Pointing to Him

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I burned my right index finger on the toaster the other day. Man, did that smart. It might not have been so bad if I hadn’t kept aggravating it. Do you know how many moves in everyday life require an uninjured right index finger? It was on the very tip to boot. The typing tip. And I’m a writer. That means every j, u, n, m, h and y was painful, not to mention my 6’s and 7’s. There are heroic people who deal with real challenges every day, of course—nothing like my wimpy one. The difference is that I’m no hero. I won’t even pretend.

That little finger-wound not only interfered with typing, but it affected buttoning, stirring, tapping, zipping—poking, picking, pulling and pinching. It’s my lip-glossing finger, my microwave button finger, and an absolutely essential part of making that tiny violin motion when I need to let someone know they’re whining.

Okay, so I’m usually the one who’s whining, but think about it. I had to make coffee with only 90% of my usual fingerage. Imagine trying to make coffee with that kind of deficiency—without having my coffee first. Tricky. I realized I had barely begun to whine when it came time to do my hair. A hairbrush seems to require at least ten fingers. You might be surprised, too, to find that running your fingers through your hair isn’t nearly as satisfying without all ten runners.

And what do you do when you eat something finger-licking good but you only get to lick nine out of the ten fingers? You can probably guess just how incomplete that feels. Even button-pushing was hindered. In this day and age, a gal needs her button-pushing finger to be ever operational. It’s one thing to have your driving hindered, but I didn’t have my radio button-pushing finger. Driving with the radio stuck on a sports show? For me that really is painful.

At least I could still point with that pointy finger. And it’s a good thing, because I always have something worthwhile to point out—no fingers required. That something is that everything in life should point to Jesus. If others are not encouraged to look to Jesus by what they observe in my life, there’s only one person to blame. All fingers point back to me.

Jesus stepped onto this planet as the Light of the world, crushing the darkness of sin by his redemptive work on the cross. Then the Light said to us, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV)

No bowls about it, we’ve been commissioned to shine His light, all glory pointing to Him.

His radiant glory. The point of our story.

Thoughts on pointing to God from author @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: What points you to Christ?

The Power of Confession

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

“Well, honey,” I said to my husband, Larry, “I would really like our side yard to be all concrete so we can put the trash cans there.”

Larry stared at me as if I were from outer space. “Why would you think that? I’m not even going to put the trash cans there.”

I felt as if my spirit had deflated, like a balloon being poked with a knife. His voice sounded so gruff. Did he really think my opinion was worthless? I shrank back and decided, “Well, since everything I seem to say is worthless, I guess I just won’t say anything.”

The tension between us had been growing since he had retired, and we’d decided to move to a newly built home, requiring what seemed like thousands of decisions to be made. We often commented “We sure are under a lot of stress,” but somehow after almost 32 years of marriage, we really couldn’t think that it could truly affect our relationship. But it did, and I wasn’t happy. Larry and I rarely initially agreed on anything for the house; he was around 24/7 since retirement in January; and we had moved a distance from family and friends. Stress? What stress!

To make matters worse, I knew I was feeling super-sensitive to Larry’s comments because my hormones were raging. Oh, menopause, here I come! It seemed like nothing Larry did pleased me. Even when I expressed my wounded feelings, and he said he didn’t mean to hurt me, I couldn’t accept it. I viewed everything he did through a negative filter that considered him my foe, rather than my ally. I knew I was wrong, but I couldn’t seem to stop my mental review of his faults and “meanness.”

Then last week, I called Larry from a speaking engagement in a distant city. After he asked about my speaking, he said, “Kathy, the Lord has convicted me about something and I want to ask your forgiveness. I’ve been thinking that your super-sensitivity was your problem, and you needed to deal with it. But I haven’t been your spiritual leader by helping you. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me? I want us to work on this together and we’ll do anything we need to do to help us overcome this challenge.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. As he spoke, I felt like a burden fell off my shoulders. He really cared! He really was sensitive to the Lord. I was so pleased and expressed my appreciation.

But I didn’t realize the difference it would make in my perceptions. By the next day when I returned home, I felt completely different toward Larry. My negative filter was gone. I fell back in love with this wonderful guy, and when I expressed my surprise at what had happened, Larry replied, “I’m not surprised at all. I knew my confession would break the bondage holding you. I hadn’t been the spiritual leader in caring for you and the Lord assured me that taking that leadership would give you the freedom you needed.” He smiled, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

The power of a confession. Asking for forgiveness is a powerful healer, and it breaks bondages that can hold us and cause destruction. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

I’m grateful for a husband whose obedience to the Lord ultimately set me free. Is there someone who needs your confession today?

The Power of Confession – thoughts from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to speak and write about how God’s children can trust Him more. She has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. She has over 50 published books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. Larry and Kathy live in At the Heart of Friendship by [Miller, Kathy Collard]Southern California and are the parents of two and grandparents of two. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller and www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor and @KathyCollardMiller (instagram)

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the power of confession in your life? Please share!



Drawn by His Love

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them; and I will raise him up on the last day.                                                                                              John 6:44 NIV

Have you ever thought about the day that God started calling you to Himself?

Sandi did. And her story brought tears to my eyes.

Having grown up with an alcoholic father who made no room in their home for a Supreme Being, religion – even talk of it – was out of the question. Sandi couldn’t even own a Bible, for fear of her father’s rage. Yet God continued to bring people into Sandi’s life who told her about Jesus, and eventually, she surrendered her life to Him.

Today, Sandi is married to the man who first told her about Jesus. And she is now raising their children in the knowledge of God and the understanding of who Jesus is.

Although God wasn’t “allowed” in Sandi’s home while she was growing up, she realizes now that He was there, all those years, drawing her toward Himself.

Hearing Sandi’s story made me think of my own. I used to think I had made a great decision as a young child to follow Jesus and learn of His ways. Smart kid that I was, I thought. But it was no doing of my own. And the more I live life, and the more I look at the Word of God, the more convinced I am of that.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you,” Jesus told His disciples in John 15:16 (NIV).

I don’t have it in me to choose Him. And Psalm 14:3 says “No one does good, not even one” (NIV). So I’m so glad He extended His love far enough to reach even me.

Were it not for His pursuing love, His pulling at my heartstrings, His making me aware of my need for Him, who knows where I would be today?

When we remember where we were when He drew us toward Himself, what we were doing when His lovingkindness began to call, what pit we were in when He pulled us out, we stand in awe of the destiny from which He rescued us.

Thank you, God, that your Word says “I loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3, NASB). When I begin to feel I’m unworthy, unnoticed or unloved by anyone, remind me that the God of the Universe called me by name and drew me to Himself. That is amazing love. And that love is mine.

Thoughts on being drawn by God’s love 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 God Pursues a Woman’s Heart, 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.

Can’t Buy Groceries without Money

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

 I had to make a last-minute flying trip to the grocery store. We were having unexpected, dinner guests from out of town – people we had never met. But that’s another story… I had roughly an hour and a half to shop, get the groceries home and put away, and then make it to the hair appointment I’d scheduled six weeks ago. (Cancelling that appointment was not an option.)

I flew down the aisles in record time, snatching things off shelves without even bringing the cart to a complete stop. I was doing great. I found the shortest line and unloaded all the items onto the little conveyor belt to check out. As the clerk began scanning my things I rummaged in my purse for my wallet. Not there. What? Then I remembered taking it to my desk earlier in the morning to pay for something online. My wallet was at home next to my laptop. No debit card or credit card. Not even my check book.

I relayed this disturbing information to the clerk, while I tried to reach my daughter on her cell. “Do you want me to stop? You can come back later after you get your wallet,” he suggested.

I didn’t have time to come back later. This was literally my only window of time in the day. “No, please finish. I’m trying to reach someone in my family.”

My request must have sounded pitiful. The lady in line behind me offered to pay for my groceries, which totaled 138 dollars and change. My daughter didn’t answer her phone. I seriously considered taking this kind stranger up on her offer. But then I reached my father-in-law who promised to come right away and bail me out.

The clerk called a manager and arranged for my “delay in payment.” I pushed my full cart over to the side and watched out the window for my father-in-law’s car. He arrived within ten minutes, paid my bill, and got me on my way.

Even though the people at the store were very nice about the whole thing, there was no way they would let me have groceries without money. In the car on the way home, God brought a Scripture passage came to mind.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.   Isaiah 55:1-2 NIV

The food I eventually bought at the grocery store filled our bellies, but we would get hungry again. Like many other things we pursue to fill our lives, it could not satisfy us completely or permanently. Many of us spend our time and money acquiring things, success, and relationships that at best bring temporary satisfaction. God offers us full and eternal, soul-deep satisfaction through a relationship with His Son. And it doesn’t cost us anything!

Why do we spend money on what does not satisfy? Come to Christ and let Him satisfy your very soul with the richest of fare. What are you “buying” today that still leaves you empty?

Can’t Buy Groceries without Money – @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Kathy Howard encourages women to live an unshakable faith for life by standing firm on our rock-solid God no matter life’s circumstances. The author of 8 books and a former “cultural Christian,” Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. Kathy and her husband have 3 married children and 4 grandsons. Find out more and get free discipleship tools and leader helps at her website: www.kathyhoward.org.

Join the conversation: What do you need to bring to Him today?

Love Notes from God

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

God wants us to pursue Him. He wants us to search for the evidence of His favor in the first light of dawn, in the dew on the grass and the web of the spider, in the taste of an apple, and the smell of honeysuckle on a warm evening breeze. And He promises us when we seek Him with our heart, we will find him.

Because God wants us to seek and pursue Him, He instilled in us the same desire to be sought after, to be pursued. Dare I say, to be romanced?

The desire to be romanced is the desire to be pursued. It is not a weakness, but a God given gift that reveals God’s heart for us. Similar to the pursuit of a boyfriend or husband—and yet so much more. God longs for us to know He is pursuing us—relentlessly.

Jesus told three parables in which God was portrayed as a seeker (in Luke 15). The shepherd determinedly seeking a lost sheep. The woman turning the house upside down in search of a lost coin. And the father of the wayward son, forever watching the horizon for his son’s return home. In each story the seeker was relentless. Something was so valuable to them, it was worth the effort to look. And there was great joy in the finding.

God seeks out what is valuable to Him. Us. And He does it with love notes.

Oh, but he doesn’t use a generic box of pre-made valentines. He created each of us as a one of a kind original and would never use a one-size-fits-all kind of note to express His love.  As unique as we are in so many ways, so too God crafts His love notes tailor-made  for us.

I have twins—a girl and a boy—and the only thing they have in common is they share the same birthday. He loves chocolate cake. She loves plain white cake. I am not going to communicate my love to her by baking her a chocolate cake, nor would I let him know he was loved by baking him a white cake. I speak to each of them in the individual ways I know mean the most to them. And yes, this does mean that we have two birthday cakes every November twenty-ninth—as if we weren’t already stuffed full of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I know someone who says prime parking places are her love notes from God. I like to park a little farther out and walk. God isn’t going to use a parking space for me. I wouldn’t recognize it as a love note. It would be just another vacant spot of asphalt.

For me, a love note from God may be a gentle breeze, soft against my cheek, gently tugging at my hair. It is the tender touch of a lover. A lover who knows me like no other can because He formed me, knitting together my very being in my mother’s womb. I can assure you, my husband could blow air on my face and the feeling it would trigger would not be even close to the same no matter how lovingly he did it.

How about sunsets, tulips, the taste of chocolate, or the sound of a child laughing? The smell of rain, light through a stained-glass window, a phone call from a friend, or just the right song on the radio at just the time we need to hear it?

God is speaking to us.  And when we hear Him, we should turn our faces to Him. Take our focus off the problems of the world and instead look into the face of our greatest love and most powerful hope.

God is calling, “Come to me.” And waits with arms opened wide.

Love Notes from God – thoughts from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: What love note has God given you recently?

Skipping the Valentine Gift

by Michele McCarthy

A wise person demonstrates patience, for mercy means holding your tongue. When you are insulted, be quick to forgive and forget it, for you are virtuous when you overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11 NASB

Ah, the cycles of gift giving! The bountiful, countless gift giving options marrieds appropriate. The “Surely if my husband loved me, he’d make a mental note of any gift I might enjoy, say, for Valentine’s Day or our anniversary. He’d remember the earrings, book or CD I mentioned and tuck the idea-nugget away on the gift giving list he carries in his man-card wallet. I just need to allow him to read my mind” cycle. No pressure there.

Then there’s the “no fail, surprise romantic dinner” rotation. But the steak burned or one of the kids got sick or the business meeting ran long, and dinner went cold. Dinner wasn’t the only thing cold that night.

Close behind: the “Let’s don’t give gifts this year” series. Yet one of you breaks the rule, thinking other said person will break the rule. Oops, the spouse with no gift to give feels like a heel.

All kidding aside, we can, at times, put pressure on our husbands or ourselves…wishing for mind readers that enable becoming the perfect fulfiller of our wants, gifts and dreams—much like the characters in a Hallmark movie. FICTION Hallmark movie, mind you. So much can go wrong and can lead to hurt and unforgiveness.

My husband is a good gift giver; it is often me that messes everything up. One time he bought me a special coffee maker and a beautiful white coffee cup. A sweet remembrance of our trip to Italy and our daily coffee “experiences”—always with a white cup. Poor guy, I hated to tell him I had just decided I needed to cut down my coffee habit. As soon as he has me figured out, I change my mind! Yes, I have returned gifts he has spent precious time finding.

This year, I’m skipping the nicely wrapped Valentine gift. Instead, I’ll offer my Valentine a richer sacrifice. I’d like to become (for him) unoffendable. Yes, what if I never again hold my husband accountable for my happiness, my worth, my value…even at Valentines…gift, no gift, thoughtless gift or greatest gift?

Have I matured enough in my walk with Christ? Am I as easily able to be unoffended with my husband as I am with others? I want to be consistently, kindly unoffendable. In our home. Holiday or not.

Jesus lived it. He gave and gave and whether appreciated or not, loved or not, received or not, beaten or not, He never gave an offended response. He loved continuously and unconditionally. Everyday. Everywhere.

Long ago I received the best LOVE gift ever, one that never fails. Jesus. When He took residence in me, His amazing love toward others, in kindness and truth, was to become who I am. I have the pleasure and power of learning to love like Christ.

Can you hear it? Maybe my husband will hum Nat King Cole singing a new song, “unoffendable that’s who you are…unoffendable both near and far…”

I will get my hubby a funny Valentine card to accompany a noticeable shift in my expectations. The key word being my. As I walk out who I am in Christ, I want to increase my love out of the overflow of Christ’s love for me, no gift expected in return or any need to be returned.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB

Skipping the Valentine’s Gift – 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 is that gift cycle working for you?

Peace Like a Frog

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks

One day while pulling weeds and overgrown vines in my large Florida backyard, I squeezed through the hedges to grab a vine and spied a small frog clinging to a leaf. Instead of jumping down and hopping off to find a calmer location where the plants were not being jostled and shaken, he didn’t budge.

For the next hour, I continued pushing past the frog as I pulled on vines and drug them back through the hedges to deposit them in the trash can. But despite the disturbance I was making, the frog didn’t move. Seemingly unfazed by any potential danger, he sat peacefully and unflustered on the side of the leaf.

I was surprised at his cool composure. Why was he so calm in the midst of so much chaos around him?

With my hands busy with the task of pulling out the vines, my mind was free to ponder things like how a frog could stay so peaceful, and I realized God’s provision of a suit of camouflage made him feel safe. His reaction to danger was to “hide” in God’s provision for him. The frog was able to be quiet and at peace in the midst of the mayhem going on around him, because he knew that while remaining still he’s invisible to predators. He’s camouflaged. He’s hidden.

The frog inspired me to think about my own reactions in life, for when uncertainties surround me and life seems chaotic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

But when life gets out of hand and we don’t know how to untangle ourselves from the chaos surrounding us, God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV) Like a frog that doesn’t move when danger lurks, God asks us to be still.

For when we are still, we can find that hiding place in the arms of our loving Father. When we quiet our minds and rest in His care, He can give us His peace that transcends understanding. (Philippians 4:7) In Psalm 32:7, David says, “You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (NIV) And Psalm 91:4 tells us, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart“ (NIV).

When we’re still and look to God in our troubles, we can recognize that God has the answers for us. He is our security, and He is our refuge.

When we look at nature, we see how God protects all His creatures, sometimes by giving a frog the protection of camouflage, sometimes by giving a porcupine prickly spines or a bird the ability to fly away. For each of his creatures, He is a loving creator.  But for us, His people, He is also a loving father. God’s amazing love is our protection. He is our hiding place and our refuge. When we’re scurrying around trying to find answers, He stands with His arms out to us, telling us to come to Him. He is faithful and has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He himself is our protection and refuge.

When you feel fear stalking you, when your mind swirls around with fears, imaginations, and unanswerable questions, when fear creeps up on you and is about to pull you under, remember you have a hiding place in a God who loves you with an everlasting love. His protective camouflage will hide you from the enemy’s snares. And under the shadow of his wings you can find refuge.

Peace Like a Frog – insight from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation continues to bring strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital breakdown. Her new book, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated, will release in February 2019, to offer practical guidance for those who desire reconciliation. 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: When has God been a refuge for you?

Waiting Patiently

by Crystal Bowman

Several years ago, my son and daughter-in-law found themselves in a cold and sterile infertility clinic 1500 miles away from home. They desperately wanted a baby, but things didn’t happen the way they had planned. After all attempts to conceive had failed, they flew home with shattered dreams and lost hope. Their story is heart wrenching, and it’s shared by more than 6 million couples in the U.S. who just want to have a child.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (ESV). Whether it is hoping for a child, a career promotion, or that special someone to share our life, it’s only human to want things to fall into place. We pray and plead and weep, wondering if God hears us. Our well-meaning friends quote Bible verses for us. We read and reread God’s promises. But when what we hope for is deferred, it truly does make the heart sick.

During a season of waiting, bitterness can take root and hopelessness can overwhelm us. We ask questions and wonder why, but the answers don’t always come. In Psalm 40, King David says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (40:1, 3 NIV). Waited patiently. Two words that tell us what David did in his time of distress, and that God heard his cry. But I wonder how long David had to wait before God responded—one week, two years, or a decade?  The Bible doesn’t say.

Waiting patiently for something our hearts long for is physically and emotionally exhausting. It consumes our thoughts and can make us feel weak as we attempt to go on with our daily lives. The prophet Isaiah offers encouragement with these words: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). When our hope is in God, rather than in doctors or bosses or dating websites, he renews our strength. His love and grace and mercy are great enough to cover our shattered dreams, heal our broken hearts, and restore us to wholeness.

My son and daughter-in-law were finally blessed with baby boy, and three years later a baby girl. They now have a noisy home with scattered toys on the floor and fingerprints on the windows. Of course, not every desire or hope we have will be fulfilled the way we want, and only God knows how each person’s story will be written. But while we wait patiently for his plan to unfold, we can soar with the eagles knowing that God will answer our prayers in his time and in his way.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  Psalm 130:5 NIV

The struggle and the hope of waiting patiently – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps? She is a mentor for MOPS and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Her latest release, co-authored with her daughter-in-law, is Mothers in Waiting, Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. She lives in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best), and travels often to get hugs from her grandchildren.

Join the conversation: For what are you waiting?

A Cinderella Story

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When I was a little girl, my favorite fairy tale, hands down, was Cinderella. You remember: Cinderella spends her youth scrubbing floors and catering to the demands of her nasty stepmother and stepsisters. When an invitation comes to the prince’s ball, the privileged of the household go off to attend, leaving Cinderella alone and dejected. But the fairy godmother arrives in the nick of time, and with a wave of her wand, changes Cinderella’s clothing from itchy, woolen homespun rags into a dress of finest silk. Cinderella effortlessly wins the prince’s heart, but then must hurry out before midnight, leaving a glass slipper behind in her retreat.

You know the ending, of course: the prince uses the glass slipper to find his one true love again, and whisks Cinderella away to live as his princess happily ever after.

I used to pretend I was Cinderella. I wasn’t so hot on the housework part, but I did love catching the eye of the handsome prince. Wearing the ball gown ranked right up there as well. The transformation process of going from drab and needy to dramatically beautiful has great appeal for many of us. All of the makeover shows now playing, from fashion to homes, is evidence of this. We all love a good Cinderella story.

Assuredly, the best Cinderella story on record is the very real transformation that God has accomplished in us. We were destitute and without hope when He reached down and grasped us from the jaws of death. Like the father welcoming the prodigal son, He replaced our rags with the finest of robes, befitting of our new status as sons and daughters of the King.

Isaiah puts it this way: “My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10 NASB). We who were once alienated and hostile toward God now are presented as holy and blameless (Colossians 1:21-2 NASB).  He transformed us from being slaves of sin to the bride of Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB).

What an amazing transformation! In light of this, it is hard to understand how we so easily turn our backs on what God has given us, only to invest our time and energy on opposing interests!

Paul instructed the Christians in Colossae: “Consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed . . . Put aside anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth” (Colossians 3:5, 8 NASB) Instead, he urges: “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience . . . beyond all these things put on love” (Colossians 3:12, 14 NASB).

Too often, we exchange our new, costly garments for the old, scratchy sackcloth we discarded at our salvation. But we are new creatures! The old garment just doesn’t fit right anymore. It is certainly not befitting to our new title of prince or princess of the King.

Can you imagine if Cinderella, after marrying her prince, decided to shed her princess-befitting gowns of finest silk to don the old rags she wore as a scullery maid? The servants in the palace would think she had lost her mind. Why would anyone choose rags over the finest garments? Did she not understand that she was a princess now?

The angels think the same of us each time we choose our own agenda over the opportunity to participate in the Kingdom of Light. It is no less than absurd that we would ever willfully choose the old over the new, especially in light of what we have been given.

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering an a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. . . For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of the Light.”  Ephesians 5:1, 2, 8  NASB

Remembering our own Cinderella story – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite piece of the new wardrobe that God has given you?

The Security Faith in a Good Father Provides

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

I woke up at 4 a.m. questioning a decision I’d made that afternoon. I’d told the designer, who’d drawn out a closet plan, we wanted to work with her. In my sleep I had second thoughts.

“Lord, I’m too tired to figure this out. I don’t know if we made the right decision.” Immediately an Old Testament passage came to mind.

“If a young woman makes a vow…and her father hears of the vow or pledge and does not object to it, then all her vows and pledges will stand. But if her father refuses to let her fulfill the vow or pledge on the day he hears of it, then all her vows and pledges will become invalid. The Lord will forgive her because her father would not let her fulfill them” (Numbers 30:3-5 NLT).

Relief filled me. I didn’t have to figure it out. Like a good father, my Abba would protect me. Father, you heard our words. If we jumped too soon, please rescue us. I’m giving this to You and trusting you to lead.”

I told the designer to wait while we did some more research. She understood. In the end, we chose a different option that saved us money. Once I let go of bearing the burden of making the perfect decision and trusted my Father to lead me, I enjoyed the adventure.

We believers know that we are saved “by grace through faith,” but sometimes we forget we were created to live by faith (Romans 1:17). We tend to rely on ourselves in our everyday decisions. But God wants us to include Him in every aspect of life. Jesus modeled how to live. He relied completely on His Father (John 14:10). Jesus wants us to walk that closely with Him (John 15:4-5).

Living by faith saves us from a wasted life and wasted opportunities. It protects us from regret. It pleases God and satisfies us (Hebrews 11:6John. 15:11). Our heavenly Father longs to show up in the mundane tasks of life. When we lean on Him in every area, life becomes an awesome experience.

I find robust faith requires two necessary ingredients. We need a knowledge of the Word and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

The Word

The Bible says we’ll be molded by the world if we’re not transformed by the Word. Without renewing our minds we won’t be able to recognize God’s perfect will.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17 NIV).

The Spirit

Jesus said His Father would send the Holy Spirit to live in us to be our helper in life (John 14:17). “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (Galatians 5:16 NLT).

What wakes you up in the middle of the night and steals your rest? What would trusting Jesus look like for you in that area? How would it be to know it all doesn’t depend on you?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?                                                                                                                                             Matthew 6:25-26 NIV

The Security Faith in a Good Father Provides – @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 keeps you up at night?