Make the Plunge

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake… Philippians 1:29 NASB

The water was COLD. Driven into the ocean after becoming overheated in the hot sun, I stood in it up to my knees, wincing as the periodic waves drenched me a little higher with each step forward. I knew a quick dip would put an end to the painful, slow progression. But I just couldn’t do it. Avoiding the shock, I continued to inch my way in. I couldn’t bring myself to make the plunge.

We all hate pain. We’ll do anything to avoid it.

Paul told the Philippians that God had granted them suffering. Granted? Could providing an opportunity to suffer be some kind of benevolent gesture, a giving of something desirable?

Wait…what?

No one likes to suffer. Neither did Paul! Yet he regarded his suffering as a favor from God. He looked past the temporary to the eternal. Paul saw suffering as a means to invaluable and eternal benefits.

1. Suffering is a path to knowing Jesus better.

“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Philippians 3:8 NASB).

We follow a suffering Savior. It only makes sense that walking in his footsteps will involve suffering in our journey as well. Sharing that common experience will develop an intimacy in our relationship with Him that would not have possible without it.

Paul saw sharing the sufferings of Christ as a means to intimacy with Christ.

2. Suffering produces glory.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB

God has purposed to conform all believers to the image of Jesus Christ. Transformation requires change, but change does not come easily. Suffering can force us to abandon old habits or ways of thinking and move us forward into the new.

The end result of sharing Jesus’ suffering will be sharing in his glory as well! Romans 8:17 (NASB) tells us “if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  

3. Suffering teaches us how to access the power of Christ.

“He has said to me, ‘My grace 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 12:9 NASB

God makes His amazing power available to us. Sometimes accessing that power can only come after finding our own resources insufficient. Paul saw his “thorn in his flesh” as a means to that end and so embraced his weakness. Suffering reveals the reality of our insufficiency and drives us deeper in our sense of dependency on God. When we are weak, then we are strong in the Lord.

4. Suffering makes us more effective for God’s Kingdom.

“[God] comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted…” 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NASB).

My daughter was blind-sided four years ago with a debilitating illness. For three years, her life was completely interrupted. As our family crawled through that torturous time, we clung to two facts: the pain would enable us to know Jesus far better, and our experience would give us insight (and a resulting empathy) into other people’s pain. She is now able to minister to people I can’t touch, because she has been in their shoes.

When suffering comes along, and it does more often than we wish, it can be overwhelming. But instead of thinking “Why me?”, we must choose to keep our eyes focused on the Savior, who, through suffering, made a relationship with God possible for us. Now God is using pain once again, this time to bring us further along in that relationship.

We must look past the temporary to the eternal. We must choose to trust in His good intentions. Taking that plunge will not only give relief but peace throughout the process.

TWEETABLE
Make the Plunge – encouragement on #FollowingGod from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About 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 revealing 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 suffering or hard times changed you for the good?

YOLO? Well, Yes and No

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12: 2 HCSB

There may have been a few other things I squeezed onto the day’s itinerary that didn’t exactly start out there. But those make-up tips on Pinterest are not going to pin themselves. And also, that word game on my phone keeps my brain sharp. Probably. Who needs a mind-sharpener more than I do? I’ve finger-swiped a lot of words in that game. Miles. I’m sure that’s why my mind is a steel trap. I can’t explain how the otter got in the trap. But still, I do think every now and then I hear him hollering, “YOLO!” It’s about as cute as a puppy. But not cuter than a puppy and a baby.

Not that I’m big on throwing my time away, because I had plans for accomplishing something great today. But you have to understand, that video said I wouldn’t BELIEVE what happened next. “BELIEVE”—it was in all caps just like that. It’s not like I had a choice anyway, but I could see that this video had a baby in it. And a puppy. Only a monster could just scroll down like it wasn’t a baby and a puppy.

Of course, that “You Only Live Once” philosophy is not all that biblically sound. Frittering my time away isn’t any too biblical—even if my brain-otter says it’s okay. At the end of this life, I wonder how many of us will say, “Sure wish I’d played more dragon games on my computer.” Or maybe, “If only I’d spent more time looking at my phone.”

It’s not that recreation is a bad thing. There’s often restful, rejuvenating purpose in a couple of “kick back and relax” items on the itinerary. But we do only live once here. We need to spend our fleeting time wisely. I think if someone translated “YOLO” into Latin, it would be, “carpe diem.” Every day is one that’s begging to be seized.

Despite its familiarity, I still read Romans 12:1-2 regularly. “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (HCSB). Though I read it routinely, it never fails to inspire me to seize the day. It does so much more for my heart than any word game could ever do for my brain. It’s like a heart-soul-and-mind-sharpener.

At every point I allow His word to be my mind-sharpener, change happens. It’s a renewing of mind that doesn’t simply result in a nice word score, but one that can reveal “the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.” There’s simply nothing I want out of this one and only physical life more than I want to know and do His will.

Live once in the physical—sure, YOLO. But for those of us who’ve been born again, life here is followed by an eternity spent in the glorious presence of Christ. Every time we think of that glory, we’re inspired all the more to live each day like it’s our last, loving Him with every minute we’re given.

Incidentally, no matter how many minutes you’re given—no matter how many make-up tips you pin—don’t even try to be as cute as a puppy sleeping on a baby. Now that’s a waste of time.

TWEETABLE
YOLO? Well, Yes and No – insight & humor about Following God from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rhea


About 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: How does knowing our life here will be followed by eternity impact your here and now?

A Time Like This

by Christina Rose

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14 NIV

When young Esther became queen, she may have felt like she won the lotto with life in a beautiful palace and all the fancy clothes and food she could ever want. But she was soon faced with a life-saving decision. She needed to go before the king and plead for the lives of her people. If she chose to approach him without a summons, he could kill her. Her courage to speak up spared her life and that of many thousands across the land.  

The Bible tells us “the tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV). Our tongue can save people, or it can tear them down. Most of us live with the regret of saying what we shouldn’t have, or not saying something we wished we had. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 NIV).

Writing our thoughts down can often help formulate what we want to say. As the ink flows across the paper, subconscious thoughts come to the surface, revealing secrets we may have kept from ourselves. This happened to me recently as memories of a hurtful betrayal from many years ago flooded me with rage. As I sat there stewing, the still small voice said, “Speak up,” but I pouted, “No, I will never forgive them!” With God you can run, but you can’t hide. I thought I had buried this long ago, but He knew it was still festering. 

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV).

I suddenly realized that Satan had trapped me in my anger and refusal to forgive. He may have fooled me for a while, but now his game was over. I went on a brisk walk by the lake to consider how I would speak to my friend. The good Father counts His kids, and when anyone is missing, He relentlessly pursues them until they are safely back in the flock. As my thoughts unfolded, I saw that God’s promptings were not only about forgiving my friend, but He also wanted to use me in saving His lost child, my friend who did not know Him.

At a time like this, when the world has been put on pause by the pandemic, there is a lot of fear and loss. Those who don’t know God may be feeling everything is spinning out of control. Just as Esther spoke up to save her people, this is a perfect time to speak up to those who are lost, to help them find comfort and peace in the Father who is waiting with open loving arms to welcome them into the fold.

As for my friend? I spoke up, and we are friends once again.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” (Luke 15:4-6 NIV)

TWEETABLE
A Time Like This – insight and encouragement from Christian Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina rose

About 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 is God calling you to do at a time like this?

Live Free…Your Best Life is Yet to Be

by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13 ESV

Life may seem a little off right now. In Fix Her Upper language, it’s been a bit of a demo time.

But that’s the good news. There will be a day we can look back and marvel at all God’s done. Today even. We can pray together, because we know prayer changes everything.

Jesus knew this. In Scripture we see Him step away from the crowds. Walk off quietly to pray. He takes walks with His Father and declares, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11 ESV). No matter what happened to him on this earth, He remained in perfect peace. It’s prayer and the presence of God that fixes this anxious life.

Now that I’ve had 8000 moments to catch my breath, I can see how frequently I forget to pray when life is moving quickly and noisily.  

The enemy would love us to stay overwhelmed with crisis and underwhelmed with Jesus. But while the world tells us one thing—God tells us something different: “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness” (Galatians 5:16 The MSG). I love this verse and the future it holds for us. God encourages us to live our best life freely, dynamically, and sensitive to the nudging of the helpful hand of the Spirit.

Apparently, I wasn’t living my freest life, though. Not at all. Because when the pandemic arrived, I was reassigned to work in our hospital Emergency Room with many of my coworkers. My dynamic was gone. My fear? The same as everyone else’s with the forecast of what the virus might do to our world, my family, and…me. I started to self-preserve and hold back; I noticed my preoccupation with the ability of my N95 to save me from all things germy.

But I’ve realized there’s no freedom in fear. None. Fear is selfish. It causes our spirits to retreat in an effort to ensure our own survival, protect ourselves. All this time, I’ve tried to play it safe.

A safe life is not our best life—because faith makes us live for something more.

This assurance came as I sat with a patient who was dying—my N95 pooling with snot and tears—my heart so full of prayer for the other person that I couldn’t safeguard my soul. Suddenly, I felt fierce and full of hope. Apparently, we don’t feed the compulsions of self-preservation or worry when we’re in all-out prayer for someone else. Galatians 5:16 reminds us “the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.” Prayer is the freedom that overrides fear, selfishness, and self-preservation. Prayer is the dynamic that protects the ones we love, and those we don’t know but love anyway. Prayer places the future in the best hands.

Seriously, we don’t have to be consumed with the thought of staying safe in order for God’s loving intent to protect us. He just does. In fact, the very definition of Sovereignty means to be free from external control—God’s perfect purpose protects even when we can’t shield ourselves. You deserve the freedom in this thought. I do too.

We can live free. 

It’s okay to be afraid. It really is. It’s smart to be cautious. It really is. But Romans 15:13 (above) tells us that it’s by the Holy Spirit we have power and hope. It’s my guess that this power makes us more alive today than ever before.

Remember: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1 ESV).

In Christ, our flesh is released from sin. In prayer we’re energized with LIFE. Friends, this is good news! Because in the beginning the world was great, and then it wasn’t. And maybe today is good, and then it’s not. There is freedom when we live in the Spirit and have conversations with the Father. In this new day we can pray.

Lord, we want to live our best life with You. Stripped down, sanded of all the things we once felt important, we can feel full and undeserving of Your joy. We can only look back and marvel at what You’ve done and praise You for what You are about to do. May we settle into Your hope and stay totally dissatisfied with self or fear. For freedom You have set us free. Amen.

TWEETABLE
Live Free…Your Best Life is Yet to Be – encouragement from @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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fix her upper reclaim your happy space

About the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their new book,  Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy Space.

Join the conversation: What have you found to help manage your fear in these uncertain times?

Yellow Rose Surprise

by Ginger Sanders @GingerSanders

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…  Philippians 2:14-16 NASB

This afternoon I had pleasant surprise when I went out to water my roses. I had planted them two years ago in a different spot, but they had failed to thrive. We had recently transplanted them in hopes that a sunnier location would give them a second chance.  

Since then, they have perked up, reaching upward as the sunrise catches them each morning, rising to the noonday sky. Then they cool for a bit in the shade of the trees until the setting sun again peaks through and bathes them in its golden light. 

Today, as I walked around the house lugging the hose pipe (water hose for those of you in the north!) to spray them with the cool water, I almost tripped over what awaited me. There among the little red rose buds and some weeds bloomed a beautiful yellow rose! Now how in the world did that yellow rose come up from those transplanted red roses? I was so excited!! For you see, the yellow rose is my very favorite rose of all!! 

The yellow rose stands tall and proud…any rose can be a red rose, but it takes something special to stand out from the rest. My daddy only gave me one rose in his lifetime. I was riding around with him one day and he had to stop at Roper’s Florist, because he had been doing some work for Mr. Roper. He told me to stay in his truck and he would be right back out. He came out with a tissue paper and handed it to me. I unwrapped it to find a long stem yellow rose. It was a moment I will never forget. 

As I stood there today, enjoying this beauty among the ordinary, I thought about how we as Christians live among the thorns and weeds in this world. There were other roses there, ordinary red roses, budding and blooming as they do. But then, there among them was one that was different, standing out with its glow and grace.

Paul told the Philippians to “do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom  you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Philippians 2:14-16 NASB). The Philippians were living in a pagan society, where the true God was not recognized. They regarded Caesar as deity, and found those who did not troublesome.

But rather than advising the Philippians to withdraw from this antagonistic population, he wanted them to live among them, holding fast to the truth of the gospel. They were to conduct themselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel; standing firm in one Spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27 NASB). They had something to offer to those living in darkness. And as they followed the example of Jesus’ humility and love (2:5-8), they would stand out from the crowd like lights in an otherwise dark sky.

We should be like that rose; we should bloom right where we are planted. When we live out our salvation, following Jesus’ example, we will stand out by reflecting the light that shines on us. Like an unexpected yellow rose blooming among the ordinary.

TWEETABLE
Yellow Rose Surprise – encouragement & insight from  @GingerSanders on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Ginger Sanders

About the author: Ginger Sanders has been a Chaplain Coordinator with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team since 2008. Ginger and her husband, Denny, have responded to many disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and storms, as well as the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings.

Ginger’s book, He Goes Before Us, features chaplains’ stories of God at work in disaster. She’s also written, and two children’s booksRound Eyes: An Adopted Child’s View of Love, and the award-winning Fireflies, which explains death to children with hope and love. Ginger also co-hosts a Christian television show and has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows. She and her husband of 50 years have four children and eleven beautiful grandchildren.

What’s Your Favorite Recipe?

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Taste and see that the Lord is good… Psalm 34:8

Our noisy family was gathered around the table for Sunday dinner and everyone was complementing me on my meatloaf with tomato gravy. So, I had to admit that I’d never heard of tomato gravy until Lacey, my daughter-in-law, said it was a family favorite, and shared her recipe with me.

When the conversation shifted to Lacey’s great cooking, Michael, her six-year-old son, declared very loudly so everyone could hear, “My mama is the best cook in the whole world!” Impressed, everyone stopped talking and he continued, “She can make ANYTHING ‘cause she’s got recipe cards!” Michael loves to eat and that was no small compliment.

Kids are great, right? We love giving them good things. Well, we are God’s kids and he has some pretty tasty dishes to serve up for us as well. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” Like Lacey, God has His own “recipe cards.” The Bible is filled with wonderful recipes.

 Just looking into this one psalm, Psalm 34, we find the necessary ingredients for deliverance from fear, for provision, for comfort and peace for a broken, contrite or remorseful heart. We even find the recipe for redemption. This psalm even tells us when we trust in God we won’t be condemned. And in order to taste these good things from God, we are provided with the necessary ingredients. A little of this and a lot of that—like humility, trust in and respect and reverence for God (fear of God), watching what you say and looking for peace, just to name a few. And this is just one psalm, and one passage of Scripture! There are thousands of recipes and promises of good in the Bible.

But a recipe is only good if we choose to follow the instructions, combining all the necessary ingredients.

I once made a beautiful loaf of bread from memory. Because it was familiar and I made it often, I didn’t bother to look at or consult the recipe. The bread rose beautifully and when it was baking, it smelled wonderful. Taking it from the oven, I couldn’t wait to taste it. But after biting into a slice, it was immediately evident that I’d forgotten a key ingredient—salt.

Sometimes we approach God’s tasty recipes the same way. We try to get the good things of God by doing what seems right: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but is end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 NASB). But inevitably, when we leave out a key ingredient, like forgiveness, repentance, or trusting God, we’re left with a bad taste in our mouth.

Are you hungry for something good?  Peace? Provision? Comfort? Hope? Let’s browse through God’s recipes, allowing the Holy Spirit to measure out and stir the ingredients deeply into our hearts, and then submit it all to God by baking it in prayer. Once you’ve tasted the goodness of God, do like Lacey did with her meatloaf and tomato gravy recipe, share it with someone else, so they too can taste and see that God is good.

TWEETABLE
What’s Your Favorite Recipe? – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri Clark

About 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:  What are the spiritual recipes that have had an impact on your life?

Citizens of Heaven

by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.” Philippians 1:27 NLT

Katie Davis, a vivacious, passionate young woman, was just eighteen years old when she first went to Uganda on a mission trip. While she was there, God called her to go back. Forsaking college, her parents’ plans for her, a long-time boyfriend, and friends who thought she was crazy, Katie settled in Uganda and began a ministry. She also adopted thirteen Ugandan orphans.

Katie told her story in the 2011 bestseller Kisses from Katie, a book which continues to inspire millions of people to say “yes” to God, just as Katie did–wherever it leads. She writes, “Human beings long for a place to call home, a nest, a sanctuary of their own. I have many and none…But God whispers to me that I really have only one home, and that is with Him. I will never be content on this earth. I will always be a nomad. It was meant to be that way. My heart was created with a desire for a home, a nest, a sanctuary, and that can only be found with Him in heaven.”

Katie’s dedication to follow God wholeheartedly makes me wonder if am too comfortable. Have I forgotten that my permanent citizenship is in heaven, and not in any particular country? And what would my life look like if I took that to heart, every single day? I bet I wouldn’t feel as anxious about my paycheck (or lack of it). Certainly, the small frustrations I encounter would be put into an eternal perspective.

Paul urges the Philippian church—and today’s believers—to conduct themselves as citizens of heaven; to stand together with one purpose; to war together for the faith. When we forget that God deserves our first allegiance, we let all sorts of opportunities slip by us, and we begin to focus on unimportant details instead of the big picture.

Our purpose is to live out our faith in such a way that glorifies the Father and draws others to a relationship with him. It surely grieves God to see Christians fighting with one another instead of together. He must shake his head in frustration when we let small problems rule our thoughts, instead of focusing on his grace and love.

I want to be more like Katie—and the Apostle Paul. How about you?

PRAYER: Lord, give me the perspective shift I need to remember that I am a citizen of heaven. Remind me continually, Lord, of your truth and majesty. And help me to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the gospel—not on my own strength, but through yours. Thank you for the beauty of the earth and the joy that you give me through my family, friends, purpose, and accomplishments. But let me never forget that all of it is temporary. Creator of all things, I so earnestly desire to be more like you. But my humanity gets in the way. Forgive me for putting too much stock in earthly treasures, relationships, and status. And thank you for the forgiveness you offer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

TWEETABLE
Citizens of Heaven – encouragement from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the author:
 Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Dena’s book, Grace for the Race,  uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled females. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help moms realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: How does being a citizen of heaven impact your life here on earth?

The Importance of Trust

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” John 2:5 NASB

In John 2, Jesus and His disciples attended the now famous wedding at Cana. Mary approached Jesus about a horrible problem their hosts were having. In Jewish weddings, which lasted seven days, running out of food or wine was a shameful mark against the family. Mary told Jesus, “They have no wine.” Whether she believed her son would provide miraculously or just be resourceful enough to find more wine, we don’t know, but she trusted that Jesus could somehow help.

Jesus gave a somewhat surprising response: “Woman, what does this have to do with me?”

First, we need to understand why Jesus would call His mother Woman (John 2:4). In today’s world, this might be regarded as disrespectful and even mean-spirited. But we can be assured it was actually an endearment, from a second time Jesus addressed Mary from the cross: “Woman, behold, your son!” (John 19:26). In that moment, He was lovingly telling her that His apostle, John, would provide for her.

But then what does Jesus mean when He says, “What does this have to do with me?”

The meaning of this idiomatic phrase in other contexts in the Bible is, “We aren’t on common ground.” Or “Your perspective is entirely different than mine.” We can identify five reasons Jesus may have needed to point this out to His mother.

Motive. Mary desires to spare the couple embarrassment. Jesus has a bigger picture in mind: He desires his Father to be glorified.

Timing. Mary wants the wine problem to be solved immediately. Jesus was waiting on the Father to let Him know it was the right time to do His first public miracle.

Quality. Mary assumes he will merely replace the same kind of wine. Jesus provides something so superior the wedding coordinator is amazed.

Method. Mary tells the servants to do what he says. She trusted Him to do exactly the right thing. Her instruction to the servants was an expression of faith in the One who lived in consistent obedience to the Father. It was exactly what Jesus was waiting for.

Feelings. Based on her request, we must conclude she feels anxious. Is Jesus showing her a better way? The literal Greek of His response reads “What is that to me and to you?” He may have meant, “It’s not your responsibility, and it’s not mine.” Jesus was perfectly calm. He didn’t feel pressured by anyone, even His beloved mother. He would only do what His Father wanted. In that obedient relationship with Him, Jesus was filled with peace, confidence, and guidance.

We can learn a few things from Mary on this occasion:

  • Like Mary, we can bring our concerns and cares before God. We can trust God will do the perfect thing.
  • Like Mary, we can have faith Jesus can do anything. We don’t need to help Him, only follow His directions.
  • Like Mary, we can direct our anxiety to God. He can bring us peace even in tense situations.

What God wants is for us to trust Him. He will respond to us with the same understanding that He did Mary, even as He calls us to deeper faith and godly living.

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The Importance of Trust – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to assure God’s people of His understanding nature. She is a wife, mom, grandma, author, speaker, and lay counselor and lives in Southern California. Kathy has more than 55 published non-fiction books in genres like Bible studies, commentaries, Christian living and compiled books. She has spoken in more than 35 US States and 9 foreign countries. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Kathy’s most recent book is God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature from which this devotion is excerpted. Kathy and her husband, Larry, of 50 years, co-wrote God’s Intriguing Questions.

Join the conversation: What principles or other stories from the Bible support your assurance that God is understanding?

Precious Gifts

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1 NIV

I think I have bloody knees. No, I know I have bloody knees. It’s the second time I’ve boogered them up. I made a nice dive to catch a runaway cart when we helped our friends move. But the bloody knees I have now are scared and scrapped from praying. Things like my husband’s cancer diagnosis tend to force our prayer lives beyond the usual.

Even as I prayed for others, I found it trying since my first inclination was to pray for ourselves. We are human after all. Still, I did my best to continue to sort through my prayer bowl, talk out loud to God in the car, in the house, in the yard. I have found when I spend my time in prayer for others, then God has space in me, to work.

Then, of course, there’s timing. His time is certainly not the same as mine. I want a fast answer. Fix it. After all, You’re God. Snap your fingers and make him well! In my imagination, I can see his sweet hand go up, giving me the “wait” sign. Refocus. Regroup. Get back to real the servanthood of praying for others. Make that necessary room for God to be God.

I look at where we started this walk months ago. Several of those were spent simply waiting. That was practice for what was to come. God knows my weakness is waiting. We’ve learned…I’ve learned…that God places folks around us who want to help us while we wait. It might be through their prayers, a meal, a text, a call…there are tons of ways. The fact is clear, many want to wait with us through the storm.

I felt like I was a burden to accept the help and then I started looking through those folks and the things they’ve done and shared with us. Like my dear friends who, if I didn’t call immediately after a doctor’s appointment, were calling me. Guiding me. Praying for me. Another wonderful friend, who when I called to tell him about Tim’s cancer, sobbed out loud on the phone as he prayed in that instant for us. That is called sharing the burden.

Who am I to look God in the face and say, I don’t want the help you sent? I couldn’t do that so I swallowed what pride was left and received the blessing. God taught me it’s okay to accept the love and help of others and not feel like a burden. When I look at their help through God’s lenses, I see the support and help He sent were precious gifts.

Recently, we were on the phone with the Ostomy nurse at Vanderbilt. The phone kept beeping in my ear and I couldn’t see who was calling until the current call ended. When we finished talking to the nurse, Tim asked if the doctor had called.

“Not that I saw. Why?”

“His number is on the phone.” He said.

Rats! We were waiting for the final pathology report. We called the doctor’s office back, but the call back number went to voice mail. The office was closed. We’d missed talking to the doctor because he makes his calls after office hours. Here we were again…waiting.

God knows what is best for us and He guides us by that amazing love. He insisted we wait again. So we waited.

The next morning the nurse returned our call. “Dr. Payne is here and he wanted me to call you. He didn’t want you to wait any longer. Tim’s pathology report came back clear. There are no signs of cancer. No malignancy.”

We both burst into tears. The path to becoming cancer-free had involved a permanent, radical surgery that forever changed how Tim would live daily life, with no real guarantee.

God proves His love for us daily. We need only to accept it. The great Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one – a vital part of our relationship with Him we so easily forget. We, as the one, are just as important to God, as the rest.

Today we celebrate the waiting and provision that has not only refined us but cleansed us. The result was good and the waiting was over. Tim had beaten the odds. To say that we are blessed is an understatement but to recognize the precious love and care from the Father easily shows, He is our shepherd, and we lack for nothing.

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Precious Gifts – encouragement from @CindySproles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

CindySproles

About the author: Cindy K. Sproles is the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries. She is a best-selling author and a speaker for writers and women’s conferences across the country. Visit Cindy at her website and check out her two latest books, Mercy’s Rain and Liar’s Winter.

Cindy’s newest book released this month! Worie Dressar is 17 years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers–one greedy and the other a drunkard–Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness.

Join the conversation: How has the Good Shepherd shown His loving care for you?

Fathers’ Day at a Distance

by Tina Yeager @TYeagerWrites

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:17-18, NIV

I wonder how my father will spend his Father’s Day this year. My thoughts reach out toward him from a distance in these strange and uncertain times. I try to picture a peaceful celebration of the holiday for him.

My dad might settle into his recliner and rest for Father’s Day. He may tell stories of yesteryear to those visiting him. His once-ruddy hair could glow with a hint of its old hue in the afternoon rays. Perhaps he’ll enjoy his favorite ice cream atop a slice of preacher’s chocolate cake, like the dessert I used to bake for him. I won’t see him in person this year, so I’ll have to settle for memories and imagination from these many states away.

My imagination has taken me to negative thoughts for dad at times, though. I’ve worried for my father these past months. He questions the rules, drives a bit aggressively on his volunteer missions, and seems to forget things more often. I remind him to wear protective gear even if he doesn’t understand the risk. I encourage him to stay home. But mentioning concern over his forgetfulness seems less than helpful.

When I call, I’ll avoid sharing my fears over age and miles. Instead, I will listen to his repeated stories. Perhaps he’ll tell one of his tales I heard so often as a child. My brother and I groaned at these embellished memories and warned one another when we foresaw an incoming “WYWYA” (When I was your age)…”

But one charming tale brings me a smile today. He claimed his trips to school forced him to walk through six feet of snow uphill (both ways, as the story goes). However ridiculous, the story highlights the value of perseverance toward what matters most. Despite the challenges of distance and age.

The verse above reminds me how God overcame the greatest distance for us across all time and space. Jesus poured out His own blood in undeterrable veins which crossed all ages, seasons, and regions of our existence to unite us in His heart.

His Spirit traversed a more forbidding distance than steep snow-covered hills when he came to dwell within me. Yet he saw my heart as an important place to bring learning and new life through the heart-calming gospel of his love.

Such an all-powerful Lord draws us together and covers us in peace. Rather than fretting over my dad, I can consider him well connected and closer than I imagined. For my sovereign Father draws us close to Himself. And we can share no sweeter moment to celebrate on this Father’s Day, with or without a dollop of ice cream.

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Fathers’ Day at a Distance – encouragement during difficult times from @TYeagerWrites on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Tina Yeager

About the author: Award-winning author, speaker, licensed counselor, and life coach, Tina Yeager encourages audiences to fulfill their potential. She offers writing workshops through Serious Writer Academy, hosts the Flourish-Meant podcast, and is a mentor with Word Weavers International.

Tina’s book, Beautiful Warrior, empowers you to break free from the insecurity that has you trapped. Pick up your shield―the Word of God, your identity in Christ, and healthy thought patterns―and become the divine heroine you were destined to be.

Join the conversation: What are your favorite memories of your father?