What Do You Do With A Sign?

by Sheri Schofield

I was driving home the other day when a flashing road sign caught my attention: “GOAT INSPECTION AHEAD”, then a new flashing message, “GOATS WILL BE INSPECTED SEPARATELY.”

Whaaaaat? Yes, we do live in cowboy country. But most people have cattle and horses. Very few people have goats. I have certainly never heard of a goat inspection! And weren’t they getting a little picky by inspecting each goat separately? It sounded strange to me! Who came up with this idea anyway? Were the goats carrying some awful disease? And should I be concerned about it??

Then I saw a sign further down the road. It said, “BOAT INSPECTION HERE.”  Ooooh! The first sign was missing some light bulbs. Now I got it!

There’s a sign-dependent man in the Bible. In fact, this man was really big on signs: Gideon. Yes, I know: Men aren’t usually interested in asking for directions! But Gideon was. He asked God for a sign – then two, then three – because he just couldn’t believe what God had asked him to do.  (“Are you sure all the candles are working on that sign?” he probably wondered!)

Many in the land of Israel had turned away from God and were worshipping idols, including Gideon’s dad. So God sent their neighboring enemies to invade the land. Every harvest time, they would come in and strip the land of everything they could find. They brought their own livestock with them, since that was their mode of transportation. Their livestock would eat all the plants in the fields. Then the enemies would return home.

This left the people of Israel starving, and they finally cried out to God for help. In time, God moved to rescue them. He sent his angel to see Gideon, a nobody from a very small tribe. The angel found Gideon threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress which was well hidden from the invading armies of Midian. The angel said, “Hey, mighty hero! God is with you!”

Gideon was indignant. “Whaaaaat? Then why is God allowing all this hardship? Where are God’s miracles that we’ve heard so much about? It feels like God has abandoned us and turned us over to the Midianites!”

The next line gets a little more specific about who that angel was. “Then the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:14, NLT)

Don’t you just love those words! God himself was telling Gideon to rescue his people!

But Gideon couldn’t believe it. He protested that he was the least in his family, and his family was the weakest in Israel! Finally, he asked for a sign to reassure him he was getting it right. . . and God did as he asked.

Gideon asked for two more signs, and God patiently honored those additional requests. Then he used Gideon, least in his family which was from the least of the tribes, to deliver Israel.

God most often chooses the weak to carry out His business. It’s counter-intuitive to how the world thinks, of course. So it’s hard for us to imagine He would choose to use little old us. But as the Lord explained to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for [My] power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB). God chooses “the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong…so that no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NASB).

Do you have a great desire to see God reach someone for eternity and rescue them from Satan’s power, but you feel insignificant and not skilled enough for God to use you to do it? Hear this: The LORD . . . the same LORD who spoke to Gideon . . . put that burden on your heart. He wants you to step out in faith and trust Him to provide the right words. The Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost is now living in you and stands ready to help you share the gospel. Go in the strength that you have, for the Lord is with you!

“… I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike . . . And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Joel 2:28, 29, 32, NLT

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What Do You Do With A Sign? insight fro 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: Has God ever given you a sign?

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Receiving Peace in the Night

by Judy R. Slegh

A while ago, an event precipitated a sleepless night for me. It involved a choice my son made to hang out with friends over the weekend. Because of past compromises proving his inability to say no, I became fearful of what might happen while he was away. As I wrestled with the reality of placing my loved one into the complete care of God, I asked Holy Spirit a simple question.

“Holy Spirit, am I awake due to my spirit being unsettled or due to my soul (mind, will, and emotions) being unsettled?”

Immediately I heard, “It is your soul.”

He chided me saying, “Your loved one isn’t having a sleepless night, why should you?”

I then repented for allowing my soul to rob me of my peace and my sleep. I deliberately handed the issues with which I had been struggling to God. He assured me He was taking care of the situation and I could sleep restfully now. Within minutes, I fell asleep and stayed asleep for the rest of the night.

In the morning, I searched Scripture to validate this conversation with God.

I came across Psalm 16:7-9 NIV which states,

“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

The prayerful interaction I had in the night was God counseling me! Remembering His watchful concern and care prodded me to stop worrying about possible catastrophic events. I had let my mind race out of control. He was urging my mind to not be shaken so I could rest.

Then I was reminded of a verse I learned long ago. Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) states: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Once again, this was a confirmation to my mind and gave me peace.

I also asked the clarifying question, “What should I have done if my spirit was unsettled?”

Quickly I heard, “It would be an unction to intercede as needed for your loved one. I will keep you up as long as is needed, and then perfect and peaceful sleep will come easily.”

At times, this has happened after I ask the question, “Is it my spirit or soul?” and heard that my spirit was unsettled. I obediently and groggily got up and contended in prayer for about an hour. Sometimes it is more. Sometimes is it less. Then I sense it is time for sleep. This has been a great revelation to align myself to His promptings in the night and get peaceful sleep when He tells me everything is fine.

Asking the right questions has brought incredible peace to me at night. Especially when my children were in their teen years. Now they are spread across the world. It has been a stretch for me to let them go in obedience to the call of God, but asking the right questions in the night has brought many restful nights.

Paul assures us to trust Him in prayer, even when we don’t know the details. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV

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Receiving Peace in the Night – insight from Judy R. Slegh on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

judy sleghAbout the author: Judy R. Slegh is passionate in helping others get free of emotional baggage through healing prayer. She leads and mentors the growing team of prayer ministers and prayer intercessors at Nephros Ministries. Being a Minnesotan, she enjoys kayaking on lakes and rivers as well as bird watching with her husband Daryl.

In her first book, Help! I Have a Prodigal, Judy offers compassion and hope to those wearied by the turmoil of loving someone who has turned away from the faith and value systems of his or her upbringing. Experience compassion, hope, and healing through devotional readings, thoughtful questions, and prayers designed to help you identify and unpack your emotional baggage, freeing you to welcome your prodigal home.

Join the conversation: Has God ministered to you in the night?

Where’s my Control Button?

by Lynn Eib

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.  Romans 8:6 NLT  

I love to play FreeCell Solitaire on my laptop. I tell myself that I play to keep my mind keen as I age and that all the strategizing sharpens my mental skills. But I think the real reason I’m continually drawn to this card game is because I can control it.

Every single game of FreeCell is winnable, and if I find my strategy isn’t working, or I don’t have any more moves, I simply hit CRTL-Z.  I “undo” my past turns and make other choices until once again I emerge a winner. (Current win streak: 929.)

You know what CTRL stands for, right? CONTROL! Yep, that’s why I love the game. I’m in control and if the game gets out-of-control and I might lose, I simply take control and make everything turn out the way I always wanted it to. It’s the perfect game for a perfectionist like me, who hates to lose!

 Don’t you wish life had a CTRL-Z button? You could hit it and go back and change the serious diagnosis you or your loved one have received. Or you could tap it and delete the deep disappointments you’ve experienced. Or you could type that command and forgo all the financial struggles. Or you could strike those two keys and erase the emptiness. Somehow–some way–you could control the situation until everything turned out just as you hoped.

Mary, a member of my cancer prayer support group, would have loved a CTRL-Z button when she was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, just 19 months after being widowed. “My husband was gone; I retired Feb. 3 and got diagnosed Feb. 27,” she says. “It was the one-two punch. The shock just hit me and I was ready to die.”

Not only did Mary feel out-of-control, but the cancer looked out-of-control, as it already had spread to her liver and bones.

However, within a few months of starting treatment scans showed the disease was responding. As I write this, she has been a survivor for more than six years. But despite her good quality of life, Mary still lives under the uncertain shadow of an incurable cancer.

“I find myself asking God: ‘Could I just have a little control? I want your will, but could I have just a little of mine?’” she says with a laugh.

I really appreciate Mary’s honesty and the fact she recognizes the humor in desiring God’s will, but on her own terms.

God is teaching both Mary and me to quit searching for life’s CRTL-Z button and to stop pretending we can be in charge of it all. The truth is, we never were in control in the first place, and none of us has the wisdom to successfully direct our own steps.

The temptation always is there to place our trust in our fallen feelings or our limited view of the facts, but The Message Bible paraphrases a wonderful control-releasing truth in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all” (MSG).

I’m learning to give up the control-stick and trust the One who is all-knowing, all seeing, and all-powerful–because letting the Spirit control my mind instead truly does lead to life and peace.

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Where’s my Control Button? Insight from Lynn Eib on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lynn eib2

About the author: Lynn Eib is a long-time cancer survivor, a patient advocate, and an award-winning journalist. She has six titles with Tyndale House Publishing, including When God & Cancer Meet with 100,000+ copies sold. Her website www.lynneib.com provides a bi-weekly blog of encouragement; tips for founding, facilitating and finding faith-based support groups; and free resources for cancer patient and their caregivers.

In Lynn’s beautiful, giftable book, Peace in the Face of Cancer, she shares how to live well from the moment of diagnosis through the rest of life. You’ll discover how to bring God’s peace into your own home and heart―regardless of your or your loved one’s medical prognosis.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with giving up control?

 

 

 

Mourning Peace

by Louise Tucker Jones

 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

It had been several sad and lonely weeks since my three-month-old son, Travis, died suddenly from previously undiagnosed congenital heart disease. In fact, the weeks had now turned into months. The sadness was more than sad, and the grief still so raw, it cut my heart in two. The shock of his death brought me to my knees, as I held onto God with all of my strength.

But now my heart was so broken that I couldn’t even pray. Questions assaulted me. Where was God? Why didn’t He prevent this? What kind of God takes babies from their mothers? I felt totally abandoned, and became so angry I vowed to never pray to God again.

There was just one problem. I had a four-year-old son, Aaron, who missed his brother dearly and would ask me questions daily. “Mommy, what’s Heaven like?” “Mommy, can I go to Heaven and see Travis?” Or, “Mommy, why can’t Daddy go get Travis and bring him home?” These are tough questions, especially when you are mad at God.

I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting Aaron with the bitterness that was consuming me. I had taught him every day of his young life that Jesus loved him, and I couldn’t bear to destroy that faith. I loved my four-year-old son with all of my heart, and seeing him in such grief was more than I could bear. I knew I had to find peace beyond my own grief so that I could be a good mother to Aaron.

Finally, one night, as I lay alone on my bed in the darkened room, I poured out my heart to God—my anger, bitterness and pain. I prayed, “Lord, I have tried to change but I can’t, so if you want me whole again, You will have to do it. But please let me know that my baby is okay. Please heal my broken heart so I can be a good mother to Aaron.”

Suddenly, the room was filled with an almost palpable peace and I heard God speak to my heart, “Louise, Travis is with me. He’s okay. He’s with me.” Then, to my amazement, I felt the weight of my baby son placed against by breast and I could almost smell his precious baby sweetness and feel his soft hair brush against my cheek. I couldn’t open my eyes as tears streamed across my temples, soaking my hair. I lay absolutely still, allowing God to comfort me in a way I had never known as I continued listening to His gentle whisper: “Travis is okay. He’s with me.”

How long I lay in the mighty presence of my loving God, I don’t know. I only know that when I awoke the next morning, the bitterness and anger were gone. I still missed my son, Travis, terribly. I still had no explanation as to “Why?” But I knew I had just had the most intimate encounter with God’s healing love and presence than I had ever experienced in my entire life.

Are you in a place of pain? Even when we can’t understand the why or feel His presence, God promises to never leave us. As David wrote: “He restores my soul…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:3-4 NASB). We will never struggle with pain alone.

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Mourning Peace – insight on finding God from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet) 

Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is speaker, columnist and award-winning author. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the book, Special Needs—Special Ministry. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Louise’s book, Extraordinary Kids, is a Gold Medallion award winner. It provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced God’s discernible presence? Please share your story!

Kill Me Now – Keeping It Real with God

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15 ESV

What I love about the relationship between Moses and God is how real it all gets. Moses spent time meeting with God “face-to-face,” the Bible says, “as a man speaks with his friend.” Wow. I mean, seriously, wow.

You can’t read the book of Numbers and miss what a whining, complaining, grumbling bunch of people Moses led through the wilderness (and before you think I’m picking on the Israelites, my husband and I can’t drive thirty minutes without a quarrel. So I’m pretty certain they’re representative of the entire human race on a forty-year wander with only McManna burgers and McManna fries to eat.)

Their complaining reaches such heights, there are moments when God tells Moses to stand back while He destroys them all (Exodus 32:10). He assures Moses He can create a whole new people using just Moses’ DNA. Moses intercedes for them, then marches down the mountain to have a word with his wayward flock.

Then there are moments when Moses loses it. If we paraphrase the Numbers 11 passage above, essentially Moses is saying, “Kill me now. I’ve had it with these people.” This is the prayer of a holy man who speaks with God face-to-face.

I’ve prayed that prayer under far less pressure.

Even after five-plus decades of following Jesus, I’m trying to go deeper. I’ve seen some amazing things following God – miracles, answered prayer, and transformed lives. I’ve also known disappointment, silences from heaven, prayers that fell back to earth like shot-gunned quail, and lingering questions about big theological issues.

What I sense about going deeper with God is this idea of being real with Him. At my baptism, they played the hymn “Just as I am.” Its message is that I come to God through Jesus Christ, with nothing to my own credit.

But, somewhere along the way, I started trying to clean up my own act before I appeared before Him in prayer. I started masking feelings and questions with flattering phrases and religious words I thought would provide the formula to getting the answers I wanted. My prayers often bordered on idolatry as I struggled to break the “Open Sesame” code that would pry open God’s fists that seemed to be clenched around my desired blessing.

I’ve discovered that “Just as I am” still applies. Even after knowing Him for decades. Even after reading the Bible cover to cover again and again. Even after a degree in Biblical Studies. Even after all I know and all I’ve done “for Him,” I still appear before Him with nothing to my own credit. I come just as I am in the name of Jesus and am welcome in Jesus’ name.

Sometimes, “just as I am” means lost or confused. Sometimes it means happy and content. Other times it means angry, doubting or “just kill me now, I’ve had it with these people.” It’s freeing to stop hiding from God and working so hard to get something from Him. I want to want God first. Usually, I come to Him wanting something else, but I want to aim higher.

So, I’m learning from Moses, because he was real with God. He spoke with God face-to-face, as one would speak with a friend. I suspect the reason for this is that when Moses met with God, he knew immediately that God was the real Promised Land.

Are you keeping it real with God? Start today and you’ll also find that He is your Promised Land.

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Kill Me Now – Keeping It Real with God – insight 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: How do the words of “Just as I Am” speak to your heart?

 

The Value of Brokenness

by Tammy Kennington @TammyKennington

Shallow lines marked half-moons at the edges of my mouth, and the first shades of gray had begun threading themselves through my hair when I encountered soul-rocking, spirit-deep pain. Not one area of my life remained untouched.

Emotionally? I was immersed in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Relationally? My marriage and children seemed irreparable. Spiritually? My faith teetered haphazardly on the corners of anger and bitterness.

Weren’t women who loved God supposed to live out quiet, uncomplicated lives by the time they’d exhaled over forty shimmering candles I was as broken as I’d ever been, but I couldn’t avoid reality with childlike innocence or avoidance as I’d done before.

The person I’d been shattered into a thousand pieces—like my grandmother’s fine china did when the buffet’s contents tumbled onto the dining room floor. Shards of cream and pink flowers scattered; a haphazard array of brokenness.

An experience most of us has had at one time or another, brokenness comes in all shapes and forms.

Today, some of you may be wrestling with the brokenness of relationships. Perhaps you weren’t loved well as a child, you’ve been betrayed by a dear friend, or the divorce papers on the table mock the hope you embraced in your youth.

Others might be struggling with the on-going, relentless pain of mental illness, grief, or disease. The foot you place on the floor each morning feels almost as forced as the prayers catching in your throat.

Or, perhaps, the brokenness that burdens you was borne from lies you’ve believed about yourself. Maybe you’ve adopted an I’ll-prove-I’m-worth-saving approach to God, attempting to show Him you deserve His love only to realize striving and imperfection have brought you to your knees.

Brokenness is painful. We balk at its presence and fervently pray God will take it from us. Sometimes He does. But even if He doesn’t, there is nothing beyond the power of the Master.

Like a Kinstugi craftsman mending the broken remains of a Japanese tea bowl with lines of gold dust and resin, the One who restores all things bends intimately over His beloved treasure. Gently, He refashions what was into something new—a living, breathing representation of hope marked by old scars and transformed by grace.

The mending takes time and patience as the artist touches first one sharp edge to another, softening hard places with His healing touch and fitting disjointed, incongruent  pieces into one complete work bearing a mark of newness despite evidence of struggle. Hardship. Life.

Christ, too, knew brokenness. A “man of sorrows”, Jesus was betrayed by friends and family, suffered abuse at the hands of jealous men, and foretold His own suffering with the words, “This is My body which is broken for you.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)

He accepted brokenness on our behalf.

Because of Christ’s willingness to bear the weight of sin and shame? Because His hands were pierced with nails? Because He experienced death and resurrection? Our brokenness is subject to Him.

While the pain and suffering of living this side of heaven can seem overwhelming, its value is the testimony of hope the Master reveals in and through His work in our hearts; threads of His faithfulness shining bright in an everyday woman’s life.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17 NASB

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The Value of Brokenness – insight and encouragement from @TammyKennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy leads women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them. The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy has Moving From Pain to Peace: A Journey Toward Hope by [Kennington, Tammy]also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications.

Does emotional pain and suffering hold you back from experiencing joy? Moving from Pain to Peace provides hope and healing through hands-on study of Biblical truths, journaling and prayer. Why not take the first step toward recovery from your wounds today?

Join the conversation: Please share your experience with brokenness, whether from your past or where you are today. We can all learn from each other.

Tested by Praise

by Elaine Helms

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips . . . each is tested by the praise accorded him,” Proverbs 27:2, 21 NASB.

When I was in real estate, I learned fast that I needed to let people – potential clients – know about my accomplishments and why I would be their best choice to help them buy or sell their home. The better I did, the more the company praised me and promoted my expertise. The problem arose when I began to read and believe my own press. I thought, “Yes, I am pretty wonderful!”

God gave me the test of success and I failed miserably. “The Lord tests hearts . . . The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him” (Proverbs 17:3b, 27:21 NASB).

After I failed, being full of pride, God did not abandon me. He used strong followers of Christ in the same business to be an example for Him and to open my eyes to how to handle both promotional and genuine praise. God began to bring only Christian sellers and buyers, so my focus and conversations returned to and about Him.

Several years later, the wife of a couple I had served in buying and selling several properties, told me how thankful she was – that God put me in their lives when He did to draw them to a closer walk with Him. What? I thought God used them to draw me back to focusing on Him!

How like God to put two truants together to help each other get back on track with Him! We both laughed when we discovered what He had done, and agreed that God has a sense of humor.

God had called me out of real estate into church prayer ministry by that time; but being in full time Christian ministry does not exempt us from pride. Spiritual pride can also quickly slip in when God gives us an added measure of His Spirit to speak His word boldly or to impact a group. Name recognition grows the more God blesses…and His testing begins again!

How can we navigate the temptation to pride? Jesus gives one answer in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:16, NASB, “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.”

Go Back to the Basics

We can ask God to help us focus on His glory rather than our own. Reading the Bible and spending time with the Lord in prayer helps us be alert to the allure of pride. Memorizing Scripture can fill our thoughts and illuminate when we puff up our own image.

Practice the Presence of God

By practicing the presence of God we can consciously keep God on the throne of our hearts. It’s important to remember who is in control and who is giving us the power to do anything meaningful. When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, self will become less important (see Matthew 6:33).

Help Others

We can take our attention off of ourselves by trying to help someone else succeed. It all belongs to God and when we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us in the proper time (see 1 Peter 5:6).

When our focus is on God and not on ourselves, pride loses its grip on us and it becomes easier to give the glory where it belongs – to God.

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Insight when we’re Tested by Praise – from Elaine Helms on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Elaine HelmAbout the author: With her passion for God, humor, vulnerability and spiritual strength, Elaine Helms encourages audiences and readers to draw closer to God and live the abundant life Jesus came to give His followers. Prayer Coordinator for My Hope America with Billy Graham 2012-2013, Elaine has 30 years of experience in church, national, and interdenominational prayer leadership.

The 10th Anniversary edition of her book, Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Prayer 101: What Every Intercessor Needs to Know by [Helms, Elaine]Know was released in 2019. This comprehensive guidebook helps with discovering how to pray as God intends – with eternal impact. Journey through Scripture, find inspiration in stories of others, and learn simple yet effective strategies for prayer. www.ChurchPrayerMinistries.org

Join the conversation: What is your best tactic for avoiding pride?

Creating a Culture of Grace

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 NASB

Our response to other people’s failures and mistakes matter. A lot.

Our daughter has always been the type who longs to please. She hungers to know her father and I are proud of her, and at times, this heightens into an unhealthy fear of displeasing us. When she was younger, I often told her, “I almost want you to fail in this, so that you can see failure isn’t the end of the world.”

Mostly, I wanted her to experience grace and learn to live in it.

Grace isn’t overlooking sin or acting as if it’s acceptable, nor is it diminishing its effects. Grace says: I know you messed up here, and that stinks. But your actions won’t push me away. Instead, they motivate me to draw closer. Because I know you can do better. I believe you will do better, and I’ll be walking beside you each step of the way.”

Fear paralyzes, but Scripture says perfect love casts out fear.

Let me play on those words a bit. We all fear that we’ll be cast out. That others will reject us when we fail. But love draws near. If I instill nothing else into our daughter’s heart, I want it to be this: my love will always remain. No matter what.

Imagine our relationships, our churches and Bible study groups, if we learned to communicate grace-based love, not just with our words, but more importantly, with our actions and reactions. How can we create a culture of grace in our churches?

Understand failure will occur. We’re all in a process of growing. We know this intellectually, but it’s easy to forget when someone behaves badly.

Often, when I disciplined our daughter when she was growing up, I’d say, “You’re supposed to mess up. You’re a kid. That’s why God gave you parents.” That didn’t mean I condoned or ignored her behavior. It meant I saw it through a grace-and-growth-based lens. Paul put it this way to the relatively new believers in Philippi: “[I am] confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

Prioritize relationships above behavior, mistakes, and incidents. We need to keep the end goal in mind: working toward the kind of relationships that go beyond the superficial. One bad incident does not a relationship make. The challenges that inevitably come can actually be relationship builders, if we work through them together with an attitude of grace.

Jesus offered Himself. Completely. When He met a tax collector who’d swindled money from others, He didn’t list all the man’s sins. Instead, He drew the man close, saying, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5, NIV).

We forgive because of what Jesus has forgiven in us. When healthy and filled with grace, relationships give others a safe place to land, an opportunity to come clean with themselves and others, and grow from the experience.

Deal with things as they come then move on. When our daughter was a teenager, she and I went through a “passive-aggressive” phase where we routinely threw snarky comments at one another. Whenever we took the effort to unpack these interactions, we learned one of us had spoken out of hurt or fear. Watch others, or even better, analyze yourself, and I suspect you’ll discover the same.

Usually, passive-aggressive behavior stems from aversion to conflict, yet that is precisely where it leads—to ongoing, unresolved conflict. We discovered how important, how healing and powerful it can be to simply state our feelings and concerns. This allowed us to get to the real issue, which so often wasn’t what originally presented. It gave us the ability to move on, grudge and hostility-free.

I’ll never love others as Christ loves me. But I want to grow in this area. I want to create a culture of grace, where relationships are prioritized over mistakes and poor behavior and growth is valued above perfection.

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Creating a Culture of Grace – insight from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Hometown HealingShe’s home again, but not for long…
unless this cowboy recaptures her heart…

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Join the conversation: When has someone extended grace to you? How did it affect the outcome of your failure?

 

Kicking Out Worry

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27 NIV

Is worry the unwelcome guest in your home?

Worry can stress you out, damage your family relationships, and ultimately give you an ulcer.

And the dangerous thing about worry is that it creeps into our lives gradually and makes its home with us before we notice it’s there. It usually enters our front door in the form of two words: What if?

What if I lose my job?

What if I can’t pay this?

What if it’s not benign?

What if my worst fear is realized?

But you don’t have to live with worry anymore. At the root of our “what if” questions and greatest fears is what you and I really believe about God’s character. When our minds play through the various what ifs, the question we are really asking is “What if God isn’t able?” “What if God isn’t good?” “What if God can’t handle this?”

And that is not an attitude, question, or mindset I want dwelling in my home. And I don’t think you do either.

So, it’s time to kick it out the door.

God’s Word tells us: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 CSB).

As you and I give God all of our what ifs and worries He can calm our hearts and remind us that He is in absolute control. Then His peace comes to dwell with us, instead of those fearful thoughts.

When you and I trust God with what is closest to our hearts, we are saying “You, God, are capable. You are trustworthy. And all my worries and what ifs are in vain.”

We are also saying to those around us: “I trust God will work this out in your life and mine,” modeling trust and faith before them.

Give God your concerns today and by doing so, you’ll be kicking worry out of your home and welcoming a new family member: trust.

Lord, my worry factor is directly related to how well I know You. When I truly know You and understand all that You are capable of, I can’t help but trust You. Grow my faith and my relationship with You so I can know You intimately.  There is no more room for worry in my life. Only trust.

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Kicking Out Worry – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books. For more on her books and ministry, or to see if her coaching services can help you write your next book, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Every mom is concerned about her children and teenagers. But when does legitimate care cross the line into fear and worry, which Scripture commands us to avoid? 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom will start you on the path to worry-free parenting and a positive relationship between you and your kids.

Join the conversation: What characteristic about God is most helpful to you when you start to worry?

My Heart’s Desire

by Christina Rose

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 NIV

After 22 years in the family home it was time to sell. I dreaded it. The house seemed so quiet and empty after my two daughters left for college, yet it was filled with joyful memories of new babies, holidays, birthdays, love and laughter. I never wanted those days to end. Now that my husband was living nearby with someone new, I felt more lost and alone than ever. I was on the verge of sliding into a serious pity party, and there was only one thing to do. I put on my hiking boots and headed out with the dogs to call on my Father.

My home was at the base of Ring Mountain, a beautiful nature preserve that overlooked San Francisco bay. Each day I hiked and prayed and found my peace.  Today I needed it more than ever. I looked to the sky in prayer and heard, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.

The Lord spoke these words to His people in exile, spread all over the known world to give them hope. While things were grim at the moment, they were not to fear. The Lord would uphold and restore them. He never forgets His own.

Peace began filling my spirit and answers flowed. I was guided to call an old friend who had a beautiful historic home with a few rental cottages in the nearby town of Larkspur. His 100 year- old home sat on a hill in the middle of a redwood forest with spectacular mountain views and was a short drive to the beach. While I had not spoken to my friend in years, God’s message to call him was insistent. He was now living a few hours away and offered me the main house for a reasonable rent. He was in bankruptcy which meant if he lost the house I might have days to move out if I moved in. This was a huge financial and emotional risk. Again, I prayed on my mountain and the guidance to make this move was clear. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

I lived in paradise for three years. My daughters and their friends loved to visit. The stained glass windows, high beamed ceilings, decks, views of the mountain, lush garden in the redwoods with visiting deer, hummingbirds and butterflies were heavenly. Each sunrise and sunset I prayed on the top deck. In the evenings the fog from the ocean would roll over the mountain refreshing the air. A cottage became vacant and my sister and her kids spent the summer with us. A niece came by with friends on their way to a Bible retreat. One morning as I was watching the group praying in the garden, I thought, God’s plan is so much bigger than our own if we would just ask for his help and trust him.

The three years I spent in Larkspur were so blessed, and I am beyond grateful. My leap of faith was rewarded in ways that were far greater than I could have ever imagined. But I learned the true desire of my heart was not Larkspur. My true heart’s desire was to have comfort in knowing how much our Father loves us and how much he wants his best for us.

If we will just turn to him and trust him he will astound us with his mercy and grace. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

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My Heart’s Desire – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: When has God blessed you beyond what you had hoped? How did it increase your trust in Him?