was an oblong as large as a door; it completely covered the person wielding them. How awesome is that?! Our spiritual shield is not some dinky little facsimile, either. We believe in a God who is far bigger than anything the enemy can hurl at us. We can trust He can overcome any circumstance we will ever face.

And get this: Roman soldiers’ shields were woven from leather strips. Every morning, they oiled their shield. If it wasn’t oiled, the strips on the shield would become brittle and thus vulnerable to an opponent’s spear. 

What a terrific metaphor! As believers, we need to daily oil our shield of faith by reading and studying the Word of God. As we do, we learn more about Him. The better we know Him, the more we can trust Him. And that’s what faith is: the ability to trust in God.

One final nugget of truth: Roman soldiers would kneel down and link their shields to make their front line impenetrable to enemies. As believers, we too can link our shields by encouraging each other’s faith, and in this way work together to fight our enemy. Aren’t you thankful that even in 2020, with its social distancing challenges, we can have community with one another by phone, text, email, Zoom or Skype calls, social media)? I sure am.

Today, let’s encourage ourselves and each other by meditating on God’s promises and meeting together in whatever ways we are able. We are meant to go into battle together.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I don’t seek your word and truth. Help me to “oil” my shield of faith daily by studying and trusting in Your word. Give me faith that moves mountains and causes the enemy to flee. Thank you for the spiritual armor you provide. Amen.

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

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Put On Your Shield of Faith – encouragement to stand strong from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Dena Dyer is the author or co-author of ten books for women and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Texas with Carey and their sons Jordan and Jackson. She loves bargain shopping, decorating, and traveling. Find Dena on Instagram and Facebook, or at her website.

Dena and Carey’s book, Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples (Barbour) will give your marriage encouragement and hope when you find that the once endearing, charming, and distinct qualities that once attracted you to your spouse are now a source of stress and conflict.

Join the conversation: What do you do to increase your faith?

Bed, Bath, and Biscuits: A Dog’s Thanksgiving

by Patti Richter

…wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds…. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted. –Psalm 148:10, 13 NIV

I can almost taste it. But roast turkey is off limits for me these days, according to my vet, who said, “No more poultry for Rufus.”

I’m an old dog who never learned any tricks. I even struggled to obey commands, with the exception of “wait,” which is commendable for my breed of terrier—Jack Russell. Even so, I’ve been observant in other ways, and with help from “Mom” here, I’d like to share some wisdom I’ve gained—mostly through pain and disappointment.

First of all: Be thankful. For me this means looking beyond my weak stomach and other afflictions. From head to tail, here are some things that challenge me to embrace a right attitude:

–Diminished eyesight prevents me from doing things I once enjoyed, like ridding the yard of snakes and varmints. But it makes me appreciate those who watch over me.

–My hearing is beyond diminished—it’s completely gone. And though I greatly miss the voices of loved ones and the bark of friends, I no longer fear scary noises: sirens, thunder, fireworks, and my former nemesis, the vacuum cleaner.

–My teeth are quite bad. Chew-bones are such a thing of the past that I can’t remember where I buried my last one. I’m thankful Mom adds broth to my kibble and gives me soft biscuits made with cranberries and sweet potatoes.

–Muscle tone once fueled my ego; the loss of it now feeds my humility. I have to be lifted to the sofa and helped back down again, but I’m blessed to have strong arms around me and soft places to rest my sore bones.

–Allergies anyone? It’s hard to be thankful in this. Bermuda grass is tough on bare paws, and it’s everywhere! I’d bite my toes raw and rub the whiskers off my muzzle without antihistamines—they’re amazing. Warm baths also relieve my itching and make me feel like a brand-new dog.

While I’ve learned to show more appreciation for my family, this is merely licking the hands that feed me. For most of my life, the Creator of all things was far from my thoughts as I looked to my loved ones to satisfy all my desires. However, as everyone and everything around me slowly faded from view, God’s goodness became so clear! He is the only one who never fails.

I’ve learned so much about God through my family during my time of weakness and infirmities. Their faithfulness remained the same when I had nothing to offer them anymore. I came to realize they had chosen and adopted me because they had love to give, and I never had to earn it! And this is exactly what God has done for his people.

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace…. –Ephesians 1:4 – 6 NIV

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Bed, Bath, and Biscuits: A Dog’s Thanksgiving – encouragement from author 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: What negative things have taught you to be thankful in a new way?

The Best Thanksgiving

by Christina Rose

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed

you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15 NIV)

When Jesus and his disciplines were traveling through a village, they were invited to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha was obsessed with preparations for making the perfect meal, her sister Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to him. Martha became vexed and said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40 NIV).

Jesus turned to her. “Martha, Martha,” He answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”(Luke 10:41-42 NIV).

Sometimes we get so caught up in the preparation that we forget its purpose. We make elaborate lists and get so lost in the details that we can’t enjoy what the ceremony is all about. One can only imagine what Thanksgiving would have been like at the home of Mary and Martha. Mary would be welcoming the guests and devoting her attention to conversing with them, while Martha would be stressing out in the kitchen sweating over the turkey, resentful that no one understood how important it was to have the perfect meal.

My mother’s name was Martha, and she lived up to what it represented. Her father died when she was young, and her mother went to work full-time. As a child, my mother’s holidays were often spent with relatives or in boarding schools. She dreamed of one day having the perfect home and family to make up for all the years she felt alone on the holidays. As a result, when my grandmother arrived two days before Thanksgiving, we were not allowed in the kitchen while she and my mother created an elaborate feast.  On Thanksgiving Day, we were served the perfect holiday dinner on a beautifully decorated table.

As a young wife and mother, I strived to serve the same perfect holiday dinners my mother used to make, but soon realized the impossibility of this with babies and toddlers underfoot. One year my husband’s relatives were visiting, and my toddler proudly announced, “My mom makes the best mashed potatoes. She makes them out of a box!”

Over the years, I continued to strive for holiday perfection, trying gourmet recipes and decorating ideas, mistakenly thinking that all my efforts would make everyone happy. One year I counted six hours in the kitchen with preparation while everyone was laughing in the next room, watching movies, and playing games. While I know everyone appreciated my efforts, the following Thanksgiving, we ordered “The Box”.

“The Box” contains a precooked Thanksgiving dinner that merely needs to be heated up.  My kids opened “The Box” excitedly as they pulled out the pie, the turkey and the rest of the trimmings and helped me prepare them. We spent time playing games while the dinner heated up in the oven. They felt so proud of the dinner as if they had cooked it all themselves. I invited my elderly neighbor who lived alone, and we spent time with her. Friends from down the street stopped in and I was able to relax and enjoy their company. That Thanksgiving, as we sat around the table, my daughter announced, “This is the best Thanksgiving we’ve ever had.” I had learned how to be a “Mary”. 

Society and tradition may call us to standards of perfection that we find impossible to attain, but we must keep our eyes on what matters most. While Thanksgiving is a time of feasting and celebration, most importantly it is a time of giving thanks to our Savior for the opportunity to spend time with those we love.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”  (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

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

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The Best Thanksgiving – insight on perfectionism from author Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina rose

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep Thanksgiving from being overwhelming?

The Healing Power of Gratitude

by Ginny Brant @GinnytBrant

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

The story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is one to ponder. After the most difficult year of their lives, these Christians gave thanks to God first and then to their Native American friends. They were able to remain grateful even after terrible trials and losses. The celebration is a wonderful example of the healing power of gratitude.

Imagine being close to starvation, losing half your family members, needing warmth and shelter, fearing strangers in a new land, and at times wondering if your journey was worth the losses. Yet, these Godly people practiced daily gratitude. And so should we—even in the deepest trials of our lives.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the young church in Thessalonica to give thanks in everything. This church was growing quickly and miraculously, but the consequences of their newfound faith resulted in much persecution and significant losses. In the previous chapter, he comforts their despair by explaining what will happen to those who’ve died in Christ. Then after a series of exhortations, he closes chapter 5 with the blessed hope that gives comfort to all our hearts—the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2020 is a year most people would like to erase from their memories. I couldn’t have imagined a worldwide pandemic, raging forest fires, and hurricanes, all bringing so much destruction and loss of life. Then destructive riots and political unrest turned American cities into war zones. There seemed to be bad news at every turn. Does Paul’s admonition ”in everything give thanks” also apply to 2020?

The Bible gives us no wiggle room—in everything give thanks—for this is the will of God in Christ for you. Paul prescribes a life of gratitude for all believers. We can be grateful because we can count on God using all circumstances in our lives for His glory and our good. Best of all, no matter what lies ahead, our eternal destination is secure.

According to the research of Dr. Robert Emmons, having an attitude of gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression. Dr. Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University Medical School, proclaims, “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” No wonder so many doctors are prescribing the practice of gratitude as a way to improve psychological, social and physical health.

Research clearly indicates that people who practice a lifestyle of gratitude are healthier and heal better. An attitude of gratitude promotes peace in the middle of life’s storms by calming the emotional brain. (Yet Paul prescribed having an attitude of gratitude over 1900 years ago before these outcomes were known!)

The art of practicing daily gratitude does not stop when bad news like cancer comes knocking at your door. Surviving chemotherapy was a blessing for me, even when I saw my bald reflection in a mirror. My husband was a wonderful gift to me, loving me unconditionally even though my appearance was less than appealing. The more I thanked God, the more I found contentment. I now appreciate that every day I’m alive is a gift.

Gratitude gives us a new story—a new beginning. Any trial, no matter how grim, will not have the final word. God has decreed eternal life for those who are truly His. This eternal perspective provides hope and healing for the weary, enabling us to bathe in gratitude, rather than grumbling. Paul’s prescription for a life of gratitude promotes healing and costs us nothing.

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The Healing Power of Gratitude – Insight on #Gratitude from @GinnyBrant on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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: What brings gratitude to your heart in 2020?

A New Level of Gratitude

by Sandra P. Aldrich @SandraPAldrich

A concerned woman once asked G. Campbell Morgan, the early 20th century British preacher and author, if she should pray about everything or just the big things. The respected theologian smiled and answered, “Madam, what could possibly be big to God? Pray about everything.”

I wonder if sometimes we are like that dear woman, when we ponder what we should be thankful for. Oh, it’s easy to say, “Thank You, Lord!” when we slip but don’t fall on icy steps, or when we hear that a friend has arrived home safely after a much delayed flight. But the following long-ago event showed me a new level of gratitude.

Just after I received my masters of arts degree, I visited my Kentucky grandmother, Mama Farley. I was the first woman in my extended family to attend college, so I pulled my accomplishment proudly around my shoulders as though it was one of Mama’s beautiful hand- stitched quilts.

The first morning of that visit, I awoke to sounds from the kitchen and hurriedly dressed. Mama’s hearing had gotten worse, so she didn’t notice me standing in the kitchen archway. As I watched, I remembered her long-ago stories of how she had been kept home from school to plow, which resulted in her never having learned to read or write. Those stories always ended with her insistence that I get all the education I could.

Mama’s back was more stooped, and her hair was whiter that morning. But everything else in the kitchen was the same—even the white and red enamel flour pan and the wood-burning stove. The modern range her adult children had purchased years ago still sat in the corner, used only occasionally to warm leftovers. Mama insisted she couldn’t regulate the heat in the new oven.

As I watched, she pulled a skillet of beautiful biscuits from her trusty old stove.

I nodded, determined to learn to make biscuits like that during the visit. Thinking of the compliments I would receive from my own future visitors, I watched Mama scrutinize the perfectly browned biscuits. I would have placed them on the serving plate with a self-satisfied sigh. But she set the plate in the center of the table and whispered, “Thank you, Lord.”

Her gentle words hit me like a sharp rebuke. I backed into the hallway, tears filling my eyes. I may have achieved an education Mama could never dream of. But it had not occurred to me to thank Father God for the accomplishment. Right there in the hallway, I whispered my gratitude heavenward before hurrying into the kitchen to give Mama a hug.

Today her habit of thanking God for even the so-called little things has become part of my life, too. Now, whether I’m paying bills, planting spring flowers, walking to the mailbox or pulling a pan of golden biscuits from my own oven, I think of Mama as I whisper my own “Thank you, Lord.” After all, isn’t that what Paul was trying to encourage the Thessalonian church—and us—to do when he called for giving thanks in all circumstances? What a privilege to be aware of the many blessings in each day. And to whisper our own “Thank you, Lord.”

In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

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

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A New Level of Gratitude – encouragement from @SandraPAldrich on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: SANDRA P. ALDRICH is an international speaker and author or co-author of 25 books, including her latest three novels. Known for her Kentucky story-telling style of speaking and writing, Sandra loves the Lord, family and all things Appalachian. Eastern Michigan University granted her a Master of Arts degree, but she says life granted her a Ph.D. from the School of Hard Knocks. She may be reached through her website at www.sandraaldrich.com.  

Join the conversation: When is the last time you have thanked the Lord for the “small things”?

The Spirit is Willing . . .

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

“Then [Jesus] comes to the disciples and finds them sleeping; and He tells Peter, “So couldn’t you keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 TLV

I saw a post on Facebook months ago that still comes to mind and prickles my soul. The post posed the question, “Could you wash the feet of someone who hurt you?” As I thought about it, I tried to picture myself actually doing it — you know, getting on my creaky knees, staring up at them, trying not to remember the harm they did . . .

If the opportunity presented itself, I want to be able to do it as an act of service in Jesus’ name. I hope I would be able to do it without gritting my teeth—that I have truly forgiven them, and nothing tethers me to the past. Sigh.

Perhaps even though my spirit is willing, my flesh cringes at my weakness. Apparently, I am in good company. The disciples wanted to support Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, but they had just eaten a huge feast—with several cups of wine—and they couldn’t keep their eyes open. (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38).

Jesus had, only a few hours earlier, washed their feet (John 13:4-16). What is significant about this act was that it happened during the Passover meal (John 13:4), which means prior to reclining for the celebration, everyone would have already washed their feet. It was customary to do so, especially since they were guests. So, Jesus performed this task for another reason.

I wonder on that night, with everything that Jesus knew would happen, how difficult it was to wash those feet. Betrayal—not only from Judas, but the other disciples. Was this humble act also a work of forgiveness?

Jesus looked up at those men who would soon fall asleep as He wept in sorrow and prayer. His friends would run in fear and hide. Peter would deny Him three times.

Jesus did it for them because He knew at some point, they would remember this act of humility, and it would both convict and comfort them. They would be grateful that during the culmination of the Messiah’s sacrificial act of redemption, He thought of their wellbeing. And in their gratitude, they would emulate His humility.

So, maybe humility is about gratitude. Gratitude for all He has done for us, because we didn’t earn one tiny deed. Gratitude that even before we sin, He was already there to wash our feet.

As we approach the day marked for us to give thanks, prepare our favorite dishes, and coordinate all the details, gratitude can get lost. Our busyness can cause us to overlook those subtle opportunities to “wash the feet” of others.

Perhaps we can make time to deliver a plate of cookies to someone who lives alone, or bring in our neighbor’s trashcans, or offer to drive a friend to a doctor’s appointment.

What about those folks who have hurt us, and we have forgiven? Let’s pray today that should the occasion arise we will “wash the feet” of that person—that we would have the courage and gratitude to emulate our Savior in spite of what they may have done.

“And answering, the King will say to them, ‘Amen, I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:40, TLV

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

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The Spirit is Willing . . . – insight on #FollowingGod from TerriGMaven on AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Can you think of a way to “wash someone’s feet” during this holiday season?

Ties That Bind

by Nan Corbitt Allen

 “…Lay aside every encumbrance…which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12:1 NASB

Recently I felt encumbered. My jeans were digging into my waistline, my shoes were pinching my toes, and my face mask got tangled up in my reading glasses. And those are only the things I’m willing to share! As I was trying to disentangle myself, this Bible passage came to mind. I realize, of course, that this word is not about physical comfort; that kind of encumbrance will inevitably get worse as I get older! This admonition from the writer of Hebrews is a metaphor, using a physical race to make a point. 

I’m not a runner, never have been, and probably never will be, but I’ve watched many races in my time as the mother of sons who participated in sporting events. These events were often about speed and endurance; for those competing, being dressed in heavy clothing, carrying superfluous weight, or wearing shoes that were too tight were just not an option. 

Some of the burdens in our lives are from the past—failures and successes. Wearing our medals or carrying our trophies, like the winner of a race, can become a burden because it’s impossible to “rest upon” our laurels. 

Disappointments and bad decisions can anchor us to our past as well. As my friend, Derric Johnson, says: “My ‘I never could,’ becomes my ‘I could never.’” In other words, just because I failed in the past doesn’t dictate a lack of success in the future.

Paul also used the race metaphor several times. In his letter to the Ephesians, he writes… “lay aside the old self…” (Eph. 4:22) “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you…” (Eph. 4:31)

Bitterness and anger are things we can do without! Holding on to anger toward someone who has done us harm is a huge weight to lug around. Usually, we who hold the grudge are the ones most afflicted by it. Extra baggage.

These kinds of encumbrances affect not only our spiritual and mental well-being, but it can influence our physical health as well. A University of Minnesota study on how fear and anxiety can damage our physical health declares, “Fear [and anxiety] weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated aging and even premature death.”[1]

How do we throw off the encumbrances? Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Rick Warren, the renowned author and pastor, suggests this to help us to find peace when we feel encumbered:

R—Realize nobody’s perfect.

E—Enjoy God’s unconditional love.

L—Let God handle things.

A—Act in faith, not fear.

X—Exchange your perfectionism for God’s peace.[2]

[1] https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/impact-fear-and-anxiety

[2]  https://www.oneplace.com/ministries/daily-hope/read/devotionals/daily-hope-with-rick-warren/five-ways-to-relax-in-gods-grace-daily-hope-with-rick-warren-october-7-2018-11799282.html

Cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

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

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Ties That Bind – encouragement from author Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt Allen

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

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

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

Join the conversation: What keeps you from running the race well?

Resolving a Spiritual Disconnect

by Patti Richter

You know you have a problem when Amazon can’t find your house.  

We were not surprised at this difficulty since GPS wasn’t yet showing our new street address. Meanwhile, we tried to guide delivery drivers by phone. “You’re getting close,” I said to one exasperated man. “Just backtrack a few miles east and then turn south at the ice-cream shop,” I added. We never saw or heard from him again.

We finally resorted to giving drivers the address of a farm across the road: “Find this driveway and turn the opposite way.”

High-tech gurus warned us a few years ago that using navigational tools would eventually diminish our natural capacity to find our way in the world, geographically.  Based on my personal experience of perhaps a dozen people who couldn’t locate us with directions such as north and south, I’m convinced this regression has happened sooner than expected.

Our location frustration reminded me of a spiritual condition I’ve observed too often. Some who believe in God—or at least want to believe—complain they are not on his radar. They feel disconnected from receiving any personal benefit or help from above.

Lacking favor with God is a valid concern, and there’s an early example of this in the story of Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve. Cain was “downcast” after God accepted his brother Abel’s sacrifice of a sheep while rejecting his own, non-blood, sacrifice. Even so, the Lord encouraged Cain: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Doing well means approaching God on His terms. What He wants from us is our trust.

Psalm 139 is a profession of faith in an intimate God. He knows our exact location, “when I sit down and when I rise up,” our current “path,” and “even before a word” is formed by our tongue (vv. 2 – 4 ESV).

This psalm is credited to David, who God chose as King of Israel to replace Saul, who did not trust God. Like Cain, Saul did not heed God’s commands and chose to seek approval on his own terms, by offering a sacrifice to Him. But God did not want an external act of “obedience.” He wanted Saul to trust Him enough to obey what He had told him to do. God rejected Saul as king (1 Samuel 15:22 – 23).

When it comes to finding God, we need to abandon our personal ideas and assumptions about trying to be good enough to win his favor or what we might sacrifice to be on good terms with him. We need only look to Christ, “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29 ESV), who “once for all… put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26 ESV).  

The opportunity to know God is available to “whoever believes in [his only Son]” (John 3:16 ESV). “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 ESV). God wants us to trust in His way to salvation. We can never work our way into a relationship with Him.

Many people wait for God to show up and make himself known to them, yet God has already delivered to us the gift of his Son. He wants us to believe in Him and enter into a relationship of trust.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 ESV

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Resolving a Spiritual Disconnect – encouragement from author 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: What helps you to trust in God?

The Grace of God’s Love

by Christina Rose

” As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 NIV

The dove has been a symbol of peace, purity and devotion across many cultures for thousands of years.  As a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Baptism of Jesus, the dove represents God’s peaceful, gentle and beautiful love. His presence in us produces qualities that show God’s character and grace.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

God called Noah to build an ark when he sent a great flood to cleanse the earth.  Once the rains had stopped, Noah sent out a dove to search for dry land. The dove returned the first time without a sign of finding land, yet on the second occasion the dove returned with a fresh olive leaf in its mouth.

“When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.” (Genesis 8:11-12 NIV)

The dove had found a new home on earth and thus became a symbol of God’s peace with the earth following his judgment.  Just as the earth was cleansed during Noah’s time by a flood, our earth today is being cleansed by the trial of the pandemic. We are growing in humility, forbearance, faith, and love as we turn to God more than ever in these uncertain times.

When my little daughters begged for a puppy, I said no, as I knew its care would fall on me. When they became tweens, I ran out of ideas for cool presents, so we got the puppy. While tiny Lily weighed just two pounds, the love and joy she brought to us was giant. As I suspected, much of the care for Lily fell on me for the next 19 years. I didn’t mind as she taught us so much about love and devotion.

Lily was used to waiting long hours for me to return from work, but the Pandemic brought a silver lining in that I could work at home. For the last six months, we spent every day together as she battled blindness, dementia, confusion, and other disorders. All she wanted was for me to be with her, and thanks to God’s grace, I rarely left her side.

Just a few weeks ago Lily left for heaven. She was laid to rest on my brother’s ranch in a beautiful spot with other beloved family dogs. Facing each day without my devoted companion of 19 years has been unbearable. One day I prayed, “God give me something, anything, to show me that Lily is okay.”

One hour later I headed to the park where I walked with Lily every day. As I approached the stream where we would stop to watch the ducks, a beautiful white dove landed on the grass and stared at me intently. In the hundreds of times I have traveled this path, I have never seen a white dove. The dove continued to look intently at me for quite some time, then spread his beautiful white wings to fly towards heaven. I felt God had answered my prayer, by sending the white dove to assure me that Lily was safe with Him.

In these turbulent trials of the pandemic, we are being tested, humbled and stretched. We may be experiencing loss on several levels. God is waiting on us to humble ourselves and call on him. He answers our prayers in signs and wonders, like the white dove that was sent to give me peace.  He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

“ If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)

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

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The Grace of God’s Love – insight from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you confirmation through a sign from heaven?