You’re Not Listening

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.                                                                                James 1:19 NLT

 

My daughter’s exaggerated sigh, followed with, “Never mind, you’re not listening,” left me knowing I had done it again. I actually thought I was hearing her. But I have a bad habit of listening only until I think I know what someone is saying, and then my ears shut off and my tongue takes over. Even while someone is still talking. I’ve done it to my daughter, my husband, and just about anyone with whom I’ve had a conversation.

I know it’s rude, and it makes whoever is talking to me feel like I don’t care about them. It communicates, “What you’re saying isn’t as important as what I have to say.” I really don’t feel that way, yet I am guilty of talking over people more often than I care to admit.

I’m working on it, but evidently not hard enough, because this morning, as I was reading my Bible, James 1:19 (NLT) hit me right between the eyes. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” It was as if the words, “quick to listen, slow to speak”, were lit up like flashing neon lights.

James goes on to talk about the importance of “hearing” God’s Word and then “doing” what it says. But that process cannot begin until we keep our mouths shut and listen.

If I could follow that one verse, it would be such a good thing. Both listening to God and to people require a closed mouth—no matter how important or urgent what we have to say might feel. So often, my quick words get me into trouble. I jump to conclusions and stir up anger. And then later, when I’m trying to clean up the mess I have created, I realize it all could have been avoided had I just kept my mouth shut and heard the rest of what they were trying to tell me.

Please tell me I’m not the only one guilty of this.

Jumping in with our two cents, before hearing someone out, not only devalues what they have to say, but they likely will also feel personally devalued. God’s Word is filled with instruction on how to walk out our faith by treating other people as more important than ourselves, and this is where it begins.

In Solomon’s collection of Proverbs, he teaches the advantages of listening carefully before speaking. If you are like me, and struggle with listening first, they might provide help and encouragement for you.

  • “He who has knowledge spares his words,
    and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit” (Proverbs 17:27 NKJ).
  • “When words are many, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19 BSB).
  • “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them” (Proverbs 29:20 NIV)

There is wisdom in remembering to hear before responding. It is a matter of simple respect. You will avoid creating a conflict by misunderstanding. There’s no faster way to make someone feel valued and loved than to listen to them.

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You’re Not Listening – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: How do you make someone feel heard?

 

God’s Chosen Ones

by Christina Rose

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”                                                            Colossians 3:12 ESV

A few years ago, I worked in downtown San Francisco. Many of my lunch hours were spent exploring the local historic churches. I would hop a cable car to the top of Nob Hill to Grace Cathedral to walk down the aisle in the light cast by the stained-glass windows as noon church bells rang. Beautiful Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in Chinatown offered noontime concerts by local members of the symphony. I would also often cross the street from my office to walk through the luxurious Palace Hotel lobby on my way to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.  

St. Patrick’s is a large, magnificent church. Its brilliant stained-glass windows showcase each of the patron saints of Ireland. Founded in 1851 to serve Irish immigrants, it today continues to serve a large immigrant population made up as several nationalities.

While all three churches had services at noon, St. Patrick’s by far had the largest attendance.

Each weekday at noon, hundreds of parishioners would fill the church, their heads bowed in prayer. Some would kneel at the large Jesus statue at the entrance and touch his feet as they whispered their prayers. Others would walk on their knees with hands in prayer, as they made their way to the altar.

One day, I saw a young man in laborer’s clothes march down the aisle and throw himself on the altar, crying out in a language I could not understand. I imagine he could have been a young father, praying for the provision of his family. On special holidays, there would be standing room only, with an overflow of devoted souls lined up outside the church.

Many, including myself, found great peace at these noontime services. Jesus said, ““Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV). Spending an hour in prayer and meditation on those visits to St. Patrick’s took my mind off of myself and my problems and moved my focus on to God and His bigger picture.

I would leave that place of worship with lightness of heart, knowing a powerful, compassionate God was in control. It put everything into the proper perspective.

Afterwards, I would return to my high-pressure corporate law office to the deadlines, trials, court appearances, and occasional tantrums. I was able to do my job calmly and keep my peace, knowing who is truly in charge of all things.

While some may associate meekness with weakness, it is actually power under control.  It is the ability to see yourself as a servant of God, rather than for other people, and truly will make your burden easy and your yoke light.  Following Jesus’ example as gentle and lowly in heart eases the pressure to perform. We rest in our confidence in Him.

As God’s Chosen One, He promises rest for all souls who seek Him.

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God’s Chosen Ones – insight 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: What helps you the most in finding rest in God alone?

 

 

 

 

Success Can Be Dangerous

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Success can be dangerous.

Elijah had just been used by God (in I Kings 18) to triumphantly bring fire down from heaven and put the priests of Baal not only to shame, but to death. But then, in response to the miracle, Queen Jezebel angrily threatened retaliation.

“So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of [those priests]. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (I Kings 19:2 NIV).

Elijah reacted as most of us would have. He fled. God supplied sustenance in Beersheba, and then, continuing in his escape, Elijah ended up “lodging in” (not just visiting) a desert cave one hundred miles away from where he started. Alone. Or so He thought.

God then asked Elijah a simple question: “Elijah, what are you doing here?

Elijah answered: “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel  have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10 NASB).

Then, because God is compassionate and caring, he revealed Himself to Elijah, showing him he was not alone. He first caused a thundering wind, but He was not in the wind. He then shook the earth in a violent quake, but He was not in the earthquake. Then a roaring fire passed by, but God was not in the fire. God was not in any of those violent, destructive things.

When God finally did come, it was with a gentle blowing whisper. It was enough to woo Elijah out of his dark cave.

And again, God asked the question, “What are you doing here?”

He wasn’t asking Elijah about his physical location, but where he was in his heart. God wanted Elijah to bare his soul to Him. Elijah did, revealing once again his disillusionment and fear.

And in response to Elijah’s honest struggle, God comforted him by showing him the relief and help He would provide.

Most of us can probably think of a time when we trusted God wholeheartedly, but found a massive spiritual fail wasn’t far behind. As we turned inward and away from God, it may even have triggered depression and hopelessness.

During times of sadness, or when you’ve just failed (or sinned) for the umpteenth time, how do you hear God’s response? Especially when you feel abandoned and feel no one understands?

Do you hear God’s words as a gentle inquiry: “What’s going on in your heart? I want to help.”? Or do you hear a condemning “I can’t believe you’re disappointing me … again!”?

How we perceive the tone of God’s inquiry indicates whether or not we believe that God is a compassionate God.

I love how God’s question was an invitation for Elijah to identify his feelings out loud. I love how He responded by revealing His own compassionate nature. Identifying our feelings often is not easy. Many of us as children were told not to feel or share our deepest emotions. We can feel guilt by expressing them.

But God doesn’t want us to hide anything from Him. His caring question invited Elijah’s honesty. His response to Elijah’s raw emotion was to give him purpose, sustenance, encouragement, and support.

God could have provided for Elijah without asking his soul-penetrating question, but he didn’t. Elijah’s heart awareness and verbal expression prepared him to receive what God had to say to him, to receive God’s compassionate provision.

He can do the same for you.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.   Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

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Success Can Be Dangerous – encouragement from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller lives in Southern California and is the author of over 55 books including the Daughters of the King Bible study series. One of the studies is At the Heart of Friendship. As a popular women’s conference speaker, she has spoken in 35 states and 8 foreign countries. Her passion is to communicate practical biblical ideas for trusting God more. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com 

Join the conversation: How do you describe God’s caring compassion?What does it mean for you today?

A Scary Prayer

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

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

Some years ago, I attended a three-day conference for Christian speakers. The sessions covered things like techniques and presentation styles, how to do outlines, and how to engage your audience. Every afternoon, we broke into small groups to practice what we were learning. We evaluated our peers on delivery, personality, body language, and more.

On the final day of the conference, we delivered our most important presentation. Not only did our group leader evaluate us, but the founder of the training organization also popped into various groups at different times. I wasn’t overly nervous, but when my turn came, SHE walked in the room and sat down. My speaking ability would be evaluated by my peers, my group leader, and the very experienced founder of the organization.

I felt exposed and vulnerable. What would SHE think? What flaw would she spot? What weakness would she discern? As it turned out, she was very encouraging and helpful. But she couldn’t see everything about me. She didn’t know my insecurities, my failings, or my motivations.

What about you? Have you ever been evaluated? Maybe it was in a speech class, piano recital, or a yearly job performance review. We’ve all faced an evaluation at some point. But we don’t usually ask for it. We don’t often initiate the scrutiny.

But that’s exactly what the psalmist David did. And it wasn’t just some other lowly human he invited to take a really close look. Nope. David asked God Almighty, the One who knows all and sees all, to thoroughly examine his heart and mind.

That sounds super scary to me. I know God knows it all already, but to purposefully make myself so incredibly vulnerable… That’s like one of those dreams where you walk into a room full of people only to discover you wore your birthday suit.

But here’s the thing. God is totally faithful. Completely trustworthy. He wants only the best for us. He desires for us to grow into our full potential so we can be useful and effective for His good purposes. That requires spiritual refinement, transformation, and growth. It requires getting rid of all our junk and replacing it with Jesus.

This prayer, modeled by David, expresses a willingness to be laid completely bare before the Father. To invite His examination and scrutiny of our inner self. Every thought in our minds. Every inclination of our hearts. Every motivation. Every passion.

But if we are going to trust anyone with our lives, with ourselves, shouldn’t it be God? He already knows us better than we know ourselves. Let’s allow Him to have His way. Scary, yes. But also glorious and miraculous. Search me O God.

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A Scary Prayer – encouragement and insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Have you ever prayed this prayer? Does the thought scare you a little?

What Would Jesus Say to Us about the Corona Virus?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.                                      Matthew 10:28 NIV

Have you wondered what Jesus would say to us about the corona virus? My inbox is full of emails from merchants and event planners sharing the precautions they’re executing to protect us from this virus.

My daughter, who works in airline reservations, had her shift hours doubled to handle flight cancellations. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math on that one! Paying your employees overtime to cancel your source of revenue? The threat of this virus has shaken our economy and our sense of well-being.

So, what would Jesus say? Several thoughts come to mind. Let’s look at one.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NIV).

I bet you didn’t see that one coming! While the Bible is full of verses that assure us of God’s care and protection over our earthly lives (Psalm 91; Matthew 6:25-27), this one reminds us of a core issue. We all will die. Some of us will die peacefully; others will die painfully, but either way, life on this earth will end.

How we live and whether or not we are ready to face eternity is more important than how and when we die. While the New Testament speaks of a time when Jesus will return and all believers who are still alive will meet Him in the air, statistically speaking, you have 100% chance of your life on earth coming to an end (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

I recently spoke with a young man who said his sister had canceled her family birthday party because of the virus threat. I mentioned that we all will die and need to be ready to die. This 38-year-old man said he’d had a brush with death just weeks earlier. He described riding his motorcycle down a city road when a rolled carpet fell off the truck in front of him, knocked him off his bike and sent him skidding across 100 feet of asphalt. He showed me the pink skin running down his arm where the asphalt had penetrated the layers of his clothing.

“When they put me in the emergency vehicle, I fell apart. I couldn’t believe I was still alive,” he said.

Jesus’ words really are a source of comfort to those who embrace them. For He reminds us there is only One with the power to destroy or to save an eternal soul. And He has gone to extreme measures to save us.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

If you were to die today and God were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you say?

Would you tell Him you’ve done your best?

That your good deeds outweigh your bad?

Your very eternity rests on getting this right. The Bible supplies the correct answer.

If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV). Have you put your trust in Jesus? Do you believe His death paid for your sins—past, present, and future—and His resurrection secured your eternal life (1 John 5:13)? If so, you have nothing to fear from the corona virus, or anything else, for that matter.

How much head space is the corona virus taking up in your mind? We should be wise in our actions. We should heed the precautions to wash our hands and protect ourselves. But let’s be counted among those who encourage each other to faith, not fear. Fear actually suppresses the immune system we need to fight not only this virus but other serious illnesses, including cancer.

Let’s follow the Bible’s admonition to: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

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What Would Jesus Say to Us about the Corona Virus? – encouragement 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: How are you coping with our present circumstances?

Do You Love Me More than These?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

No one wants to be reminded of their sinful choices. Satan, our accuser (Revelation 12:10) loves to use guilt and shame to fuel our self-hate and distrust of God. His motive is to convince us God can’t possibly still love us.

At the famous fish breakfast on the beach by the Sea of Galilee (John 21), Jesus pursued Peter with laser-focused inquiries into Peter’s still-hurting heart. He created  circumstances that morning that would bring further healing through providing a contrast to Peter’s past with his present:

  • Peter denied Jesus three times. Now, Jesus asks Peter the same question three times and assures him with the same command three times.
  • Peter was called to be a follower by Christ after seeing Jesus’s miracle of providing fish. Now, Jesus provides a boatload of fish to one who already believes.
  • Peter denied knowing Jesus in the setting of a blazing fire in the high priest’s court. Now, Jesus welcomes the group to the campfire with fish browning on a blazing fire.
  • Peter had boasted to Jesus “Though they [the other disciples] all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33). Now, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” giving him an opportunity to reflect on his earlier boastful claim.

All of these important interactions continued the work of healing in Peter’s soul. If we were Peter, we possibly might think: “Does it really take all this to heal? I don’t want to review my sin.” But Jesus knew he was not fully healed.

Sometimes we aren’t, either.

Jesus’s persistence reaps the reward—a change in Peter’s heart. Peter’s interaction after Jesus’s third inquiry is different than ever before.

Peter is grieved when Jesus asks a the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).

Peter from the past would have passionately defended himself and taken impulsive action to demonstrate his love. But this time, Peter acknowledges Jesus knows everything, trusting that his Master knows his heart. Peter no longer has to prove his love.

Can we receive the Holy Spirit’s work of healing even as he reminds us of past sin? We might not be as spiritually healthy and healed as we think. Satan calls attention to the needed places of healing, accusing us and wanting to defeat us. His motive is to destroy our confidence in God’s forgiving and healing power.

God’s motive is the opposite. God does not intend to shame us but to steadfastly pursue our heart’s need of greater healing. As we face our sin and receive forgiveness and cleansing, our pride is shattered. Our ability to tell others of our Master’s loving acceptance increases. Our compassion for others empowers us. Our gratitude for salvation blossoms and deepens our relationship with Him.

Convinced he is no better than the others, Peter becomes a powerful leader in the church, giving the first sermon ever about Jesus on the Day of Pentecost.

When you remember your ungodly past, don’t let Satan use it for harm. Trust God to bring deeper healing.

 My Lord God Almighty, I praise you for your steadfast nature, which never gives up inquiring into my heart for my good. Thank you for helping me see the difference between Satan’s evil intent and your loving motives.

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Do You Love Me More than These? – encouragement from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller, author of over 55 books, loves to remember herself and others that God’s convicting power is always meant for our good. She has traveled the world sharing Jesus and has spoken in over 35 States and 9 foreign countries. She and her husband live in Southern California and are parents, grandparents, and lay-counselors. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com  

Kathy co-authored her latest book, God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature, with her husband Larry. It provides a fascinating exploration of who God is and all the amazing aspects of his nature—his love, grace, faithfulness, mercy, kindness, wisdom, and so many more.

Join the conversation: Has the Holy Spirit reminded you of memories in you that still need to be healed? Were you able to trust His kind intention through the process?

The Miracle Gift

by Sheri Schofield

The Apostle Paul, missionary to the Gentiles, had a vision one night. A man from a country across the sea stood before him begging, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (Acts 16:9 NIV).

Paul went. There in Macedonia, he preached the message of salvation and raised up a church for Jesus where hungry hearts longed to hear the message!

Many years ago, the Lord started me on a journey that would lead to my own Macedonia. It all began with a simple request that I made to my pastor one day.

“Pastor Jim, could I please paint a mural on my children’s church wall? I want to paint a picture of Jesus by the Sea of Galilee surrounded by children with the faces of kids in my class. I think it will help them understand how much Jesus loves them.”

“But, Sheri, that’s our fellowship room! We use it for so many other purposes! I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Pastor shook his head.

I couldn’t say that I blamed him. I hadn’t painted in over sixteen years, and I’d done mostly landscapes. But portraits? And after sixteen years? I sighed. I’d felt so sure that this was what God wanted me to do!

The desire did not go away. Instead, it grew. Every now and then, I’d bring it up to my pastor. Finally, after a year and a half, he said, “Okay, Sheri. But don’t get too into it. We may want to paint over it!” Then he left on his summer vacation.

Yes! I had three weeks! It wouldn’t be enough time to cover the space the way I wanted, but I’d get a good start. The wall was textured and in many places almost like stucco. It would mean I’d have to push the paint onto the surface instead of brushing it. The wall was nineteen feet long by seven feet high. What a challenge!

Then the miracle happened. God took my small ability and greatly multiplied it! By the time Pastor Jim returned from vacation, I had painted the background of the Sea of Galilee, a Cyprus tree hanging over the water on one side, and Jesus with three children – each child easily recognizable!

Pastor Jim was speechless. He stood looking at it for a few minutes with wide-open eyes. “How are you doing that?” He finally asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t know, Pastor. I just asked God to help me!”

Eventually, every child in my class was on the wall. When their pictures went up, the children would say, “I’m on the wall with Jesus!” They’d scoot their chairs over to the wall and pat it while I told the lesson. One toddler would break out singing, “Jesus Loves Me” every time she wandered through the room. Every child in that class asked Jesus into his or her heart that year.

And nobody painted over that mural!

I asked God, “What am I supposed to do with this gift?” But He told me to just have fun with it. So I did. I practiced painting, always on the alert for further instructions.

Once I had mastered the craft, the Lord told me to write and illustrate a children’s picture book on the plan of salvation and give it away to the poor! There are now over 3,000 copies of that book circulating in Montana. It has also been translated into Spanish; 2,000 of those are being printed, to be distributed on our southern U.S. border to the immigrants and poverty-stricken towns of Mexico’s Sierra Madres.

This is my Macedonia. I embrace it gladly!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 NIV

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The Miracle Gift – encouragement about God’s call 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!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: How has God gifted you to the benefit of others?

 

Swallowed Up by Life

by Patti Richter

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened… that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  2 Corinthians 5:4 ESV

After weeks of floating in the Pacific in a deteriorating raft, the well-known Olympic runner turned World War II Airman tasted a heavenly peace as death approached. While gazing at the vast ocean and starry skies, he’d made a promise to God. If the Creator of so much beauty could save him from the dangers he suffered—starvation, thirst, the heat of day and cold of night, Japanese planes overhead and sharks beneath—he would serve him forever.

The sea did not swallow Louis Zamperini. Readers of his survival story, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, hope his suffering will end as a boat comes into view. Instead, Japanese sailors hauled up his skeletal but yet-alive body. He would spend two long years enduring the wretched holes and brutal conditions of prisoner-of-war camps.

The late evangelist Billy Graham once answered a question about suffering by drawing a horizontal line to represent eternity and then placing a dot on that line to mark an earthly lifetime. The Apostle Paul provided a similar perspective: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 ESV).

The best outlook on suffering typically comes from those who have been through it. In the process, they discovered wisdom, strength, or some other gain they deem a worthy result of past travail. Giving birth is one such example.

In our human perspective, Zamperini’s afflictions do not seem to us as light nor momentary. But Paul had plenty of experience to qualify him to speak of hardship: he had survived beatings and imprisonments; he was shipwrecked, adrift and in danger at sea; he endured hunger, thirst, and exposure to cold (2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:25-27).

In the post-World War II years, Louis Zamperini descended into bitterness, anger, and alcoholism. His wife begged him to go with her to hear Billy Graham present a gospel message under a circus tent in Los Angeles. In the crowd on that evening, the nearly broken man heard the young preacher speak about earthly suffering and a loving God who knows the number of hairs on our head.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, Zamperini found redemption. With God’s help, he overcame his crippling hatred of former captors, and he finally fulfilled the promise to serve God he’d made while tossing in the ocean. This man who’d suffered so much lived in peace until his death at age 97.

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Swallowed Up by Life – Encouragement from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Patti Richter headshot 2017-1nAbout the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She writes and edits global mission stories for The Gospel Coalition and her faith essays appears at BlueRibbonNews.com.

Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of SufferingIt is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: How did trusting in Jesus Christ change your life?

That Settles It

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11 ESV

I like to call them mild sugar cravings. And yet, there I go. Shooting out of the car, across the kitchen, and diving for the pantry. I need chocolate, ya’ll. I’m like a treat-seeking missile. That bag of chocolate chips in there? Target acquired. Locked on. Give me a minute and those things are gone.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but my mild sugar cravings have been known to choose my Sunday School class for me. Anyone else ranking classes according to donuts?

“She’s a good teacher and all, but she only serves glazed. And one Sunday she ran out.”

“Linda’s class? Somebody brings those chocolate-covered, custard-filled Long Johns.”

It’s not really my fault. It’s very hard to make a prudent decision when there’s a Long John involved. Did I mention the custard filling? Custard!

Okay, it might be a little bit my fault. Mild sugar craving meets kids’ Christmas stockings. That’s when I start to question myself. Because my kids have been out of the house for several years. But I found a chocolate snowman. He’s got to be from at least four Christmases ago, but that little guy is mine.

That should be a reminder to me that my “mild cravings” are out of control and it’s time to corral the sugar intake. If the snowman has lost his wrapper, and I just pick the fuzz down off him and eat him anyway, that pretty much settles it: I have a problem.

I’m so glad that on an eternal scale, Jesus settled the biggest issues. We never have to wonder about His love for us. It’s big and beautiful and intense. Eternally more intense than anything I can choco-crave. He proved his immense, unconditional, unshakable love when He died on the cross to make it possible for us to have a right and tight relationship with Him. But then He went all out to prove His power to save. The same power that saves us from sin raised Him from the dead. That? Oh my.

That really settles everything.

How glorious—a risen, living Savior! One who gives us life! “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11 ESV).

I love the way the question is posed in this paraphrase: “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?” (MSG).

Because Jesus is alive, we’ve been made spiritually alive in Him. It’s one of so many reasons I love celebrating His resurrection. The Easter season reminds us that Jesus settled it. All. In one Earth-rocking event. I will celebrate Resurrection Sunday with intensity—with absolutely everything I’ve got—until Jesus comes again and beyond.

Back on the sugar craving side of things, I would like to point out here at the end, that my enthusiasm to celebrate the season has nothing to do with chocolate bunnies. But still, you will NOT want to put those little guys in my pantry.

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That Settles It – Thoughts on Easter from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What thought thrills you the most this Easter Sunday?

God Is Precise

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

In an old commercial, in a noisy room full of people, a man says, “My broker is E. F. Hutton. And E. F. Hutton says . . .” And the room grows suddenly silent.

“When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen,” says the commentator.

Dining with a large group, I felt like I was in an E. F. Hutton ad when the man next to me said, “You know, the longer I live, the more I can’t imagine a loving God turning anyone away from heaven, just because they don’t believe in Jesus. Can you?”

Time froze as the image of Jesus the night of his betrayal popped into my mind. I pictured him sweating drops of blood as “He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death” (Hebrews 5:7 NASB).

I looked at my companion, oblivious to whether or not those around me were listening, and reminded him that Jesus had asked if it were possible to avoid the cross (Matt. 26:36–56). “I can’t imagine a loving Father forcing his only Son to die on a cross if there was any other way to God,” I said.

“I never thought of it that way,” he said. Then he turned away to talk with someone else.

My companion’s declaration made me realize that when God seems narrow, it’s safe to say we’re looking at the situation from the wrong perspective. Maybe it’s better to say he is precise, because he knows what works and what doesn’t.

When my husband and I visited Yad Vashem—The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem—story after story of needless cruelty crushed me. A picture of a smiling mother and her two-year old son was followed with the story of how the Nazis separated them and sent them to different camps before murdering them both. I left a wet mess.

If just reading short snippets of those World War II horrors pained me, I can only imagine what it was like to live them. Jesus did more than live them; blameless Jesus, who’d never had even an impure thought, became each horrendous sin.

The agony Jesus experienced on the cross sliced much deeper than the physical pain of crucifixion. Jesus took on His body every sin that has or ever will be committed. That means He took the sins that were committed against us as well as the ones we’ve committed. He suffered in a few hours what would have taken the rest of us an eternity to suffer.

He took the hell we deserve, so we could share His heaven.

Study the founder of any religion, and you will discover a flawed person who needed a Savior. Jesus is the only person since Adam and Eve born spiritually alive and without sin. He is the only one who can supply spiritual life.

If there had been another way to save us, Jesus would have skipped the cross. But there was no other way.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 NIV

(Adapted from Little Faith, Big God, Feb. 2020)

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God Is Precise – Encouragement and Insight 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. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. Debbie is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach.

God expects spiritual growth to be a process. Do you? By exploring the biblical men and women of Hebrews 11 who failed, got up again, and finished well, Little Faith, Big God will inspire you to persevere in your own faith. Present-day stories and guiding questions invite personal reflection, application, and discussion. 

Join the conversation: What encouraging thoughts has God given you in this Easter season?