Inheritance

by Sheri Schofield

Everyone called her Gammy, though her name was May. She was the grandmotherly woman who gave her property to the Christian community for the purpose of building a Christian school. Her daughter, Kay, taught third grade at the school, and I boarded with Kay and her husband while attending high school there.

Every day after school, I went over to Gammy’s house to study while Kay graded papers. Gammy would always have a snack ready for me. We would sit together at the table and she would pray. Her love for Jesus was evident with every word she prayed. I often glanced at her to observe with wonder the beautiful glow on her face as she spoke with her Lord.

Gammy was an intercessor. She prayed for so many people! While most young people wanted to emulate the young and famous leaders of our world, I wanted to become like Gammy, who was well into her 80’s. I wanted that same connection with God, that same shared love, that same power in prayer!

Elisha had a similar desire to be like Elijah, the great prophet of Israel. 2 Kings 2 records that God told Elijah that he would be swept up into heaven soon. He tried to meet with God alone, but Elisha, his understudy, stayed with him. He wouldn’t let Elijah out of his sight! Finally Elisha asked, “What is it that you want, Elisha?”

Elisha replied, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit!”

Elijah said, “Well, that’s a difficult thing for which to ask! But I’ll tell you what: If you see me when God takes me, it’s yours!”

Later that day as they were walking along by the Jordan River, God sent a chariot and horses of fire and whisked Elijah up into the air. Elisha cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” Then Elijah disappeared into the clouds. But his mantle (cloak) fell back to the ground. Elisha picked it up. He walked over to the Jordan River and struck it with the great prophet’s mantle. The river parted and Elisha crossed to the other side. He had been given that double portion of Elijah’s spirit. From that moment on, he accomplished great things for God in Israel.

I was a junior in college when Gammy finally passed into the presence of Jesus. When I heard of her transition, I cried out to God, “Give me her mantle!” And God did. He gave me a passion for prayer. He even gave me Gammy’s prayer assignments at times, when people whom she had loved were in great need. I began seeing God work through my prayers like never before. Yes, I had received Gammy’s mantle!

Whether we know it or not, we are daily setting an example for others. Does the glory of our love for Jesus show on our faces? Are our ears tuned to the cries of those in need around us? Are we quick to notice where God’s power is needed? Do we hold others up in prayer to God? Though my personality may be very different from Gammy’s, I want my face to reflect my love for Jesus as hers did!

 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV

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: Whose mantle do you want to inherit?

 

Between Purpose and Platforms

by Amber Weigand-Buckley

Even though I’m 5’11”, I have a great affinity for platform shoes. You, know, the higher the wedge, the closer to God. Yes, I’ve even donned the extra 8 inches of sole at the office as proof that I can walk in them and incorporate them into my business casual.

But goodness knows they weren’t made for traversing steep rocky slopes. For me, those slopes specifically pertain to my mid-forties. Bottom line: walking around in my platforms may get the attention of people I tower a foot above, but walking on them is simply not sustainable for the long haul.

My impractical footwear is much like the foundation many build when doing the business of ministry. This is especially true in the publishing world. It’s a little precarious teetering on top of a flimsy platform. When you are a writer and speaker, it’s easy to become obsessed with building a platform (audience). Maintaining a level of notoriety can be consuming.  The stress of always needing to get your name out there, always striving to move up to the next level is exhausting. We too easily lose the reason we do what we do in the rat race that is the publishing world.

Sometimes building an audience to hear a message becomes a higher priority than the message God has sent us to give.

You can probably see where I’m going with this: if it is not about God’s message and purposes, then my ministry becomes all about me. Paul has carefully instructed us on our priorities in how to use our spiritual gifts. He wrote “to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NASB, emphasis added). God has gifted us to build up the body of Christ, not ourselves. What we do should be for His glory alone.

Have you become “platform”-focused in your ministry instead of purpose-focused? Here are checkpoints to see if you might be tripping up:

  • Do you view brothers or sisters in a ministry similar to yours more as competitors than coworkers? That their ministry somehow undermines what you are doing?
  • Do you fail to acknowledge those who work by your side? Are you tempted to take credit for their great ideas or hoard the glory for yourself?
  • Do you find yourself making friends with people for what they or their acquaintances can do for you?
  • Do you get jealous of others’ success?

This list could go on. For me, in my role as a writer and word artist, there can be a tricky balance between building an audience and fulfilling God’s purpose. The highest kingdom value is in being obedient to the message God has created us to pass on for His glory. Living for an audience of ONE needs to be front and center for us. Always.

Our purpose is simple: stay true to God’s calling. And rather than competing with those who are similar in their calling, we must join together to become a choir of voices proclaiming the truth, all ultimately for the glory of God.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others…holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” Philippians 2:3-4, 16 NASB

24991101_10214928057980177_8461748523593770063_nAbout the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley @barefacedgirl is founding editor, art director and podcast host for the multi-award-winning Leading Hearts magazine. She has been in the mag-making business for 22 years.

 Including the 16 years as editor for ONCOURSE  magazine in Assemblies of God Youth Ministries, the publications Weigand-Buckley has served on as editor have garnered a total of 13 Evangelical Press Association Awards. She also was named the 2015 Advanced Writers and Speakers Association Member of the Year (awsa.com).

In her full-time she is wife to her Brit-native Philip & mum to 3 inspiring creatives: Saffron (17), Imogen (Moose) (14)  & Penelope (10)  as well as social media manager & communications support for many authors, non-profits and missionaries.

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Join the conversation: Have you ever felt competitive or even jealous of someone serving in ministry?

From Strength to Strength

by Janet McHenry

“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion! . . . They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5, 7 NASB

I should have listened to my son’s knee surgeon. “Be very careful when lifting the movement and ice machines—or you’ll find yourself needing back surgery!”

At the time I laughed off his comment. I could handle anything—I was strong.

But the doctor was right. Those machines were heavy, and lifting them several times a day took a toll on my back. Sure enough, a couple weeks later I picked up a dictionary and fell to the floor in excruciating pain. The next day paramedics took me out of the house and to the hospital, where I started a regimen of pain meds and bed rest. I could not sit up. I could not walk to the bathroom. I just lay on my side trying to manage the pain.

This was not what I had planned for my spring. I had taken a semester’s leave from teaching high school to research a project and had a pile of fifty books to read. I couldn’t even lift my head.

To make matters worse, in a month I was to speak at a national prayer conference about my passion: prayer-walking. How would I ever be able to travel? How would I even be able to walk?

 Lord, I prayed, I cannot even move. I need your strength.

Because I couldn’t lift a book, my friend June kindly volunteered to read the Bible to me each evening. As she read Psalm 84, the words “strength to strength” struck a chord within me. When we lay our heart out before the Lord, he becomes our strength. Just as God provided enough manna for each day for the Israelites in the wilderness, he provides the strength we need for each of our days: exactly what we need for every challenge.

His strength could come through a word of encouragement from Scripture, a meal from a neighbor, a prayer from a friend, or flowers from family. I began looking out for those provisions of strength around me.

The first came from my mom, who came to take care of me. The next came from my husband, who delivered me on a mattress to the hospital where I underwent surgery for my herniated disk.

Two weeks later I needed strength again. I was still in pain, counting the minutes until I could take the next pill. When I called for a refill on my meds, the clerk at the doctor’s office said, “You need to get off that stuff.”

I was taken aback by her comment. Was I addicted?

 Lord, I need your strength again. Help me to face this new challenge. You’ve taken me this far—I trust you for the next step.

I made a decision. The next day I only took a half pill with each dose; a day later I stopped completely. And the pain was gone!

With every new challenge from my injury, God was faithful to provide the strength I needed. I even attended that conference, where a friend unknowingly affirmed that same scripture was for me; she said as I laid out my heart on the highways to pray for the people of my town, God would take me from one strength to the next. And he has!

Janet McHenryAbout the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and author of 23 books, including the best-selling PrayerWalk and The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, which will be released June 2018. A former educator, she writes from her home in the Sierra Valley, where she and her rancher husband Craig have raised four children. Janet still walks and prays for her town. She may be contacted through her website, www.janetmchenry.com.

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Join the conversation: Have you relied on God for His strength? How did He provide?

Don’t Throw That Food Away!

by Kathy Collard Miller

Whenever Larry and I visited his parents, the issue of Larry’s weight inevitably came up. Although far from heavy, if Larry carried any extra weight, his mom warned him, “Larry, you know we have diabetes in our family. It’s only because your dad stays thin he doesn’t take medicine. Get your weight down.”

Larry would carelessly shrug his shoulders. “OK, mom.”

Unlike Larry, my mother-in-law’s warnings seriously grated on my nerves, for I knew when we finished eating, she would see the remaining mashed potatoes, grab the dish, and push the remainder onto Larry’s plate. “We can’t waste this,” Audrey would say. “Eat it.” And he would.

I would sit fuming. Didn’t you just tell him earlier he should watch his weight?

Every time we visited, the scenario flummoxed me. Why can’t she see how she’s not loving Larry well?

Not until many years later did I figure out what motivated his mother.

Audrey was raised during the Depression by a single mom. Her dad died when she was five years old. In those days, no one wasted anything. Larry and I became convinced Audrey was actually ashamed when something was wasted. As a result, she and her husband, also raised during the Depression by a single mom, counted every penny.

It was only when we identified Audrey’s fear that we finally understood her motive. Rather than feeling angry at her inconsistency, I now felt grieved for her, knowing it was her wounded heart that kept her from loving him well.

Paul stresses in Romans 15:1-2, 7: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up… for the glory of God” (ESV).

Paul defined loving well as choosing another person’s good. We can accomplish this through a motivation to see God’s glory in them. The more we desire God to be glorified, the better we’ll be empowered to love others well, even to the point of sacrificing our own needs.

When we conduct our relationships with the right motivation, it will impact how we love each other. Our desire to see God glorified will make a big difference in knowing the right thing to do.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller’s book, Pure-Hearted, from which this post is drawn, provides insights for purifying motives. Another book is No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom, her story of God’s deliverance from being an abusive mother. Kathy loves to share with audiences how to trust God more by diminishing the underlying causes of poor choices. She has spoken in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Married to Larry for over 45 years, they are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California. Contact her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51ORMj3+bSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Kathy’s book, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom, 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 does your desire to see God’s glory impact your actions and relationships?

Son and Truth

by Joy Anisa

School was cancelled for three days. The first day was due to snow. For Georgia, that’s almost a miracle. The second day was somewhat expected because the temperatures did not rise above freezing. However, day three surprised us. Apparently, some roads were still an icy hazard.

By the second day, our family just had to get out of the house and go somewhere, anywhere, to shake off cabin fever. As we drove, it was amazing to me how the road could be completely clear, then suddenly there would be large areas of ice. As I thought about this, I was reminded of my heart.

All of us have areas in our lives that are completely surrendered and softened toward the Lord. We are flexible and bend to His will and His way. But there are other areas in which we have stubbornly remained hardened toward Him. Just as sun and temperature are the necessities to melt ice, we need the Son and His truths to soften our hearts.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 NASB

God spoke these words to Ezekiel about a nation of people. His presence in us has that same power, capable of creating permanent change within. He promises to continually work on those hardened areas (Philippians 1:6).  But it is when I am open to the Lord and His work in me, that He does His best heart-work. He softens my heart and bends my will to His. The truths of His Word are a part of His process; they expose unhealthy preferences and reveal the lies for which I have fallen.

Some of the hard areas can be easily removed, like ice on the roadway, where sunshine and warmth is all that is needed. Other roads need salt and maybe even a jackhammer to break through. Those stubborn heart issues have become such a part of our lives that the healing process is lengthy and even painful. But whatever it is in your life that needs to be dealt with, you can trust the Lord and His course of action.

Finally breaking free of the things that weigh us down will bring a new-found freedom in Christ. We will be released to grow, serve, and love others so much more effectively. We will also experience the fruit of His Spirit as we yield to Him. It’s definitely worth the process.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18 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: Where are the hardened areas in your life?

Trusting the Master

by Debbie Wilson

I felt like a traitor luring my standard poodle into my vet’s lab room. I did it to save his life. But Max didn’t know that. Did he think I was heartless to let the vet draw blood from his thin leg—again?

For months after we learned Max has Addison’s disease, the vet had to draw his blood to check his electrolyte and hormone levels. One week Max refused to go with the technician. So instead of handing her the leash, I followed her, and he followed me.

Max’s trust in me made me consider the conditions I’ve put on fully trusting my Master in painful situations. I’ve thought if only I knew the purpose of my pain then I’d be able to trust God better. But was that true?

Imagine me trying to explain Max’s condition to him. I could read him the symptoms off the Internet. I could show him his lab reports. I could remind him how he almost died. But would he have understood any of it? Of course not. I know the pain of the treatment is brief and the benefits are lasting. All he knows is I keep bringing him back for more needles.

How much greater is God’s knowledge than mine as He takes me through a trial! Sometimes God allows me to see the benefit of my pain. But more often the “whys” remain unanswered.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (NIV).

The difference between my thoughts and my dog’s is relatively small when compared to the vast disparity between God’s thoughts and mine. If Max can’t understand why I have his blood drawn, why would I think I could ever understand God’s ways with me?

But God has not left me without assurance. He has promised:

  • “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17 NIV).
  • “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18 NIV).

Life on this planet is a vapor. But how we live here affects our eternity. Pain, loss, and confusion are opportunities to trust our Master. The pain is real, but if He allows it then we know He will use it to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29). And I can trust that my pain and the tears will never go unnoticed by my very personal God.

When I see Max romp across the yard without a symptom of Addison’s, I thank God for blood tests and shots. I remember how sick he was without them. He doesn’t understand the connection. He doesn’t need to. Max only needs to know that I take care of him.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” Romans 8:31 NASB

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Debbie’s book, Little Women Big 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 things in your life have caused you to question God?

 

 

Gain Perspective

by Twila Belk

What will I give to the Lord [in return] for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for His precious blessings?]  Psalm 116:12 AMP

A dump isn’t a normal place to visit in a foreign country, but when you’re involved in a mission trip to Ecuador with the theme of “Never the Same,” it’s the type of thing you do. I was a chaperone for a team of teenagers, and our ministry one day was to the adults and children who made the heaps of rotting rubbish and discarded trash their home.

As our bus entered the site, the stench overpowered us. We could barely breathe, yet eighty-five families lived there. How is that possible? Our observations messed with our minds. Small cardboard shelters jutted from the mountain range of spoiled food products that were intermingled with soiled diapers, shards of glass, and the broken pieces of people’s lives. Garbage trucks arrived with regularity, and as they unloaded their contents, flocks of eager dump dwellers rummaged through the “fresh” goods.

On our way to the location, we had stopped at a market to purchase boxes of basic food staples to take with us. Many of us brought small toiletry items we had collected at home—soap, shampoo, lotions—the type of things hotels provide. While a group of teens and chaperones distributed supplies, others engaged the kids with activities.

We had barely stepped off the bus when a long line formed. Before us stood the most beautiful, filthy, sun-baked people with scraggly hair I had ever seen. Tattered, mismatched clothes hung on their bodies, and a few had feet covered with pitiable shoes they had found among the refuse. The rest were barefoot.

As soon as I opened my bag of toiletry items, hands reached out on all sides of me. A woman with deep creases in her face and dark, longing eyes looked up at me and begged, “Champú, champú.” When I gave her a tiny bottle of shampoo, her face beamed as if I had given her the key to Fort Knox.

The whole experience tugged at my heart. I cried out to God, “Oh Lord, please help me to never, ever forget that picture. You’ve given me so much. I have super-sized bottles of shampoo that I don’t even think about. This woman’s world became a better place with just an ounce. I have a bed. I have a roof over my head. I have clothes. I have soap and water. I have food—food that goes to waste. Everything these people have comes from a garbage truck.” I ended my plea to God with, “May I always maintain a grateful heart.”

The rest of the team had a similar revelation. Once back on the bus, many of them removed their shoes and articles of clothing, and they zealously dug through backpacks to find other items they could leave behind as gifts.

We all gained a new perspective that day. Rather than being discontent with what we didn’t have, we realized what we did have, and left the dump forever changed.

Oh God, thank you for the gift of perspective! I don’t realize how much I have until I see others who have so little. How is it possible that they can display such gratitude for their meager possessions and I act as if I am in need? Forgive me for not acknowledging the abundance of blessings I enjoy every day. Would you give me an awareness of things I tend to take for granted? Would you nudge me to share what I have with others? Would you help me to live in the reality of how blessed I am? I want to have a contented and grateful heart.

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: Take a few minutes to reflect on how much you have, and thank God for the things you normally take for granted. What’s on your list?

 

Preventing Resentment

by Julie Zine Coleman

When we were dating, my husband had the habit including four or five pink demerit slips he had earned at Bible college in each of his letters to me. At one point I asked him just how many he possessed, since he appeared to be drawing from a never-ending supply. He showed me the stack in the top drawer of his desk. It was impressive.

Now don’t get the wrong idea—they were all for relatively small misdemeanors, like leaving the lights on or the bed unmade. Over time, however, they accumulated into enough of a statement that he was called into the dean’s office to give an account for his actions. Apparently small infractions, over a long period of time, can add up.

This principle is true in relationships as well. It is why Paul, in describing a godly kind of love, reminded the Corinthians: “[Love is] not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV) In this simple description, Paul gives powerful preventive medicine for all of our relationships: choosing forgiveness over bitterness.

The Old Man of the Mountain, a massive granite formation which once overlooked Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, stood for thousands of years. It was the state symbol, and beloved enough to earn a place on the New Hampshire state quarter. Thousands of tourists stopped each year on their way up I-93 to take photographs of this famous landmark. But one night in May 2003, during a heavy rain storm, the Old Man formation collapsed into the valley below. What felled such a huge granite structure, after it had stood for thousands of years? Tiny individual molecules of water.

The collapse of the Old Man was a result of small amounts of water seeping into cracks year after year, freezing and expanding, making the fissures just a bit wider each time. Finally, the cracks became wide enough to weaken the entire structure, and the monument crumbled.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote of this principle within the context of marriage: “Marriages break up when ‘small’ things accumulate and resentments build. Love is the intention of unity. Resentment is the destroyer of unity.” Making frequent decisions to forgive is crucial to the health of any relationship.

Easier said than done, you are probably thinking. You are not alone—Peter struggled with this idea as well. “How many times must I forgive?” he asked the Lord. He then offered, “Up to seven times?” Rabbinic standards required forgiving up to three offenses. Peter had more than doubled the standard. Surely seven times, the number denoting completeness, was generous enough.

Jesus surprised Peter with His answer. “Seventy times seven,” he replied. (Matthew 18:21-22)

How can anyone do that? By remembering what God has done for us. An ability to forgive reflects an understanding of how much we have been forgiven ourselves. We choose to love because we know we are loved. We give grace because He has given it to us. And in the process of imitating our Savior, we understand a bit more of what it took for him to bear our sin. Choosing to put ourselves aside in the interest of restoring others is a perfect way to identify with Jesus Christ.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 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: How do you avoid resentment?

Cultivating Carrots and Commitment

by Edie Melson

Here in the Carolinas, spring is beginning to push through the winter grayness. Daffodils and tulips have pushed through the brown ground with welcome pops of color. And everywhere are signs of gardening. As I watch another growing season begin, I’m drawn back to one summer when I thought I’d give gardening a try.

Our boys were young, and we had decided that planting a vegetable garden would be a great idea. Looking back, I can hardly believe we could ever have thought we had the time or energy—while keeping up with three active young boys—for such a consuming project. Oh, the energy of young parents.

But we were optimistic, and so we began. We used an old tiller, plowed up a small bit of ground, and planted a variety of seeds. One of the vegetables I was most looking forward to eating fresh every summer was carrots. When it came time to plant the carrots, I was amazed at how tiny the dark seeds were in the palm of my hand. I remembered the man at the garden center warning us to plant the seeds sparingly, but the seeds were so small, and I really wanted a large crop of carrots. So I sprinkled them thickly in the ground. After all, I figured, if a few were good, more would be better.

Those of you who are expert gardeners are probably beginning to grin, because you already know what happened. I think every single one of those tiny seeds took root and sprouted. As they grew, in a few short weeks they became a tangled mess, fighting for nutrients and space. Then, after lifting a couple of inches of green toward the sun, every single one of those carrots withered and died. I was left with nothing more than the bitter taste of disappointment and discouragement.

As this memory resurfaced, I found myself asking God why it had come to mind. I realized that I’d been agonizing over my busy calendar and God was warning me, once again, that my life was becoming crowded by saying yes to too many things. He was reminding me to plant fewer seeds and take time to nurture them. Otherwise I’d find myself with an empty garden, with nothing but withered endeavors from pouring too many good things into my life.

When Jesus used the metaphor of gardening to teach his disciples, He told them, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser…every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2 NASB) Most gardeners know the benefits of pruning. Spent flowers are removed so the plant will not waste energy on developing seeds but continue to flower. Branches on a shrub are thinned so the healthiest branches can get more sun. God does the same for us. He faithfully prunes away those things that will keep us from bearing fruit.

So I ask you, how is your garden? Is it well-ordered and taken care of? Or, in your desire to accomplish much, are you also crowding out any hope of reaping a harvest?

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 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: What things are crowding your life?

Identity Crisis? None for Me, Thanks

by Rhonda Rhea

I told all five of my kids when they were little that they could grow up to be anyone they wanted. Of course, present day, that sounds like identity theft. So, oops.

I’ve always figured I should be safe from that kind of identity theft myself. I’m just not sure anyone would want to be me enough to take that kind of risk. I mean, I enjoy being me and all. But I still have a hard time imagining a whole lot of people fighting over who gets to be the gal with the hair that won’t stay appropriately poofed, has some pretty ridiculous attachments to coffee and chocolate, and has enough of an attention deficit to…wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah, I was probably about to say that when I think about it, there are actually some parts of my identity I would give those identity thieves for free. If they do ever attempt to steal my identity, maybe we should consider punishing them by making them take it. The whole thing.

Every now and then I think about how long I’ve been working at being me, and I sort of wonder if someone else might be better at it than I am.

Then it comes to me that I was created this way. On purpose, even. And my real identity can never be stolen. It can’t be lost. No need to give it away either. My identity is in Christ. It’s completely wrapped up in Him. Every part. Every movement. Paul said, “For in Him we live and move and exist…’For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:28, HCSB).

As the offspring of the Lord, we are who we are in Him. And we are treasured as the most beloved children of God. “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!” (1 John 3:1, HCSB). This! This is who we really are!

What a relief that I don’t have to worry about who steals my identity, drinks my coffee or takes my things. I don’t even have to worry about someone being better at being me than I am. The God of the universe loved this me—this very one—enough to create me and even to redeem me back to Himself. “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21, HCSB). That is what I’ve become. The righteousness of God. I am loved. I am redeemed because of Christ. I am His.

If you’ve given your life to Christ, you are His too. And you are exactly the same kind of “loved.” The same God who loves you as His child is at work in you by His Holy Spirit, making it possible for you to truly become all you were meant to be—according to the plan He’s had for you since the beginning of time. You are the best kind of “becoming.”

Take it from me, Rhonda Rhea (and it’s the real me), when your identity is in Jesus, because of Him, you really are the very best you. Leave the identity crisis for the one who feels he needs to steal one.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy,” 1 Peter 2:9-10 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: What are the things that define how you view your identity?