A Scary Verse?

by Julie Zine Coleman

I saw a link to a blog post the other day about the scariest verse in the Bible. Intrigued, I clicked on over. Apparently the offending passage was 1 John 4:7-8: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” NASB

Not only the author but several commenters took this verse to mean if we did not show love, we’d better be worried about our salvation. I had to leave a comment. Because any time we think our relationship with God is dependent on how we act, we are headed for serious trouble.

We are saved through grace alone. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man think to boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The key to salvation is in understanding that nothing I can do could ever earn forgiveness or favor with God. When I realize my insufficiency, I can then, in turn, put my trust in the sufficiency of Christ. His sacrifice more than paid for my guilt. When I believe in him, I am saved. That’s the gospel, plain and simple.

But as we try to live out our lives as believers, the reality of our insufficiency can fade. In our zeal to live holy lives, it can become once again about impressing God. If I am not acting like a Christian, I will fall out of his good favor. If I’m not being spiritual, I might never have even been a Christian to begin with.

Wait…what happened to grace?

Grace is undeserved favor. By definition we cannot earn it. It is one of those inexplicable sides of God: he gives it freely to those who believe. Even more astonishing: He continues to supply grace after we are saved: it is crucial to our relationship with him. Paul urged believers to “continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43, emphasis added, NASB). Our sense of dependency should only grow stronger as we walk with Christ. It should drive us to keep our eyes fixed on him, because looking at ourselves, our weaknesses, and continual failure will only lead to despair. When we understand grace, and how badly we need it, we cling to him like a life preserver.

So why then are commandments like this one to love so strongly stated?

  1. There is a purpose in our love. God’s intention is to reveal himself through the Church. In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul reminds his readers that their behavior (loving each other) will show God to the rest of the world. One sure-fire way to get some notice is by living the way the Bible instructs, and foremost, living lives of love (see John 17:20-21). When we love, we will stick out like a sore thumb. (In a good way.)
  1. Love is an expression of who we are. We have been rescued from sin’s hold over us. Why would we shed the robe of Christ’s righteousness and don the metaphorical garments of our old life? Paul writes, “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7 NASB). We were rescued from the misery of sin’s mastery over us. This includes living for self and carrying hatred and bitterness in our hearts, the opposites of love. Why willingly jump back into the cesspool?
  1. Love is a healthy life-style choice. God loves us. His Word instructs us to love. Whenever we choose what goes against His Word, it cannot end well. So it is with withholding love. Nothing will make us sicker than anger or hatred. In the end, bitterness is a heavy burden to bear, and often leads to further sin (Ephesians 4:26-27). God’s way is always the best way.

In short, yes, 1 John urges us to love. It marks a true believer and is an effective way we can show God to the world. Loving brings meaning and satisfaction to our every action.

But in no way is love a condition for our salvation or any kind of a relationship with God. As children of God, we live under the huge umbrella of grace. He loves us, not because of what we do for him, but because he is a merciful God and has already paid our debt. Any sense of accomplishment we get from following his commands should not undermine the reality of our dependence on him for the most basic of spiritual needs.

He is all-sufficient. We must rest in that fact alone.

“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17 NASB

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. 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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What is the scariest verse in the Bible for you?

 

Royal Mail

by Joy Anisa

Our daughter is serving a one year mission term in London England. Upon opening a card she sent us, I noticed the words “Royal Mail” stamped on the envelope. Royal Mail!

What it is about royalty that intrigues us? Why do we relish the pomp and circumstance, the castles, the nobility, the kings, queens, and knights in shining armor? Most likely it is a lifestyle far from the ordinary existence of the commoner. It is the longing for a happily ever after. Maybe it’s wanting to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves.

As I held that card and envelope in my hand and stared at those two words, my Heavenly Father whispered to my soul, “I have sent you royal mail, too.” Our King has sent us a most priceless collection of Royal Mail, in all 66 books of the Bible. Those letters have the power to break the chains that hold us in bondage, to turn our suffering into joy, and light our path when we cannot see.

Our King broke through the darkness and emerged with glorious light. He healed all our afflictions as He suffered everything that ails us. He left the glory of heaven and arrived as a commoner, living among everyday people. He humbled himself so we could experience the uncommon – something bigger than ourselves. Because when we believe in Him, we become part of His royal family.

Matthew Henry states, “If you sincerely believe on him, who is the promised seed, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, you therefore become the true seed of Abraham, the father of the faithful, and as such are heirs according to the promise, and consequently are entitled to the great blessings and privileges of it.” He has changed our status from His enemies to His children. He lavished His grace on us and has adopted us as co-heirs with Christ.

Satan wants to convince us that we are nobody. The truth is “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9 NKJV). Satan works to bring chaos into our lives in hopes that we neglect our royal calling. But our Father, the King of kings, grants continual access to His throne room for guidance and support: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV).

Let’s open with eager hearts the royal mail that has been left for us. Let’s follow the King’s instructions for our lives.  It is in our submission to the King that we find the greatest fulfillment in our royal calling.

“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:29 NASB 

joy anisaAbout the author: Joy Anisa speaks for women’s retreats, MOPS, and Single Mom conferences. Her book, Identity Crisis: Moving from Crisis to Credibility,  offers an invitation to hope in the God who loves deeply, heals wounds, and offers His joy when life around us crumbles. You can find Joy on FB, Twitter, and Instagram. Joy lives with her husband, Jeff and their son, Caid, in Conyers, GA.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Joy’s book, Identity Crisis: Moving From Crisis to Credibility,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What part of your royal status is most precious to you?

Grace Spilled Out

by Cheri Cowell

I once heard the story of a little boy who’d been prepped by his parents on the proper dinner etiquette for a meal with his Dad’s business partners. All day he was quizzed on things like the right words to say and the correct silverware to use. Finally, it was time to eat and everyone took his or her places at the table. But as he slid into his assigned seat, his elbow caught the corner of his water glass. Before he could catch it, water went everywhere. Silence fell. Then his father unexpectedly reached over, and with a wink, tipped over his own glass.

That is grace. Jesus offers that same grace, spilled out for you and me.

Jesus had performed the miracle of providing fish to men out in their fishing boats three years ago and told Peter he would make him a fisher of men. Now, three years later, Peter had a problem. He had failed on the night of Jesus’ arrest, denying any allegiance to Christ. What he had done had the potential to define the rest of His days.

Jesus knew Peter’s pain, so he crafted a moment just for him.

The disciples were once again fishing, and once again, Jesus miraculously provided the catch. Surely Peter was sadly reminded of that life-changing day when Jesus had called him, as they struggled to manage the overflowing nets. But Jesus had more in store for Peter.

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”  John 21:15-17 NIV

Jesus did not even bring up Peter’s denial. Instead He asked three times, “Do you love Me?” With each declaration, Peter was given the chance to reaffirm his commitment to Jesus. Jesus was giving Peter a clear message: I have already forgiven you. Now go and do what I have called you to do.

As you read this passage, what comes to your mind that causes you guilt? Perhaps, like Peter, you feel that your sin is unforgivable. But the truth is, nothing is unforgivable with Jesus. He has already paid for that sin. There is nothing you can do that His overflowing grace will not cover.

“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19 NIV

cheri cowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell’s Bible study, One Story, One Mission, One God, shares God’s single-minded mission from Genesis through Revelation. To learn about this and Cheri’s other books visit Cheri’s website.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Cheri’s book, 365 Devotionals for Peace , please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Have you ever committed a sin that you felt God might not forgive?

Am I Spreading Music…or Noise?

by Edie Melson

I love listening to praise music—recorded or live. It can send my soul soaring as I reconnect with the healing truth that comes only from God. It also anchors that truth in my brain in a way that few other mediums can do. When I hear truth sung, I recall it quicker when a situation arises, even when I don’t feel like singing.

However, a few months ago I had a different musical experience. Sitting in the audience at a familiar venue, I was excited to see a new group make their way on stage. They began strong—great blend, super instrumentals, and an engaging stage presence. Then things began slide downhill. It became obvious they were having trouble hearing each other. The resulting discordant notes sent zigzags of pain along my auditory nerves. On top of that, the drummer and the lead singer were out of sync just enough to make the song jarring instead of inspiring. The crowd around me begin to shuffle uncomfortably, and I watched the audience disconnect.

As I stood there, waiting for the band to recover, God whispered a truth in my soul. This is how My message misses connection when you’re not staying in sync with me.

The thought shook me to the core.

With clarity, I could see that this was a perfect picture of how the world perceives our Christian message when we’re not following God’s path. When we refuse to let the love of Jesus shine through every part of our lives, no matter the circumstances, our message becomes nothing more than jarring discordance.

Reacting in hurt and anger, lashing out at others pulls me out of sync with God. When I don’t listen to God’s prompting, I’m disobedient, and that leads to further disharmony. God’s message no longer rings pure and beautiful, instead it causes those around me to cover their ears and move away from the noise. Instead of reaching out to a hurting world, I end up driving them farther from the truth of God.

That was a lot to chew on.

By the end of the set, the band had fixed the issues and the songs were amazing. As they got back in sync, the audience once again focused in on the music. The earlier issues were forgotten as we engaged with the soaring harmonies and uplifting notes.

Just like me. There are times when God’s message is marred by my lack of sync with Him. But when I return to His beat, the past is forgotten and the truth shines through.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

 Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Edie’s book, While My Child is Away,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What helps you to stay in sync with God?

Pitching Unnecessary Baggage

by Delores Liesner

Packing for a recent writer’s conference in New Mexico was record breaking for me. I managed to get everything into one carry-on suitcase – clothing, toiletries and even an extra empty bag for books on the trip home!  For a clothes horse like me, it was no less than a miracle.

I’d often likened my early life story to baggage that I carried into our marriage.  Now, standing at the luggage carousel watching others haul gigantic suitcases or multi-pieced sets, I thought about the time so many years ago when I left home after high school.

Talk about baggage: I was so emotionally battered, I might as well have been hauling an entire carousel’s worth.  After spending a childhood being told how worthless I was, I carried an unquenchable need for love and acceptance. My brokenness was expressed in an obsession over my physical appearance—on shallow things like makeup and clothing. But any attention I received for my efforts felt shallow and false, which never satisfied my longings. Ironic isn’t it – that I would artificiality try to add to who I was, then be surprised and disappointed with a superficial response?

Ken and I both entered our marriage loaded down with baggage. We wanted something better: a strong spiritual standard for our marriage and family.  We believed the Bible was God’s Word and began reading and applying it to our lives.  The more we learned about the Lord and His love for us, the more we loved him, and the easier it became to trust Him with our baggage.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you.” (NASB)

Cast comes from a Hebrew word meaning to pitch over or toss out. Now isn’t that a concept – not just to tell God about my burden, but to toss it over to Him, like using a pitchfork to move dirty hay from a barn!

Our casting began with material possessions, because things were easier to let go of than emotions, fears, hopes, and dreams.  God was faithful to accept those weak offerings and turn them into assurances that He could be trusted with more.

The longer we walked with God, the more we opened up to Him. It was a lot like Robert Boyd’s illustration in his little book My Heart, Christ’s Home. Metaphorical doors in our lives were opened, rooms were being cleaned and aired, and God faithfully led us toward the good and the healthy.

Some days when I read Scripture I felt God saying: Have I let you down yet? Haven’t you figured out that what you have tossed to me I have replaced with abundance? Letting go became easier and easier as I gradually learned that our Mighty Savior is absolutely worthy of my trust.

That trip to New Mexico was a definite time of emotional healing for me.  God opened new doors for me and proved His faithfulness once again. I left the airport carrying less baggage than ever before, thankful for His abundant blessings in my life.

I’m truly lighter– inside and out.  How about you?  Got your pitchfork ready?

delores liesnerAbout the author: Delores Liesner loves to reveal the dynamic hope and confidence found in the heritage of our personal God. She writes from Racine, WI., is a CLASS graduate, 21st Century Grandma and Life Tales columnist. She has published hundreds of stories and articles. Check out her Amazon Author page!

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Delores’s book, Be the Miracle,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What baggage do you still need to toss?

 

 

Key Word: Abide

by Afton Rorvik

Several years ago, we tore out the evergreens in front of our house and planted perennial plants and grasses. That means that every winter when they die, the front yard looks barren. By the time May rolls around, we eagerly long to see color and life in our front yard again.

One recent May morning my husband glanced at our front yard plants just poking their beginning sprouts out of the ground and said to them facetiously, “Come on! When are you going to have some color? Get with the program!”

As I’m sure you know, talking to plants did not make them grow faster! They needed time and rain and sun. But by June, we did have color.

We cannot force growth in the natural world, although we sometimes try with various products that promise amazing growth. We can’t force growth in the spiritual world, either, although we do sometimes try the “quick-and-easy” in effort to make ourselves an abundant, fruit-producing person by next Sunday.

But Jesus’ perspective on growing fruit is very different.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5-8, NIV).

Remain. Some translations use the word abide. The Message says, “make your home in me.” Doesn’t sound like a lot of “doing” after all, does it? Not exactly “getting with the program and getting it done.” It is rather a long-time endeavor, characterized by rest, of staying connected to the Vine.

I recently read a story about John Stott, the former rector of All’s Souls church in London, that so clearly illustrates this idea of remaining and then letting the Holy Spirit do the fruit- producing.

Rev. Stott dearly loved the words of Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT):

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

In fact, he prayed these words back to God every morning:

“Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

In the introduction to his book, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Christopher J.H. Wright (p. 13) comments, “It hardly seems surprising, then, that many people who knew John Stott personally said that he was the most Christlike person they ever met. For God answered his daily prayer by making the fruit of the Spirit ripen in his life.”

Oh, may we learn to remain and let God grow His fruit within us.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 NASB

afton rorvik.jpgAbout the author: Part of the publishing industry since 1987, Afton Rorvik enjoys her roles as wife, mother, friend, editor, and writer. She loves shaping words, reading books by contemplative authors, listening to music, drinking coffee with friends, traveling, and savoring the words in her favorite book—the Bible. In 2014 Afton published Storm Sisters, a story-filled book on how to be present when storms hit a friend’s life. You can learn more about Afton and her ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Afton’s book, Storm Sisters, Friends Through All Seasons,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

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Fix Your Thoughts

by Twila Belk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

Hope Comes in the Breaking

by Joy Anisa

I uttered a heartbroken plea to my Heavenly Father asking Him for a pretty bow to go on His very messy gift. My life was unraveling faster than I could comprehend, and I was beginning to accept that what was being allowed to pass through my Father’s hands had come with purpose. Nevertheless, it did not lessen my pain. The whole matter was just messy and ugly.

I did not share that prayer with anyone. His answer was divinely orchestrated weeks later. But while my kind, gentle Heavenly Father had allowed the discomfort, in the end, He used my distress to reveal Himself in an up-close and personal way. And that, I knew, was my bow.

Satan wants to convince us that we should handle things on our own. He lures us into hiding our mess, so everyone will continue to think well of us. But God has better things in mind.

“…We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5, NKJV). Four powerful words of truth, “hope does not disappoint”!

Our hope does not come from anything we have or could do. Our hope is in Christ alone.

Hope entered a broken world. Hope hung on a cross to cover us with grace and mercy. Hope continues to grow us into perfectly reflecting His character. Hope is birthed from a love that is perfect and pursues our soul at all cost.

When we think of gifts, we think perfect and beautiful. Sometimes God’s gift to us is not what we had in mind. But our mess and ugly circumstances can be an unexpected gift. What if we changed our perspective and trusted in His divine purpose in the middle of the chaos?  What if we believed Solomon when he wrote “He has made everything beautiful in its time”?  Ecclesiastes 3:11a NIV

When you find yourself thinking that you cannot take much more, you are in the perfect place for finding hope outside yourself. God places the seed of hope in the dark and dismal, because it is there we realize we need Him. Hope quietly whispers, “Rest in Me, I will carry you and light your path.” And holds us with a grip that will not let go.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:5 NASB

joy anisaAbout the author: Joy Anisa speaks for women’s retreats, MOPS, and Single Mom conferences. Her book, Identity Crisis: Moving from Crisis to Credibility,  offers an invitation to hope in the God who loves deeply, heals wounds, and offers His joy when life around us crumbles. You can find Joy on FB, Twitter, and Instagram. Joy lives with her husband, Jeff and their son, Caid, in Conyers, GA.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Joy’s book, Identity Crisis: Moving From Crisis to Credibility,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How have you placed your hope in the Lord?

Reading Between the Lines (and Living Between the Times)

by Rhonda Rhea

Someone once told me that all crazy women have super-thin eyebrows. I don’t see how I could even begin to argue with that logic. So I pencil. And I pencil strong. I feel I have a lot to prove.

That’s one reason doing makeup in the car is such risky business. One hard stop and a gal could end up with a seriously high eyebrow. No one could ever be as astonished as that kind of brow implies. And please excuse me if the humor here is a bit…ah…highbrow.

The other day, even full-well knowing the risk, I was doing my makeup in the car. My daughter was driving and hit a bad bump at a very crucial eyebrow moment. I immediately shot her a half-angry look. Not because I was really angry. Hey, bumps happen. I gave her the look because suddenly I had one fiercely anger-shaped brow. That’s hard to get rid of. To find some sort of symmetry I had to line and over-line both eyebrows. We’re talking, eyebrows full on. Like, high-beam on. I just combed my bangs extra low and hoped people would read between the lines, as it were. Goofy road-bump.

If anyone knew about bumps in the road, it was Paul. Talk about some hardships. It was enough to furrow any brow. But in Romans 8:18 he tells us that those difficulties were not such a big deal. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us,” (HCSB).

Difficulties? Temporary. But the glory? It’s forever! Our future is so much brighter than anything dark we could ever encounter here. What hope! A few verses later we read, “Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience,” (vv. 24-25, HCSB).

It reminds us that we live between the times. We can’t see the big picture full-beam. We’re living in that space between the bumps in the road and the glory that awaits. But this we know: we can walk in faith and confidence in the here and now because our Father has a great plan for our future. He is a trustworthy God who keeps His promises. That means we can wait with assurance—eager, yet patient.

That assurance changes our perspective on life and its challenges. We’re able to focus less on the things that won’t matter in eternity and more on the things of God. Jonathan Edwards, great revival preacher of the 1700’s, prayed, “O Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

Stamping eternity on our eyeballs is not about pencils or brows. It’s about keeping our eyes God-ward and staying ever-mindful of our future with Him, keeping His holy agenda at the heart of all we do. It keeps us mindful of those around us who need Jesus. It helps us sort out our thinking regarding bumps in the road and everything seen and unseen. We’re in this world, yes, but it’s good to know where to draw the line.

Knowing where to draw the line—yeah, that’s also good for eyebrows.

“…be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:9-11, AMP.

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant on the publishing team of Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Rhonda’s book, Fix HER Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God-Renovated Life,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What are things about eternity that encourage your heart the most?

Come to the Quiet Place

by Tammy Kennington

The mound of dishes extends to the uppermost edge of the kitchen sink, and reluctantly, I begin the process of methodically rinsing each plate, bowl, and glass before depositing it in the dishwasher. I have just enough time to finish peeling the baked-on oatmeal from the insides of the crockpot before my daughter rushes around the corner with a look of concern etched across her delicate features.

“Mommy, I need help with my math. NOW,” she emphasizes.

Casting a quick glance toward the stove, I notice the pot on the right back burner is spitting angrily across the surface. With a sigh, I quickly twist the knob to low and turn my attention to the middle-school girl planted directly in front of me. She is a diminutive package of tears and foot-tapping frustration, and I can’t wait for the school week to end and give us both a break from homework.

In that moment, the dogs begin barking uncontrollably—probably at a wayward rabbit passing through the yard—and a hungry teen-aged boy utters something about being hungry.

Me? I just want to go to bed. And I wonder why some days seem much longer than the standard 24 hours.

Jesus recognized this same weariness in his disciples.

Their day had been overflowing with prayer, preaching, and healings. The people–needy and desperate–longed for someone to make a difference…to change their lives…to offer hope. By the busy day’s end, the men were as empty as my freshly rinsed sink. Do you ever feel it, too? The need to be filled up…restored…replenished?

Jesus offers us the answer. He beckons gently, calling each of us to spend time at his feet. “…Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31 NIV).

Make your appointment with the Prince of Peace, friend. Breathe in the rest only He provides. Step away from the pressures of the immediate and discover soul treasure in the Eternal. He’s waiting to meet with you today.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29 ESV

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy leads women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them.

The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy’s work has also been featured by Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and others. You can meet regularly with Tammy at Mercy Multiplied.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Tammy’s children’s book for 8 to 11 year olds, Penguins,  (Exploring our Oceans: 21st Century Skills Library), please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you spend time with the Lord? Share what works for you.