Distractions and Pickpockets

by Linda Evans Shepherd

One sunny December day in New York, my friend Eva and I were in town to explore the city. I was ready for anything, especially with my huge, blue tote bag I’d stuffed with everything I might need; an umbrella, my coat, snacks, bottles of water, all piled high on top of my wallet.

I slung my bag over my shoulder and Eva and I caught the subway from our hotel so that we could walk down Canal Street to take in the sights. We browsed through the faux designer purses and fingered the bright wool scarves and smirked at the fake Rolexes on display. As we strolled, we were caught in a throng of tourists who flowed down the street like a slow moving river.

As I walked along gawking at the sights around me, a pretty, young woman appeared beside me. She turned to face me and with her arms opened wide, she side-skipped to my steps as if she was trying to block me from turning right and walking past her. What in the world is she doing? I wondered. I craned my neck for a better look and she seemed to disappear. Where’d she go?

Suddenly I snapped my head to the left, and there she was, her arm rammed deep into my tote bag as her fingers groped for my pocket book. I instinctively jerked my tote away from her and instantly she disappeared into the crowd.

It seemed I’d just encountered a New York City pickpocket. But what struck me about the experience was the pickpocket’s maneuver to distract me–to cause me to not only take my attention away from my tote, but to place my focus in the opposite direction so that she would be free to snatch my wallet, something I’d wanted to hang onto throughout my New York adventure.

As I thought about it, I could see that distraction is exactly how the enemy tries to steal from me in an effort to keep me from living my life with joy, peace and the presence of God.

Distractions can zing toward me like fiery arrows of worry, stress, offenses, and frustration as the enemy takes aim at my peace.

I may not be able to stop the fiery arrows, but if I focus on trusting God, then the enemy’s arrows will not stick but will bounce off of me.  Otherwise, the enemy’s arrows can wound my heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.” To live distraction free means I must guard my heart, trusting God as I let go of offenses and open my soul to more of God’s peace.

When I do that, God’s peace will shield my heart so that the enemy cannot steal my joy or wound me with worry so God’s spirit will continually flow into my life.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

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.

Join the conversation: What distractions are stealing your peace?




Why You Don’t Have to Forget to Forgive

by Debbie W. Wilson

My father remarried a year after my mother’s death. Before the wedding, my soon-to-be stepmother assured me she wanted us to be one happy family. After the honeymoon she changed her mind. She emptied our home and lives of any remembrance of Mama and tried to cut my sister and me out of Daddy’s life.

One night, I got the courage to reveal some of my loss to my roommate.

“You must not have really forgiven her,” my roommate gently said.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it’s obvious this still hurts you. If you’d really forgiven her, you wouldn’t hurt anymore.”

I wanted nothing more than to be right with God and free from the pain. My roommate’s well-meaning words only confused me. Was she right? Had my decision to forgive failed? Did my pain spring from bitterness instead of loss?

Years spent counseling other women showed me I am not alone in experiencing lingering pain after betrayal. The Old Testament story of Joseph shows this is normal.

Joseph suffered slavery and imprisonment because of his jealous brothers. When given the power to mete out justice, he offered grace instead. Yet forgiving his brothers didn’t eliminate his pain. Many years after reconciling with them, he still wept when he remembered.

Notice his emotions in the following examples.

  • Fourteen years after being sold into slavery: When his sons were born he chose names for them that memorialized God’s grace to him in his suffering: Manasseh, for “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Ephraim: for “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:51-52 NIV).
  • Twenty-one years after being sold into slavery: When he overheard his brothers discuss how they’d wronged him: “He turned away from them and began to weep” (Genesis 42:24 NIV).
  • Twenty-two years after being sold into slavery: When he saw Benjamin: “Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there” (Genesis 43:30 NIV).
  • When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, “he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it” (Genesis 45:1-2 NIV).
  • He embraced them and wept over Benjamin and the rest of his brothers (see Genesis 45:14-15 NIV).
  • Joseph “threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time” (Genesis 46:29 NIV).
  • Thirty-nine years after being sold into slavery: His brothers ask for forgiveness: “When their message came to him, Joseph wept” (Genesis 50:17 NIV).

Joseph forgave his brothers. He overcame evil with good. He trusted God (Genesis 45:5-8 NIV). But the memory still hurt.

Joseph hurt because he’d been wronged—not because he’d done wrong.

Trauma, by definition, causes “great distress and disruption.”[1]Emotional pain doesn’t necessarily indicate lack of forgiveness. It may reveal great loss. Just as physical trauma takes more time to heal than a surface scratch, deep emotional wounds take longer to heal than simple slights.

We must always forgive. Forgiveness cleans our wounds and protects us from the complications of bitterness. It puts us in a place to heal. But healing takes time.

Has a painful memory released anger and malice? Clean the wound. Forgive again. By God’s grace, we forgive our enemies, and God heals us.

 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”                                                                                                                          1 Peter 5:10 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks and writes to help others 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: How have you dealt with a painful wound from your past?

[1] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

His Whispers of Protection

by Cindi McMenamin

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11, NASB).

In my Bible, Psalm 84:11 is highlighted. I claimed this promise nearly 30 years ago as I prayed to the Lord, asking Him for Hugh to become my husband. Hugh was the godly man who had stolen my heart.

“Lord, Hugh is a ‘good thing’ for me,” I prayed. “And I have been walking uprightly. Certainly, You will not withhold him from me.” And God didn’t. A year after praying that promise, Hugh and I were married, and I can confirm, with joy, that over the past 30 years, Hugh has been a “good thing” in my life.

When it came to wanting a second child, I prayed that promise again. “Lord, a baby is a ‘good thing’ and we are walking uprightly, so, according to Your Word, You certainly will not withhold.” And yet He did. Hugh and I were never able to have a second child. And in the years since, God has graciously shown us that having only one child was, and still is, His idea of “good” for our lives.

There are other “good things” I have prayed for through the years that God has chosen to withhold – opportunities to relocate, a certain measure of success in our ministries, desired “golden opportunities.” And although it’s difficult to understand why God would say “no” to some of those requests, I have learned to trust that, in His wisdom and love, God knows what He is protecting us from when He withholds something that may look truly good to us.

At times, we realized that God had withheld because He was waiting to give us something far better than we had thought to ask for. Other times He was protecting us from something we couldn’t yet see. So, I’ve learned through the years not to question God’s withholding in my life. And I can even say that some of God’s greatest gifts to me have been the very things He has decided to withhold.

Can you trust God with the things He has decided to withhold from your life? He knows what He’s doing. And, as Psalm 84:11 testifies, He truly is our sun (who illumines our way) and our shield (who protects us from harm).

Lord, thank You for the times You have blessed me with what I want. And I trust You with the times that You have said “no” and withheld things for my good. Thank You for Your whispers of protection through what You withhold. I trust Your best for me.

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number 51c1emyNztL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Cindi’s new book, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart,  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: Has God withheld something that seemed “good” to you? Did He eventually show you why?

I Have Spiritual Dementia

by Kathy Collard Miller

My 91-year-old mother-in-law, Audrey, wagged her finger at me, exclaiming, “I still can’t believe you did that, Kathy. You dropped me off yesterday several blocks from here and I had to walk all that way in the hot sun. You are so mean.”

I was stunned how to answer. Of course, I hadn’t done that, but because of her dementia, she believed it to be true. She had a form of dementia called Lewy-Bodies and with that came paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

In that journey of caring for her, my husband and I learned a lot. And to my shock and dismay, I learned that in many ways, I have spiritual dementia. I am like Audrey in many ways—within my spirit and soul.

Audrey had delusions which were very real to her. That day I supposedly made her walk in the sun actually happened in her mind. She either dreamed it or envisioned it, but to her, it was real. Nothing Larry and I said ever changed her mind about anything. Even if we offered “proof” of what we were saying—the truth—it had no effect on her. She couldn’t even entertain another perspective. Her mind was deceived by the dementia.

That was very frustrating to us though we learned to largely let it go. In the beginning we kept thinking if we would just tell her the truth, it would make a difference. At one point, she believed  her second husband killed his first wife so that he could marry her and steal her money. Of course, she had only been married once to Larry’s dad and the money they’d acquired came from him working until he retired. He had passed away four years earlier.

But if we were to show her their marriage certificate revealing the date they married—proving there was no time for her to have had a “first” husband—she wouldn’t accept it.

I knew the Lord was speaking to me as I saw her rejecting truth—that I can be just like her. I am faced with spiritual truth constantly, and some of it I reject. I read the Bible and mentally cast away anything that is not within my already determined theology.

Most of the time, I don’t even realize I’m doing this. I just neatly categorize something that isn’t comfortable as “not necessary.” It’s not that I’m saying it’s wrong, it’s just not relevant to me. I can discard it.

In living through Audrey’s “example,” I began to evaluate more carefully: am I casting away truth? Am I rejecting God’s ideas because of a spiritual dementia that can’t acknowledge I don’t know everything?

Audrey was blocked by a disease that made it impossible for her to believe the truth. But I can choose the truth. I can ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten me and empower me to receive the truth. I’m so glad nothing is impossible, even my mind being transformed by my great God.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 ESV

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is a wife of one (for almost 50 years), mom of two, grandmother of two, speaker, author and lay-counselor. She and Larry live in Southern California. Her newest book is her story of God’s deliverance over being an abuse mom and about God’s healing of their marriage: No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom. Kathy has shared her story world-wide and on The 700 Club. 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: Do you have spiritual dementia? What truths have you unconsciously avoided in the past?

Releasing What I Never Had

by Ava Pennington

I’m naturally task-oriented. I enjoy the sense of trying to control my circumstances. My previous corporate career affirmed those traits.

While these character qualities facilitated success in the corporate world, they generated problems in my spiritual life. As I grew in my Christian walk, I learned the Lord wanted me to release my desire for control and instead surrender to His sovereign direction.

Release? That’s a difficult word for me. Release my writing career and the sales of my books. Release the desire to control my circumstances. Release my rights. Continue working, serving, and teaching in ministry, but release the results to the Lord.

God nudged my spirit. I AM Lord over you, your circumstances, your relationships, your teaching, your writing…your life! Release it all to Me.

It has been a slow journey. Still, living with the concept of release is making a difference in how I live, and especially in how I respond to negative circumstances.

At least, it was making a difference, until a cable company crew dug a trench across our front yard. Right across the buried wire for the electric fence that kept our two active boxer pups contained.

I called their main office to file a claim for reimbursement for the repair. They opened a claim and promised a telephone follow-up within two weeks.


A second conversation revealed they had closed the claim as unfounded—without calling me. I opened a new claim and they promised to follow-up within seven days. No call. I was angry.

A visit to the company’s local office resulted in a three-hour wait and a promise of a follow-up call within forty-eight hours. Again, nothing. My anger grew.

I complained to the Executive Regional Office and left a lengthy, frustrated message.

While I waited for their call, I sat at my computer to write a blog post about spiritual growth. I had planned to describe my progress in releasing control to God.

Ouch. How could I write it when I was in full-on control-and-fix mode? Release had never once entered my thoughts.

As I typed, I rationalized. Releasing doesn’t apply to this situation. I needed to stay on their case till they responded. But I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart. Release your anger to Me.

They’re the ones in the wrong! Release it to Me anyway.

It’s clearly their responsibility to reimburse me. Don’t you think I can handle this?

Sigh. Yes, Lord. I know You can. I release it to You.

Two hours later, the phone rang. The caller introduced herself, then confirmed she had already arranged for reimbursement. I thanked her. Then I added that I should have trusted the Lord to take care of the situation far better than I could. And she said…wait for it…“Absolutely. And when we’re done, thank Him, too!”

Not only was the problem resolved, it was resolved by a fellow Christian!

Release. Just when I think I’ve learned how to live in surrender, I come face to face with my old nature—the one that tries to hold tight to control. To my rights. Something had to give. What gave is me.

I finally realized control is an illusion. I may think I’m in control, but I’m not. Never have been. Never will be.

That doesn’t mean I’ve arrived. The adage is true: “Old habits die hard.” Yet there is also a feeling of relief in release. Relief that I can stop my futile efforts and rest in the care of my sovereign heavenly Father—the One who is and has been in control all along.

“Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?”
Lamentations 3:37 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: What have you yet to release in your life?

Does This Nightmare Serve a Purpose?

by Yvonne Ortega

“Dad’s in the hospital. He may have dementia,” my younger brother told me on the phone. The rock of the family? The one who took care of Mom when she had Alzheimer’s? Our only living parent? My mind swirled.

“Let me know when Dad will be discharged, and I’ll spend a week with him,” I told my brother. Dad would be safe in the hospital, but it would be different at home.

When I arrived to stay with Dad, I realized how bad his situation was. I found overdue bills on the counter. Dad had never owed anybody a penny. “I cleaned the refrigerator before you came,” Dad said. Yes, the shelves were clean, but the food on them was green with mold.

One morning, Dad stormed into the dining room and screamed, “I can’t find my washcloths,” and he threw his arms up in the air. “I can hardly wait for everybody to get out of here. Then I can go on by myself.”  He did not see the need for a home health aide.

The father I knew would have found those washcloths. I went to the bathroom, opened the linen closet, and there on the same shelf where they belonged for the past forty years, were the washcloths.

That was not the only test I endured that week. Dad’s constant repetition tested me daily. On a Saturday morning, we drove an hour and a half to meet my younger brother and sister-in-law for lunch. As I drove, Dad said at least twenty or thirty times, “You’re going the wrong way.”

Each time, I would remind him we were going to a restaurant, not their home. “Oh, okay.” Five minutes later, he would tell me the same thing again. The GPS would have guided me, but Dad would talk over it. I would tell him, “Dad, you can’t talk when the GPS gives me directions.” It was no use. He didn’t remember what I said. By the time we arrived at the restaurant, I felt emotionally drained and dreaded the ride back to Dad’s.

Every night after Dad went to bed, I would cry myself to sleep. Dad was alive, but I had already lost him. The house felt empty enough with Mom in heaven, and now Dad was mentally “gone.”

I took my struggle to God. God, what purpose can this cruel disease serve? How will it benefit Dad or me?

I reached for my Bible and read James 1:4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (NIV).

The nightmare of Dad’s dementia most certainly tested my faith, but it would develop my perseverance. God was intent on me becoming “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I decided I would entrust Dad’s care to God’s unfailing love.

When we are in the middle of a trial, it is hard to consider it pure joy. But they are a tool in God’s hands to work His purposes for us out in our lives.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

yvonne ortegaAbout the author: Yvonne Ortega speaks with honesty and humor as she shares her life and struggles to help women find comfort, peace, promise, and purpose. As a counselor, she brings a unique perspective into the heart of women. She is the author of four books: Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Grief, Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward, and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. You can learn more about Yvonne at www.YvonneOrtega.com.

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Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to find a purpose in a nightmare situation?




by Sheri Schofield

Have you ever taken one of those correspondence writing course tests? One of the things they ask you to write is “How To Do Something In Ten Steps”. I chose to write on changing a flat tire. I’m kind of small, so I may do it differently than some of you. (Or maybe not!) It went something like this:

  1. Get out of the car and walk around to the flat tire.
  2. Say, “Oh, my!” and put your hand on your head.
  3. Wait for a man to stop. This usually takes less than a minute.
  4. When he asks, “May I help?” always say, “Yes, thank you!” Men need dragons to slay in order to be happy. Let them slay this one for you.
  5. Show him where the tools are.
  6. As he hauls the spare tire out of the trunk, say, “Oh, I am so glad you came along to help! I could never lift that thing!”
  7. Let him show you how to change the tire. Men like being authorities on mechanical tasks.
  8. Be sure and ask a few questions about the tire changing process and pay close attention.
  9. When he is finished, thank him profusely and smile.
  10. Get in your car and wave as you drive off.

Truthfully, this is the only way I’ve ever changed a tire. I once tried to do it myself, determined to prove that I could. But as I was trying to unscrew the round thingies, a pick-up truck screeched to a halt behind my car. A big, husky, farm woman and her husband jumped out and hurried over to me. The woman said, “I told my husband, ‘That little gal isn’t going to be able to handle this job. We’d better stop.’ ”

I felt just a little bit indignant. But hey! She was probably right.

Maybe the reason I find it easy to lean on God most of the time is because I’m so used to being rescued by those he sends to me in times of crisis. I have never lost that child-like dependence. It is when I acknowledge my total dependence on God that he gives me strength to fight against the schemes of the devil and win, for only God’s power can defeat the devil.

It is when I insist on taking things into my own hands that I struggle. The battles that get me down are usually about finances. It is said that there are three kinds of people in this world: those who can count, and those who can’t. Guess which one I am! Because of that weakness, finances stress me out more than most other things. It’s easy for me to say, “I trust you, Lord,” when it is a matter of illness or interpersonal relationships . . . or changing a tire. But money? I really struggle with that one.

Jesus used nature to teach his disciples to trust in God’s provision. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NASB) The God who provides for the sparrows and the lilies will be faithful in the lives of his dearly loved children as well.

This year I’ve been learning to let go of financial worry and depend on God. It has been particularly exciting to see how God has provided for the new book he has asked me to write. The provisions are coming from the most unexpected places! For the first time in many years, I find myself able to lean completely on him in this area. It has been a relief to lay this burden at the feet of Jesus and let him handle it. It truly is sweet to trust in Jesus! It is the place of strength. Why couldn’t I have reached this place sooner? 

“For the Lord is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” Psalm 84:11 NLT

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.

Join the conversation: In what areas do you struggle to trust God? How has He proved Himself faithful to you?

Get Your Eyes Off Yourself

by Twila Belk

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.”  Exodus 3:11–12 NIV

The story in Exodus 3 and 4 is fascinating. Moses, tending his sheep in the desert, sees a burning bush, but the bush isn’t consumed. He goes closer to check it out and hears a voice. “Moses! Moses!” It’s God. Realizing he’s standing on holy ground, Moses removes his sandals.

Then God reveals his great plan: “I’ve seen the misery of the Israelites. I’ve heard them crying because of their slave drivers, and I’m concerned about their suffering. It’s time to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Good news, Moses! I’ve chosen you to make this happen.”

If Moses hadn’t been barefoot, he’d be shaking in his boots. “Wait a minute, God. You’re sending me? Who am I to do a job like that? I’m just a grownup basket case. I can’t do it. Can’t you ple-e-e-e-e-a-se send someone else?”

God’s response? “I will be with you. It doesn’t matter who you are, Moses. It matters who I am.”

Once Moses took his eyes off himself, he accomplished amazing things for God.

I’ve had many “Moses moments” in my life. When asked years ago to play piano for Bible Study Fellowship, I questioned why God didn’t choose a better musician to do it. “I’m a scriptural pianist, Lord. My left hand doesn’t know what my right hand is doing.” God reminded me that he didn’t call someone else; he called me.

When God made it clear he wanted me to write, I said, “Lord, how am I supposed to write? I can’t even talk without problems.” God reminded me to trust him.

When God wanted me to become a speaker, I protested. “But Lord, don’t you remember the excuse I gave for not writing? You know how I get tongue-tied.” God reminded me of the time he used a donkey to get his message across.

Each time I’ve feared my inadequacies, my underlying thought process was: “What if I fail or look like a fool?” And God reminds me that it’s not about me; it’s about him. If it’s about him and for him and by him, doesn’t it just make sense that he will help me do his work?

God doesn’t need our help. He can get the job done with us or without us, but he chooses us to carry out particular works so we might be blessed and bless others. We can take courage in the fact that God never gives us a job without equipping us for it. He doesn’t want our competence. He wants our obedience. And if we walk forward, hand in hand with him, he will come through for us every time. Guaranteed.

God, I have big problems when my eyes are on myself instead of on you. I see my insecurities, my weaknesses, and my shortcomings, and I forget that it doesn’t matter who I am. It matters who you are. You don’t want my competence, and you certainly don’t want my excuses. You want my willingness to do what you ask. So rather than questioning, “Who am I?” like Moses did, would you help me to say, “Look who God is”? Lord, I want to accomplish big things for you. The only way for me to do that is to step out in obedience and to trust you for the results.

(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: Has God ever asked you to do a particular task that was scary, or that you didn’t feel competent to do? What was it? How did you answer God and how did it work out? What is he calling you to do right now?

Pray Like Billy

by Cindy Sproles

“…pray continually… ” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV

I stood at the edge of the living room as my mother twisted the channel knob on the television. “It starts at 7. Channel 5, I think.” She twisted the knob until the 5 glowed yellow. The picture tube slowly warmed showing white static and fuzz on the screen. “Adjust the rabbit ears. Hurry.”

The camera panned across a stadium filled with people and Billy Graham stepped behind the pulpit. He clasped his hands tightly and rested his elbows on the pulpit. His head bowed low, eyes squinted tight. “Heavenly Father, how great You are. . .”

I listened as Dr. Graham’s touching and heartfelt prayer boomed across the stadium. Despite the dizzying size of his audience, what impressed this child was that his prayer seemed just between him and God. They weren’t for show, but sincere, and a continuation of earlier prayers for the revival of the Church.

Jesus prayed with intention. He soaked Himself in the presence of His Father, pouring out His deepest joys and hardest pleas. Understanding the importance of that communion kept Jesus vulnerable and open to hearing God’s responses. Those heartfelt interactions with the Father brought Him peace and rest.

We easily take “pray continually” for granted, assuming it means only crying out pleas or asking for all our wants and needs. But praying continually is so much deeper. It’s pouring our hearts into a relationship . . . getting to know God.

Prayer opens the heavenly realm to us, allowing an opportunity to not only present our needs to God, but to be used by Him. Prayer strengthens us, brings us renewal, and covers us in a love deeper than most can imagine. It softens our hearts to the whispers of the Father, bringing us to a place where we are in tune with Him.

When I doubt the effectiveness of my prayers, I strive to remember the sincere words of a man who prayed without ceasing. He prayed waiting, expecting, believing God would revive the church. If I can emulate that determination to pray without ceasing, then I have learned from a master and have confidence that God will hear me, too… and will answer.

Fifty years ago, a man walked to a pulpit, bowed his head, and prayed. God used his words to touch the heart of a little girl, who by hearing them felt a longing for the same kind of personal relationship with Christ.

I never had the privilege to lay eyes on the real man, Billy Graham, in person, but in that one moment in time I learned to pray continuously, faithfully, and without fear. I later found that in the early morning when I couldn’t sleep, God would nudge me to walk the hallway in our house and pray– even when I didn’t know why, for whom, or how.

These days, I pick cards from my prayer bowl, holding them close to my heart, lifting the names before the Lord. God doesn’t require me to solve the issues of those whom I pray, but He commands me . . . to simply pray continually.

I know when Dr. Graham entered the gates of heaven, God took him by the shoulders and twisted him around to see the faces of all those he led to Christ, and hopefully, he saw the face of a ten-year-old little girl, who wanted to pray like Billy.

Chose to deepen your relationship with God. Strive to pray continually. We’re called to do so. Pray and be amazed.

CindySprolesAbout the author: Cindy K. Sproles is the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries. She is a best-selling author and a speaker for writers and women’s conferences across the country. Visit Cindy at her website and check out her two latest books, Mercy’s Rain and Liar’s Winter.

Join the conversation: How or when are you inspired to pray?


Becoming a Warrior Instead of a Worrier

by Edie Melson

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

To be perfectly honest, I’m both a worrier and a warrior. I hate when the worrier in me raises its ugly head but ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. It’s only when I acknowledge the tendency, that I can fight it effectively. My hardest battles against worry come in the arena of parenting.

My sons are grown men—capable and wise—and yet I still find myself fearful about some of the things they choose to do. Several years ago two of them decided to spend an afternoon kayaking on a nearby river. They’re experienced outdoorsmen and have logged hundreds of hours doing that very thing. But for some reason that particular trip made me uneasy.

I found myself at a familiar crossroads with a choice to make.

My boys—like all sons—don’t appreciate the love behind my worries. And experience has taught me that nagging does absolutely nothing except make them more determined to do the thing I dread. I could either worry and nag, or I could go into what I’ve come to call warrior mode. This particular practice is how I refer to certain times of prayer. It’s more intense than just devotional praying. That day I chose warrior. I wished them well, warned them to make wise decisions, and retired to my room for some serious prayer intervention on their behalf.

As I talked out my fears and my feelings with God, a peace came over me. Worry dissolved and I went back to my regular routine. I slept like a baby, but the next morning I discovered why I’d felt such a need to pray.

When they’d put into the river, it had been a sunny day. The clouds were fluffy and the water calm. Several miles into this idyllic venture a sudden summer thunderstorm came up almost out of nowhere. Before they could put to shore, the lightning began and their world went black.

Three hours later they awoke, out of their boats—thankful for the life vests they wore—and covered in scrapes and burns. They’d been struck by lightning.

They made it back to their truck and limped home to their wives. They were shaken up, but fine.

Their experience reminded me that even though my children are grown, they still need me. I could have voiced my fears that day, but the outcome would have been the same. Instead I learned the value of a solid set of knee pads and the readiness to do battle for them in prayer. When I take my worries to God, I put them in the hands of the One who could keep them safe.

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: 1 Peter 5:7 says to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” What fears have you given to the Lord? What are you still having trouble relinquishing?