Discovering that God Answers Prayer

by Doreen Hanna @DoreenHanna

My husband, Chad and I moved from the beach cities of California to Beaufort, South Carolina in the early years of our marriage.  It was a season of adjustment for us: Southern culture, a new home, new babies, and a new church. In the midst of all that, my husband chose to start a new business with a friend.

Their first year was quite successful. However, both men, young and lacking in wisdom, made some unfortunate choices and soon found themselves in serious business debt. One morning, Chad went to his partner’s house to pick him up only to discover he had completely vacated his home, taken his family, and left town. He also took all their tools and cleaned out the joint business account.  We were left with no money.  Chad came home to tell me what had transpired, and my heart filled with fear.

I admired my husband’s humility as he quickly began looking for work. Within three weeks he had a secured a job doing carpentry for the local school district.  He would receive his first paycheck in three weeks.  This was a long time to wait, since we had already been in financial straits for some time. Our food pantry was just about empty. The phone had been disconnected.  The water company had notified us that our water would be turned off soon. It was a very frightening few weeks.

One morning, in pondering on our desperate situation, I knew we needed a miracle. I hadn’t been living for the Lord, but I got down on my knees and said, “Lord if you will provide the $1,995 that we need to pay to get all our bills to date, I will live for you the rest of my life.”   I got up and called our debtors telling them with God’s help we’d pay them up to date by the end of the month. I never told anyone, even my husband, my deal with God.

The end of the month was two days away, and there was no sign of an answer.  On the 29th, my friend Emilie came by to check on us, since the phone had been cut off. She wanted to take me home to her house to call my mom, since she might be worried about me. When we arrived, I called my mom. Then I walked into their living room, where Emilie and her husband were standing together.  They said, “Doreen, we felt the Lord leading us to give you and Chad this. It isn’t a loan; it is a gift.”

I didn’t open it up in that moment. I just accepted it gratefully. Of course, when I got home, I tore it open immediately.  I could hardly believe my eyes. It was a check for $2,000!  I ran back to that spot by the couch where I had prayed and wept tears of humility and joy.

I had just discovered for the first time in my life that God truly did answer prayer.

I have been living for him since.  Not perfectly, but knowing that He does answer, always according to His plan and will for my life; sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Sometimes it has been a protective “No.” But whatever the answer, it has always been given through His grace.

Are you new in your walk with God?  Or maybe you have never stepped out to ask Him for a need? Don’t hesitate. He is trustworthy. His word says:

“Call on me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you do not know.”  Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

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Discovering that God Answers Prayer – insight from @DoreenHanna on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doreen hannaAbout the author: Doreen Hanna is the Founder & President of Treasured Celebrations, the non-profit umbrella for Modern Day Princess ministries. She has been a Bible Study teacher for more than 35 years. She was married for 43 years to her husband Chad. Their two daughters, Brandy Corea, and Kamy Hanna assisted in writing the MDP curriculum. She has four grandchildren: two by birth, two by adoption. Additional information about Doreen can be found at: www.doreenhanna.com or www.moderndayprincess.net. She is also on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Do you have a story about an answer to prayer? Please share!

 “I hate change!”

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

I sat surrounded by piles of full cardboard boxes and wondered what on earth I’d done. I’d agreed to this move. It was a decision my husband and I made in unity, after fifty billion prayers and discussions. Yet in this moment, I questioned our decision to move four thousand miles away to America.

I was home with our youngest son, who was four at the time. There was great delight in his world. He had this empty house to play in, and three enormous cardboard boxes his big brother had built into an airplane, complete with wings and windows.

Everyone else was out, leaving me at home to unpack boxes.  I began to feel overwhelmed by questions which pushed their way to the front of my mind. “Why are you here? Are you crazy? This is too much for you!”

I flopped on the couch. “You’re right! It is too much. What was I thinking?”

Moving across the Atlantic Ocean was an opportunity too good to pass up. It was a good idea, in fact it was a great idea. But today it seemed questionable. You see, the people here drive on the wrong side of the road, and they also walk down the wrong side of corridors and staircases! They use funny money and talk in nonsensical phrases with an unusual cadence. They don’t use “tins” they use “cans”, and I can’t find a single swede, which is my favourite vegetable.

I was alone in the house with my sweet child—whose penchant for intellectual conversation had yet to develop. I had no friends and was cut off from family until our Internet connection was accessible. I couldn’t go to a local coffee shop to check my email because that would mean driving my new American car with a steering wheel on the wrong side!

It took two years before I finally recognized my problem.  We needed to repaint the inside of our home. There were swatches painted on almost every wall, and we’d finally narrowed it down to “greenish.”

So, why couldn’t I call the painters to get the project started? The day came when it dawned on me; what I feared was change.

Change.

Fear of change had been secretly impacting my life for many years.

For too long I’d allowed fear to sidle up to me and whisper nonsense in my ear. I’d let it tell me change was bad, difficult and filled with painful challenges. It was time to send this six-lettered beast on its way!

God says this about change:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

To act on God’s will, I need to have my mind changed. If I want to be more like Jesus, I need to think differently from how I am right now, and He will use that “renewing of my mind” to change me. It became clear to me: change is a beautiful and powerful thing. It enables us to live the way Jesus called us to live. In fact, our life with Him begins with a wonderful change: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

I don’t say, “I hate change” anymore because change has led me further into the freedom only Jesus can give. Change is making me more like my King. How about you?

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 “I hate change!” Honest insight from Sharon Tedford, @61Things, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Sharon’s book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Readers will be drawn into a deeper personal experience with God and learn how to stand on the truth of a Heavenly Father who loves them. 

Join the conversation: How do you deal with change?

 

Living the Story

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

As I stared at a photo of a group of people I’d never met before, I knew their every name, I knew their personality traits, I knew their stories, and I even knew their secrets.

I was looking at a photo of the cast of actors set to play a stage play called “The Potluck Club,” a play based on a novel I co-wrote several years ago.

But even better, I soon got to meet this cast when I flew in for their opening night.

It was fun to see my ‘old friends’ in ‘real life’ so to speak.  The cast was excited to meet me and Eva, my co-writer.  The actors had a lot of questions, like, “How did you think of the character I’m playing?”

As Eva and I shared our character’s creation stories with the cast, they took it all in.  A couple of hours later, Eva and I set in the audience as the old, familiar dialogues and scenes we once wrote in our novel, became human with faces and voices.  It was an amazing experience to watch this drama unfold before our eyes.

And I couldn’t help but think of how God, watches over us as our lives unfold before him.

Novelists kid that the reason to write a novel is because it’s the only way that one can finally have control of their own little world.

This is true, writing a novel is the only time you can make others do and say as you direct.  But if you’ve ever read a novel, you will also notice that the lives of fictional characters are fraught with fear, black moments and even tragedy.  We novelists never let our characters live easy lives or skate on simple plot lines, for we know that boring plots are seldom read.  The goal of every novelist and playwright, is to create characters who have ‘ah ha’ moments known as character arcs.

And sometimes I think this is true in real life.

As I watched the development of the plot of The Potluck Club, a story about the lives of six flawed church ladies, I could feel the audience judge them when the cast acted out those flaws.  But then, as the characters grew and changed, so did the audience.  As the characters begin to love and forgive, their love began to flow through the entire room.

This is so symbolic of how God, our creator operates.  He seldom gives us, his characters, lives without difficulties.  It’s through difficulties that we grow. It’s the only way we can have our own character arcs.  But as we evolve, we learn to manage our flaws as we learn to forgive. That’s when we begin to feel, experience and operate in God’s love.  For, through the work of his son Jesus, God forgives us, and teaches us to forgive others.

The night of the live stage premier, I felt so proud: proud of the actors who played our characters, and proud of our characters who blossomed before my eyes.  God, too, watches us grow and develop throughout the story of our lives. We are growing into the people he truly created us to be: flowing and moving through obstacles under his divine direction, learning how to forgive and operate in his love.

And what’s the purpose? God’s wants our light to illuminate the way of others, as they work to transform and develop their own character arcs.

Isaiah 42:5-7 says, “This is what God the Lord Who made the heavens and spread them out and Who spread out the earth and what comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it, says, ‘I am the Lord. I have called you to be right and good. I will hold you by the hand and watch over you. And I will give you as an agreement to the people, as a light to the nations.  You will open blind eyes. You will bring people out of prison, out of the prison where they live in darkness.’” (NLV)

Enjoy the story.

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Living the Story – insight on being part of God’s creation – @LindaShepherd 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.

The Potluck Club: In the small Colorado town of Summit View, a surprising multi-generational mix of women from Grace Church meet once a week to pass a hot dish and to pray. But the Potluck Club, as they call themselves, is a recipe for disaster when they send up enough misinformed prayers to bring down a church. And the funny thing: the more they pray, the more troubles seem to come their way. It isn’t until they invite God to the table that they discover friendship is the spice of life, and a little dash of grace, just like salt, goes a long way.

With charming, down-home characters, humor, poignancy, and a recipe in every chapter, The Potluck Club will keep readers hungering for more.

Join the conversation: Have you felt the accuser working to destroy your peace? What thoughts do you struggle to overcome?

Leftover Loaves

by Peggy Cunningham @Inca_Writer

Long ago a little boy gave up his lunch. We gave away our time.

I will never forget the day when we offered to use our ham radio to make a call for a friend’s friend. It’s unforgettable because people keep reminding me of it even these thirty-three years later.

It was just an ordinary morning, business as usual at the mission house, as my husband prepared to dart out the door to meetings. Then came a call from a missionary friend: could he bring a friend over to talk with us? Nothing unusual about that except for another unusual request. His friend needed a favor. Would Chuck make a ham radio contact with a doctor in Brazil?

Our friend arrived with Fernando, and his sad story unfolded. His wife had a brain tumor. There were no doctors in Bolivia who could perform the surgery. Also, at the time, neither were there phone lines connecting the Amazon areas with the outside world. Thankfully, the weather conditions cooperated in connecting all parties. To our surprise, the doctor recommended a medication before surgery (which also didn’t exist in Bolivia) and agreed to send it. Weeks later, the medication completed, another scan of her brain revealed no tumor! A miracle!

We became good friends with Fernando and Charo. Together, we helped start a church in their house that now thrives with 200 members in a beautiful church building. We are more than friends. We are family and co-workers for the Kingdom. Last week, they came to visit with their youngest son and his fiancé. The conversation turned to the wedding. Jesse and Dyanna asked if we would be spiritual parents for their marriage––as we are for Jesse’s brother and sister also. It’s a custom in Bolivia offered to only closest relatives and friends. We were honored. And of course, we agreed!

There is another memorable day recorded in the Bible. Thousands of years later, we still remember when the sacrifice of a small lunch made a big difference.

Most likely, you’ve heard the story. A crowd of people needed lunch ––a crowd of 5,000 people. A little boy from the crowd stepped up. The disciples told Jesus, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9 NIV) Far enough that there were twelve baskets of leftovers after satisfying the hunger of a large crowd!

For us it was a simple ham radio call, but it turned into a long-lasting friendship and the beginning of a church––and a miracle healing.

Do you wonder what difference you can make for God’s kingdom? Nothing is too small for our big God to use! Do you think the small things you do won’t make a difference?

Will you step up to Jesus and offer him your small “lunch”? Just as the five barley loaves and two small fish were multiplied, so will God multiply our small gifts to Him, with more than enough leftovers to share.

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Leftover Loaves: Nothing is too Small for Our Big God – insight from Peggy Cunningham, @Inca_Writer, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Peggy CunninghamAbout the author: Peggy Cunningham and her husband, Chuck have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. Peggy is also an author. Her heart for children led the way to write the picture book series Really Rare Rabbits: Books 1-3.* If you’re looking for children’s books for Easter, these adorable rabbits tell the story of Jesus to Guarding the Inca Treasure Fires (The Really Rare Rabbits Series Book 1) by [Cunningham, Peggy]children in a unique and entertaining way. Books are available on Amazon. Find out more about Peggy at her website: www.PeggyCunningham.com

*also available in Spanish at  https://amzn.to/2SLGEyc

Join the conversation: What can you give that God could use in an unexpectedly big way?

Puzzled No More

by Lori Altebaumer by @Lori_Altebaumer

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ”                                                                                                                                                      1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV

Winter puzzle season. In early November the jigsaw puzzles make their appearances. With create confidence and enthusiasm, we clear off a spare table, dump out the pile of pieces, and begin working the tiny fragments together in gleeful harmony until we have a beautiful picture.

That is the vision anyway.

This year we added a new one to our collection. A one-thousand-piece picture of the Swiss Alps at sunset. Since only three colors were needed to print it, they could afford to sell it at a discounted rate.  A little black along the bottom edge where the landscape is in shadows, shades of orange as the sun bounces off the mountains, and blue sky.  At least one half of this puzzle is nothing but amoeba shaped tidbits of blue cardboard. And this is why my husband no longer has the privilege of picking out puzzles to buy. But we were able to use the money we saved for marriage counseling afterwards.

Now because I’m a problem solver—or maybe because I am impatient and easily frustrated—I often try coaxing a piece of the puzzle into the place I need it to go. But we all know what happens when I do this—anything less than a perfect fit throws the entire puzzle off. The piece made to go there now must find another place where it wasn’t really meant to be, and so on and so forth.

I believe God appreciates a good puzzle too. He designed each of us—all our curves and edges—to fit exactly where He needs us in the bigger picture. I admire the artistry and creativity that goes into making the mosaics of faces using tiny tiles of other faces. I wonder if this is how God sees humanity.

Every person has a specific place they fit. When they aren’t in place it leaves a hole. When they try to fill a place that isn’t theirs, it throws the picture off.

The world tries to shove us into places we aren’t intended to be, jamming our hearts into a hole too small, too tight and confining, bending and battering us until it looks like we fit. Or it pushes us into a hole too big for us, leaving too much room to wiggle, to much open space around us, eventually wearing us down. The world doesn’t care about the bigger picture of God’s creation. It seeks to serve its own needs by telling us we should go here, be on this committee, serve this ministry, stay in this job and sign our kids up for XYZ.

But when we find the place we were uniquely designed to fit, everything clicks. We cease to struggle against our inner nature trying to fit a role not meant for us. A piece of God’s puzzle in the perfect and proper place, filling the role only it can fill in order to make the mosaic of God’s Kingdom the flawless masterpiece He intended.

Sometimes it’s not easy to find the place we are meant to be. I often pick up pieces of the puzzle that are close fits, they look like they might be the one, only to find that isn’t their place after all. Sometimes we need to try different things before we find our perfect fit. Sometimes learning where we don’t fit is a part of discovering where we do.

And we have the Master Puzzler Maker to help us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

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Puzzled No More – Learning to See Where I Fit In God’s Plan – @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: Has God shown you where you fit in?

How Jesus Responds to Our Doubts

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

What happens when God doesn’t intervene? When circumstances grow worse, doors close, and illness lingers?

Is He still good? Does He still love us?

Intellectually, we know sometimes bad things happen to good people, but sitting in the middle of chaos and catastrophe, doubts take hold.

A couple years ago, while on her first college coop, our daughter’s depression spiked. She did all the appropriate churchy things. She went to church, read her Bible, meditated on Scripture, and prayed. She prayed and prayed and prayed. And yet, her depression remained. And although she knew they were lies, comments she heard tore at her hope.

Just have faith, then your depression will go away.

Mental illness is a spiritual issue. If you’re close to Jesus, you’ll be happy.

Have Jesus, have joy.

 It got to where going to church, the one place she was supposed to feel safe and find healing, only increased her pain. Made her feel less than. Insufficient. Unseen and unloved by her Creator.

But still she went, and one lonely Sunday morning, God met her there and gave her hope. Not that she’d get better, although with self-care she has. In fact, the sermon talked about times when God, for whatever reason, doesn’t intervene or heal. But whether we see His hand or not, He remains.

His love is unshakable.

That Sunday morning, in the middle of her depression, God let her know that she was okay. That their relationship was okay. That He held her and wouldn’t let go.

We all need to know that, especially when life feels hard. We need to know that the One who formed galaxies by a mere command sees us and is alert to our suffering.

God doesn’t always act as we expect or even desire.  Imagine having given your entire life to serve Him, only to find yourself imprisoned and awaiting execution. Imagine the questions, the doubt, the intense inner wrestling.

The bursts of hope followed by crushing defeat and despair.

Just over two thousand years ago, a faithful prophet sat in a dark, dank dungeon. The stench of unwashed bodies and the cold that ate at his bones wore down his courage and faith.

He had first encountered Jesus while still a fetus in his mothers’ womb, leaping at the sound of Mary’s voice. As a grown man he decades later had proclaimed that Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The one who’d witnessed the Spirit landing upon Him as he baptized Him and heard the voice of the Father calling Jesus His Son.

But his horrible present situation had stripped away his certainty and trust. Could it be Jesus wasn’t the long-promised Savior?

For surely, after all John had done, all he’d given for the sake of Christ, God wouldn’t leave him in a dungeon to die, would He? But as each day dragged into the next, without so much as a glimmer of light to distinguish them, John the Baptist’s certainty turned to doubt. In the confusion that can only come from deep pain, he sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

John knew all about what Christ had been doing. But he also knew what He hadn’t done, and in that moment, the one unanswered prayer drowned out every miracle proclaimed.

But Jesus reassured him, not by promising his rescue, but instead, by reminding him of who He was.  “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen,” Jesus told John’s disciples. “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good news is preached to the poor.”

In other words, “I’m the promised Messiah. I’m doing exactly what the prophets said I would do. I’m still good, powerful, present, and in control.”

Then, as John’s disciples turned to carry the message back to John, Jesus spoke to the crowds. “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” This was how Jesus addressed John’s doubt. Not with anger or disgust or rebuke. But with reminders of His power and affirmation of His love.

He responds to us in our doubt in the same way. God may not answer our prayers as we’d like. He may not rescue us from that difficult situation or bring long-desired healing. But when we come to Him honestly with our doubt and despair, He’ll center us in who He is and His love for us.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15 NIV

TWEETABLE
How Jesus Responds to Our Doubts – insight from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer 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 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: How might remembering those truths strengthen you for difficult situations? How can focusing on who God is and His heart for you bring hope in the middle of despair?

 

Signs of Life

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The days are getting longer, and the sun is getting warmer. The daffodils are up a good eight inches, their sunny blooms ready to pop. Sap in the trees is obviously flowing, because the buds on the maples have swollen and changed to a bright red. Anyone with eyes can see the daily evidence: what lay dormant all winter is coming to life. Spring has arrived.

It reminds me of God’s work in us. God took what was dead and brought us to life when we believed in Jesus. Paul wrote: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-6 NASB). Where only death existed, the Holy Spirit now exists.

And where the Spirit is, there is life.

A young man came into our church at the urging of his live-in girlfriend. He liked the love and enthusiasm of the church community, and so began to attend regularly. One of our young couples had he and his girlfriend for dinner one evening. They plainly laid out the truth of the gospel: sin had separated us from God, and Jesus died to pay for our sin. By believing in Him, we would forever be in relationship with God, never having to fear punishment or rejection from Him. Ever. It is salvation that comes only through grace, totally undeserved and unearnable. What did he think about that?

“Who wouldn’t want that?” he responded. “But if I commit to that, we will have to change our living situation, which I really love. And I would have to give up partying.” There was too much of his life that would have to change. And he didn’t know if he could do it. Or even wanted to do it.

“None of that has anything to do with your salvation,” his new friend assured him. “All God wants from you is your trust.”

“Well, that’s a no-brainer then,” the man exclaimed. “I’m in.” He bowed his head right there at the table and called upon the name of Jesus to be saved.

The next Sunday we could all see something had changed. He was full of joy and worshiped with all his heart. A few weeks later, I got the chance to talk with him. He told me about his new relationship with God. “I had no intention of changing anything. But something crazy happened,” he said. “Within two weeks, my girlfriend and I knew we needed to begin living apart, because we want our relationship to please God. I no longer feel a desire to get drunk or live the wild life. He has seriously changed my heart. In spite of me, really.”

Signs of life. Where only death and darkness once existed had been filled by the Spirit of light and life. And our new friend would never be the same. The more He learned about His God, the greater his love for Him. The more he loved Him, the more He yielded to the Spirit within.

And the result of that profound new relationship was fruit that the Spirit in him produced: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). All of them evidence of the life that existed inside him.

The Hebrew word translated as “Spirit” is ruach. It was normally used for the breath of an individual or sometimes air in motion. The Ruach moved over the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2). The ruach of God changed a lifeless form into a living soul (Genesis 2:7). The arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost sounded like a rushing wind as He came upon each one in the Upper Room (Acts 2:2).

The very definition of ruach involves movement. Which is a great way to describe the Spirit of God. He is always moving, urging us forward into a more intimate knowledge of Him. And as we learn to love Him more, we are better enabled to yield to His Spirit.

Those fruits that the Spirit produces are evidence of life. Something that is dead cannot move. Or be transformed. But note that the fruit is not something we produce. It is the fruit of the Spirit. And undeniable evidence of His life within us.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NASB

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Signs of Life – insight from @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: Can you see evidence of the Spirit of life in you?

 

Blow Away the Fog of Doubt

by Sheryl Giesbrecht @SGiesbrecht

Do you want to know what is ahead? Does your way seem blocked or clouded by questions?

By praying Scripture, we turn on the light of truth and invite God’s presence to overtake the shadows. We do battle God’s way. When we obediently put on our ‘spiritual armor’ to fight, we stand firm in the authority of Christ.

The truth is, we are already ‘more than conquerors’ through the price He paid for us; we claim a victory that’s already won. Christ gave us a new identity when He took over our lives. “[God] made us alive together with Christ…so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5, 7 ESV)

What’s so amazing about grace? Everything. As believers, God’s grace engulfs us every single moment, but in the flurry of life, we overlook how involved God’s grace actually is in the minute details of our lives. I’ve been having numerous ‘grace encounters’ lately. God has already paved the way for me: “I have set the Lord continually before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8 NASB).

Some of you might not know how you can even take the next step in life, let alone, walk down the driveway to pick up the daily newspaper. It’s when we understand that we cannot walk another inch forward without God’s grace—and that grace becomes most precious and most glorious.

God will give you exactly what you need from Him. “[The Lord] has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB).

Want increased impact? Pray the Warrior’s prayer every day. Jesus has already won the battle. Now put on the Armor of God by praying each piece of the armor over yourself with God’s word. Our war is not against flesh and blood, you are victorious through scriptural prayers. Here’s the Warrior’s Prayer straight from Ephesians 6:14-17:

Heavenly Father, Your Warrior prepares for battle. Today I claim victory over Satan by putting on the whole armor of God! I put on the Girdle of Truth! May I stand firm in the truth of Your word, so I will not be a victim of Satan’s life. I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness! May it guard my heart from evil, so I will remain pure and holy, protected under the Blood of Jesus Christ. I put on the Shoes of Peace! May I stand firm in the good news of the gospel, so Your peace will shine through me and be a light to all I encounter. I take the Shield of Faith! May I be ready for Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, denial and deceit, so I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat. I put on the Helmet of Salvation! May I keep my mind focused on You, so Satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts. I take up the Sword of the Spirit! May the two-edged sword of Your Word be ready in my hands, so I can expose the tempting words of Satan. By faith Your Warrior has put on the whole armor of God! I am prepared to live this day in spiritual victory! Amen

TWEETABLE
Blow Away the Fog of Doubt – insight from @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheryl giesbrechtAbout the author: Exchanging hurt for hope is Sheryl Giesbrecht’s focus—a message she shares with audiences as a radio and television personality, author and speaker. She served as Focus on the Family’s columnist for Pastor’s Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family MagazineJust Between Us, Discipleship JournalCCMWalk Thru the Bible’s –  and Tapestry, Live-Living and Charisma publications. She is the author of four books including, Experiencing God Through His Names (Bold Vision, February 2017) and It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth (Redemption Press, March 2018). You can find more about Sheryl at www.fromashestobeauty.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and InstagramSign up to receive Sheryl’s weekly blog on her website: www.fromashestobeauty.com.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with doubt?

 

 

 

Weeding It Out

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

The weeds in Texas are gargantuan, and they spread like… well, weeds!

We have a beautiful back yard with lots of lawn in which the dog can scamper around. When we moved here almost ten years ago, the lawn was green and lush. Over time, the weeds have taken over, and my golfer husband is offended by the nonsense they create. Golf guys (and gals, I’m sure!) do rather enjoy a nice bit of green grass. Over the years the weeds have crept in further and spread their message of choking defiance all over the place.

Of course, we’ve tried all kinds of ways to get rid of the weeds. First, we mowed them down. They were gone but not forgotten and popped up in cheery disobedience the very next season. Then, we tried a weed killer we’d used at our previous house. Once again, it looked hopeful, but this time only some of the weeds died. The rest continued to blossom as if they were prize blooms in a flower show. Rude!

Why did these pesky plants ignore us every time we attempted to serve them notice?

One afternoon I found my husband on the horticulture pages of the internet. He wanted to know exactly what the weed in our yard was. We needed a more powerful and direct approach that would get down to the very root of the nasty pest. We needed a specific solution to a specific problem.

My clever husband identified the precise plant, found the correct chemicals for exact extermination, and we were in business! Let me tell you, we haven’t won this battle outright quite yet and will no doubt be reapplying this wonder mixture for quite some time, but we are at last on the right track. Perseverance will lead to the final elimination of this pasture of pestilence!

We needed to be specific in our attack.

In our pursuit of an answer, I was reminded that this is how I should pray over the sins and “weeds” in my life. I became aware that sometimes I pray a “blanket” prayer over the messes I see. I ask for forgiveness for the outcomes caused by my wrong behavior.

When I pray like that, it should be no surprise to me that those sins, like the weeds in our yard, may disappear for a short time but don’t get eradicated for good. In His kindness, God showed me that I ought to be specific about how I seek forgiveness.

Now, don’t get me wrong – God hears us when we call to Him and there’s not a  “right” way to pray. He loves it when we pray – period. But the Father seemed to ask me this question, “Are you more concerned with the result of the sin than the root of it?” You see, I need to spend intentional time and look for the root of my repeated wrongs. I need to seek God’s wisdom as I search to find the origin of my errors. It’s then God can bring healing on the specific issue and transform my heart and mind.

Let’s choose to ask God to examine the deepest parts of our hearts, so we can live a life of true freedom. And just like the recurrent application of the weed killer on our grass, let’s put ourselves under the repeated cleansing of God’s Word and wisdom, until the weeds that spoil will no longer have root in the lawn of our hearts.

TWEETABLE
Weeding It Out – insight for dealing with the “weeds” in our spiritual life from Sharon Tedford, @61Things, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action.  Her book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Join the conversation: What is the sin that keeps reappearing in your life?

When the Horse is Blind

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.                                                                                                                                         1 Samuel 14:6 NIV

When my kids were teenagers, autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coleman house revolved around one thing: NFL football. Our favorite game commentator was John Madden. He was an expert on the game: first as an NFL player, then as a Superbowl Champion NFL coach.

Madden’s players would occasionally question him on what he ordered them to do.  They didn’t see the logic in his instruction.  They wanted to know his reasons why.

Madden’s response to a questioning player was always the same: “It doesn’t matter if the horse is blind; keep loading the wagon.”

I love this quote. It may have been meant for football players, but it contains a nugget of wisdom for Christians as well. Sometimes God calls us to something that just doesn’t make sense. To us.

I’m pretty sure the soldiers in King Saul’s army had some questions about their particular situation. They faced a fight that looked like they could not win. Philistine raiders had spread out across the land. This enemy was far better equipped for war than the Israelites, years ahead in the manufacture of metals. They carried iron swords and spears and knew how to use them. In contrast, the Israelite troops carried pickaxes, hoes, and winnowing forks, fashioned with inferior materials. The situation was grim.

Saul’s son, Jonathan, camped with an army of about six hundred men. Only he and his father had adequate weaponry. I imagine that night as they waited on Saul to order their move on the enemy, Jonathan began to wonder. Was his father going to remain immobile forever? How would this standoff ever end?

Someone had to do something. Jonathan decided to risk a secret mission into enemy territory. He turned to his armor-bearer. “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men,” he told him. “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6 NIV).

They passed between two cliffs and approached the enemy garrison on watch. A skirmish ensued. In a few minutes, twenty Philistines assigned to the post had fallen to Jonathan and his armor-bearer. The Philistine camp was shaken. They began a hasty retreat.

Saul and his soldiers watched the confusion from a distance in disbelief. They didn’t understand what was happening. But obviously, God was on the move. The army sprang into action and pursued the fleeing soldiers. And the Lord delivered Israel from a powerful enemy that very day.

There are other stories in which biblical heroes chose to trust God in the face of insurmountable odds. David, too small in stature to even wear Saul’s armor, faced down the fierce warrior Goliath with a hand-full of stones. Gideon and an army of three hundred surrounded a Midianite camp of thousands. What would possess any of them to take such risks?

They went, but not because of confidence in their warrior prowess. They trusted that while their perspective might be limited, the Lord’s was not. They knew that God’s ways were higher than theirs. And what God wanted was the only thing that mattered.

They chose to trust in the Lord. Even when they couldn’t see what would happen next.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not talking about “blind faith.” They placed their trust in a God they knew to be faithful, powerful, and good.

We can trust in a God who sees the big picture. We can have confidence in His plan. There will be times when He asks us to do what does not make sense to us. Times when we would rather hole up and remain immobile than risk defeat.

Sometimes He wants us to just keep loading the wagon. Trusting obedience to our God makes perfect sense when we understand just how great He really is. There’s nothing blind about it.

TWEETABLE
When the Horse is Blind – insight on following God when we don’t understand from @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: When has God asked you to step out in faith?