The Testimony of Faithfulness

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When my husband and I were dating, we often took advantage of the many free things to do in nearby Washington, D.C. One night he brought me to the Lincoln Memorial, which is impressive during the daylight hours, but truly awesome by night. After viewing the statue and writings of Lincoln, we stood at the top of the steps and admired the images of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building reflected in the long rectangular pool below.

Steve then took me around the back of the monument and pointed out the dark hillside which was Arlington National Cemetery, located just past the Memorial Bridge. We could see a light flickering on the hill in the distance very clearly. I asked Steve what it was, and he told me it was the eternal flame at President Kennedy’s grave. The next day we walked through that cemetery and came to the site of the eternal flame. To my surprise, the light we had seen from a mile or so away was just a small gas flame about eight inches high.

That small light could be seen from a great distance when surrounded by darkness.

We live around people who are living in darkness. God has called us to be light. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 5:16 NASB). We are tempted to believe that the opportunity to shine comes only in infrequent great moments, like when getting a chance to share the gospel with someone or speaking before a large crowd.

Yet a light that flares only briefly in the darkness before flickering out is much less useful than the kind of light that burns with a steady glow.

We are to be light in every moment of our lives. Paul wrote the Colossians: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…it is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24 NASB). Our testimony’s effectiveness to the world around us is determined by ordinary moments: the small decisions we make, the words we choose, or the attitudes we hold.

We can have a huge impact on neighbors and friends by simply being faithful in what God has given us to do, choosing contentment in where God has us. People will quickly spot peace in our attitudes and joy in our hearts. For those living with nagging thirst, our lives will look like a cool refreshing glass of water. They will begin to think: I want what they have. Our very lifestyle will make them thirsty for the Living Water we can offer.

J. Gregory Mantle, a British preacher who lived in the late 1800’s, wrote: “It is far harder to live for Christ moment by moment than it is to die once for Him; and if we wait for great occasions in which to display our fidelity, we shall find that our life has slipped away, and with it the opportunities that each hour has brought of proving our love to the Lord, by being faithful in that which is least.”

When my kids each began their first job, I shared what I had learned in my own career: Just do your job and do it well. You will stand out from the crowd if you do.

We don’t have to be Billy Graham to inspire others to seek God. Just by being faithful to what God has called us to do, whether it is customer service, teaching school, or mothering small children, God can use our simple desire to serve to glorify him as a beacon of light.

And you can be sure our faithful obedience will be seen and noticed by those still living in darkness.

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give and account for the hope that is in you…with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:16 NASB

TWEETABLE
The Testimony of Faithfulness – wisdom 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. 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.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been approached by someone who wants to know why you are so different than the world around you?

How Do You Define Freedom?

by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson

My husband and I zipped along I-95 South, near Washington DC, on a section of interstate that never sleeps. Among the mostly courteous drivers, a few wanna-be race car drivers cut in and out, too close for comfort. I marveled at how a tight space could hold so many speeding vehicles. That changed when we reached an area marked, “Warning: Unmarked Pavement Ahead.”

The space abruptly shrank to three lanes, and we were left with no markings defining the lane boundaries. This slowed us down considerably, since there was nothing to define where exactly we should be driving. We lost any sense of security that we would not be scraped by someone else.

I imagined the rest of I-95 without marked lanes and shuddered. Then I thought of our culture. In the name of freedom, we’ve erased timeless limits that protect the liberty and well-being of all.

Defined limits provide safety and ease even in a crowded parking lot. In a populated world we need clear boundaries to prosper. The Bible provides timeless parameters to protect our travel through life. When we navigate within those limits, we avoid wrecks and heartaches.

The Problem with Religious Rules

Human additions to God’s laws become heavy chains that cause people to rebel against God’s perfect law of liberty and are unprofitable (James 1:25).

“‘Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!’? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires” (Colossians 2:21-23 NLT).

Jesus understands. He invites us to come to Him so He can teach us how to live without heavy burdens. Even better, He promises to walk with us. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT).

The Problem with License 

Perhaps, repulsed by legalism, other believers have swung to the opposite extreme. They minimize and dismiss God’s instructions. In contrast, the Bible shows how God’s commandments serve as guardrails of liberty.

  • “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NASB). God’s commandments serve as guardrails of liberty.
  • “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 NLT).

We avoid the potholes of our fallen nature and sin and enjoy life’s journey when we walk His path in the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s Word outlines our lanes. (Psalm 119:105)

The Protection of Guardrails

In Satan’s conversation with Eve, he portrayed God to be like him, a liar and a thief who steals our freedom and joy (Genesis. 3; John 8:44, 10:10). Nothing could be further from the truth. As we remember God’s character, we won’t fall for lies.

Don’t be duped. Biblical instructions on right and wrong keep life’s interstates safe.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.                                                                                                                                           Psalm 19:7-8 NLT

TWEETABLE
How Do You Define Freedom? Insight from @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, she speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God.

Join the conversation: What standards help define how you choose to live?

 

Too Much to Do?

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:2 NIV

Are you feeling today that there is just too much to do?

I remember a time in my life when I felt like I was drowning under the pressures of being a woman, wife, mother, director of women’s ministries, friend, sister, and daughter. There was so much to do to keep up with family relationships, to keep up the house, to keep up with my job, and to keep up in my walk with God. I literally felt I was drowning in obligations, and continually coming up short.

Today I know that when I feel like that, I’ve taken on more than I was intended to bear. And most likely, more than God wants me to bear.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus gave this invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

Jesus recognized the people of His day were carrying burdens too heavy to bear. So, He offered them His burden instead – a burden He said was light. What is the burden God places on us? What is the one thing He requires of us more than anything else?

One man asked Jesus that same question. And Jesus’ response was: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

God’s greatest requirement of us was not to do things for Him. It was to love Him. And not to just love Him, but to love Him passionately, desperately, above any other person or thing.

God’s “burden” on us is not a heavy one. In fact, it isn’t a burden at all. It’s a privilege.

When I consider loving Him as my highest obligation and my heaviest burden, it makes all the other things I think I have to do pale in comparison. My to-do list, my project at work, my financial dilemma …. none of those things is as important as loving my God. And therefore, I truly can take His yoke upon me and find rest. There is anxiety and stress in striving to carry my own burdens. There is peace and rest in loving Him.

Lord, for all the times I start to feel weary and weighted down, help me to remember Your invitation to come to You, lay my burden at Your feet, and find rest.

TWEETABLE
Encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin when we have Too Much to Do – @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 When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold) and When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts. For more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your marriage, parenting, or walk with God, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, When You’re Running on Emptyis written for Christian women who give of themselves relentlessly. What can a woman do when she’s running on empty? Learn how to renew your energy and passion and press on.

Join the conversation: How do you refresh yourself when you feel overwhelmed?

 

Welcome to Desolation

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

Jesus often surprises us in times of desolation.

Desolation sometimes comes through external circumstances that others can see and validate. In the weeks leading up to and following my father’s death, I experienced grief, but also distress over ensuing family turmoil. The emptiness I experienced carved a crater of desolation in my heart.

There are times, however, when externally, life appears to be going our way, and others even envy our success. But in reality, the success does nothing to reach the empty pit in our hearts. Desolation of the soul is marked by a profound emptiness that can’t be cured by achievement or accolade. I once read an interview with an actress who won her first Oscar at a time when her marriage was quietly, privately crumbling. She had beauty, riches, and fame, but her heart was desolate.

Jesus knew desolation, but rather than resist it, He sought it out.

He withdrew to desolate places to pray. He preached and ministered in desolate places when the crowds became too overwhelming for Him in the cities. He invited His disciples to follow Him to desolate places at the height of their popularity. And He fed the thousands with loaves and fishes when they came to listen to Him in a place so desolate, the disciples couldn’t imagine where they would find food.

I’ve often rejected desolation in my life as a detour from God’s plan for me: a wrong turn, something to be ashamed of, hidden, or avoided. I don’t imagine the disciples were too excited to follow Jesus to desolation. These were men accustomed to the obscurity of fishing boats at sea and suddenly they were rock stars of the ancient world. Maybe a couple of them breathed relief at pulling back, but I bet more than one chafed at the notion of leaving the crowds at the height of their ministry.

God is unafraid of desolate places. In fact, He seeks it and invites us to join Him there.

It is where He feeds us. It’s where He multiplies what little we bring. It’s in desolation He reminds us that our value with Him doesn’t lie in what we accomplish but simply in being with Him. It’s in desolation that He weans us from the applause and approval of the crowd, teaching us to measure our lives more through our “To Love” list than our “To Do” list.

It’s in desolation that we remember our limitations, our fragility, and our child-like nature. Where we re-establish our complete dependence on Him. And it is there He supplies what we need from nothing. He takes the meager meals we’ve prepared for ourselves and demonstrates how, in His hands, this offering can serve thousands

Desolation is not a place to be endured, but a place of wonder: an opportunity to locate God’s secret workshop. A visit to desolation is where we discover what all the great biblical men and women have found when they entered their desolation – that He is God and there is no other.

God whispered a secret to us about desolation through the prophet Ezekiel and we can heed that whisper now. Is God calling you out to a desolate place, loved ones? Follow Him there and see what He is about.

And they will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of oasis Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.”  Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.                                                                                                                           Ezekiel 36:35-36 ESV

TWEETABLE
Welcome to Desolation – encouragement from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Lori’s latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. The dialogues everyday Christians delay are often the very channels God wants to use to deepen relationships and transform lives. Through funny, vulnerable personal stories and sound biblical teaching, the principles here are guaranteed to increase the confidence and competence of Christians in discussing sensitive topics of every kind.

Join the conversation: What has God taught you in a place of desolation?

For Want of a Better Word—And a Word on a Better Want

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Some people seem to have a way with words. Words, sentences, paragraphs—they all just flow out of them, all polished and pretty. The fact that I don’t despise those people is a testament to how truly spiritual I am. (If you’re not rolling your eyes right here, then you’re obviously even more spiritual than I am. Impressive.)

Most of the time my words have to be coaxed, wheedled and prodded. My muse cops an attitude and is all like, “Not today, suckah.” Then when I finally do get some words down, I still have to edit them up one side and down the other.

Writers of my caliber? We’re the ones who want the words—written or spoken—all perfectly packaged. And we’re constantly stepping back to look at the package, thinking things like, “That package really could’ve used a bigger bow. Maybe a red one. Perhaps an entirely different paper. Also…a different package altogether.” Incidentally, we’re the same people who spend a good minute and a half practicing to get the wording just right in our heads before ordering into the drive-through speaker.

Word-discontent. I have it often. As a matter of fact, I just edited those last few sentences, like, six times. Then still left “word-discontent” in there, pretending it’s grammatically sound. And pretending it’s actually a word.

Discontentment is a tricky rascal. All kinds of discontentment originate in thinking we need something different than we have. Something better. Something in a different package. Something with a red bow. Something more. And at every level of discontentment is that next little niggling thought that we will never be truly happy until we have that something more.

That kind of dissatisfaction always breeds conflict—within ourselves and with other people as well. “What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?” (James 4:1, HCSB).

Are you warring with dissatisfaction—maybe even warring with others because of it? Want to change that? There’s only one way to stop wanting more. And that is to want a different kind of more. More Jesus.

Wanting more of Jesus than anything else in life—that changes everything. Focusing on Him shines a light on any selfish wants and they’re seen for the empty, unfulfilling distractions they really are.

Wanting more Jesus is a life pursuit. Maybe not so much coaxing, wheedling and prodding, but it is learned, day by day, and it requires our attention. As we give that attention to times of seeking the Lord’s face in prayer, making His Word part of our everyday life and our everyday thinking, letting those connections with Him make us quick to get rid of sin, we find the temporary things of this world less appealing. And we find His love, His truth, His “Him-ness,” so much more desirous than anything else we’ve ever known. (Yes, I just wrote the word, “Him-ness” in there—with nary an eye-roll.)

At that place of praise-filled closeness to Him we’re drawn into worship. It’s impossible to worship in His fullness and still want what we’re not supposed to want. In worship we’re reminded we truly do have everything we need. In Ephesians 1:3, Paul praises the Father who “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.”

Discontentment? Bye-bye. Because…not today, suckah!

Wait, did I word that wrong?

…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…  Philippians 3:8 NIV

TWEETABLE
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure – insight from @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: In what ways has the Lord filled you with contentment?

Watchman On The Walls

by Sheri Schofield

There’s a young squirrel living in the pile of boulders behind my house. She likes to eat her breakfast on my back deck. I know this because she leaves behind dissected pine cones every morning. She hangs around the back door and greets me when I come outside. I call her Daisy.

This morning, Daisy wasn’t just chattering. She was sitting in a tree looking at the boulders and shouting at the top of her lungs!

I glanced over at her home and noticed that a wild ferret was perched on the top of the boulders. He was looking for breakfast. Daisy was telling everyone in the neighborhood, “An enemy is invading, and you’d better watch out!

It reminded me of Ezekiel 3:17. God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately” (NLT).

In ancient days, kings appointed watchmen to stand on the walls of the city and look out for approaching enemies. When the watchmen would see danger, they would sound the alarm. People working outside the city walls would hurry inside and the gates would be shut. Soldiers would rush to the top of the walls to defend their people.

God compared his prophets to watchmen, for their job was to warn people of approaching spiritual danger. The Apostle Paul drew a similar comparison when he wrote, “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over our souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit” (Hebrews 13:17, NLT).

Who are these spiritual leaders? Are they our pastors? Yes, some of them are pastors. But there are others as well. People who have lived in obedience to Jesus for many years become spiritual leaders, too. These leaders are called to teach younger believers the ways of Christ and how to avoid spiritual danger.

For years, I have watched as certain people have taken up the responsibility of watching over younger people. I myself have poured out my life for the children in my ministry and then have become a spiritual guide for some as they have grown older. God appoints us as watchmen for these younger ones, people who will stand by them and point them to Jesus and His ways during their trials.

Recently, one of “my” kids, who has grown up and moved away, emailed me that her truck had been stolen. She had no transportation. Her apartment keys were in the truck, too. She was very anxious and upset.

The Lord told me, “I am testing this young woman. Tell her to trust me.”

I said, “Honey, this is just a test. God has this under control. It has not surprised him at all. The sooner you trust him, the sooner this test will be over. Someday you will be a leader and a young person will come to you in crisis. Then you will tell them, ‘This is just a test. Trust God!’ ”

She smiled and calmed down. She got it! By the next morning, the police had found and returned her truck. She had listened to the watchman God had appointed for her.

We who follow Christ have been given watchmen for our souls, and we become watchmen for others as we mature in Jesus. It is how we grow strong together. It is the way of love. We need each other.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

TWEETABLE
Watchman On The Walls – insight from 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 in 2018 at the 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: Is there a watchman in your life? A family member or friend that both encourages and holds you accountable?

Pruning with Purpose   

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.                                                                                                                 John 15:8 NIV

Several years ago, a Master Gardner friend gave me two tomato plants. She’d given me some in the past, but I always managed to kill them before they bore fruit. This time, I decided to tend the vines. Novel idea! I watered and fertilized and watched. The vines grew lush and verdant. Although small green orbs appeared, well into the summer, I still had no ripe tomatoes.

One day, as I pondered the reason for non-ripening fruit, I heard my father’s words echo through the years, “You’ll never have ripe tomatoes if you don’t prune the suckers.”

When I was a child, my father planted tomato vines every summer in our backyard, and we harvested and ate delicious tomatoes well into the fall. Now, as I looked at my vines, I saw many non-producing shoots. I began pruning and soon discovered many more tomatoes than I realized hidden by the foliage. Although full and green, those branches were preventing the sun from reaching the tomatoes. And the nutrients in the vines were being used up by new growth rather than going toward enlarging and ripening the fruit.

As I snipped away the excess, I heard the words of my heavenly Father, too:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t bear fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more fruit” (John 15:1-2 NIV).

When I finished pruning, the vines were not as pleasing to the eye. In fact, they looked a little scraggly and sparse, but now, the sunlight was able to reach the tomatoes. Within days, we were enjoying delicious, ripe tomatoes.

Sometimes, we have so many things cluttering our lives the Son can’t get to us. We’re oblivious to the things that suck time and attention from spiritual growth, yet wonder why our prayers are ineffective and we feel far from God. Our activities may seem good, and our lives full and productive, but underneath, our spiritual fruit is dying on the vine.

We glorify the Father when we bear fruit, and in order to produce fruit, pruning has to take place.   Perhaps today is a good day to begin a self-pruning process. Is social media, or some other time-waster, sucking valuable hours from relationships with your family or your time with the Lord? Are unnecessary activities robbing you of spiritual growth and the ability to hear God’s voice? Is a cherished sin keeping your from deeper intimacy with the Father, or a negative attitude preventing you from recognizing and thanking God for your blessings?

Ask God to help you identify and prune the suckers in your life. It may take some time and effort, but soon you’ll enjoy a closer relationship with the Father and begin bearing spiritual fruit.

TWEETABLE
Pruning with Purpose – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: What is it in your life that could use a purposeful pruning?

Why Should I Forgive?

by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“Will you help me control my thinking?” The airport shuttle driver’s question surprised me. He’d obviously overheard my conversation with the woman leaving the shuttle. His landlady, who called herself a Christian, had wronged him. Hurt and anger showed in his eyes and words.

How could I help this man see that to be freed from his pain he needed to forgive the woman who’d caused it?

I’m sure people have disappointed and hurt you too. It’s part of life on planet earth. Maybe that’s why Jesus included forgiveness in the prayer He taught his disciples.

Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt. 6:12 NLT).

Isn’t it ironic that we must forgive the ones we least want to forgive? This isn’t a cruel joke. It’s protection. Granting forgiveness heals our wounds and frees our souls.

I’ve read articles about forgiveness. Some platitudes offered more harm than good. They painted forgiveness as a magic wand that erased all pain. Hurt feelings don’t necessarily indicate unforgiveness. They may reveal deep wounds.

Scratches heal quickly. But deep injuries take time to mend. Forgiveness sets healing in motion.

To avoid the hard work of forgiving, we avoid the issue with, “It’s no big deal.” Or we tell ourselves, “Why must I forgive? This is too big. They don’t deserve to be forgiven.” To overcome this resistance, it helps to remember who benefits when we forgive. We do—as well as those we love.

They may not deserve to be forgiven. But do you deserve to prolong your suffering by holding on to the sharp barbs of bitterness? Or do your loved ones deserve to live with your hostility or be shaped by your destructive example?

Forgiveness benefits the one who gives it. We forgive for our own sake. We also forgive for the sake of those we love, because bitterness is a poison that can’t be contained.

The person who wronged us may not even be aware of our turmoil—or care. They may be dead. But if our resentment lives on, we suffer and model a harmful example to those who watch us.

Resentment drains the joy out of life and erects a wall between us and God. He hasn’t moved, but we feel distant. Tormented souls snap at small irritations, miss the beauty around them, and injure those in their wake. How many spouses, children, and coworkers suffer because of someone’s unwillingness to forgive?

Your freedom is at stake. Forgive to free yourself from turmoil. Forgive for the sake of those you love. Scripture describes how holding on to offenses can affect those around us: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV).

I explained the benefit of forgiveness with my shuttle driver. When we reached the airport, he handed me my luggage. “I’m going to do what you said,” he smiled. “I am going to be free.”

What about you? Are you ready to be free? Forgiveness brings freedom for the one who forgives. Forgive—for your sake and the sake of all you love—including Jesus.

 The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:40 NIV

TWEETABLE
Why Should I Forgive? – insight from @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, she speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God.

Join the conversation: Have you been able to forgive a wrong done to you or a loved one? Please share how God enabled you to do so.

 

Waiting Expectantly

by Doris Hoover

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3 NIV

When my daughter was still in a crib, she began each day by calling out, “Ma-ma.” I’d peek around her door and say, “Good morning, Sunshine!” At the sound of my voice, her little face would light up and she’d stretch her arms out to me, knowing I’d pick her up and meet her needs.

I cherished her trust in me. Similarly, the Lord cherishes the trust we place in Him. He delights to hear our voices calling out His name. When we stretch our arms toward our Heavenly Father, He always responds to us. In fact, in Isaiah, we read, “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23 NIV) Our God, who has the power and wisdom to oversee everything that happens to us, looks out for our best interests, even though we may not understand how or when He’ll meet our needs. Our part is to call out and then to wait expectantly.

My daughter could be demanding at the start of the day. If she had to wait on me for anything, she grew impatient and fussy, but her cries didn’t rattle me, because I knew what she needed and that I would care for her in the best way possible. I did what I could to satisfy her, but always with maternal wisdom, according to my time frame rather than hers.

We can be a lot like impatient, fussy children demanding immediate fulfillment of our requests. But God knows what we need (not just want) and the perfect time to give it to us. He responds to us with divine wisdom and according to His time frame.

Each morning, David confidently laid his requests before God. “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing…I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:1, 3b NIV) Expectation means knowing assuredly that the Lord hears us and will to the right thing for us in His perfect way and timing.

We see another example of praying in expectation when King Jehoshaphat and all the people stood before the Lord in great distress crying out for help: “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV) The people cried out, knowing with certainty that their prayers did not land on deaf ears. They believed that God was in control of their circumstances.

When we pray with expectation, we humbly acknowledge our vulnerability and our total dependence on the Lord. My baby daughter had that kind of faith in me. David and Jehoshaphat had that kind of faith in God. Each cried out in need, knowing the one they trusted would hear their cries and respond.

I’m still learning to follow their examples.

TWEETABLE
Waiting Expectantly – insight from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. Doris Hoover leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Tell us about a time when God answered your prayer.

A Delicate Balance

by Nan Corbitt Allen

We all have rocks in our heads. Really.

Deep inside our heads, in our inner ears, we have tubes (or canals) and in those tubes there are tiny calcium crystals that communicate with our brains – telling us that we are upright, lying down, falling down, upside down, or whatever. But if one of those little crystals gets out of its designated place, it can turn our worlds upside down. Literally.

Benign positional vertigo is something that I’ve had off and on for the last few years. I’m just recovering from my latest episode. It usually comes on suddenly. Even though I know that I’m standing straight, my brain is interpreting my body position as something else. The room seems to spin, my eyes actually following the path of a spinning room, and I’m not able to find my “center” for a few seconds. Sometimes minutes.

It’s scary, but mostly aggravating. Fortunately, I’ve been diagnosed at a university balance center and have been taught some exercises or maneuvers that can fix it fairly quickly. It’ll probably return, but at least I know what’s at work and what to do about it.

Whenever I have an episode, it amazes me how a tiny speck in my inner ear can throw my entire body off. Sometimes, after an attack, I’ll marvel at the intricacies of human anatomy. And I wonder, once again, at the handiwork of God. Other times it reminds me of how important it is to keep a “delicate balance” in my spiritual life.

Several years ago, I found a book entitled The Will of God that was first published in the 1940’s by the British pastor Leslie D. Weatherhead. It’s a tiny book, less than 60 pages, but its content has been so intriguing that I keep it handy and read through it often. The premise is that God’s will can be broken down into three parts:

  1. God’s Intentional Will- God’s ideal plan for all.
  1. God’s Circumstantial Will – God’s plan within certain circumstances, even the evils that men create and practice.
  1. God’s Ultimate Will – God’s final realization of His purposes: the return of Man to a relationship with his Creator.

When facing an upside down world, it can be difficult to see God’s providence in it all. That’s when the delicate balance comes into play.

To find our true center in God’s will, we have to look at all facets of it. God enjoys blessing us and even sometimes alters the natural course of life just because He loves us and wants to see us healthy and happy. I like that part.

In circumstances (of course always within His control), His will may be still hard at work, i.e. in the midst of a heartbreak that was caused by an accident, an act of evil concocted by Man, or the frailty of human flesh. It can be harder to perceive Him there. I’m not so fond of this part.

But His ultimate desire is where we have to sometimes land and just trust that one day He’s going to make it all stand aright again. God’s peace comes to us when the particles of chaos come to rest in His ultimate will, their proper place…like crystals in an inner ear.

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.                                                                                                                     Ephesians 1:4-6 MSG

TWEETABLE
A Delicate Balance – 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 in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They 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.

Join the conversation: Has there been a time when your world was turned upside-down? Please share!