A New Song

by Doris Hoover

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”                                                                                                                                            John 8:11 NIV

Birds serenade from the treetops, singing joyful songs that make me smile. Each melody floats over me with happy notes. As I sit on the porch enjoying nature’s concert, I imagine God smiling also, delighting in His creation.

The birds cause me to wonder about my own melodies. What kind of music have I composed over the years? Have my life-songs brought a smile to God’s face?

The Lord definitely didn’t delight in many of my compositions—my music has often been filled with many discordant notes. Even so, He didn’t give up on me. He let me play out my song the way I chose to write it.

At one time, pure innocent notes flowed from my heart. But as sin crowded in, my life became totally out of tune. Then, when my song was nothing more than objectionable noise, I cried out with remorse. Jesus pulled me into Himself and kissed my head. He forgave my off-key choices and gave me a chance to rewrite my song. Then He promised that together we would create a beautiful duet.

Jesus gave me a chance to write a new song with my life.

Jesus gave that same chance to a woman one day in the temple. A mob of outraged men dragged her before Jesus and accused her of committing adultery. “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?” (John 8:5 NIV). John tells us they were using the scorned woman as a way to trap Jesus so they could accuse Him of not upholding the Law.

As the crowd jeered, ready to throw stones, Jesus knelt down and wrote in the sand. The men demanded He address the situation, so Jesus stood up and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7 NIV). Then He stooped back down, giving the crowd time to think about their motives and reflect upon their own lives.

One by one, the accusers dropped their stones and left. Jesus looked up at the woman, not with disgust or condemnation, but with a question. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:9-11 NIV).

In other words, go write a new song with your life.

I know exactly how that woman felt because I, too, was drenched with grace and enveloped in the soft cotton of God’s mercy. Covered with the balm of forgiveness, my soul sang out the only words possible: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

When we stand before Jesus with all of our shame exposed, He wraps us with a clean white sheet. Gently, He lifts our chin with the crook of His finger. As we look into His eyes, we don’t see disgust; we see eyes overflowing with immeasurable love.

Jesus offers gives each of us a chance to compose a new song that resounds with notes of mercy and grace. He will help us to write a new life-song that will make God smile.

O Lord, we’re undeserving of your grace; yet we’re desperate for it. Help us change our discordant lives into beautiful melodies that float up to you.

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A New Song – encouragement from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What new song has God written on your heart?

He’s Always Been There

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Do you know what it’s like to have the perfect friend?

Chances are, you would say your best friend is someone who has shared your past, shared a meaningful experience with you, or just someone who has “been there” for you.

Jesus is One who has always “been there” for me throughout my life.

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Jesus as a young child. So, I remember Him being there—as my best friend—on the first day of kindergarten when I would’ve otherwise felt lost and alone. I remember Him giving me courage when I started to be afraid after accidentally locking myself in my grandmother’s bathroom at the age of seven. I remember His powerful presence by my bed, where I lay for three weeks with scarlet fever at the age of nine.

My Best Friend was still by my side to comfort me when I, as a teenager, learned of my grandmother’s death in a car accident and helped my mother deal with the loss.

During my adult years, Jesus ministered to me every morning when I was on my knees praying for my brother’s safety as a soldier on the front lines of a ground war in the Middle East. When no one else knew what to say to give me strength and faith during that time, God’s words (in His Word) were there every morning, every evening, holding me up, keeping me strong and hopeful.

And Jesus stayed with me – when I would have otherwise been alone – for three days in the cancer ward of a children’s hospital as I watched my 18-month-old daughter undergo a series of tests to determine if she had cancer or leukemia. He listened to my questions, understood my anxiety, filled me with His peace, embraced me in His arms, and held my hand during the night when I couldn’t sleep.

From fearful days as a child to uncertain times as a parent, I’ve never seen the Lord let me down. He was always there to comfort me when no one else was. He rushed to my side when no one else could. He knew what to say when no one else did. That is a true friend.

Proverbs 18:24 (HCSB) says, “A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 HCSB). That’s the kind of friend Jesus has been. He has proved Himself to me over and over again.

Lord, thank You for being the Perfect Friend who sticks closer to me than anyone else, and who has always been there for me and always will.

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He’s Always Been There – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

What Readers are Saying about Drama Free: It was a book I didn’t want to put down. It was packed with Scripture, biblical truth, and helpful resources on how to diffuse drama that we all face in life.

Join the conversation: How has Jesus proved Himself to be a faithful friend to you in the past?

Is God Ever Not Good?

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

A friend recently had successful cancer surgery. When she joyfully announced the results on social media, the responses were both positive and predictable:

  • God is good!
  • God truly answers prayer!
  • God really loves you!
  • God is an awesome God!

We rejoiced in her prognosis because we understood the magnitude of what might have been. Still, our collective responses started me wondering. What if God had not extended His hand of mercy to her? What if the surgery had not been successful? What if the cancer had spread? Would we still say:

  • God is good!
  • God truly answers prayer!
  • God really loves you!
  • God is an awesome God!

…or would we doubt His goodness?

The prophet Habakkuk wrote: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).

Today, we might say: “Though the cancer is not healed and I can’t pay my mortgage, though my marriage has failed and the economy produces no jobs, though there are no book contracts in the offing and no agents who want to represent me,         yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

No matter what happens, God is good.

Whether we understand our circumstances or not, God is good.

Whether we can serve Him the way we want or not, God is good.

Whether our days are difficult or easy, God is good.

Do you believe this—truly believe this in the midst of your present circumstances? Believe it in your heart and speak it aloud, because it’s true: God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

I hope you’re not experiencing anything today causing you to doubt God’s goodness. But if you are, what will you do with your doubts?

O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!                                                                                                                                          Psalm 34:8 NASB

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© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What has made you question the goodness of God?

Simple Obedience

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

On a September morning in 1853, young Hudson Taylor departed England for Shanghai, China. He was just 21 years old, but possessed a God-given passion for the Chinese people. At that time, there were only a few dozen missionaries bringing the gospel to this great empire largely unknown to the west. During Hudson’s fifty-year ministry, that would all change.

Unlike the established missionary presence which largely kept to coastal areas, Hudson traveled deep into China’s interior. He eventually established the China Inland Mission, which would sponsor over 1,000 new missionaries to China in Hudson’s lifetime. His lifetime of dedicated service continues to be an inspiration to Christians everywhere even today.

And now for the rest of the story… I wish I could tell you that God blessed Hudson with a life free of trouble as he ministered so tirelessly among the Chinese. Not so. Hudson contracted a serious illness, probably hepatitis, and was forced to return to England for an extended time. For the rest of his days, he would struggle with poor health. Hudson also suffered several long bouts of serious depression. His beloved wife died at age 33. Four of their eight children died before the age of ten. In 1900, exhausted and overwhelmed, Hudson suffered a complete physical and mental breakdown. His was no “charmed” life.

The Chinese church is most likely the fastest growing church on earth today. Largely underground due to oppressive government policies, it has been estimated that 234 million Chinese are now believers. Much of the success in reaching the Chinese with the gospel is a result of the seeds sowed by Hudson Taylor in the nineteenth century. I wonder if he could have ever imagined how amazingly God would use his efforts.

We are called to be faithful in doing what God has called us to do. We are not given any guarantees or even insight as to the eventual success of our efforts. Our lives will not be free of problems and obstacles. Yet we are called to persevere, operating in faith that God will use our meager and faulty efforts to build His kingdom.

The prophets faced this same challenge. 1 Peter 1:12 tells us, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you…”  As the ancient prophets recorded God’s words to them, it was not for themselves or even their contemporaries, but for those of a future generation, which would use their writings to confirm the messiah’s identity and comprehend the plans of God. The prophets simply did as God asked, never seeing the fruit of their labor in their own lifetimes. It was obedience in faith.

What has God called you to do?  It probably does not appear to be a world-impacting ministry. Our efforts rarely do. Like Hudson Taylor, we will face hardship and discouragement as we attempt to obey. Our responsibility is only to do what we are called to do. Simple obedience is all that is required.

God will take our efforts and use them for his kingdom, generously allowing us to participate in his glorious cause.

“Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth… Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”                                             1 Corinthians 3:7-8 NASB

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Simple Obedience when #FollowingGod – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Have you felt discouraged at the effectiveness of your efforts? Please share your experiences!

I Can Feel His Heartbeat

 by Nan Corbitt Allen

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart…                 
Isaiah 40:11 NIV

I remember the first time I heard my son’s heartbeat at an early prenatal appointment. It was music to my ears! I had waited for that moment for a long time, and it was pure joy to me and my husband. Then I became aware that my child was hearing my heartbeat, too.

I read about a mother who recorded her own heartbeat while she was pregnant and then periodically played it back to her newborn, so that he would feel she was always near and be comforted. It was not just any heartbeat either. It was hers!

Isaiah captured the metaphorical hearing of a heartbeat in the passage above. The picture of a shepherd gathering his lambs into his embrace reminds me that God holds me close to His heart. I can hear and feel His presence. Though I often want to wiggle out of His grasp, I love coming back and being held close, listening to His heartbeat again.

In that same chapter, Isaiah writes, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40: 25-26 NIV).

My aunt had ten children in twenty years. She could, of course, name each child and his or her birthday. And even as she got older, she could name every grandchild, every great-grandchild, and every great-great grandchild along with their birthdays attached. Often at large family reunions, I would marvel at her ability to tell when someone was missing, and in knowing her circle was never complete without that one (or more) who was absent.

Jesus used the analogy of a flock of sheep and their shepherd in a parable: “If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off” (Matthew 18: 12-13 NIV).

I remember singing this old song in church about the ninety-and-nine when I was young:

There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold
But one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold…

At times in my life I have sometimes felt like I was one of the ninety-nine He left behind while tending to someone else. I also wondered what would have happened if the 99 were attacked while He was gone—because they were left alone and vulnerable.

But just lately, I revisited this idea and rediscovered that Jesus’ parable DOES apply to me. I AM the one—as well as one of the 99. Sometimes still I wander away, and He brings me back (holding me next to His heart). Sometimes I feel just as secure grazing happily on the hillside. And I am reminded by the words of Peter: “…Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV).

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I Can Feel His Heartbeat – Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

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

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

Join the conversation: What thought about God encourages you the most?

How to Find Courage in the Face of Danger

by Karen DeArmond Gardner

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.                                                                                                                          I Timothy 1:7 NASB

God rarely answers why questions, especially when we are in pain. But every once in a while, when we’re not even asking, He answers one of our why questions when we least expect it.

This was one of those moments. I was sitting with hundreds of women at my church listening to Pastor Debbie teach on I Timothy 1:7. On the outside, I may have appeared cool, calm, and collected, but on the inside, I was stunned. God had just shown me why I’d stayed in an abusive marriage for 30 years.

I’d spent years beating myself up for staying as long as I did. The NLT version of Jeremiah 31:19 expressed how I often felt: “I kicked myself for my stupidity!”

Now, I suddenly realized being stupid wasn’t my problem. Instead, I’d been conditioned to live in fear… of my husband, of his retribution, of not pleasing him. The brainwashing was so gradual, I didn’t realize that fear had changed me into a timid mouse.

It turns out fear and love are opposites; you can have one or the other, but not both at the same time. In my situation, fear had permeated every part of my spirit. There was no room for love.

Fear had such a hold on me, I couldn’t leave. I believed my marriage was my lot in life, since I had chosen to marry him. My understanding of Scripture had gotten all twisted around: I thought God wanted me to suffer for Jesus and would one day reward me with a crown for enduring it. I was responding to another kind of fear: I was afraid that leaving my marriage would displease God.

So I looked into the meaning of the words in 1 Timothy 1:7.

  • Power is the capability to act or do something dangerous.
  • Love describes the commitment God has for us, always wanting our good.
  • Discipline is the ability to think in a sound or sane manner.

The enemy had tricked me into giving up my power, love, and ability to think soundly. I wrote out what I had learned from I Timothy 1:7: God has breathed courage into my spirit and has given me the ability to act in the face of fear and danger, to experience His extravagant love, and to walk in His wisdom, so I can be the woman He called me to be.

I’m so grateful that God answered why that night and set me free from the lies of fear.

Are you trapped in your circumstances? Is fear preventing you from making healthy decisions? Are you ready for the secret to being able to kick fear to the curb?

Look up all the ways God’s love is described in Scripture. Immerse yourself in His pure, powerful, and glorious love; soak in it, embrace it, then share His love with everyone you encounter. Living in God’s love will give you the courage to confront whatever difficulty you’re stuck in, as well as provide wisdom and understanding to know what action He would have you take.

Are you ready to exchange fear for love? “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…the one who fears is not complete in love” (1 John 4:12 CSB).

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How to Find Courage in the Face of Danger – encouragement from Daren DeArmond Gardner on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

karen dearmond gardnerAbout the author: Karen DeArmond Gardner is a 30-year survivor of domestic violence. She has spent 15 years on her own healing journey and nearly that long helping others find freedom, restoration, and redemption.

Karen is a facilitator in Freedom Ministry/Sozo and directs the Women’s Ministry at Catch the Fire DFW Church. She also facilitates Mending the Soul, a group that leads women through the trauma of their past into healing and wholeness. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arukah House, a transitional home for women coming out of sex trafficking and abuse.

Karen blogs at Crack the Silence and can be found at her Crack the Silence Facebook page. She continues to be a helpful contact and resource for abused women in her church and community.

Join the conversation: In what ways has fear trapped you?

 

Claim Your Promise

by Evelyn Taylor  @drevetaylor

So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given you?”                                                                                                                                           Joshua 18:3 NIV

I tend to book early flights.

I like to get to my destination early in the day, so I can arrive and still have time to enjoy the sunlight of the day. This means I have to plan. Airports can be exhausting, and when I’m standing in a TSA line before sunrise, it helps to know I have a window seat waiting for me when I get on the plane.

Imagine my surprise when I recently boarded a plane only to find another passenger in my assigned seat! Now, on a midday flight, I don’t mind settling for an aisle seat. But the window seat is the best place for sleeping at that early hour. No worries about getting knocked by the beverage cart or slumping onto another passenger.

I’m not always the most assertive person, but in order to receive what was promised me, I had to inform my seatmate of his mistake. It meant a bit of shuffling and reorganizing as the middle seat was also occupied. I felt a little uncomfortable that I was causing my fellow passengers some inconvenience. But I couldn’t be timid. I needed to claim what had been promised.

Just before entering the Promised Land, Joshua told the Israelites that they should lay claim to what God had already given them. They were to take God at His word and step forward in trust. It would take action to receive their inheritance.

As with the Israelites, God has given us blessings that we have yet to claim. They are already ours, but we must step forward to receive them. Our obedience to God is the action necessary for him to release his promises to us. When we yield ourselves to his will, we are positioned to receive all that he has promised. As the Lord told Isaiah: “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19 ESV).

When we belong to him, we don’t have to live in fear and anxiety. He promises to keep our hearts and minds in perfect peace as we step forward to trust him. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). In the stressful times in life, we can receive the peace of God.

As Moses spoke to the Children of Israel encouraging them, we can have faith trusting that God will always be with us as well. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

The Apostle Paul wrote concerning the magnificent abilities of our God: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV) We can be assured that he is able to do more than we can imagine. We don’t have to settle for less, nor do we have to worry that our present reality is all that he has for us. There is no need to be afraid to ask for what is rightfully ours.

Focusing on the promises of his Word rather than on a surrounding disturbance will allow you to enjoy all God has promised. Ask in trust, confident in a God who keeps his promises. Faith is more than saying we believe. Faith actually believes.

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Claim Your Promise – encouragement from @DrEveTaylor on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

evelyn johnson-taylorAbout the author: Evelyn Johnson-Taylor is a professor of theology, author, speaker, and coach. She shares her life experiences through mentoring and encouraging others to move forward in whatever God has called them to do.  Evelyn believes that nothing is wasted with God and that everything He allows us to walk through in life is to be used to help someone else. You can connect with her on TwitterInstagramLinkedin, and Facebook.

Evelyn shares her experience of caring for her husband for a decade in See Me Hear Me Know Me: From The Heart of a Caregiver, a book that she and her husband wrote together. God has given her a passion to enlighten caregivers on the importance of self-care and has graced her to share a message of hope and encouragement.

Join the conversation: What promise of God do you need to claim today?

Perception vs. Reality

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  1 Samuel 16:7 NLT

Preparing for our first beach vacation after the birth of our daughter was a tremendous task. A week away from home with an eight-month-old required planning, coordination, and an inordinate amount of equipment.

Just before dawn on the day of our departure, I hauled various bags, the play-yard, a table-mounted highchair, electric swing, and stroller onto the front porch. As I worked, I noticed a car creeping past our house. The occupants stared. I must have been quite a sight, still dressed in my nightgown and sporting a bed-head.

I went in the house for more items, and when I came out again, the car was making a second pass. The intense scrutiny of this second drive-by raised my discomfort level. Were they “casing the joint,” flagging our house as a target for theft while we were out of town? We had been robbed before, so I was alarmed.

On the third drive-by, the woman in the passenger seat rolled down her window and yelled, “What time does your yard sale start?”

Momentarily confused, it took several seconds for me to comprehend the question. Then it dawned on me. While I knew I was packing for a beach trip, this woman thought I was preparing to hold a yard sale. Annoyed, and slightly embarrassed, I yelled back, “It’s not a yard sale!”

“Are you sure? It looks like a yard sale,” she countered.

Things are not always as they appear at first glance. Our appraisal of people or situations can be influenced by our experiences, perceptions, or expectations. Sometimes, what seems like the right assessment or choice really isn’t. Running ahead of God, instead of waiting for his directive, can create problems we never anticipated.

1 Samuel 16 recounts the story of God sending Samuel to anoint Israel’s next king. Samuel knew the place and the designated family, but not the exact member. When Jesse presented his first son, Eliab, who perhaps carried himself in a regal manner, Samuel assumed he was the chosen one. But the Lord stopped Samuel, telling him a person’s heart matters more than outward appearance. Seven of Jesse’s sons paraded before Samuel, but, at the Lord’s instruction, he rejected them all. Finally, the youngest son, David, who was out shepherding his flock, was brought in from the fields. David’s father didn’t even consider him worth presenting, but Samuel knew immediately that he was God’s chosen one and anointed him.

Our wisdom can never equal God’s. Sometimes what appears to be a good opportunity can lead down a dead-end path, wasting time, energy, and talents. Other times, our perception of people is skewed, and we either miss out on a great connection, or end up being hurt by someone who isn’t what they appeared to be. In seeking God’s guidance before making decisions, we avoid the consequences of mistakes and detours. As James promises: “…if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NASB).

The better we know Him, the better we are able to sense His guidance. Through cultivating a relationship with God, we gain His perspective, make wiser choices, and follow His plan for our lives. He’ll never steer us wrong.

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Perception vs. Reality – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: When has your own judgement or perspective led you astray?

Mended With Gold

by Amy Williams @free2Bfearless

I broke my favorite mug the other day. I’d finished my morning coffee and set my mug on the precarious stack of paper next to my desk. I had to set it there because my desk was covered in projects and folders and protein bar wrappers. And before I knew what was happening, my beloved mug slid off and shattered on the wood floor.

The mug had been a gift from my best friend. She had one just like it. Handmade. Ceramic. Dark blue. And when she left for England, where she lived for three years, we would send each other pictures of our matching mugs whenever we were lonely. No matter where I go, no matter where I lived, I always took that mug with me. And just like that—because of my own actions no less—the mug was in pieces. What once had a use was now useless. What once had value was now worthless.

As I gathered up the fragmented pieces of my favorite mug, I couldn’t help but compare it to my life. Many times, I’ve felt like my life has been broken into pieces, mostly due to my own poor choices. Some of the consequences of those choices rise up and taunt me on a daily basis. I’ve disappointed people who were counting on me. I’ve hurt people I love. I haven’t been there for the people who needed me when they needed me. If it were up to me, my life would be jagged pieces on the floor—shattered and scattered by my own hand.

But it’s not up to me.

When I was seven years old, I decided to believe what Jesus said about Himself and about me, and from that point on, I’ve been one of His many works in progress. Since that day, I have been on a journey with Him where He is keeping His promise from 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I hadn’t heard about Kintsugi until a handful of years ago in a random Pinterest post during a pinning binge (you know, you’ve done it too). Kintsugi, which is roughly translated “mended with gold,” is a Japanese pottery technique where the pieces of broken cups or pots are rejoined using gold lacquer. It’s gorgeous work. Instead of an old broken pot, now you have something beautiful. Something new. Kintsugi takes a broken vessel that had lost its inherent worth and makes it more valuable than it had been before—not because it was broken but because of how it was pieced back together.

Sound familiar?

We all have broken pieces. We all have scars and wounds, whether we let the world see them or not. But you can’t hide your broken pieces from Jesus. He knows each one, and He offers redemption for each scar. Only He is big enough to take the broken pieces of your life and turn them into something beautiful that can be used to help others. That is the true worth of your scars and broken pieces. Not that you have them—but how God can redeem them for His glory.

What broken pieces are you hiding today? What scars are you afraid to reveal? Don’t let the enemy convince you that your brokenness has made you worthless. Listen to Jesus, the Master Potter, who is able to take your broken life and make it new and whole again.

As for me and my favorite mug, I’m going to go find some gold lacquer. Because that old piece of handmade pottery still has lots of new stories to tell.

…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6 NIV

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Mended With Gold – encouragement from A.C.Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williamsAbout the author: A.C. Williams is an author-preneur who weaves fantastic tales about #AmericanSamurai and #SpaceCowboys, and she’s passionate about helping writers master the art of storytelling. A quirky, coffee-drinking, cat-loving thirty-something, she’s on Finding Firefliesa mission to help authors overcome fear and live victorious. Join her adventures on social media (@free2bfearless) and visit her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: How has brokenness been a part of your spiritual journey?

Alzheimer’s is No Match for the Spirit of God

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.                                                                                                                               Psalm 139:11-12, ESV

It’s been a long goodbye. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s more than a decade ago. And although physically she is still with us, we have been losing her by bits and pieces for years. According to her doctor, Mom is now in the final stages of this cruel disease, in her last weeks. She is on a hospice wing of a nursing home in Knoxville, Tennessee where my brother lives. I live in Texas. I wish I could simply sit by her until she goes to meet Jesus, but the nearly one thousand-mile trip makes that difficult.

But recently, my daughters and I spent several days with her. They wanted to see their grandmother one last time. Their visit was hard but good. She never “recognized” them, but she did focus on them, hold their hands, and interact. It seemed as though she knew she should know them and was cheered by their presence.

After they flew home, I stayed a while longer. One afternoon, I sat beside Mom’s bed, holding her hand, and my sweet sister-in-law sat holding her other. Up to that point, Mom’s conversation hadn’t made much sense. She put words together into sentences that had no meaning. But that afternoon was different. Something very precious and amazing happened.

I asked Mom to tell us about Jesus. And that’s when it happened.

She closed her eyes and a serene look came over her face. When she spoke, her voice was filled with awe and wonder. And her words made so much sense. I wish I had recorded it. She said things like “He is so good… He is so powerful… He helps me… He helps me be good. He is so wonderful.”

Mom went on for several minutes without any prompting or encouragement. Then when she finished talking about Jesus, she opened her eyes and her communication reverted to what it had been before.

God allowed me to witness answered prayer that day. One of my regular petitions for Mom is that God will continue to give her awareness of His presence with her in these final days. Oh yes, in this dark valley of circumstances, God is with my mother.

Psalm 139 teaches us incredible truths about the presence of God. He is omni-present. We could not escape His presence if we tried. We do not encounter any hard thing alone. We do not walk into any dark place without Him lighting the way before us.

Not even Alzheimer’s is a match for our powerful, ever-present God. He is able to penetrate even that and touch my mother’s soul in a way nothing else can.

That afternoon at my mother’s bedside, I saw the Holy Spirit override the deficiencies in her brain. Alzheimer’s could not contain Mom’s praise for Jesus. Oh yes, He is good and He is powerful!

TWEETABLE
Alzheimer’s is No Match for the Spirit of God – encouragement from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

In 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, author and fellow caregiver Kathy Howard offers encouragement and wisdom on giving your parents the kind of care that pleases God, providing the honor and respect that will allow them to maintain their dignity.

Join the conversation: Has God answered a prayer of yours lately? Please share!