Halloween Candy—On Sale This Week!

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Halloween candy goes on sale this week. But before you snatch up your favorites, beware of the monster you may unleash.

We’ve given Eve a hard time for eating the forbidden fruit, but if it smelled like chocolate, I understand.

Somebody knew women who like china also love chocolate and placed my favorite bar among the housewares where I was shopping. I picked up the 14.1-ounce Swiss Toblerone bar and remembered its smooth taste. “Shall I buy it for you?” my friend asked.

“Absolutely not!” I dropped it and walked away, but temptation had taken root. I ambled back to look at the fat grams, 12 grams per serving. Ridiculous. Who eats only one serving? Again, I walked away.

I discovered this particular chocolate on a mission trip in Europe. The music of the Alps played through my mind. In those days, you couldn’t find Toblerone bars in America. I could save it for when I really wanted chocolate.

The check-out clerk said he had never seen such a big chocolate bar. Good, it must be fresh.

Now that chocolate bar torments me day and night. One serving is just a tease for me.

I know how chocolate works. Like a sponge that begins the size of a flat dollar bill and puffs up in water to the size of a walrus, every gram of Chocolate fat expands into ten pounds of human fat. If someone can figure out how to pack a thousand photographs into a thumb drive, you’d think they could keep cocoa fat from expanding your hips.

Wrestling with chocolate reminded me of how powerful and deceitful temptation can be. Once you open the door to a temptation, it’s hard to resist doing more of the same.

How do we protect ourselves from destructive attractions? Consider the following.

Temptations are common to everyone. Whether we’re enticed by unwise relationships, rich foods, or over-spending, this world offers many deadly hooks (1 Corinthians 10:13). Even Jesus was tempted, but He never succumbed. Now He stands ready to help us resist.

Temptations lie to us. The Bible calls them “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22 NIV). They make promises they can’t keep. The guy at work promises excitement and love but delivers heartache. Rich foods make our taste buds dance, but too many of them compromise our health.

Temptations promise you’ll get away with it. One time won’t hurt. You’re smart enough to know when to quit. But the Bible warns sin is destructive and addictive (James 1:15, John 8:34).

God wants us to enjoy His good gifts. But indulging every whim makes us slaves to our passions and deadens our spiritual senses (Romans 6:16). Saying no to ourselves may be the most liberating thing we do.

When we wrestle with an attraction to what we know will harm us, we need to consider the implied promise behind the pull to go against our better judgment. What is the more likely outcome?

The good news: we will not struggle with temptation in eternity. Neil Anderson once said that heaven will be a place with no bad options. But until we get there, we have a High Priest who is able to rescue us from temptation and restore us when we fall.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV

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Halloween Candy—On Sale This Week! Thoughts on wrestle with temptation from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What kind of temptations are hardest for you to resist?

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Seeing

by Svetlana Papazov @SvetlanaPapazov

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth, that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.   2 Chronicles 16:9 NASB

Have you ever been to the eye doctor for an exam? Many of us go in thinking we can see just fine; but as the doctor puts our vision to the test with various lenses, we are surprised to discover that our vision is worse than we ever expected.

I’ve had a bad case of astigmatism since my childhood. With an astigmatism, you get used to seeing the world somewhat distorted and think that what you see is normal. To my surprise, when I looked through the doctor’s prescribed lenses, I could actually see the right letters and numbers on the eye chart. I’ve now gone through enough exams to know not to trust the accuracy of my vision without the correct adjustments.

Our spiritual vision can be just as warped. Think about the inner voice that talks to you during the day.  Most of the time the words we hear about ourselves and others are not encouraging. This is due to our sinful nature, which makes our brain’s default to be negative.

This means that our minds need new lenses to help us see what Jesus sees in us and in others. The good news is that He has made us a new creation. Our new identity is not predicated on how we, or others, see us but how God does. It is all about who He created you to be.

When it comes to our identity in Christ, we often need a vision adjustment.

We often have blind spots that affect our vision. In Mark 2:13-17, the Pharisees’ vision was distorted. They only saw Levi as a tax collector who extorted money from his own people. Their vision was limited to seeing him as a despised, ugly outcast of their society; someone not acceptable to their “pure” community. They failed to see him as God’s creation, dearly loved by Him.

We all have blind spots when it comes to how we view others. Jesus warned his disciples about that: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NASB).

The Bible is an awesome vision adjuster. It’s illuminating light gives us clear vision of  the reality around us. It tells us that Jesus sees us through the lens of grace (undeserved favor), not through our performance. When we understand and appreciate the grace God has given us, we are able to see others through God’s eyes.

Prayer:  Jesus, we thank you for who you are.  We are thankful that you see us as restored, redeemed, healed, transformed and so much more. Help us to discover who you say that we are, and help us to see others the way that you see them. Amen.

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Seeing- thoughts on spiritual vision from @SvetlanaPapzov on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

svetlana papazovAbout the author: Dr. Svetlana Papazov is a wife, mother of two, lead pastor of Real Life Church in Midlothian, VA, seminary professor, and a mentor of trailblazer leaders. She is the President Elect of National Speakers Association, VA and speaks at conferences and retreats, consults and trains various denominational networks, associations, churches, and marketplace leaders to become transformation catalysts for their communities.

Svetlana’s newly released book, Church for Monday: Equipping Believers for Mission at Work, guides the local church in preparing believers for the workweek to re-establish the Church’s witness in the public arena. This is the gospel for a new generation and a must-read for anyone who longs to see the Good News move beyond Sunday to the world. To connect with Svetlana for your next event, go to ChurchForMonday.com

Join the conversation: What vision adjustment has the Lord given you lately?

Impatient with the Process

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The year my husband spent abroad after graduating college, he taught for several months at a Bible school in the Fiji Islands. There was a missionary there who was much-revered for his wisdom and excellent teaching. After one particularly inspiring class, the students surrounded the godly man and asked: how long did it take him to prepare for such a profound lesson?

The old missionary smiled at the eager students. “Oh, about 45 years and a half-hour,” he told them.

Some things take time. A long time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a godly Christian. Yet often, we struggle with impatience at our lack of maturity. Why can’t we be wiser with our words? When will we ever feel confident in our Bible knowledge? Will there come a time when our foolishness is at an end?

When are we finally going to get it all together?

A look at scriptural examples of God’s time frame in transformation to maturity can also be discouraging. Moses spent the first forty years of his life in the Pharaoh’s palace. Then, after murdering an Egyptian guard, Moses fled into the wilderness. There he remained for forty more years. It wasn’t until Moses was the ripe old age of 80 that God called him to lead his people out of Egypt.

Then there is the story of David. The prophet Samuel anointed him to be the next king when he was quite young, still tending the family sheep out in the fields. While David knew what the future held for him, few others did. Life did not change quickly for David after the anointing. But eventually King Saul saw him as a threat, forcing David to flee into the wilderness. There he remained in exile for many years, continually pursued by Saul and his army. It was a long wait before God would finally fulfill His promise.

Even Jesus spent time in the wilderness in preparation for His public ministry. For forty days, He fasted and endured temptations flung at Him by Satan.

Clearly, preparation takes time. And it is in the wilderness that God often does His most important work in preparing people for their purpose.

Why the long wait in the wilderness for each of these future leaders? The writer of Hebrews gives us a clue (in reference to Jesus): “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB).

Jesus perfected His obedience through experiencing suffering in the wilderness, as did Moses and David.

Being in the wilderness, with its isolation and difficulties, can have a valuable outcome. Through our experience there, we see the reality of just how much we need Him. When we do, it is only then that we are best equipped to do His work: our hearts fully open to His leading and ready to choose His will over our own.

Time in the wilderness grows us into much more effective servants. Paul learned this when dealing what he considered to be a thorn in his flesh. “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me,” he wrote. “And He has said to me, ‘My power is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NASB). Paul learned the power of Christ through his “wilderness” experience.

Are you suffering in the wilderness today? Hang in there. God is doing a work in you as you wait on Him. Someday you will be able to look back and see what He accomplished in you during that time. And you will count it worth the cost.

I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.                                                                                     Philippians 1:6 NASB

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Impatient with the Process – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. 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 encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God used a wilderness experience to transform you?

Better Than Gold

by Doris Hoover

The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.                                                                                                    Psalm 19:9-11 NIV

I love fine jewelry. Its sparkle and shine attract my eye. My husband likes to tease me that I’m drawn like a moth to light to jewelry stores, even though I mostly just browse. Something about the beauty of polished gold stirs my spirit.

Today’s Bible verses compare God’s Word to pure gold. The black and white words we read in the Bible are righteous precepts to guide us through life. They are majestic, stunning, and alluring words, because they originated in the mind of God. Opening the Bible and reading it is like opening the door to a jewelry store where a light shines on pure polished pieces of gold displayed on black velvet.

When the Lord gave the Law to Israel, the presentation reflected the value of what they were receiving. Moses was to meet God Himself atop Mount Sinai. Three days prior to the meeting, the people purified themselves. Boundaries were established at the foot of the mountain with a warning that anyone crossing them would be put to death.

On the day of the meeting, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed as a dense cloud covered the mountain. With a trumpet blast, Moses led the people to the base of the mountain while he climbed to the top. The people trembled as the Lord descended on it in fire.

When Moses came down from the mountain and told the people all the Lord’s words, they responded unanimously, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” (Exodus 24:3)

Jesus so revered God’s Word that He used the words verbatim when He responded to Satan’s temptations in the wilderness, “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4 NIV) And Paul tells us, “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

The Lord has given us a book that is so pure and valuable, nothing on earth compares to its worth. In it we read about the creation of everything, our origin, and God’s amazing plan to redeem us from sin and bring us into His eternal presence.

Before I was a Christian, I didn’t know much of what the Bible said. I had access to the book, but I never knew its value. As a new Christian, I dove into God’s word with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. But it was during my most difficult trials that I truly discovered the preciousness of what was written. During those times, I didn’t just read my Bible, I opened it and climbed into the arms of Jesus while He soothed me with the sweet balm of the Word. I made my bed in the book of Psalms where the Lord fed me a substance that was sweeter than honey. I was drawn to the hope, peace and comfort of God’s word like a moth is drawn to a light.

I still love the beauty of pure gold, but the most precious treasure I own is made of black ink and paper. The Bible is a treasure available to each one of us. If we read it and meditate on it, we’ll discover its immeasurable worth.

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Better Than Gold – thoughts on how much God loves us 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. She 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: How has the Word of God impacted you?

The Ultimate Cover-up

by Rebecca Barlow Jordan

“You forgave the guilt of your people–yes, you covered all their sins.” Psalm 85:2 NLT

I never intended for it to be a cover-up. It was only an innocent mistake.

Several years ago I returned to my roots–in more ways than one. Yes, I’m back to brunette again. The blond was actually the result of a beauty salon mistake a few years prior to that: a dryer, processing gentle highlights, failed to work correctly.

How could I resolve the problem of hair, now with multi-colors? Only a complete cover-up would do. I liked the end result, so I kept it. Do blondes really have more fun? The only problem was, the cover-up didn’t hold. It took more cover-ups as the roots grew out. The more cover-up jobs we tried, the blonder I got–and the less “natural” I looked.

More cover-ups are never a permanent solution.

But deciding to go natural has its own problems, too. After so many cover-up applications, how do you mix the old and the new without your hair looking…striped as it grows out? The remedy, I was told, was yet another cover-up–this time, back to my roots, to the original color. That way, as the gray appears, the hair will look more natural. But covering up the blonde with brunette left reddish hues. Not as natural as I had hoped.

Strange thing about cover-ups: they may work for a little while. But sooner or later the real colors emerge. But hair is not the real issue here.

Most of us have tried a few cover-ups in our lives. I spent several years early on trying to “cover-up” some of my mistakes. Not fun, is it? Eventually, the real colors show through. Under the expert x-ray light of the Holy Spirit, layer upon layer is gradually exposed until the cover-up colors are completely gone.

God has done His own cover-up job for us. The mistakes we thought would define who we were or how we would live have been completely covered under the blood of Christ. His death gave us new peace and new life, one in which our super-natural colors could flourish. He put an end to any further cover-up attempts on our part.

I’ve decided on no more future hair coloring cover-ups, even though I agree with Robert Browning who once said, “My business is not to remake myself, but make the absolute best of what God made.” Some of us are simply trying to make the best of what God made.

But I can truly say that hair color has nothing to do with how much enjoyment we find in life. Matthew 23:12 (MSG) says, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.”

The only thing that really matters about this entire conversation is the ultimate cover-up Jesus provided, and whether we accept it or not. It is tied to a full, enjoyable, and meaningful life: “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (John 10:10 AMP).

With Jesus’ divine application, there’s no need for any more cover-ups. It’s definitely a permanent solution.

© 2011, Rebecca Barlow Jordan, Used by permission. https://www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com/the-great-cover-up-does-it-ever-work/

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The Ultimate Cover-up – insight from Rebecca Barlow Jordan on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

IMG_7350About the author: Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a day-voted follower of Jesus who loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others. She has authored and contributed to over 20 books and written over 2000 articles, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. Rebecca also loves gardening, visiting with her children and grandchildren, reading great fiction, and fishing with her husband. Find Rebecca and her encouraging blog at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.

From deepening your walk with the Lord to strengthening your relationships with others … mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and women everywhere will find page after page of powerful spiritual encouragement within Rebecca’s Day-votions for Women: Heart to Heart Encouragement.

Join the conversation: How has leaning into God’s cover-up of you changed the way you live?

Time Keeps on Ticking

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…”        Psalm 31:14-15 NIV

In her declining years, my mother struggled with a variety of health challenges. The combination of fragile bones and unsteadiness on her feet led to a number of falls and breaks. Following surgery to repair a vertebra fracture, and a too-brief sojourn to recovery in physical therapy rehab, I stayed with my mother when she came home.

The first night, after I finally got Mama settled—a box of tissues on the bed, a bell on the nightstand, enough (but not too much) covers, the door cracked just the right amount—I crawled into the guest bed, exhausted. On the bedside table perched an old wind-up clock. No other time indicators were in the room (this was before cell phones dominated our lives). I contemplated winding the clock, but hesitated, thinking of the potential intrusive noise, then decided to wind it anyway.

Big mistake.

For hours, I lay there listening to something akin to the sound track of 60 Minutes.

TICKTICK-ticktick. TICKTICK-ticktick.

After a while, I began to imagine little rhythms in my head to fit the ticking. Even with a pillow over my head, sleep was impossible. I considered taking the clock across the hall to the 1950’s-era tile bathroom, but decided the ticking would only be magnified in there. Finally, I buried the clock under a quilt at the foot of the bed. Although the sound diminished, I could still feel the pulse of the ticking through the mattress.

That night, I had ample opportunity to ponder time, and the fact that except for one incidence recorded in the Old Testament book of Joshua, time doesn’t stand still. Time marches on with each tick of the clock, continually moving us forward. Whether we approach the progression of time with fear or faith is our decision.

The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews lists Bible heroes whose faith was notable. Noah is among them. When God told Noah he was going to destroy the world with a flood and that he needed to build an enormous boat, Noah believed Him. Instead of quaking with fear about the impending deluge, or focusing on the time necessary for the task before him, Noah got to work. Doubtless, others scoffed at him for building a boat nowhere near water and the fact that it was taking so many years to build, but Noah stayed focused and finished the job. He looked beyond the obstacles, saw the future through eyes of faith, and trusted God.

Those who gaze into the future with fear are often troubled by the what-ifs: there’s so much that could happen in the unknown. What if I lose my job, run out of money, receive an incurable diagnosis, an aging parent requires full-time care, my teen rebels, or adult child fails to launch? Allowing anxiety and fear to be in charge of our lives is like shackling ourselves to a heavy ball and chain.

It’s hard to move forward when you’re dragging worry and projecting tragedy with every step.

The opposite of fear is faith. Faith believes God is all-knowing, present everywhere at once, and cares about the circumstances of our lives. If we believe God, and trust him, future is not so scary. We can view the ticking of time with anticipation rather than anxiety, knowing, despite what comes next, God will be there to hold our hand and lead, comfort, help, and sustain us.

So the next time you hear a ticking clock, let the rhythm in your head be a song of praise to God for provision, protection, and the courage to move forward with confidence.

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Time Keeps on Ticking – 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 scares you the most about the future?

 

 

The Telltale Tail (No, I’m not stuttering!)

by Sheri Schofield

It is autumn here in Montana. The air is crisp and we have had our first snow. It’s that time of year when bucks fight each other, competing for does. So it did not surprise me when I saw two bulls locking horns the other day in their corral. There were no cows around to notice, so they were being very careful with those long, sharp horns. But I knew they were having fun fighting because they were wagging their tails!

Sometimes I think it is a huge disadvantage that people don’t have tails. Have you ever wondered how another person was responding to you? If he or she had a tail, you would know! Serious face and straight out tail: “I don’t like you! I may attack!” Tucked tail: “I’m nervous and a little bit afraid.” Smiles accompanied by small wags: “I am willing to get close and see how we get along”.  Happy smiles and joyfully wagging tail: “I am soooooo glad to see you!” Then there’s the ever-popular male greeting of serious face and wagging tail: “Let’s fight!”

But then, animals don’t lie. Except for cats.

If the world had a tail, I think it would have a straight face and wag its tail, just like dogs circling each other preparing to attack. The world is engaged in battles at every level. Nations attack nations. People attack people. Even children fight each other over toys. It is our nature, just as it is the nature of animals, to fight or to run away in fear.

But someday, the Prince of Peace will return to this earth. The lion will lay down with the lamb. Men will hammer down their weapons and turn them into plows, and there will be peace.

The Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and to fill our hearts with peace. He brings us a foretaste of heaven. Those who surrender their lives to the control of the Holy Spirit will exude love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23, NLT).

Imagine a world filled with those qualities. What a world it would be! Imagine a church filled with those qualities. That is what Jesus intends. But even the early apostles struggled with their human nature, a nature that goes against God’s peace. Remember Paul and the conflict he had with Barnabas over John Mark, who couldn’t take the struggle of missionary work and went home? That’s just one example. And these struggles continue in Jesus’ church today.

We cannot change our world. We can only influence it. We cannot change our churches. But we can surrender our own hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit and allow the peace and love of Jesus to flow toward those around us, both inside and outside the church. The more Christians surrender to the Holy Spirit, the more we will see lost souls turn to Jesus, for love is a magnet to those who are searching for hope. Where there is love, there is hope. This hope blossoms into faith in Jesus and blooms into eternal life.

So today, I’m going to smile. If I had a tail, I’d wag it at you. Pass it on!

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.   Isaiah 54:10 NIV

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The Telltale Tail (No, I’m not stuttering!) – Sheri Scholfield 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: What has been your more recent experience in hearing from the Holy Spirit?

Feeling Out of Your Element

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10 ESV

Deep sea creatures are fascinating, and they have a story to tell.

If I could overcome my raging claustrophobia long enough to enter a submarine, I’d travel beneath the sea to observe giant squid, octopi, and lantern fish in their own habitat. I believe they have a lot in common with us Jesus-followers.

Creatures that dwell in the deep sea are perfectly designed to survive in their surroundings. (Like us, when we become new creatures in Christ.)

They have large eyes especially designed to see in the dark, lightless depths. So, too, do followers of Jesus have eyes designed to see in dark, lightless places. Like Father Damien, a priest who volunteered to work, and eventually to die, on the Kalaupapa leper colony in Hawaii. He did not see disease; he saw human beings who craved the loving touch of God.

Deep sea dwellers are designed to glow in the dark – they have their own inner light that shines in the depths where no sunlight penetrates. So, shines the light of Jesus-lovers. Consider Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who hid Jews from the Nazis and was eventually captured and imprisoned with her sister in a concentration camp (Ravensbruck). She was able to shine the light of Christ even there. Her sister, Betsy, died at Ravensbruck, but not before she told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Sea creatures are beautiful and graceful when they are in their element. They were designed to live surrounded by deep saltwater that exerts immense pressure and helps to give these creatures their form and flow. Followers of Christ are meant to abide in Him, our Living Water, and when we do follow Him into the deep heart of God, it is in the immense pressure we experience from outside sources that we find our actual form and flow. We cease to flop about on the surface of spirituality or deflate and rot on the shore gasping to breathe air we’re not equipped to utilize.

Out of their element, stranded or washed up on shore, deep sea creatures are ghastly, odiferous, and subject to quick death. So do we, apart from life in Christ, become distortions of our intended design, continually given over to death of the soul, spirit, and eternal life.

Feeling out of your element? You are. You were meant to dive deep, to travel deep, to dwell deep—salt, water, light…it’s in your re-born DNA. If you are in Christ, you are a new creature according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. You must discover your new element – which is only found in Christ.

Feeling the pressure of life in Christ? You were made for the pressure. It will shape you, support you, and free you. You were designed to inhale water—Living Water.

Go ahead! Dive into the heart of God. There’s nothing to fear. It’s what you were made to do.

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Feeling Out of Your Element – @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. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Are you under pressure right now?

Biking or Bumbling

by Peggy Cunningham @Inca_Writer

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.  Proverbs 3:6 MSG

Learning to ride a bike sometimes results in scratches, sore muscles, and maybe even broken bones. At least that was my experience. It was on my son’s seventh birthday. He got a bike and so did I. Warning: Don’t learn to ride a bike at the same time your kids are learning.

Seriously, I was still young! How hard could it be to sit on two wheels and stay upright? Pretty hard, I was soon to discover.

The July sun beamed down on the shiny new bikes. My son and I walked our bikes down the steep driveway and across the buzzing highway onto a less-traveled mountain road. Earlier that day, my husband pleaded for me to wait until he came home so we could all be together for this memory-making venture. He knew our son couldn’t wait to get on that new bike, so he finally conceded and agreed to join us when he arrived home.

I helped my son up onto the seat. He got the hang of it quickly while I played the role of traffic police. Then it was my turn. I sat with the posture of a natural cyclist even though I had no idea about brakes or speeds or balance. Determined to do this thing, I pushed the peddles while my son took his turn as traffic police.

With one push of the peddles, I sped into the wind. Whoa, what fun! Fun, yes…until I realized I had no idea how to brake. Panic set in as the wheels seemed to lift from the pavement. How to stop? What if a car came over the little knoll? Think, I told myself! The only place to go and the only way to stop was to steer straight into a fence. Crash! Fortunately, a big bush kept me from a fall.

Tears fell over my son’s sweet face. I assured him I’d be okay. We walked those bikes home as I tried not to limp. The experience never deterred that seven-year-old from learning to ride––but I put my bike up for sale that very night.

Sometimes the Spirit nudges us to avoid a bumbling outcome. And, sometimes he pushes us into a fence to avoid a dangerous fall on the pavement while He gently teaches us that while we don’t know it all, He does.

I’m sure God’s hand held me up that day and kept me from falling. I learned this, “…don’t try to figure everything out on your own” (Proverbs 3:6 MSG). Sometimes we go ahead of Him as I did that day by not waiting for my husband who knew how to ride. When we are out of step with God, we may end on a pavement with bruises or even worse. Even so, He promises He will direct us in the way we should go––even into the bushes to lessen our injures from going our own way and not waiting on Him.

Have you gone off track and crashed into the bushes thinking you know it all? Me too. So, how do we avoid the proverbial crashes and bushes? Listen for God’s voice. He’ll keep you on track. The key is…drum roll please: Listen to His voice by reading His word, praying, obeying, and also learning from our circumstances.

I finally learned to ride a bike while passing through my mid-life zone. But still, I strive to trust God for less bumbling and more proverbial biking without crashes because He does know it all. I’m still learning to ride my proverbial bike. How about you?

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Biking or Bumbling – insight on #FollowingGod from Peggy Cunningham, @Inca_Writer, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Peggy CunninghamAbout the author: Peggy Cunningham and her husband, have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Rumi Rancho is their ministry base and home outside the city of Cochabamba where they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also a published Shape Your Soul: 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains by [Cunningham, Peggy]author of children’s books and women’s devotionals. Shape Your Soul is her latest devotional book for women. All her books are available on Amazon.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever crashed and burned? Please share your experience and what God did in you as a result.

 

Hair Appointments, Road Construction, and a Truth to Depend On

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:3 ESV

Last Saturday, I was ten minutes late to my hair appointment. Not because I was running late; I left home on time. The highway made me late.

Due to the quickly growing population, the portion of I-35 that runs through our college town has been under construction for years. Yes, we need more lanes, better overpasses, and additional on-ramps, but the construction process is frustrating. And the highway changes constantly. Which is exactly why I was late. The off-ramp closest to the salon was newly closed. And there was no easy way to get back. See, the highway did make me late.

The experience taught me that I need to double-check my route before leaving home. I can’t depend on the roadways to be the same as the last time I drove on them. In fact, we really can’t depend on anything in this life to remain the same. Everything changes. Everything. Nothing in this world is 100 percent dependable. Nothing and no one.

Even the people in our lives whom we love and rely on the most aren’t dependable all of the time. They may want to be. They may try to be. But they will let us down. They don’t have the power to control every circumstance. They cannot foresee every scenario or prepare for every contingency. Those we love and trust the most will fail us. They will leave us.

Even though God’s physical creation will pass away, there is One that is constant, One that will always remain:

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”  Hebrews 1:10-12 ESV

Our triune God is eternal, without beginning and without end. He does not change. He has been, is, and will always be holy, divine perfection. There is no need for change in Him. His character and His ways do not shift with the tides of culture. His Word His true, constant, and stable.

Have you ever contemplated that the God who closed the mouths of the lions for Daniel is the same God we worship today? Our God can part the sea, defeat vast armies, and raise the dead. Our God can calm the storm, give sight to the blind, and feed the hungry.

Embrace this unfathomable truth. He is forever and always good, trustworthy, and mighty. This unchanging, eternal God, who was faithful in your yesterday, will also be faithful in your tomorrow.

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Hair Appointments, Road Construction, and a Truth to Depend On – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” leads you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.

Join the conversation: What character trait of God is the most meaningful to you?