Woman Interrupted

by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty

Interruptions. We hate ‘em. Let’s be honest and call them what they really are: a pain in the royal rumpus.

That’s how we react to interruptions, isn’t it? With teeth gnashed and face grimaced. Because we don’t like unexpected, unpredictable, unwelcome surprises. We want to do things our way, no muss, no fuss; we want to follow our carefully laid plans to predetermined outcomes.

When our plans are thwarted, our attitude drifts toward that of a two-year-old whose lollipop was hijacked by the Rottweiler.

I’ll admit I’m not a happy girl when my plans are impeded. I praise Jesus and stomp my foot at the same time. Why, oh why, can’t I adapt to change with more grace? A scripture passage that’s helping me handle interruptions better is the story Jesus told in Luke 10:33-35, NASB (emphasis mine):

“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him [the traveler beaten by robbers]; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

And on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.

Okay, let’s look a little closer at the parts related to interruptions:

  • He saw him. Compassion usually begins with the eyes; you can’t care until you’re aware. You must see – and often personally experience – a problem before your heart is engaged. Papa God has a way of using unscheduled, divine appointments (we call ‘em interruptions) to divert our eyes from our relentless to-do list to what’s really important.
  • He came to him. It’s easier NOT to help someone when you keep your distance. But once you open your mind to possibilities you haven’t yet considered, you’ll begin to feel the Holy Spirit’s elbow jab of guidance. When He keeps poking, it’s time to step up to the plate, even if you left your best bat at another ballpark.
  • He took care of him. The odds are slim that this dude was a career health care professional galloping off to a medical convention; he very likely had no more emergency wound care training than you or me, but he did the best he could with what he had. He probably ripped up his own perfectly good clothing for bandages, used up his personal stash of wine for wound sterilization, drained his essential oils for healing, and trudged the dusty road on foot so that the wounded man could have the choice seat atop his donkey, the ancient version of EMS.
  • I will repay you. There’s always a cost for kindness – are we willing to pay it? Might be money, time, energy, or worse yet, falling hopelessly behind on our tyrannical to-dos. The ultimate sacrifice.

Although he was hastening down the road with his own pressing agenda, the Samaritan stopped. He saw. He felt. He allowed himself to be interrupted for a greater cause.

You know, despite our meticulous planning (Ha!), we never know when Papa God has scheduled a divine appointment. We must expect the unexpected. Don’t resent interruptions; they’re part of your Creator’s to-do list for your life. Try to view them as opportunities to serve others.

And believe it or not, Papa God is standing by to bless your mess.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9, NLT

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms with permission from Barbour Publishing.

TWEETABLE
Woman Interrupted – insight on how to cope with interruptions from author @deborahcoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: When has God interrupted you lately?

When I Need to Choose Joy

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7 NASB

It’s been one of those weeks.

A week in which it seemed like every time I turned around, there was another unexpected expense, more disappointing news, and what appeared to be another setback. The week culminated with the cancellation of a job I was preparing for…a job that was to result in income my family was depending on.

“Really, God?” I said aloud at the end of the week when I received the devastating news. “Can You give me a break?”

I happened to be putting together teaching material that week for a women’s retreat that was themed “Choose Joy.” Suddenly it became apparent to me that I was not choosing joy in the midst of my circumstances. I was, instead, letting my circumstances control my life and my attitude.

I remembered a passage from Scripture that I’d memorized as a teenager. One that God seemed to be whispering in my ear: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV).

Consider it joy? “But, God this isn’t joyful. Not in the least,” I responded aloud.

But God, in His goodness, wanted me to choose joy, even if I didn’t feel like it.

God has made it clear to me through the years that joy is not about our circumstances, it’s about our condition. Our circumstances change from day to day. But our condition – as a child of God and the recipient of His eternal blessings – never changes.

Joy is not about what is happening – or not happening – in our lives. Joy is about Whose we are.

“God, help me to respond in a way that pleases You,” I prayed. And He reminded me that not only is the joy of the Lord my stronghold (Nehemiah 8:10) but as I dwell in His presence, recounting my blessings and realizing He is my greatest joy, He will meet me there.

David, the Psalmist, sang: “In your presence there is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11), and in Psalm 4:7, he sang: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound” (ESV).

I have enough in all God has chosen to give me thus far. And He will never take away Himself (Hebrews 13:5). Therefore, I have all I will ever need to choose joy every day.

Lord, help me to please Your heart by remembering that no matter what comes my way today, You have gone before Me, and You remain alongside me, and – as Your Word says – in Your presence is abundant joy.  

TWEETABLE
When I Need to Choose Joy – @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), Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and When God Sees Your Tears. 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.

Recapture the romance of a relationship with God with When God Pursues a Woman’s HeartWithin the heart of every woman is the desire to be pursued, cherished, and loved. There’s only One who can lavish such love. Join Cindi as she takes you through the Bible to discover how God offers a relationship like no other.

Join the conversation: Have your circumstances ever kept you from joy? What did God teach you about Himself through it?

Mind Your Manners

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

When Jesus encountered the ten lepers on his way to Jerusalem, all ten asked to be healed. All ten obeyed Jesus’ command to go show themselves to the priests. As the lepers went to the priests, they were healed. However, only one returned to thank Jesus.

That surprised Jesus. “Were not all ten cleansed?” he asked. “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17).

Jesus did not heal the lepers for the thanks. But He really appreciated it when one remembered his manners.

In Scripture the mother of the leper who gave thanks was not mentioned. But we see the fruit of her teaching in her son’s behavior. Chances are she had to remind him many times to say “thank you” to those who did things for him or gave him something. And in his younger days she probably wondered if he would ever catch on to the importance of giving thanks. Can’t you hear her saying, “Son, tell the man thank you.”

And his reply, “Aw, mom, he knows.”

“That’s okay,” she replied, “he needs to hear it from you.” Probably this statement was punctuated by this mom giving her son “the eye!”

It probably wasn’t many days before a similar situation came up again and the mother faithfully repeated the scene. “Son, remember to say thanks.”

As her son grew into adulthood, this mother was diligent with her instruction. She realized, like all mothers do, that her time of influence was limited. She prayed daily for all her children to learn their lessons well.

This sweet mother never dreamed one of her children would contract leprosy and become an outcast. What heartache! But neither did she dare to dream Jesus Christ would heal him.

When Jesus met ten lepers on the road to Jerusalem, he didn’t require anything of them. He didn’t stop to think of the training their mothers had given them. He merely responded with love and compassion to their request for pity and healing.

We can almost hear the frustration in His voice as he asks, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” But His pleasure is also evident at the one who took the time to return and express his gratitude.

Can you imagine how this leper’s mother would have felt if she had been watching this scene unfold? Her heart would have swelled with pride as she watched the fruit of her teaching as her son bowed in thanks to the One who had healed him of the terrible disease.

Giving thanks is not spontaneous. Expressing our thanks to another person is a deliberate act. We learn to be thankful people by watching those around us.

Can you remember learning to say thank you? Perhaps an older sibling had something you really wanted and he or she teased you by holding it out in front of you. “I’ll give it to you when you say ‘thank you.’”

As you got older, your mother or father probably said, “Mind your manners,” if you forgot to thank someone for a kind word or act. Then, as you became the adult, you heard yourself saying the same thing to a child, a niece, or nephew.

Gratitude and appreciation are important. People who are thankful are happy people. People who are thankful have lots of friends. People who are thankful have learned to say with Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11 NIV). Thankful people know real thanksgiving springs from a heart that is focused on God.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

TWEETABLE
Mind Your Manners – insight from @LindaGilden on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda gilden 2About the author: Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to make a difference with their words. Linda’s favorite activity is Called to Speak: Practical Tips for Women's Ministry Speakers and Teachers by [Ellison, Edna, Gilden, Linda J.]floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material! http://www.lindagilden.com

Linda’s book, Called to Speak, uniquely addresses the practical call of a communicator to speak for the kingdom of God. Based on years of experience by two veteran women’s ministry speakers, Called to Speak is peppered with personal stories and encouraging Scripture. It is a valuable collection of essential principles to help you grow into the effective, life-changing orator God wants to empower.

Join the conversation: What are you thankful for today?

Winter Won’t Last Forever

by Sheri Schofield

Winter is over. The birds have started coming back. The snow is slowly melting and I can see patches of green starting to show here and there. Soon yellow bells, shooting stars and paschal lilies will start blooming. The land is awakening after a long, cold winter, and soon I’ll be able to trek through the mountain meadows again looking for signs of new life.

Israel went through a long, cold winter once. For over four hundred years, God had been silent. No prophecies of hope. No encouragement from above.

Then one night, an angel appeared in the night sky outside Bethlehem! He did not appear to the town leaders, but rather, to humble shepherds. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” . . .  Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:9-14, NLT)

Out of nowhere – in a time of hopelessness – God sent his one and only Son to redeem the world from sin and the power of the devil.

We find ourselves once again in a time of spiritual hopelessness. So many in our nation have turned their backs on Jesus. Oh, yes, there was a time of excitement when some of the Christian leaders began talking about the signs of his return to earth. They got everyone’s hopes up. One leader declared that Jesus would be here by 1980. Then the year 2000 was supposed to be the big year. But now we find ourselves in 2019, and few are talking about the return of Jesus anymore. The years of anticipation seem to be gone, except for a few who are still looking for signs of his coming.

How do we keep that hope alive after so much hyped up enthusiasm and disappointment?

The people of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day thought that the kingdom of God was going to come at once. But when Jesus approached the city, he told them a parable:

“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back’” (Luke 19:12,13 NLT).

When the king returned, only two of the servants had invested the money that had been entrusted to them. They were rewarded with the great responsibility of presiding over cities in the kingdom. But the servants who had failed to follow his instruction were reprimanded, and the money he had given them was taken away.

It has now been over 2,000 years since Jesus told that parable. Remember, the servants were to wisely invest “until I come back.” He is coming. But while that coming is imminent, He does not ask us to live on the edge of excitement, trying to predict when he will return. No. He wants us to serve him, to use the gifts he has given us to build the kingdom. . .  until he returns.

God does not count time the way we do. His priority is giving each soul a chance to come to him. But some ordinary day when nobody is expecting him, Jesus will burst into the scene and every eye shall see him come! Let’s use our time and gifts wisely to bring Him glory until He does.

Out of winter will burst full spring, and winter will be over forever!

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ “ Revelation 21:2-4 NIV

TWEETABLE
Winter Won’t Last Forever – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years,  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!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: How are you using your time and gifts for the kingdom?

Don’t Just Survive – Thrive!

by Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner @SGiesbrecht

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.                                                                                                                                                   Psalm 145:14 NIV

I’m intrigued by stories of personal injury survivors. Is it possible to survive a free-fall from the Sears Tower in Chicago? The answer is yes. Or what if you fulfill a lifelong dream of skydiving, and your parachute fails, could you survive the fall? The answer is still yes. The wikiHow site says, “Hundreds maybe thousands of people have fallen from such heights and lived to tell the tale.”

You and I can increase our chances of physical survival by putting their helpful hints to use. We may not fall from a plane, but accidental falls happen when we least expect them. It’s just a part of life.

Beyond the literal, physical ways we trip, teeter, or collapse, life can bring spiritual or emotional challenges that can move us out of our comfort zones. Facing those things can plunge us into aimless descent. Ever feel like you’ve been tripped up by an addiction? Tormented by shame? Slipped up by doubt? Fallen headlong into depression?

God is near and waits for us to ask Him for help to get back up when the circumstances of life knock us into a downward spiral.

I’ve found it helps for me to reach out to Him in times of difficulty: like doubt, despair, depression, disappointment, disease, destruction, divorce, discouragement, domestic violence or grief. Even when I don’t really feel like asking for help, God’s hand is already extended to me. His will for us when we are down and out is for us to turn to Him and ask for a hand-up, lacing our fingers with His. God’s will for us is completeness and wholeness. He wants us to more than survive. He wants us to thrive! Psalm 145:14 says, “God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (MSG).

Dear Lord, thank you for reaching out to help me get back up. I choose to hold on to you. Thank you for giving me a hand, for giving me a fresh start and for allowing me a second chance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

TWEETABLE
Don’t Just Survive – Thrive! @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 Magazine and many others.

Sheryl is the author of It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth (Redemption Press, March 2018). When we don’t get answers or see God’s guiding hand, it’s hard to keep moving forward in faith. Does God see me? Does he hear me? Does he care? Many Christians confuse doubt with unbelief and are afraid to admit those fears, but God is not threatened by our questions, and doubt does not negate our faith. Find a deeper understanding of the role doubt plays in your spiritual growth–and how learning to doubt your doubts enables faith to prevail.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced God’s saving power when you were down and out? Please share!

A Sunrise of Strength

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

One morning I couldn’t shake the gloomies. Although I was half-awake, I started focusing on the wrong thing, and I needed God’s help to refocus my attention and strengthen my heart. Even though I wanted more sleep, I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on the verse I needed.

Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! Isaiah 52:1 NKJV

The “awake, awake!” part got my attention. But more importantly, this verse called on God’s people to put on strength. This passage in Isaiah talks about God restoring His people after they had been in captivity. My own heart had been held in captivity to impatience and restlessness a few years before, and I was still feeling the effects of its bondage even in my freedom.

Is your heart help captive by something? Or are you still feeling the effects of a struggle that exhausted your strength and determination to win? Even when we’re involved in ministry, our hearts can become captive to sorrow, fear, worry, anger, or sin. We can become lulled into despair or apathy. We may think, Things will always be this way, or I just don’t care anymore.

God calls us to “awake!” and depart from our captivity. To depart from the after effects of our struggles and heartaches. He wants us to leave behind the burdens of guilt and despair (Hebrews 10:22), and to embrace His ways instead, His ways that are good for us and build us up in godliness (Colossians 3:12-14, 3:8-10). He wants us to put on strength and to share life’s journey with Him in the fullness of His joy and power (Nehemiah 8:8-10, 1 John 1:7). When we draw close to God, remember who He is and all He has given us, and step forward into the light of His goodness, the darkness of weakness and helplessness shatters into a sunrise of strength.

After realizing that I had the choice of moving past sadness and adjusting my focus to be on God, my strength returned, and I was able to tackle the day. If a struggle has lulled you into a not-wanting-to-deal-with-it stupor, awake into God’s bright sunshine of joy and strength. He has not left you to handle life on your own. He is always with you. Find strength in His presence with you and in the hope and guidance that’s found in His Word. Put on your strength!

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV

TWEETABLE
A sunrise of strength – thoughts on dealing with discouragement from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author and teacher, 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, a 2018 Selah Awards finalist. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her latest book, Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character, is a 2019 Selah finalist. How does God make our character more like Christ’s? What is His part, and what is ours? This Bible study compilation is a construction guide to building godly character and overcoming the hidden problems that sabotage it. It explores how God works in our lives and gives us wisdom to handle such real-life issues as unwanted change, grief, loneliness, financial debt, and difficult people.

Join the conversation: What still holds you captive, sapping your strength?

Give Your Best

by Nan Corbitt Allen

A couple of generations ago, it wasn’t unusual that payment for goods and services was done in trade. In fact, I’ve heard that my grandfather, who was a pastor and a schoolteacher, occasionally got paid in chickens – live chickens. That tradition has pretty much since died out officially. (Now we have direct deposit and it would be hard to put live chickens into that scenario.)

However, several years ago, a pastor in Nova Scotia called us and asked for an accompaniment track to a song my husband and I had written. The man said that he led a small choir in a small church and that they didn’t have much money. My husband graciously offered to provide the track and told the pastor he’d send it at no charge.

The pastor was so grateful and humbled. He then explained that the church was in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia and that lobstering was their main source of income. That sounded interesting, and we could imagine that picturesque village with sounds of one of our songs being sung in the background. It was a humbling thought.

A couple of weeks later, a large package arrived at our door – a special delivery box from Canada that said “Live Lobsters” stamped on the outside. Yeah, we got paid in lobsters. We opened up the package that had been shipped in dry ice and found thirteen live, but a little weary, lobsters straight from the sea.

It was amazing! What a gift! We didn’t really know what to do: just how do you cook thirteen live lobsters anyway? We finally figured it out, extracted the meat, and froze it. Needless to say, we ate well for quite a while.

When I think back on that experience, I realize how important it is that we give the best that we have as offerings – the first fruits, if you will – to God, even if it means giving it to people in His name. I know He loves it when we do that, and this is how I know: King David had messed up – again. His subjects were being punished for something he did, and he asked God to ease up on the innocents and let him make atonement for his sin. God agreed.

David went to find a proper place to offer a sacrifice. There was a threshing floor nearby that would do just fine. As he was going to buy the threshing floor, the owner saw the king and his entourage on their way. The owner was humbled that the king would come to him, a mere servant. The man offered the king, not only the threshing floor at no cost, but his oxen and their yokes as wood for the fire – free of charge.

David could have accepted the offer and perhaps God would have accepted his sacrifice. Who knows? But David knew better. His absolute best was the only thing good enough. David’s answer to the guy always gets me. He said, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 2: 24 CSB).

We used to sing a hymn called “Give of Your Best to the Master.” The second verse goes like this:

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.

Anytime I think I can give an effort a “phone it in” – in my work or my service – I think of David, this old hymn, and how giving my best honors God. Then I start to crave seafood.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.  Colossians 3:17 NASB

TWEETABLE
Give Your Best – insight from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections, most of these works in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner for her musicals written with Dennis, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed across the U.S. and around the world. Throughout their writing careers together, Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan lives with her husband Dennis in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. Her literary works include two Christian novels and three nonfiction books. The Allens have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bible passages given throughout the book make this a book for all readers.

Join the conversation: What gets in the way of giving your best?

Promises That Overpower Rejection

by Kristine Brown @KristineBrown43

“Number 17, number 9, number 4…,” the master called out, as the group of aspiring ballerinas stood there in our best black leotards and pink tights. Hearing my number would mean just one thing: I would be a snowflake in the Nutcracker ballet! I held my breath in anticipation, but my number wasn’t called.

The new snowflakes skipped out of the room where proud mommas waited. I lined up in the corner with the remaining ballerinas. The next group called would join the cast as party clowns. Not as glamorous as a snowflake, but still included. One by one we cartwheeled across the floor. The girls with the best cartwheels heard their numbers. Unfortunately, my cartwheel didn’t show much promise.

My last chance… the final few returned to the corner again. Our audition neared its end, but the director still needed to cast the final group – the mice! Not as fun as a party clown, but at least I would get to participate. He sang the directions in cadence, “Run out into the center and act like a mouse.”

 How does a mouse act, anyway? I thought.

Without a clue what to do, I followed the other mice candidates. I scurried, scratched my nose, and wiggled my tail with as much mice-like conviction as I could muster. It just wasn’t enough. With the final numbers still lingering in the air, my Nutcracker dreams died.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

Rejection doesn’t end when we grow up. Those same feelings that caused such pain when we were young can affect us as women, too. Even when I feel like I’ve moved beyond the need for acceptance, one simple event can take me back to that memory – the day my number wasn’t called.

It could be an email stating my writing isn’t what they’re looking for, a call saying they’ve given the job to another applicant, or that thought wondering why I wasn’t invited to lunch with the other ladies.

Any of these scenes can send me back to those moments on the dance floor, holding my breath once again, feeling that heavy heart-drop when I’m not included. But when those feelings of rejection surface, we have four strong promises from the verse above to hold close.

God goes before me.

God will be with me.

God will never leave me.

God will not forsake me.

The truth is, we never have to feel abandoned when we have God. Rejection is a lie created to make us think we are less than who God says we are. Deuteronomy 31:8 speaks straight to that lie and offers hope. Let’s read these words right out loud today, and let God’s words give us the courage to stand firm against rejection. God goes before me. He will be with me. He will never leave me. He will not forsake me.

Proclaiming these promises restores our sense of identity as daughters of the King. So even if we aren’t destined to be a snowflake, a party clown, or a mouse, God’s plan is more fabulous than we can imagine. And His love for us will overpower rejection. Every. Single. Time.

TWEETABLE
Promises That Overpower Rejection – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable  ways. Her life experiences serve as a backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you ever question whether you measure up? Kristine’s book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan,  learn the solution to a battle all women face. Through practical Bible teaching, find contentment in your God-given uniqueness and take simple steps to claim victory over comparison. Learn how to say “I’m over it” and mean it!

Join the conversation: When is the last time you felt rejected?

 

The Meeting Place

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza…and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Luke 8:1-3 NASB

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be born a woman in a Middle Eastern country like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. I’ve seen interviews of women in these places who are striving for political change, for simple basic rights like the ability to walk down the street without a man.

Over the last few years, as the plight of these women has become more visible to us in the United States, I have come to appreciate how radical Jesus must have appeared to the people of this region. Although Islam was not yet a religion, the culture was patriarchal. Women were not allowed a formal education, and they were not allowed to study the Scriptures. In fact, a first-century rabbi, Eliezer, wrote “Rather should the word of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman.”

Women sat apart from the men in the synagogue and were only allowed into an outer court of the Temple. In their daily prayers, men thanked God that they were not a woman. In society, women were viewed as second-class citizens when it came to political and social power. Their testimony in court was not legal or even considered valid.

Jesus not only associated with tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, and Gentiles; He treated women with respect and compassion. The fact that Jesus included women in His entourage was scandalous.

On the most important day of history, He charged Mary Magdalene to go back to the male disciples with the most important message of all time. He was risen.

Peter and John had been in the tomb and seen the empty linen wrappings. But it was only after they left that Jesus revealed Himself to Mary. She threw herself into His arms in pure joy. “Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17 NIV).

I don’t believe Jesus trusted Mary more than the men, or that He was making some  political statement by first giving the Good News to a woman. As I look at Jesus’ interactions with each disciple on that first Easter, I see that Jesus met each person where they would best receive the news. He knew each one’s heart and knew what he or she needed.

What amazes me is that He gave Mary equal status by appearing to her, as well as to the men. He knew how radical this would be to the people of this region, so he made it clear that this was not a mistake—by appearing to Mary first. And when he did, it was in a way that would meet her greatest need. He spoke tenderly, gently revealing His identity with His voice so as not to startle her, calling her name as He had done so many times before. He could have appeared on a cloud coming from the sky or walking to her from the tomb in blazing light, but instead he chose quiet tenderness.

In whatever way you need to see Jesus this Easter, He desires to meet you there. He loves you and esteems you no matter who you are—male or female, sinner or saint. He is calling your name and saying to you, “I am alive, go and tell the others that I am here.”

TWEETABLE
The Meeting Place – insight from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cheri CowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell is a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

Join the conversation: How has Jesus been personal in the way He has met you?

The Aroma of Christ

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

It was a grim scene.

Travel back in time with me as we watch Joseph and Nicodemus take the body of Jesus from the cross that fateful Friday afternoon. It must have taken valuable time to convince Pilate to let them have Him before sundown, but they managed. Nicodemus carried seventy-five pounds of myrrh and spices with them to prepare the body. It was an offering worthy of a king—a dead king.

Imagine the tears they shed, as they silently and gently lowered his broken body to the ground. Evidence of the abuse He had suffered at the hands of his accusers rendered Him almost unrecognizable, covered with blood and filth, swollen from wounds and intense suffering. Still they loved Him so much.

Time was running out before the Sabbath began. They didn’t have time to prepare His body like they wanted—like He deserved. But at least there was an unused tomb in the garden close by. They took Him there and did what they could with hands of love.

They tried to cover the stench of death with herbs and linen, but can you imagine the odor inside that dark, cramped tomb? The sickly-sweet smell of myrrh combined with the overwhelming stench of blood and torture must have seeped into their noses, hair and clothing. When they left, they brought the odor of despair with them as they gathered with the others to observe an empty Sabbath.

Move ahead to Sunday morning, that Resurrection day. Mary Magdalene has breathlessly returned with the news that someone has stolen Jesus’ body. As the disciples race to the tomb, a part of them must dread what they’ll find. But John enters that resting place of the dead to discover that Jesus’ body isn’t the only thing missing.

They see the empty grave clothes and spices, but the air is decidedly different. In a place so recently redolent with the stink of death, there is only the aroma of life.

Jesus led the way to triumph over sin and death. He replaced our odor of death with an aroma of life. Now it’s up to us to follow Him, and lead others to join us in that same walk of victory.

“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 NASB

TWEETABLE
Carrying with Us the Aroma of Christ – insight from @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter

Edie’s latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, offers a solution to our busy lives and struggle for peace. Sensory involvement deepens our relationship with God and gives rest to our souls. Through thoughtful devotional readings and prayers, tap into your creative side. Warning! This book may become dog-eared and stained. Draw in it. Experiment with your creative passions. Learn the healing power of play. Allow God’s power to flow through opportunities for creative expression.

Join the conversation: What part of the resurrection story has struck you during this Easter season?