When You Don’t Feel Thankful

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.                                                                                                                                         Colossians 4:2 NASB

As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us excitedly anticipate the day, rejoicing in thoughts of reuniting with family, feasting on turkey, and remembering the blessings of the past year. But others may feel empty; their problems seem to envelop them and their circumstances look bleak. With the holiday approaching, they may wonder if they have anything for which to be thankful.

I remember such a time, when my marriage was on the point of collapse. My husband and I were separated. Confusion and fear gripped my heart, and I had no idea what the future held. It was hard to be thankful that year.

During this difficult time, however, I discovered an amazing irony. While I struggled with painful circumstances, I found that when I raised my eyes toward heaven and simply thanked God for being my Lord and Father, my heart grew lighter, and I felt at peace.

As I praised Him, the clutter of doubt and fear cleared from my mind, and my perspective changed. God appeared larger, and I became more aware of His awesome power and majesty. As a result, my painful circumstances seemed less weighty and prominent. I saw only God, only His love, only His comforting presence. Thanking and praising God was a salve to my aching heart. In the midst of praise I knew I would be alright.

The irony I discovered is that thanking God—even when it seemed I had nothing to be thankful for—actually gave me something for which to be thankful.

Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, and praise His name” (NIV).

It is when we are thankful–when we praise His name—that we can enter into the very presence of God. And when we do, we find that His majesty and power is greater than any problem we encounter. In the light of His almighty presence and power, the darkness in our lives pales. God’s glory washes away the dross of the world around us.

Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him” (KJV).

If you are struggling to feel thankful, when you wake up on Thanksgiving Day, begin by praising God. Thank Him for His love, which never ceases. Thank Him for being a big God that nothing can defeat. Thank Him that you have the incredible privilege of coming before the God of the universe and offering up your heart.  When you do, He will pour His strength into your weakness. He will fill your heart with Himself and the forever love He has for you. And with the tenderness of God’s presence so near, you might find this to be the most meaningful Thanksgiving of all.

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God will fill up your heart when you don’t feel thankful – @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Having traveled a difficult three-year journey from separation to reconciliation in her own marriage, Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation, brings strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital Broken Heart on Hold: Surviving Separation by [Rooks, Linda]breakdown. Her new book, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated, takes the next step by offering practical guidance for those who desire reconciliation. It releases in February 2019.  Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida where their ministry to marriages in crisis has helped many couples reconcile their relationships.

Join the conversation: Our God never changes, no matter what our circumstances might  at times tempt us to believe. What things about God can you praise Him today?

A True Turkey Tale

by Peggy Cunningham @inca_writer

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” Psalm 107:1 (NIV).

The turkey tale I have to tell holds a special spot in my heart. It was a special turkey because it was the first turkey I ever tried to cook––two months after my wedding day. I have many precious memories to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. As the years pass, I realize that it is a blessing to be able to remember. This turkey tale wasn’t funny at the time, but I can’t help but chuckle each time I remember it now––decades after the event.

After many years of eating turkey, I suddenly developed an allergy to the bird. I don’t look forward to turkey on Thanksgiving now––unless I want to look like Frankenstein or meet the Lord face to face. After two reactions, it was certain I had an allergy to turkey. I don’t want to have those encounters with turkeys ever again.

But, I’ve also had another memory-making encounter with a turkey. After many years of married life, I now have experience cooking turkeys, but as a new bride, I didn’t. I looked forward to cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner that year. Far away from our hometown, we celebrated alone but not as we planned. My husband was in the Air Force, and we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now you may think that was glamorous––not so. We lived on an airman’s salary and buying a turkey was a big expense for the special day. We got up early, and together we made the stuffing, packed it in the bird and shoved it in the oven. After a few hours, we checked the bird. We thought it strange that there was no wonderful aroma coming from the oven, and looking at it––well, it was still raw. Two hours more should do it––we reasoned. We closed the oven door and waited.

The table looked lovely with my wedding gifts of silver, crystal, and candlesticks placed on the perfectly pressed tablecloth. The potatoes were cooking, and the red cranberry sauce contrasted the green linen tablecloth––my decorating skills were developing. If only that turkey would cooperate. It didn’t. After nine hours in the oven, it was tough and still not cooked. We were so disappointed that we took that bird for a long drive in the Nevada desert and threw it out of the convertible we were driving. Good riddance!

Did we ever know what happened? Never! But, I can tell you that story has been told over and over, and usually it sounds as though the cook messed up. I will never agree––it must have been the oven! My first turkey–tough and uncooked! That bird still haunts me today––every time its story is told. FYI, every turkey I’ve baked since has exited my oven thoroughly cooked and delicious!

Remembering must be important to God. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible where God tells us to remember, or He remembers us and His promises. “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done” (Psalm 145:5). Memories!

I hope your turkey isn’t a repeat of my turkey tale this Thanksgiving. It wasn’t funny at the time, but what a good, funny memory now. We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. Good and funny memories are a blessing to be thankful for too.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you make some good turkey tales on this Thanksgiving Day––funny ones too.

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A True Turkey Tale & the Importance of Remembering – Peggy Cunningham, @Inca_Writer on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

Peggy CunninghamAbout the author: Peggy Cunningham and her husband have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Rumi Rancho is their ministry base and home outside the city of Cochabamba where they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author. Shape Your Soul: 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains by [Cunningham, Peggy]Her children’s books and devotionals are available on Amazon.com, including her latest book Shape Your Soul, 31 Exercises of Faith that Move Mountains, a women’s devotional.

Join the conversation: Do you have any Thanksgiving moments precious to you? Please share!!

Will You Join The Harvest?

by Sheri Schofield

The moon was full, lighting the pasture. The hay had been cut a week earlier and had been drying in the hot sun. Dad raked it into long rows that afternoon. “I hope it’s dry enough to put into the barn,” he said. “If not, we could lose it. Spontaneous combustion.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“If the hay is damp when it is stacked, it can get hot inside the haystack and burst into flames. But I think it’s okay. It’s been laying in the field for a week now. If we don’t get it in tonight, we’ll lose it anyway, because it’s going to rain. So let’s get busy.” Dad grabbed the pitchfork, mom grabbed a rake, and my brother and I began scooping up big piles by hand and throwing them into the truck. It wasn’t much of a field – only three acres. But we needed the hay for our cows.

There was a mist across the moon, a warning of rain to come. We all worked hard and without many breaks, piling the hay into the truck, driving it to the barn, unloading it then returning for more. It was exhausting. By the time the moon went down, we had the hay in the barn. We had raced against time and had beaten the rain.

Harvesting is hard work. But if we don’t get it in, we lose the crop. In today’s instant world, we have forgotten the work that goes into harvest. Someone else gathers the crops and brings them to market. The urgency of harvest no longer touches most of us.

Jesus spoke of a spiritual harvest. Matthew 9:35-38 tells us, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ ” (NIV)

Each generation presents a new spiritual harvest on earth. Yet many Christians have lost the sense of urgency toward the lost. We live in a world of spiritual pain and suffering, where the lost do not know where to turn for answers. Large numbers of children across America are growing up with no knowledge of Jesus. How many would gladly run to Jesus . . . if we would tell them about him?

On Sundays, many Christians are content to go to church, listen to the pastor preach and then leave, considering their spiritual duty to be done. But that is not Jesus’ message. He asks us to help him with the harvest. He set the example for us in what he did while on earth, to show us how to reach the lost.

The Harvester calls to each generation of believers: “Come! Help with the harvest!” This is not the preacher’s job: it is ours. Age does not matter. Children and elderly alike can help gather souls for God’s kingdom. Look around! We are surrounded by a world in desperate need of Christ. “The harvest is ripe!” Jesus is calling to us. Will we help?

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21, NIV

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We are surrounded by a world in desperate need of Christ. Will I help with the harvest? – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the Conversation: How are you helping with the harvest?

Not one more step!

by Michele McCarthy

However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9 NASB

A cloud of smoke came out from under the closed doors of the sanctuary. It rose all the way to the ceiling, filling the complete back of the room. Floor to ceiling, the smoke drifted forward toward the church altar, filling the church from the back doors forward. Then the smoke suddenly stopped about sixty feet short of the pulpit. It never made it to the altar.

This was a vision the Lord gave me of the Holy Spirit. It left me with unanswered questions. Why did He stop before reaching the altar? Was He stopped by the church because He was not welcome there?

It also made me wonder if I am personally guilty of stopping the Holy Spirit. Did He have full reign over my heart? Have I failed to yield to Him in any way? Have I told Him in uncertain terms: “Not one more step!”

Scripture tells me I can quench (lack of power) and grieve (lack of character) the Holy Spirit. I never want the vision the Lord gave me that day to be a picture of my relationship with Him. I pray that I will always be open to a new thing God may be showing me.

Isaiah wrote, “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?” (43:19 NASB) May I never close myself off to His leading. Just because it may be something I have never before experienced, it doesn’t mean it can’t be God prompting me.

Our faithful God relentlessly pursues us. He comes after us in very creative ways. He not only pursues us for redemption, He seeks to put His desires in our heart as we walk with Him. He is at the door knocking and He wants us to open that door to close, personal fellowship with Him. He wants to fill us with His love and power.

I can be assured that His offering is always good. I will gladly be His student forever. I want to step out in obedience, even when it pushes me way out of my comfort zone. It’s in those difficult moments I especially want to open my arms ready to receive all my Father has for me. Come Holy Spirit, come!

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Am I allowing God to fully work in my life? Thoughts from Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Michele McCarthyAbout the author: A wife to her devoted husband and a mom of two fine young men, two fabulous daughters-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren, Michele McCarthy has served her family faithfully for years. She is now enjoying attending Lifestyle Christianity University and exploring long hidden talents of writing and watercolor. She has written a children’s book, Daddy and Me, that is currently at the publisher. She loves reading, scrapbooking, deep conversations and talking about Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has the Holy Spirit inspired you lately?

The Answer to Our Deepest Longings

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Do you know what it’s like to experience an inconsolable longing?

I did.

As a young wife and mom, I copied Psalm 73:25 onto a note card and put it on my refrigerator to remind me of the only longing of mine that can ever truly be met: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (ESV).

That was more than 20 years ago. I was – and continue to be – comforted by the truth that I have an Advocate in Heaven. And He is mine.

Who do I have but You, God? It is more than a question or even a statement. It is a motto. And I often have to remind myself to live by that motto.

Through the unmet expectations of friends, the struggles in marriage, and the disappointments of life, I’ve come to learn that we all have an inconsolable longing – a longing to be truly and deeply known. And through the years, I have learned to be at peace knowing that longing will never be met this side of heaven. I will never be fully known by my husband, my child, my closest friend, as I really am. But I am known to God. My inconsolable longing on this earth increases my yearning for Heaven – for true oneness and intimacy.

Only You, Lord, are perfect. Only You are incapable of disappointing me. Only You can satisfy. And only You can know me intimately.

As long as I am hoping for lasting fulfillment through intimacy with a person here on this earth, I will be disappointed. All are mere mortals. All have sinned. And all will let me down at one time or another. But You, Lord, will always satisfy.

When I focus on my inconsolable longings it can make me sad. But when I focus on the fact that my Savior knows me completely, I realize the reason for my existence and often the reason for my loneliness:  He wants to be the one to whom I cling.

To whom do you go when nothing else and no one else will satisfy? Where do you take those longings that remain unmet? There is One in Heaven waiting to fill the inconsolable longing in your heart as well. May you, too, be able to say as the Psalmist did in the very next verse: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26 ESV).

Lord, thank You that my inconsolable longing is truly consolable in You. I bring my deepest longings to You and lay them at Your feet. I trust that since You are the Only One who really knows my heart, You will meet me in the place where I most need to be met.

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Our inconsolable longing is truly consolable in God – thoughts from @CindiMcMenamin ‏on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When God Pursues a Woman’s Heart, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources toScreen Shot 2017-12-24 at 9.01.28 PM strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What are the longings in your heart that never seem to be met?

Whose Label Do You Accept?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

 You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CEV)

We’ve all got them in our lives—people who label us.

Sometimes the labels are good.

“You’re so smart.”

“You’re so beautiful.”

“You’re so organized…

“talented”

“spiritual…

“blessed.”

These are the labels we like to hear—whether they’re true or not. They have a seductive quality, inviting us to congratulate ourselves on what we’ve accomplished.

Sometimes the labels are bad.

“You’re so selfish.”

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“You’re such a liar…

“a betrayer…

“untalented…

“lazy.”

Unlike the positive ones, these labels can devastate us. The echoes of these take residence in our souls, providing a haunting refrain as we try to follow God’s path.

We can’t get away from a world that seeks to define us, hanging labels on us for everyone to see. And although we know we shouldn’t, if we’re not careful, we can begin to view ourselves through the filters of others.

When goods are manufactured, there are only two sources that have the legal right to label the products: the one who manufactured the goods, and the one who purchased them.

The manufacturer uses labels to provide information about how the goods are made and what they’re made from.

The one who buys the goods determines the price and value.

When we apply this knowledge to us as believers we come across some amazing spiritual insight. This idea of who has the authority to apply labels holds just as true for us as believers.

Only two persons have the authority and the right to label us: the One who created us, and the One who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

God is the one who created us. He has given us gifts, personality, and a unique set of circumstances that makes up who we are.

Christ is the one who bought us. He determined our worth and then He Himself paid the price.

They have gone a step further and applied other labels—labels we should never discard or ignore.

“You are precious.”

“You are loved.”

“You are Mine.”

Today I challenge you to join me as I banish the false labels (and those who assigned them) and focus on the only Ones who have the right to define me.

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Who am I allowing to hang labels on me? @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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 Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: Which of God’s labels mean the most to you?

I Really Blew It

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…   Romans 1:16a NASB

I missed a big opportunity. God handed it to me on a silver platter. Well, to be more accurate, it drove up in a silver pickup truck and stopped right beside me. But I let it get away without a fight. I really blew it.

It happened one beautiful Saturday afternoon. I had just stepped out of a Lifeway store and was headed to my car. Just as I reached the first car in the parking lot I heard, “Ma’am? Excuse me ma’am!”

“Ma’am?” Oh, does he mean me?

I turned to see a young man sitting in a pickup truck, now directly between the store and me. His window was down and he was looking directly at me. And there wasn’t anyone else close by.

Yep. He meant me.

The young “cowboy” wore a sleeveless t-shirt and tattoos covered both arms. He needed directions. “Is there a bookstore around here somewhere?”

I thought about looking around for a hidden camera. I mean, really? He was sitting in front of a bookstore. Surely this was a joke.

“Seriously?” I asked. “Lifeway is right there,” I pointed as I declared the obvious. But I could tell the cowboy had no idea what Lifeway was by the look on his face.

“Uh, it’s a Christian bookstore,” I stammered. Half statement, half question. Still no recognition.

“I’m looking for self-help books,” he added hopefully.

Okay. God threw the door of opportunity wide open, but I slammed it shut.

I stumbled around and told him I didn’t know the area – which I didn’t. That I had a friend waiting in the car – which I did. Then I suggested he try Sam’s, which was close behind us.

By the time I got to the car, I was kicking myself over the lost opportunity. As I began to tell my friend about the encounter, all sorts of better responses began to pop into my head.

There’s a Book in there – I would be pointing at Lifeway – that will give you help that lasts for eternity.

I have a Friend that can help you with anything and everything – of course, that would be Jesus.

Or if nothing else comes to mind, I could always simply ask:

Do you know Jesus?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted or taught or written about Peter’s encouragement to always be ready to share Jesus.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

This guy needed hope. He was actively looking for it. He even asked me where to find it. I know the One who is our ultimate, eternal Hope.

I blew it. But, I’m praying today that God will give me another opportunity. Maybe I’ll head to Lifeway.

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I really blew it, but God is a God of second chances- @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s Bible study. Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Do you regularly pray that God will give you opportunities to give the reason for the hope you have?

We Press On

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you might win.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 NASB

Recently my husband Steve and I had the pleasure of a short vacation. We toured northern New England from the coast of Maine to the foothills of southwest New Hampshire. It was a wonderful adventure. A highlight of the trip was our train ride up Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast United States.

The trip brought back memories of another time I ventured toward the summit of Mount Washington. That time I went up the old fashioned way– on foot. Several camp friends and I hiked the mountain on a Columbus Day weekend, up Tuckerman’s Ravine. We left Massachusetts before sunrise and began the climb as the sun peeked over the horizon. We would spend all day on the mountain.

I was a lot thinner then, and in much better shape at the ripe old age of 20, but to this day I can still remember the agony of the climb. We hadn’t gone far when my muscles started screaming for oxygen. My knees, feet, and legs were in pain the entire trip up. To make matters worse, I was the only wimp in the group. It seemed I was holding them all back from sprinting up the mountain!

Gasping for breath, struggling to keep up, I was quite sure I would never make it to the top. As we neared the summit, we began to pass signs warning that to continue upward in bad weather conditions would mean death. Of course, my sprightly friends viewed these as a photo opportunity rather than a harbinger of doom. I was just glad to sit down for a few minutes as we snapped the pictures.

When we reached a point within sight of the summit (which from where I stood presented an even more challenging section of the climb), it began to snow. In light of this and the time of day (which was probably later than anyone expected at our onset, thanks to their slowest companion) the group decided to abort the rest of the climb and head back down. I almost wept with relief. We still had hours of walking ahead of us, but it was all downhill.  At the end of the long day, as dusk descended, I gratefully sank into the car’s backseat and made a promise to myself that my climbing days were over.

So when Steve suggested that next time we skip the railroad ride and climb the trail, I reminded him of what I had learned back in 1977. “That mountain almost killed me then,” I told him. “It would surely kill me now.”

Paul knew what it was to press on in the midst of agony. He wrote the Philippians: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14 NASB). He wrote this while awaiting a trial in chains.

Paul is providing us with a crucial focus in our quest to press on. We are not to look around at the circumstances which surround us, nor backward at past laurels. Our gaze should never move downward to our own two feet, which would surely remind us of our human frailty and limitations. So where are we to look? Heavenward, toward the Savior who will supply the strength and power to continue. Heavenward, toward the end goal: the reward that will come from our efforts of living life for Him.

The original word translated here as press on is translated in similar verses as pursue. The word is actually more commonly translated as persecute in other contexts. Interestingly, Paul uses this very same verb in remembrance of his former unrelenting persecution of the saints: “For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.” (Galatians 1:13 NASB) Either nuance of meaning denotes an intense pursuit resulting from a strong conviction. All of Paul’s pursuits—destructive or constructive—were characterized by this kind of passion.

This is how we must press on toward the prize. But a mountain climb doesn’t happen in a sprint. Sometimes the path is more level than other times. And very often the path is downright steep. How then do we climb? One step at a time. Eyes on the end goal. With determination that comes from what we so passionately believe.

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We press on—remembering that a climb requires perseverance instead of a sprint @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: How passionate have you been in “the climb” lately? What is your motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other? How can keeping your focus on Jesus help sustain you when the going gets rough?

Awash in Grace & the Forethought of God

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

You can tell a lot about people by the way they do their laundry. I have friends who have certain days they designate as “laundry days.” I confess, I’m probably much more impressed by that than any grown woman should be. My laundry days? They usually happen on whatever days I realize I have to make a choice:  I have to wash a load, or I have to be one of those people who goes to Wal-Mart in pajama pants.

I’m further impressed by my friends who go the extra mile, laundry-wise. They…are you ready for this?…pretreat. They do it like it’s this normal thing that people do. But do you know what pretreating is? It’s doing laundry before you actually do the laundry. There’s something remarkably intentional and impressively diligent about that.

I have other friends who go beyond even that and carry one of those pen-things so they can pretreat even before a stain makes it to the laundry room. They’re essentially doing laundry before they’re even home. It borders on laundry lunacy.

It probably won’t shock you to know that when I’m having dinner out and hot fudge drips down my sweater, I’m not thinking about laundry. You know what I’m thinking? Fudge. And if I scrape the fudge off my sweater, it’s not a pretreatment. It’s a fudge salvage.

Some people do laundry with great forethought. I do laundry with great afterthought.

Of course, there’s regular forethought. And then there’s the forethought of God. His is a whole different basket of laundry. We’re told in Titus 3:4-5 that “when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,” (ESV). How vital it is to stay intentional and deliberate about remembering His planning of our salvation. That passage continues, “not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (vv. 5-6, ESV).

No kind of laundering would ever make us clean enough apart from that “washing of regeneration,” the saving work of Jesus Christ. We can’t do enough deeds, attend enough services—we can’t pray enough, or pay enough—to earn what is freely given by His mercy.

I know what you’re probably thinking. This is an oversimplified, everybody-already-knows-it, fact of the faith. Yet how many times do we overcomplicate the Gospel? It’s just:  Jesus. His amazing, pre-thought grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV).

Even those of us who’ve been around the Christian block a few times need to be reminded to trust His grace. It’s easy to get off-track, concentrating on all the “good” we might be doing, forgetting the One we’re doing it for. Embracing our own lack of ability to do anything of lasting value is at the same time embracing His ability to do more than we could ever imagine. And that’s something we need to embrace anew every day.

Incidentally, there are also things I’ve embraced about my lack of laundry finesse. A spot on a sweater? It doesn’t really mean a laundry fail to me. It means a new sweater.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.  2 Timothy 1:9 NIV

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Awash in grace and the forethought of God – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How had God’s grace made a difference in your life?

Today’s Preparation for Tomorrow’s Call

by Kim Laliberte

I love the story of Gideon. He is so me, so all of us. When the Angel of the Lord appeared at the threshing floor where Gideon was hiding from the Midianites, he said, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”

But Gideon confronted the heavenly visitor: “Where are all the miracles? Why is this happening?” and then (also typically me) rather than wait for an answer, he drew his own conclusion: “The Lord has abandoned us…” (6:12-13 NASB)

The angel did not answer Gideon’s confrontational questions, but said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel.”

If anything is ‘typical God’, this would be it. Rather than answer our questions, He in essence says, “I am with you! That is all you need.”

Even when the Spirit came upon Gideon for a purpose, he still doubted. He could not be assured even with God’s very hand upon him. Yep, I’m there too. He was not expressing unbelief in God, but an imperfect faith that needed to be strengthened.

A few years ago, my husband built a large garden and placed a fence around it to keep the unwelcome critters out. Water, fertilizer, and the new garden dirt we ordered from a local company were all in place. I happily planted one hundred twenty- five delectable and diverse vegetable plants. Then I went out of town on business.

When I returned a few days later, I excitedly ran out to the garden. To my horror, everything was either dead or dying. So I called the soil company to find out what happened, but no one would speak with me. Each day that passed without a return phone call, I became more anxious.

I am not, however, without resources, earthly or heavenly. As a lawyer, I began to consider various strategies to get the situation corrected. During this time, I was also studying Gideon and wondered how his story could apply to my frustrating situation. I realized that, like Gideon, my imperfect faith needed a boost.

So I began to pursue the weapons that God gives to bring down strongholds. Every morning I prayed and praised Him, because gratitude strengthens faith in His goodness. I prayed for peace, and that He would take away the nasty attitude I held about the matter. I prayed for the owner and his business; I asked God’s blessing over him whether he responded or not. I surrendered my solution and began expecting His.

For me, the visible garden disaster only underscored the invisible war going on around us which can keep us from the tasks God puts before us. As I stayed focused on God’s solution, He, as I should have expected all along, was faithful.  The owner showed up a few weeks later, saw the problem, owned it as his mistake, and fixed it.

Like Gideon on the threshing floor, my journey was not about a dirt disaster, but about God at work in me. God called Gideon to tear down the nation’s idols, to separate the people from one kingdom and point them to another. Ironically, the angel found Gideon separating wheat from chaff in a wine press. It was a great metaphor for what God would call him to do on behalf of the nation.

What ordinary tasks or trials do we face could be God’s preparation for tomorrow’s calling? Consider that what He gives you today just might be a clue for what God will lead us to do, a preparation for the next part of the journey.

“Go in the strength you have and save Israel…Have I not sent you?” Judges 6:14 NIV

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Today’s trials could be preparation for tomorrow’s call – thoughts from Kim Laliberte on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kim laliberteAbout the author: Kim Laliberte is an award-winning author whose newest book is being released in December 2018. Stepping Out, A Journey of the Soul is how God unleashed in Kim’s life more joy, freedom and a deeper walk with Jesus. She is a retired lawyer and law professor now writing and speakingfor God’s glory. She can be reached at her blog, www.kimlaliberteministries.com or by contacting her at proflaliberte@earthlink.net.

Join the conversation: Can you think back to how God prepared you for what He has now called you to do?