How to Recognize the Thief in Your Mind

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“How might Satan be using your health challenges to stop you from reaching your purpose?

My friend’s question caught me by surprise—and turned on a light.

“Oh my,” I gasped. “That book I’d put on hold dealt with that very thing: little strength!”

I’d chosen that focus because the theme tied together the biblical characters I was studying. Now, was the one with little strength.

My friend’s question made me realize I’d taken my health issues as a reason to put the book aside. I believed if this assignment was important to God then He wouldn’t allow me to feel so poorly. Obviously, this book must not matter to Him.

I’d allowed these thoughts to steal my motivation to finish.

Robber Versus Thief

The dictionary shows an important distinction between a robber and a thief. I’ve underlined a key difference.

  • robber takes “something from (someone) by unlawful force or threat of violence.”[1]
    .
  • thief steals, “especially secretly or without open force.” [2]

In John 10:10, Jesus called Satan a thief. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (NIV).

If someone stuck a gun in your back and asked for your wallet, you’d know you were being robbed. But a thief may con you into believing surrendering the same cash is noble—even God’s will.

My friend’s question pulled back the curtain and exposed the thief behind the lies trying to steal my purpose. I realized God wasn’t stopping my project. He was empowering me to write from experience.

A Thief Among Us

John 12 tells the story of Mary anointing Jesus with an expensive perfume and Judas openly criticizing her. He basically called her action a waste and said the ointment, worth a year’s wages, could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Can you imagine how those harsh words, spoken in front of a house full of people, could have wounded Mary? If she’d believed Judas (who was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples) she could have felt ashamed that she hadn’t been “wiser” in how she showed her love for Jesus. She could have believed she’d disappointed God.

But the Bible says, “He [Judas] did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief” (John 12:6 NIV).

Jesus allowed Judas’s poisonous words to prick the ears of everyone in the room before stepping in to set the record straight. How many were agreeing with Judas?

If you’ve ever been assailed by accusations when you’ve tried to serve Jesus, listen to His words.

“‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. …She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’” (Mark 14:6-9 NIV). (The Ryrie Study Bible says Mark is describing the same scene as in John.)

The thief called Mary’s actions a waste. Jesus called her actions beautiful.

Mary had done “what she could.” She couldn’t stop poverty. She couldn’t protect Jesus from the cruelty He’d suffer on His way to the cross that very week. But she could anoint Him with her love. And Jesus called it beautiful!

Do you recognize the voice that plays in your mind? Jesus’ words infuse joy, life, love, and hope. But Satan’s steal and destroy. Which message do you believe? Don’t let the thief steal the good you can offer Jesus.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10 NIV

[1]https://www.dictionary.com/browse/rob

[2]https://www.dictionary.com/browse/thief?s=t

TWEETABLE
How to Recognize the Thief in Your Mind – @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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, writes, and coaches 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. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: What words, spoken either in your mind or by someone, have taunted or paralyzed you?

 

The Accusation

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

I once arrived at the scene of a tragic car accident to pick up my friend, one of the victim-survivors.  As I waited for my friend to take an onsite blood test, the traffic detective begin to make small talk.  “What were you doing when your friend called you?”

“I was at home.”

“And your husband, he was there?”

“He was out running errands.”

Suddenly the detective asked for my driver’s license.  When I handed it to him, he stared at it, then lifted his head and narrowed his eyes. “You were here,” he said.

“What?”

“You were the one driving your friend’s car.”

My mouth fell open, my voice rose an octave.  “No!  I only just got here.”

That’s when I realized that I’d suddenly become a suspect in the deadly crash, and I’d just given up my alibi, admitting I was home alone.

I don’t fault the detective for his accusation.  I’ve seen that episode on detective shows where the real driver that causes a deadly crash switches places with a friend to avoid a jail sentence.

Maybe the detective had seen those episodes too, or maybe he’d seen people try to play this switch in real life.  Regardless, it was the detective’s job to investigate all possibilities.

Because there was no evidence from witnesses or the camera in the intersection that I had been the driver, the accusation was dropped.  I wasn’t arrested or given a ticket.

This story reminds me of our enemy, Satan, who loves to accuse us before the throne of God.  Revelation 12:10 describes Satan as, “the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night” (NIV).

But we have a defender, also before the throne of God.  Romans 8:34 says, “Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (NLT).

So though Satan may accuse us, and though we may even be guilty of the sins Satan announces before the throne of God, we are in Christ.  This means we are covered by the righteousness of Christ.  Because God sees us through Christ, He sees us as sinless.

Think of it like this: suppose you were invited to walk with a great king, but you were wearing a jacket so filthy that it disqualified you from this privilege.  But when the king’s son gave you his own clean jacket in exchange for your dirty one, you became spotless enough to walk with the king.

If you’re ready to trade your sins for the righteousness of Christ, pray this simple prayer.

Lord, I am a sinner.  Your son Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life.  He died on the cross for my sins, paying my punishment for me.  I say ‘Yes’ to Jesus.  I say ‘Yes’ to his gift of righteousness.  Therefore Lord, I give you my whole life.  May your Holy Spirit live inside of me, may I always walk with you. In Jesus’s name, Amen

TWEETABLE
Recognizing the source of the accusation – @LindaShepher on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 34 books including Praying God’s Promises and The God You Need to Know.  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: Have you felt the accuser working to destroy your peace? What thoughts do you struggle to overcome?

Silver Ribbon in the Sky

by Sheri Schofield

It was a beautiful, clear day. Summer breezes blew up from the valley below and murmured in the pine trees around our log home on the side of the mountain. My husband’s parents were visiting us, and Mom and I walked out onto the deck to enjoy the view.

As we stood there, we noticed a strange sight. It looked like a shimmering, silver ribbon was floating in the sky over the lake. “What is that?” Mom pointed.

We watched, intensely curious about that long, beautiful ribbon. It seemed to be coming toward us! As the ribbon drew closer, it broke up into individual parts and we saw that it was not a ribbon at all. It was a long line of white pelicans teaching their young to fly! They were white but the tips of their wings were black. As their wings beat up and down, the sun caught the flickers of black against their white feathers and created the illusion of a silver ribbon glistening in the sky.

Individually, the pelicans were insignificant. But working together under the bright sun, they presented something very beautiful to our watching eyes.

Calvary love is like that. When we love those around us, and stretch out our hands to our world, people see something unusual and are drawn to us. When we band together with other believers and reach out in love to the people in our neighborhoods, our world takes note. We become like that silver ribbon in the sky, a marvel that draws others to Jesus.

All around us is a dying world. People are trapped in addictions, anger, pain and hopelessness, separated from God. Do you know anyone like that? How beautiful and effective we can be when we reach out to them in love!

There’s nothing easy about Calvary love. Calvary love cost Jesus great anguish and pain. Not only did he suffer from the torture of the cross, but he also suffered the grief of becoming sin for us, and being separated from his Father. When we choose to love others, it doesn’t mean we love them only when they behave well and treat us right! It’s a battle sometimes. It means praying for those who are unkind to us. It means reaching out to them with a smile and a warm heart when we do not feel like it.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you….” Jesus said in Luke 6:27 & 28 (NIV).

I don’t know about you, but I find that impossible to do in my own strength! My own nature says, “Avoid that person who is causing me pain or hurting someone I love.” But Jesus does not avoid me when I say or do things that offend him. He loves me anyway and challenges me to learn to love others in his strength.

Love is a risk. I have to risk being misunderstood and hurt by others in order to serve Jesus effectively. But I do know this: Everything I do out of love for Christ and others is establishing a foothold for the Holy Spirit’s miraculous work in the lives of those around me.

So once again, Lord, let me pick up the mantle of love – – for Jesus’ sake. Let me be like that silver ribbon in the sky today!

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.                                                                                                                                                   John 13:35, NIV

TWEETABLE
How a silver ribbon in the sky reminded one author of God’s perfect love – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (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: Have you seen love in action make a difference in your life or in the lives of others? Please share.

God’s Got This

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.                                                                                                                               Proverbs 16:20 NASB

My friend, Allison, sent me a text message upon learning that her husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. I was surprised by her reaction.

“God’s got this,” she wrote.

Not a “Why him?” or “Why did God allow this?” Not even a “What if…?” She showed only an unswerving trust in the One who can handle all things.

I want that type of unquestioning faith in the face of uncertainty. Like Allison, I want to be able to think or say “God’s got this” when the unexpected or unthinkable comes my way. And I realize I have the ability to display that kind of trust in God because I’ve been given the same thing that Allison has been given: God’s trustworthy Word.

I’m encouraged that God is intimately aware of all my ways and His Word tells me that He knows my thoughts (and concerns) before I even think them (Psalm 139:1-4). That assures me He is already working on the matters that concern me most.

I’m also glad God knew that His creation would be prone to worry, and so He had the Apostle Paul address that habit of ours in Philippians 4:6-7:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

Any time we find ourselves in a situation we can’t do anything about (which is why we worry in the first place) we can trust that God is Who He says He is, and that He can work out that situation far better than we can.

Today, when I begin to worry that God hasn’t “done something yet,” I have to remind myself that He is God. He doesn’t need my help. He doesn’t need my stress. He desires my trust. When I acknowledge that He is God, and I am not, and that His plan is always better than mine, that is when He gives me peace that guards my heart and mind.

The next time we begin to worry, we can ask ourselves “What am I believing about God that isn’t true? Do I believe He is true to His Word? Do I really believe He can take care of this?”

And when we can answer those questions with the statement “God’s got this” we can experience His peace.

Lord, help me to trust You with every ounce of my being, every day of my life  so when the unexpected or the unthinkable comes my way, I am already assured that “God’s got this.”

TWEETABLE
No matter what…”God’s got this.” 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 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When You’re Running on Empty, When God Sees Your Tears, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to 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: In the last time you struggled to trust God, what incorrect belief about Him could have been influencing your heart?

Where Joy is Found

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Some of my darkest periods have occurred when I’ve appeared to have every reason for joy. And I’ve experienced deep joy during difficult and painful situations.

About ten years ago, after a series of moves and job shifts, our family landed in a small town northeast of Kansas City, MO. I homeschooled at the time, and we weren’t wealthy by any means, but our finances were solid and our bills paid, our marriage strong, and our home-life largely tension free.

But I was miserable. Defeated and confused. In pursuing what I thought would bring me joy, I was robbing myself of it.

At the time, I was working toward a teaching degree, or perhaps geology or chemistry, I can’t remember which. I changed my mind regarding potential career plans each semester, it seemed—because I wasn’t called to any of them. I knew with the deep yet quiet certainty that can only come from the Holy Spirit within that God wanted me to write, something I had no problem doing—as a hobby and according to my terms.

Terms that involved ample self-protection, also known as no transparency, and guaranteed financial payoffs.

But God was calling me to surrender. Everything. My plans, desires, wisdom, and all those prospects certain to include a secure 401K and steady paycheck. For surely, aren’t those things, and all the material benefits included in them, what bring joy?

If that were true, I would’ve had it in abundance. Instead, my heart felt dulled and dark, a darkness that increased as, through disobedience, I continued to distance myself from God and His love.

Light—and joy—flooded in the moment I surrendered.

I experienced the converse of this in 2012 when a mysterious illness began stealing my energy and dignity. Though I later discovered the cause of my rapid weight loss and related symptoms, for almost a year I sat in the tension of not knowing. Of fretting and imagining and striving to control what felt like a revolting body. But in the middle of all my uncertainty and pain, I experienced peace.

And joy. A joy much greater and stronger and more abiding than my circumstances—a joy found in abundance as I sat, each day, in God’s presence. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (NIV).

In other words, joy comes not in the absence of difficulties, but instead in God’s presence. As we hit pause on our busyness and each day’s stressors, as we allow His gentle whisper to drown out our worries and fears, He births joy within us.

His joy, not ours, is a gift given, if we’ll receive it. A gift that doesn’t necessarily abate our sorrow. In fact, joy and sorrow, even intense sorrow, can quite naturally co-exist. It did for Jesus, as He wept in the Garden on the night before His death. I imagine it did for God the Father as well, when He sent His precious Son into our sin-tainted world.

Joy isn’t an emotion. Those come and go based on countless external circumstances. Rather, joy is a deep awareness and appreciation for God’s love and grace, which is always at work, even in our darkest moments.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2 NASB

TWEETABLE
Where Joy is Found – wisdom from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryJennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live Dancing in the Rain by [Rife, Eileen, Slattery, Jennifer]out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Join the conversation: Where have you found joy?

Hating it with the Right Attitude

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV

God has been working on my attitude for the past six years. Okay, let me be completely honest. God has been working on my attitude my whole life. One of my most vivid memories is being called out in fifth grade by my music teacher for rolling my eyes after he gave a direction. I didn’t even realize I had done it, but I did and still feel guilty about it some 35 years later.

Even though I don’t mean to, I have a tendency to grumble and complain, and at times, my memory can be so short that even if God came through in a miraculous way last week, I’m only focused on how He is not resolving my current issue right now.

But, while I am a slow learner, I’m starting to see progress. I’m continually reminded from Bible story after Bible story that miracles or breakthroughs happen after the thanksgiving. For example, Paul and Silas were miraculously released from prison after staying up all night praying and singing hymns. Even though God had loosed their chains, they chose to stay. As a result, the jailer and his household all became part of God’s family that night (Acts 16:22-33).

There has been a certain situation in my life, one of my own doing, that I have asked God to release me from for the past three years. Three long years. I’ve begged, pleaded, thanked Him ahead of time (hoping to cause His answer to come a little faster), all while nurturing and feeding my miserable attitude and spirit.

I’m not sure the exact moment it happened, but sometime this past fall, all that God has been teaching me for the past three years about this situation clicked into place. I realized, “This is where I am in life right now. My situation may change in the future, but for now, this is where God has placed me. I have a choice. I can be miserable and choose to wake up every morning dreading the day … or I can choose joy despite my circumstances and find the blessings in living life for Him.” No one else can choose for me … it’s my choice.

The next day I made a decision to praise God for every circumstance. If He closed a door of opportunity, I would thank Him for the closed door. I would look for the blessings in my life and choose to praise Him for those, even when I continued to struggle with that exasperating situation.

A few days after that decision, I was exercising with a friend and telling her what God had been teaching me. I shared that when I chose the right attitude, it truly did change my inward spirit, and I was feeling more joy despite my situation.

Wanting to encourage me, she replied, “So you’re enjoying your situation now?”

“Oh no,” was my quick response, “I’m still hating it, but now I’m hating it with the right attitude!”

For me, head knowledge about my need to be thankful had finally reached my heart. I would choose to trust God even when my circumstances are downright miserable. Submitting myself to the Holy Spirit resulted in His fruit of joy. It makes all the difference in the world in how I feel while He is asking me to wait.

TWEETABLE
Hating it with the right attitude – thoughts from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: What have you learned to hate with the right attitude?

Humility’s Shining Joy

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

“Humility.” The word was seared on my brain.

At the Florida Christian Writers Conference two years ago, I was dazzled by beautiful Lake Yale. Every morning the lake greeted us with its serenity and offered the perfect retreat for writers. Anne of Green Gables would have called it “the lake of shining waters.”

The sun shining on the lake, however, was blinding. One morning I was hypnotized by the glistening ripples, and I studied them too long. The image of the sun on the water was seared across my vision, and I said a fervent prayer that I wouldn’t lose my sight.

I concentrated on the image with my eyes shut, and I saw a word forming. I blinked once for the word to become sharper and shut my eyes again. The image most resembled the word “humility,” and it was appropriate.

Humility keeps us locked into God and His purposes. When we have success in ministry, it’s easy to get focused on ourselves and our accomplishments. I had a temptation to do that at different points in my writing career, like when I actually won something in a contest at my second writers’ conference. Success can shine like beautiful waters, but it can also blind us to from Whom it came.

What has kept me on my knees in prayer throughout my ministry is knowing the Source of the blessings, and sharing ministry adventures with Him. That brings joy. God faithfully helps us in our ministries, and when we stay dependent on and connected to Him, it’s His love, grace, and truth that impact people’s hearts. Humility is recognizing His work in our lives, and turns into a grateful joy over what He has done.

If anyone could have had pride over success in ministry, it would have been Jesus. But the mindset He chose for Himself was humility. He chose to be born to a humble couple in a humble setting, greeted by humble shepherds. Yet, there was joy present. Angels heralded His birth and the people heard about God’s great gift to us.

His birth displayed humility, and so did His death. Jesus chose to humble Himself “and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV). Yet joy wasn’t missing from His heart even in such a mission. “For the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV). He knew what God would accomplish through His death, and He said yes.

When God calls us to serve Him, humility keeps our hearts tethered to Him and to joy. He is the One who provides wonderful opportunities to help people, and our part is to faithfully follow Him and work hard, and He helps us even with that. Joy comes from sharing the adventure with Him and with the people He has given us to work with.

So when good things happen as a result of hard work, we can rejoice in the One who made them possible. He is the One guiding us on the journey, and the joy of life with Him shines ever so brightly.

He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.  Deuteronomy 10:21 NKJV

TWEETABLE
Concentrating on Humility’s Shining Joy – insight from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Join the conversation: How has humility been important in your life?

Worth It

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

I never look forward to walking the dog. Each morning, as my alarm goes off, Sasha paws eagerly at the side of my bed, anxious for our daily constitutional to begin. I longingly glance at the coffee maker on the way out and give a regretful sigh as we emerge through the front door into the great outdoors.

Weather conditions can be uncomfortable– the winter air is bitingly cold and the summer air too warm and humid. But that’s not the worst of my discomfort. My neurotic dog excitedly barks at the sight of any other dog along the way and practically pulls me off my feet in her frenzy. It’s downright embarrassing. (A neighbor once condescendingly informed me I should get her formal training. I quickly assured her that we had: this is Sasha, trained, I laughingly tried to explain. She was not amused.)

One thing on our walks remains a constant: I am always delighted to round the last bend and spot my house, knowing the effort is at an end.

Yet, despite the negatives, I know the walks are so good for me. My doctor called to report my cholesterol is down, along with my blood pressure. She specifically requested I pat the dog on the head for her.

It is psychologically good for me as well. Spending a half-hour in the sunshine boosts my morale. I have gotten to know many neighbors while walking in the community that I would never have otherwise met. The splendor of nature and the gradual change of seasons always lifts my spirits and each day the beautiful surroundings in which we live uplifts me.

But even knowing all this, getting up and out the door never gets easier. On any given morning, I would much rather roll over and go back to sleep. Sad to say, I have not once hopped out of bed in eager anticipation. Yet once it is accomplished, I am never sorry I did it.

My dread of exercise is similar to my dread of painful situations. No one looks forward to those. But it is in those times that God does His best transforming work. The metaphors that we use to describe God’s process for change are largely painful in character: like the hot flames of a refiner’s fire or chipping off the rough edges of rock to reveal the beauty of a diamond within. Transformation seems to almost always bring pain to the one being transformed.

But always the outcome is worth the struggle.

Hard circumstances are frequently not all bad, but mostly just hard. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Light and momentary troubles? Several times Paul was beaten to within an inch of his life and left for dead! He had been imprisoned, thrown out of synagogues, faced angry mobs, and rejected by his own kinsmen. Not so light, right?

My guess is that he classified his suffering as light and momentary only in comparison to the resulting glory they would accomplish. The glory being produced in him was eternal. And worth the momentary pain.

We can count on facing tough circumstances many times in our lives. But one thing is certain: the destination will be worth the journey, even when forced to travel a rocky, pothole-filled road. We might not ever voluntarily choose that path, but even as we place one foot in front of the other, we can know we will not be sorry when the trip has reached its conclusion. The outcome is worth the struggle.

Our God is faithful and will not waste one minute of our pain. He will reap the benefits from it for us and use every moment to make us better reflectors of His glory. He is transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. Just like the faithful God that He is.

“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifest in our mortal flesh… Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”                                                                                                                                   2 Corinthians 4:11, 16

TWEETABLE
“Always the outcome is worth the struggle” wisdom from author @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 has God used pain to transform you?

Quagmires

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

On our anniversary tour of the Scottish highlands, Spouse and I were fascinated by tranquil green moors that disguised deadly secrets.

Quagmires, they were called.

Our guide explained that you could be hiking along, enjoying a peaceful moorland stroll, and suddenly come upon a wee sodden patch of mud camouflaged by brush. Another step, and your boot would be sucked right off your foot. If you’re a bit more unfortunate, your entire leg might sink into the hidden quagmire, followed shortly by the rest of you, never to be seen again.

We women have hidden quagmires too – stressors not visible to others: festering wounds camouflaged by our everyday “game face,” unresolved relationship rifts, consequences of poor choices, leftover childhood damage, gouges hacked by hurtful words, lingering pain, or emotional scars testifying to previous bloody encounters.

Hidden wounds are tough to heal because we tend to keep them covered rather than exposing them to light and air.

But in order for healing to take place, debris must be cleared away, the wound cleaned, healing balm applied, and sufficient time allowed for the protective scab to form and do its restorative work. If a wound is left unattended, the risk of infection increases, and it may become septic. Even more painful. Crippling. Possibly deadly.

So how do we go about ripping off nasty old bandages to expose our hidden wounds to light and air?

Nail it. Identify the real problem. Are any of your current behaviors driving you nuts? Do they seem out of control and you’ve no idea why you act this way? You’re in good company. Even the apostle Paul, lamented, “When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway” (Romans 7:19 NLT). Examine your past for clues to the source. Ask Papa God to guide you in sleuthing out and confronting the cause of your perplexing behavior (which, by the way, is merely a symptom of the underlying real problem). Unearth and expose your wound. It might be buried layers deep.

Air it. Admit your secret to Papa God; wait for His response. “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22 NIV). Then confide in one or two trusted friends … not your entire women’s roller derby team.  Allow these soul sisters to help tug off that filthy, embedded bandage bit by bit. The act of uncovering (confessing) your hidden problem is the first step toward healing.

Bathe it in light.  Invest in a good Bible concordance/reference book and several different Bible translations. Look up words or phrases related to your specific wound and do a personal Bible study (taking notes on passages and journaling your thoughts about what you’re reading) on all related Scripture. Ask Jesus to reveal His perspective to you (it will likely be quite different than yours) and to initiate rehab from the inside out. “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19 NIV).

If you’re in a quagmire now, be assured that your heavenly Father’s mighty hand is extended, waiting to pull you out. Despite your deepest, grossest, most putrefied hidden wounds, His “power is strongest when you are weak” (2 Corinthians 12:9, CEV).

In the lovely, lilting words of our Scottish guide regarding the hidden perils of quagmires, “Larn what treach’rous terrain looks like. If ye know what t’look fer, ye need fear n’moor.”

And on the moors of life, we need fear no more either. As long as we know what to look for and follow our ultimate Guide, we won’t be sucked under.

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty with permission from Barbour Publishing.

TWEETABLE
Thoughts on Navigating the Quagmires of Life – @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora M. Coty lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Her newest release is, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever had a hidden wound exposed to the light? Tell us your story!

When God Steps In

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

One Wednesday evening, my daughter Ginny opened a letter saying her insurance agency had suspended her comprehensive and collateral car coverage. She thought it was a mistake, because her records showed they’d continued to withdraw payments from her account.

She called Thursday and discovered they had indeed canceled her insurance. They said they’d sent two emails (that must have gone to spam) asking for a signature our state required. We worked together to email the signature that afternoon. They received it but said it could take seven business days to reinstate her coverage.

Rain poured all afternoon—as expected. In the early evening, the wind suddenly gained force. The crepe myrtle branches outside my kitchen window swirled as if agitated in a giant washing machine. Whoa! I’d heard Hurricane Michael wasn’t bringing strong winds.

I sprinted to the front porch to check on the larger trees near our house. We have a circle drive, in our wooded front yard, where our kids park their cars. We moved their cars for Hurricane Florence to protect them from flying debris. But Hurricane Michael wasn’t supposed to bring much wind.

I was horrified to see a giant gumball tree leaning precariously in the direction of Ginny’s uninsured parked car. “Ginny,” I yelled to my daughter. She needed to move her car quickly!

Ginny joined me on the porch just in time to hear a loud crack and watch the tree’s slow-motion fall. “My car!” Ginny screamed.

We helplessly watched the tree fall the very day we learned Ginny’s car was not covered by insurance.

After the tree settled I shouted over Ginny’s wails, “The trunk missed! Those are small branches you see. The trunk missed your car!”

It took a few moments to process the miracle. While regretting not noticing the wind a few minutes sooner, I realized that, too, was God’s protection. Had Ginny been trying to exit the driveway. she would have moved directly into the path of the falling tree. Instead of a near miss, Ginny and her car would have taken a direct hit and been squashed.

Not only did the trunk just miss her car, the largest branch headed in the opposite direction from it. The impact that broke the pavement missed her bumper by a few inches.

Ginny and I feel we witnessed a miracle. How many times a day does God protect us and we do not recognize it?

Our experience that day reminded me we never know when a storm will come and assault our health, finances, or relationships. But we don’t need to fear them. We need to rest in the protective shelter of the Most High. The Lord covered us when insurance failed. There may be many kinds of storms, but only one refuge.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91: 1-2 NLT

TWEETABLE
A Reminder to Remember that God Does Step In – from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilson

About 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, writes, and coaches 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. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: Have you ever seen God protect you or a loved one?