Jesus, Our Peace

by Sheri Schofield

The Sawi people living in the jungles of  Irian Jaya (Now Papua, New Guinea) had lost all knowledge of God’s truth. They thought evil was good and good was evil. Their heroes were those who were able to betray others to their death. In celebration the tribe would eat their victims and use their skulls as pillows.

Into this darkness came Don and Carol Richardson, missionaries of the Gospel of Jesus. They brought medical aid and modern tools to the Sawi. But no matter how they tried to communicate the truth of Jesus, the Sawi saw Judas Iscariot as the hero because he had betrayed Jesus. Don and Carol were deeply discouraged.

The tribe with whom Don and Carol lived fell into war with a neighboring tribe. Arrows and spears flew through the air as the tribes advanced and retreated in battle for months. The missionaries were in grave danger. Don told the tribe that they would leave unless the two tribes stopped fighting.

Not willing to lose the benefits brought by the missionaries, the tribe sued for peace with their enemies and an agreement was reached. To seal the agreement, an infant from one tribe was taken from his mother and passed down a line of all the warriors. Each warrior laid his hands on the child. At the end of the line, a woman from the opposing tribe received the infant as her own. Only now could there be peace. The infant was called “The Peace Child”. The greatest offense possible would be if someone were to kill the Peace Child.

Light broke! Don excitedly told the Sawi, “JESUS was the PEACE CHILD!” Don had their attention now. He explained how humanity had killed God’s Peace Child. The news struck the hearts of the Sawi people, and they came to Jesus in large numbers. It transformed them. Fifty years later, they no longer practice murder and cannibalism, for they have chosen to follow Jesus.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. . . .” 2 Timothy 3:1-5, NLT

Sound familiar? Our nation is rapidly turning its back on God. Many in our society scoff at those who follow Christ. There is now a generation of children who, for the most part, do not even know who Jesus is. We in America are facing increasing violence as a direct result.

We need the resurrected Peace Child! Like the Sawi, we need to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only then can we have peace. It was to buy us peace that Jesus died on the cross at Calvary. His life was the payment to God the Father for our sins. He freely offers forgiveness as a gift. When we accept it, we begin a relationship with God with no fear of condemnation. He looks at us and sees the righteousness of his Son Jesus, the Peace Child. When we belong to his Son, God holds us close to his heart. Forever.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ, for He Himself is our peace. . .” Ephesians 2:13-14a

(The story of Don and Carol Richardson’s work among the Sawi can be found in Don’s book, The Peace Child. The documentary about this story can be viewed on YouTube.)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, will be launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.44.32 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Sheri’s book, One Step Ahead of the Devil, 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 experienced the peace of God?

Driven to a Place of Peace

by Linda Evans Shepherd

 Bad moods happen, and they happen to me especially when I find myself tired, frustrated or anxious.  But what if, as Philippians 2:5 states, we can, ““Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. . .” (NASB)?

 Is it possible to trade a bad mood for God’s peace? 

Not long ago, I tested this idea when, after a long flight, I found myself squeezed inside a crowded shuttle heading for off-airport parking. Once safely in my seat, I took a deep breath, readying myself to dive into my bucket purse to retrieve my keys.

But as I searched the dark cavern, shoveling the contents this way and that, I discovered my keys were missing.

I felt a bead of sweat pop out on my forehead. I was forty miles from the house, and my husband was off riding his Harley with his Christian motorcycle friends. He wouldn’t be available to rescue me until late that night. I felt my eyebrows knit together. I was in a pickle.

I looked up from my search to see that for the first time in history, my car would be the very first shuttle stop in the parking lot. I shot off a quiet prayer. “What do I do, Lord?”

I felt the peace of his presence. “Trust me,” he seemed to whisper.

I told the driver, “My keys seem to be missing.”

He said, “I’ll call the office to see if anyone turned them in. What do they look like?”

My cheeks felt hot. “Uh, the keychain is a plastic square with a book cover on it.”

The woman next to me said, “You’re an author?”

I gave her a sheepish nod. “What’s the title?” the driver asked.

This time I laughed, “Well, it’s When You Don’t Know What to Pray.”

“Sounds like you’d better do a little praying now,” the woman suggested.

“I’m on it,” I said with a grin.

The driver dropped off the other passengers while I fumbled in my purse.  When I was the last passenger in the van, the driver drove back to my car. “Maybe you could see your keys through your window.”

Good idea, only they weren’t there.

I reboarded the van and kidded with the driver as he drove me to the office so I could do a purse dump and maybe try to call for a ride home.

With the entire contents of my purse piled high on an office table, I stared into the deep, black hole of my purse. My keys weren’t there and I shook my purse to prove it. Wait!  Was that a jingle I heard?

I carefully ran my hand against the interior walls of the purse until I discovered a huge whole in the lining of a zippered pocket. When I pushed my fingers through the hole, I touched my keys!

I happily boarded the van again and the driver took me back to my car. He said. “You’re not like most who lose their keys around here.”

“What do you mean?”

“You were laughing and cracking jokes, but my last lady was crying hard.

“Oh no!”

“Then there was the passenger who lost his Lexus.  Just before he called the cops, he decided to call home. That’s when his wife reminded him he’d driven the station wagon.”

So why hadn’t I lost my cool?

It was because I’d called out to God and felt his presence. In that moment he’d asked me to trust him. That gave me permission to relax despite my difficulty.

Try it.  Relax in God and enjoy the journey.

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because He trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV

Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 33 books including When You Don’t Know What to Pray and Winning Your Daily Spiritual Battles.  She is the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries, and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.  She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily.

Linda has been married over thirty years and has two grown kids.  She loves to travel and bring the word to groups and events across North America.  You can read more about Linda at Arise Speakers.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Linda’s book, The God You Need to Know -Discover his StoryExperience His Love 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: Can you think of a time when trusting God made a difference in your attitude?

Thursday, a Day of Betrayal

by Ava Pennington

When we think of Easter, our first thought is usually of the Resurrection. A Sunday morning that changed history. Sin conquered. Death vanquished. The devil defeated. We have an empty tomb as proof of the once-for-all victory.

Or maybe we think of Good Friday. The day of the Crucifixion. The day Jesus Christ went to the Cross to receive the full brunt of God’s wrath for sin—yours and mine. The afternoon the sky became dark and the Savior said the words that still ring with victory 2,000 years later: “It is finished!”

But our thoughts don’t quickly move to the Thursday that started the chain of events leading to Sunday. The day betrayal unleashed evil, although evil did not know this would be its undoing.

Betrayal. The word leaves us feeling raw. It stings. The experience leaves us feeling defeated. Sucker-punched. Blindsided.

For most of us, betrayal comes as a shock. We torture ourselves with questions.

How could he/she do this to me?

How could I have missed the signs?

Why didn’t I pay more attention?

If I had only known, I would have….

But we did not know. We did miss the signs. And we were left picking up the pieces, struggling to put our life back together.

No one would see signs of betrayal coming and do nothing, would they? No one who knew beyond any doubt that betrayal lay just around the corner would proceed on their merry way, without trying to stop it, would they? No one!

Yes. One.

One Person did just that. One person shared life with His betrayer for three years. He lived with him and ate with him. He conducted ministry with him and trusted His finances to him. All the while knowing how it would end.

Jesus willingly allowed His betrayer to act, because He looked beyond the events of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Jesus looked to Sunday, His day of ultimate and permanent victory. And His victory meant our victory.

He knew betrayal was coming and didn’t stop it…and He did it for you and me.

Have you ever been betrayed? You’re not alone. Tell Jesus about it. He understands.

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9 ESV)

© 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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winnerDaily Reflections on the Names of God - lo-res from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Ava’s devotional book,  Daily Reflections on the Names of God, 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 felt betrayed? How were you able to forgive your betrayer?

An Identity I Didn’t Expect

by Edie Melson

“So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.”  Numbers 12:15 NASB

Miriam’s sin brought the entire nation of Israel to a screeching halt for seven days while God dealt with her and brought her back in line with His will. It must have been devastating for Miriam to realize she was the cause of an unscheduled stop.

How do I know presume to know what she was feeling? Because it wasn’t too long ago that I discovered I’m a Miriam.

Have you ever said yes to something because you thought you should, or continued serving even though God was leading you in a different direction? In my zeal to serve God, I’d become prideful and thought I knew better than Him. I once again ran ahead of His will. I’d said yes to too many things and become a stumbling block to a ministry I love.

For years I’ve known that trying to do too many things at once meant I wouldn’t be able to do them well. But I seem to be a slow learner, or at least someone with a poor memory. When I pay attention to the Holy Spirit, this misguided urge stays in check, but when I stray, life gets stressful . . . for everyone.

My desire to serve overcame my desire to be obedient. When that happened, everyone around me suffered. My family had to take up the slack because I was doing things I hadn’t been called to do. I was grumpy, tired, and frustrated—emotions that affected all who came in contact with me. What started off with the best of intentions, ended up causing stress and grief.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity make things right by turning over some of my responsibilities to those God had called to serve. And as I sat, listening to them express their joy at that opportunity, it hit me how selfish I’d been. Not only was I disobedient (bad enough) but I stood in the way of others who wanted to serve. In effect, I brought the whole ministry to a screeching halt while God dealt with my disobedience.

It felt good to apologize and let go of the duties I’d disobediently taken up as mine. As I once again aligned myself with God’s will and let Him be the only one in charge peace began to take over. It was a difficult lesson to relearn, but when I heeded God’s discipline the stress receded and the joy is returned.

“Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NASB

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: Have you ever struggled to turn a responsibility over to others?

Quit Playing the Comparison Game

by Twila Belk

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

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

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

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

You know Penelope, don’t you? She …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Growing a Culture, Feeding His Sheep

by Rhonda Rhea

I did battle with a goofy flu virus a few months ago. It was one of those bugs that seemed to circle the planet a couple of times. Those things are even worse when they hit the whole household. When all five of our kids were still at home, we had entire seasons when it felt like we were living in some sort of petri dish. What kind of culture even was that?

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if when a bug hits I could remember if I’m supposed to starve a cold or feed a fever. Or is the other way around? I usually decide to forget the whole thing and douse them both with lots of coffee. I also generally prescribe large doses of chocolate.

And while coffee and chocolate may have a side effect or two themselves, it’s not anywhere near as bad as some of those medicines. Have you read the warning labels on those things? Not that I had planned to operate any heavy machinery anyway. Seriously, who is this person who has to be continually warned not to get heavily medicated and then climb onto a forklift?

I’ve also wondered: instead of nausea, vomiting and varying intestinal distresses, why can’t they come up with a medication that has a warning label something more like, “may cause extreme kindheartedness and prolonged loving attitude”? You hardly ever see that.

I guess it’s mostly because a loving attitude is not one of those side effects that “just happens.” We have to cultivate it. We have to encourage it to grow. Sounds a little moldy but hey, that’s how we got penicillin. And it could change the culture—in our churches, outside our churches and all around them. There’s power in the love of God and in seeing His children love each other that’s world-altering.

We’re instructed all through the Word of God to love each other. To love each other with forgiveness. To love each other with sacrificial service. To love each other with generosity, caring for each other’s needs. We’re told to love each other the way Christ loved us. We’re told even further to love each other by coming alongside and helping carry the loads of others. “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2, HCSB).

Loving, feeding, helping each other—it’s not simply a good lifestyle plan. As followers of Christ, it’s our law. We have an obligation to love and to climb underneath the heavy load of a friend in trouble.

No one understands bearing another’s burdens like our Savior does. He climbed under the impossibly heavy weight of the sin of the world. He fulfilled the law to offer us grace. Jesus did that out of His great love. Then He told us to love with that same kind of love. In John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new command I give you:  Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

As we’re willing to step into the difficult, ugly, germy battles of another, we’ll find that He will feed us in every way we need to be fed. And He can starve our selfishness every place it needs to die. Cultivating love. It really will change our culture.

Meanwhile, back near the petri dish, I’m all better, thanks. I feel so good I’m half tempted to go out and operate some heavy machinery. Just because I can.

 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” John 15:12 ESV

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 for 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: How do you cultivate love and kindness in your life?

I Love a Parade

by Cheri Cowell 

“The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:6-9 NIV

I love a parade. There is something magical that happens between the crowd and parade participants. As the anticipation grows for the start of the parade, there is a quickening within every heart. We adults recognize that feeling, but we often brush it aside because, after all, we’re the grown-ups. But children express that growing excitement readily. They are fun to watch.

The music begins and a lump develops in our throats. We’re grateful for the chance to shout or clap as a band goes by, giving us time to swallow that lump. Then the moment arrives. For each of us the catalyst is different. For some it is a clown, for others it’s the sight of the Easter Bunny, or the fire-truck that takes us by surprise. It is then that the magic happens—we’ve become little children again. We feel all of the emotions the children around us are experiencing. We become one with them, transported back to the time when we were young and carefree.

This must have been what it was like 2000 years ago, when adults and children alike grabbed tree branches and sang “Hosanna.” The excitement in Jerusalem had been building. The word of Jesus’ miracles and rumors of his Messiahship filled the city. Anticipation reigned. Would this be the moment they had waited for all their lives? Would this be their day of deliverance?

As the parade began, their excitement must have welled up within them. With joy each one sang and waved branches for the King riding in on a donkey. Young and old alike were transported back to another time when God had set their people free from slavery and oppression. It seemed that God had now sent another long-awaited redeemer, the Promised One of Israel. So the crowd shouted and sang as one.

As you read the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, put yourself in the scene. See yourself standing on the side of the road, waiting. Imagine the children around you expressing their excitement, peppering you with questions, unable to stand still. Feel the lump develop in your throat as you hear the crowd ahead of you start to roar as Jesus rounds the bend.

Dwell in the midst of that scene until you are filled with child-like faith and joy, knowing your Messiah has come. Then be filled with appreciation for what He has done for you this Easter season. And thank God for it all.

cheri cowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell‘s Bible study, One Story, One Mission, One God, shares how God’s mission has been the same from Genesis through Revelation. To learn about this and Cheri’s other books visit CheriCowell.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number One Story Cover 1generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Cheri’s book, One Story, One Mission, One God , 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 will you be celebrating this Easter?

Wrong Number

by Charlotte Adelsperger

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”  Psalm 16:18 (NIV)

I prayed about ways I might encourage a friend who was facing perplexing medical needs. When I met with her, I listened as she shared her journey. When it was time to leave, I gave her a bookmark with Psalm 16:18 on it. Then my cell phone rang.  The area code was from another city. I almost didn’t answer. But I did.

“Oh, I have the wrong number!” the woman said. I asked what number she was calling. In an urgent voice, she told me she was trying to find a motel near a medical center in Kansas City.  I was familiar with that hospital, because I lived in the area.

“Is there a medical need?” I asked.

“Yes, my sister is very sick,” she said with a tremble in her voice.  “She needs a liver transplant as soon as possible. I’m coming from out-of-town to be with her.”

I felt inadequate to help this woman find a motel. But I told her I was a Christian and I would pray right away for her sister. Then I asked for her sister’s name. “It’s Heidi and she’s only 39. We need all the prayers we can get! I think I dialed an angel– to get you.”

I chuckled. “I’m not an angel, but you can count on me to pray for Heidi and for you. May I check on you later to see how things are going?” She gave me her name—Kathy, and told me I could text her.

When I got home, it dawned on me that God had given me a verse to share with my friend, but that same verse was also just right for Kathy! I hesitated to intrude by contacting her, so I prayed to do the right thing.

An hour later I texted her: “From Charlotte—talked to you on phone. Bible verse: “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Psalm 16: 18.”

Within minutes a text came back: “Thank you for the verse!  Heidi is critical now—we might lose her. She has young children back home. Keep praying!”

I did just that, and over the next few days I kept in touch with Kathy. She shared one crisis after another. Then 10 days later, Heidi underwent a successful liver transplant! It was miraculous, and we praised God together.

Thinking over this experience, I think God allows us the privilege to be at the right place at the right time. He wants us full of His love and ready to be used by Him in the lives of others.  But I can sometimes miss the opportunity, because I’m so absorbed in my own life.

What can we do to be more available to be used by God? I think deepening our relationship with Him will enable us to hear Him more readily. As we start each day, we should ask Him specifically to draw us into His purposes. Express our desire to be used for His glory. And as we take the living Word of God with us in our hearts—or even on a bookmark—we never know what blessings may come!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10 NASB

Charlotte AdelspergerAbout the author: Charlotte Adelsperger is an author and speaker from Overland Park, Kansas where she lives with her husband Bob. She has written four books and material for more than 200 publications. Charlotte writes for both adults and children. Her credits include Cricket magazine for children and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse & Clubhouse Jr. Most recent is her picture book, Amazing Miracles of Jesus, (Tyndale). Charlotte specializes in women’s groups. She enjoys hiking as well as walking/jogging in 5K races. Charlotte can be reached through the AWSA website and through Facebook.

Embracing the Unexpected

by Julie Zine Coleman

Life rarely goes according to plan.

Four years ago, my daughter-in-law Bethany went into early labor. As we waited in the hospital lobby, we were concerned. The baby was in distress. He would be born ten weeks early. Bethany had not had an easy pregnancy. I fervently prayed for her and the baby’s well-being and resolutely determined to trust in a good God.

When my son Daniel finally arrived in the waiting room, he was crying. Bethany was fine, but the baby was not. There were severe complications. He had to be resuscitated three times. His abdomen was filled with fluid. He could not breathe on his own. He was severely anemic. His facial features indicated Down Syndrome. They didn’t think he would live through the night.

The next morning, I awoke to the cheerful voices of Joseph’s two big brothers as they charged out of our guest room to start the day. I lay in bed, knowing I needed to get them breakfast, yet feeling that the mere act of getting out of bed was impossible. I wearily asked God: “How could you? Why would you bring this kind of trouble into this sweet family?”

God immediately impressed His answer right into my heart. “Am I good? You need to decide what you believe about me.”

I knew the danger in forming any ideas about Him through looking at the situation. I could easily be misled by my limited, emotionally tainted perceptions. What we know about God cannot come from circumstances. Rather, we should define our circumstances based on what we know to be true about God.

So after breakfast, I sat down to think through what I knew about the character of God from His Word. He is holy. His integrity is beyond reproach. He is love. Compassion marks His dealings with us. He freely and continually gives us grace.

God’s actions are never spontaneous, erratic, or arbitrary. They are outflows of His nature. Whatever conclusion I came to about God’s dealings with us in this crisis, it had to be within the parameters of His unchanging character. I needed to interpret our circumstances in light of the Circumstance Maker.

Whether or not I understood what was happening, I could trust Him because He is good. As Paul wrote the Ephesians, God moves and works “according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:5 NASB). I chose that morning to trust Him. No matter what lay ahead.

As I slowly rose to my feet, it was with a deepening sense of dependency on the God who kindly directs my path. I would cling to Him like a life preserver through the fog of grief and uncertainty. And I would be better for it.

Saying yes to God allows Him to make Himself known to us. It opens a conduit for His blessing. When our hearts are soft, willing to listen, eager to obey, we are moldable. We have cultivated the soil. We are ready for transformation.

Over the next ten weeks in Children’s Hospital’s Newborn Critical Care Unit, Joseph slowly improved. Eventually, he went home to start life with his family. God has great plans for this child. Even at four years old, his little life has already had an impact on an enormous number of caring friends and strangers. We are blessed with every smile and accomplishment. God continues to make Himself known through it all as we love and trust Him for Joseph’s life.

He is good.

“The Lord, the Lord God, [is] compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth.” Exodus 34:6

Julie-Coleman-with-Sasha-682x1024About 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 character quality makes it possible for you to trust God?

 

 

 

Crossing the Jordan

by Tammy Kennington

“And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” Joshua 3:17 NASB

It was a glorious day, one that Israel had long awaited. God was bringing them into the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey. Their entrance was a memorable one, as the waters flowing from upstream began to pile up into a heap, miraculously allowing them to walk in on dry ground. It was a dramatic sign of God’s approval and support, a visual picture of what He had already promised for His nation: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you.” (Joshua 1:3 NASB)

He calls each of us to follow Him into His Promised Land as well. But sometimes there is no “dry land” to be found. Sometimes God doesn’t meet our expectations. What happens when we’ve slipped a toe into the edge of the Jordan and suddenly we’re neck-deep in the river; disillusioned and doubting the call of the One who promised us beauty…bounty…blessing on the other side? What happens when our hopes or dreams are dashed against the rocks–shattered and floating further from our reach?

Do we blame Him for letting us down? For leaving us. For our struggle against the rushing water as we’re dragged somewhere unknown and unanticipated?

Instead of trusting that our Rescuer has already journeyed into the depths for us, we are tempted to give in to the pull of the current. Drifting. Doubting. Denouncing Him in our inability to see clearly from this side of the river to the other.

At times, I’ve been overwhelmed by the dark waves. Smashed against the river bottom. Sputtering for air. Shouting my doubts into the mist. Because suffering? It hurts. And sometimes I’ve felt like I’m drowning even in my living.

Some of you are crossing your personal Jordan right now. Cancer. Anxiety. Mental illness. Divorce. Death. Pain so big it’d be easy to lose sight of the largeness and power of God. My heart aches for that journey you’re taking right now–the one causing fear unequaled. Feelings of aloneness. Deep soul-sorrow.

Can I remind you? He is El Roi–the God who sees. He is Yishmael–the God who hears. He is Adonai–the sovereign Lord, who loves you perfectly. And He is the God who walks on the water–right next to you…reaching out for your hand…and reassuring, “It’s me, don’t be afraid.”

If we can trust Jesus with eternity, let’s trust Him with our today–even as we totter toward His beckoning hand over the next wave.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 NASB

Tammy Kennington About 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 hopes to lead 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: Have you been overwhelmed by the waves in life?