The Perfect Father

by Nancy Kay Grace @NancyKayGrace

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. Psalm 103:13 NIV

My older brother dared me to climb the big poplar tree in our front yard. Its branches were the perfect distance apart for my little five-year-old legs to reach and climb. Once off the ground, I felt brave and accomplished. The wind rustled through the leaves around me, and I was carefree.

However, the joy of the moment did not last long. A huge bee began flying around my head. Soon several buzzed around me. My carefree attitude blew away with the breeze and I was now downright scared, screaming for help to get out of the tree.

Paralyzed with fear, I clung to the tree trunk.

My brother was no help; he went off to play with friends, abandoning me in the tree.

“You’ll be O.K.! Dad will be home from work soon,” Mom called from the porch. Her words didn’t calm me.

Long minutes passed. I cried for Daddy to come home to help me.

Relief came when my father arrived. Hearing my cries, he dashed from the car and rushed to the tree. Stepping onto the lowest branch, he coaxed me to let go of the thick limb. Slowly, shaking in fear, I put my foot onto a limb where he could pull me from the tree. I sobbed in the security in his arms.

My dad heard me and rescued me. That day he was my hero.

The Bible promises many times that when we cry out to God, he hears us. He is a loving, caring father.

The Word of God demonstrates how our heavenly Father deeply loves us and will not leave us. He has rescued us from the perils of sin and death. Even in times when God seems far off, we can remember that he is the loving Heavenly Father. Jesus taught us to pray to God as our Father.

For some people, the relationship with their father brings joy. For others, it may not be so positive. The experiences from our family of origin can affect how we view God as our heavenly Father.

Throughout my life, I did not have a particularly close relationship with my father. He was often distant, a man of few words. There were many times I longed for his support in the void of father-love. Yet, I still remember how he rescued me as a little girl in the tree.

When Dad passed away, I grieved, even though we were not close. My heavenly Father gave me peace with my relationship with Dad. For good and for bad, he is a part of me. God comforted me in my sorrow. He did not remain far off, but embraced my heavy heart with steadfast love and compassion. I awakened to realize a greater beauty of the fatherhood of God, which filled the void of earthly father-love.

If your heart needs comfort, look to God who is the perfect Father. Imagine crawling into His arms as a child needing consolation. He will reach out to you with lavish love that accepts you right where you are.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 NIV

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The Perfect Father – encouragement from @NancyKayGrace on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives. She has contributed to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as online and print magazine articles. She loves sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and grace. To learn more about her ministry, please visit her website at http://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for her monthly GraceNotes devotional.

Join the conversation: How has your earthly father influenced your view of your heavenly Father?

 

 

Let Go

by Rhonda Dragomir @RhondaDragomir

I collapsed on the floor of the Romanian hotel room and wept. The next day, my husband, Dale, and I would finally receive a miraculous answer to prayer. Shouldn’t I be happy? I wasn’t.

Our agonizing twelve-year quest to become parents had led me to seek help from doctors, endure multiple tests and surgeries, and ingest expensive drugs with terrible side effects. Every month we hoped to learn I carried a child. Every month we were disappointed.

Instead, God ordained a different route to parenthood for us—through Romania, the homeland of Dale’s grandfather. We navigated a maze of obstacles, each one overcome by prayer, and after five grueling weeks of effort, we planned to adopt a five-month-old girl in a Romanian courtroom.

The night before the adoption, unease troubled my stomach. I had hit a wall which yet needed to be scaled. Emotion-charged hours of prayer revealed I had not completely relinquished my own will. I still wanted to give birth to a baby, and I was angry with God because that petition had not been granted.

The realization stunned me.

Our dilemma was not unlike the three Hebrew children who faced the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar. Who wouldn’t rather live than die in a fiery furnace? They surely petitioned God for his protection from the king’s edict commanding them to worship his image. Obedience to God should spare them Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath, right?

Wrong. Their defiance stirred the king to greater anger, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced certain, painful death in a fire heated to seven times its normal intensity. Even their last words spoke their heart’s desire: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

We tell this story to our children not only because of these men’s faith or courage, but also because of their absolute surrender to the will of God. They let go of their very hope of staying alive and consigned themselves completely to the will of God. When they did, God showed his love and power by walking through the flames with them and ultimately sparing their lives.

Common wisdom dictates, “When you reach the end of the rope, hang on.”  My pathway to motherhood taught me better wisdom: “When you reach the end of the rope, let go.”

That night in the hotel, I confessed my resentment to God—He knew it anyway. I surrendered to his superior wisdom and quit struggling against his will. I let go of the baby I would never conceive to receive the baby he chose for me. I jumped right into the arms of my eternal God, who waited there to catch me.

A few days later, Dale and I looked into the wide, brown eyes of our new daughter with wonderment and joy. She was perfect! God answered our prayers in his flawless way, which was much better than we could have imagined. That daughter, Jana, has been a delight every day since.

Jana’s presence in my life reminds me every day: God’s ways are best. His blessings sometimes only come when I let go of my own desires and fall into his everlasting arms.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms… Deuteronomy 33:27a NIV

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Let Go – encouragement when #FollowingGod is hard from @RhondaDragomir on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: An avid reader and writer, Rhonda Dragomir lives in the heart of idyllic horse country in central Kentucky. Her degree in Social Work from Asbury University prepared her for more than forty years of ministry as a pastor’s wife.

Rhonda writes both fiction and nonfiction, and she was named 2019 Writer of the Year by Serious Writer, Inc. Learn more about Rhonda on her website: www.rhondadragomir.com.

Join the conversation: Can you remember a time when you fell into the arms of God?

 

Aging and Sickness: How Can You Have Hope?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  1 John 3:2 NASB

Does the news scare you? It frequently scares me—especially what I read on the Corona virus pandemic or many other serious illnesses like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.

In 2021, I will turn 62. While I can no longer be considered young, neither will I be considered that old. After all, isn’t 60 the new 50? But if I can be completely honest, there are many ways in which I am beginning to feel my age. For one, I am starting to experience slight hearing loss along with other typical aches and pains. Sometimes I suffer from insomnia, waking up at 3:00 AM on the dot. Finally, I do not have the strength or endurance that I used to. Not to mention how hard it has become to lose weight!

How can I have hope when my life seems to be on a downward trajectory? Many women in my aging shoes can look to the faithfulness of God in their younger years for encouragement. Maybe He was your strength in bearing children or your wisdom as you raised them. Maybe He used the pain in your life to draw you closer to Him. Maybe He has taught you to forgive more easily and love more deeply, all because it brings glory to Him. If He was all that to us before, why would we not trust Him for what lays ahead?

As we’ve aged, we have also matured in how we set priorities. Outside appearance matters much less than it once did. We now value what is in the heart and mind of a person. Our earnest prayer is that we will continue to grow in our ability to be a living testimony of the love and greatness of our Lord and Savior. We are determined to continue in our faithfulness until our very last breath. This is our living testimony.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) declares, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” That promise is so much more relevant today than it was in our youth, back when we felt invincible. In our weaknesses, we now recognize our complete dependence on Him. He is enough to provide for our need and strengthen us in our older years.

Do you grieve your youth? Think about this: Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-17 NIV). 

Remember that every day we are getting closer to seeing Jesus face to face! That promise alone should give us all the hope we need to endure until the end.  

There’s something else we should always remember. John wrote that “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John3:2 NASB). Not only will the Lord one day give us a brand-new body that will never grow old, but one day we will become his beautiful, eternal bride! What greater hope can we have than that?

Will you praise him through your present pain for the future hope you have? How amazing that day will be when we see the Lord’s face! We can look forward to the day when He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It will be worth every hard thing we endured on this earth.

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Aging and Sickness: How Can You Have Hope? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio Picture


About the author:
 Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: What keeps you going in suffering and pain?

The Science of the Servant-Leader

By Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who…by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity… Philippians 2:5-7 CSB

Did you ever get a note from your child’s school and secretly hope it was about anything but a project?

Minor behavior infraction. Please let it be a minor behavioral infraction.

Oh, that four-word note that casts dread deep into the heart of a parent: SCIENCE NOTEBOOK DUE MONDAY. Because bye-bye, weekend.

It’s funny how we try to convince ourselves that it’s NOT going to require more from parent than from child. Denial is interesting that way. I would eventually work through the stages and make it to acceptance. Acceptance that it’s a weekend of glue—and lots of it. And some researching, some clipping, some labeling and some Extra Strength Tylenol. Maybe also some crying. Not sure whose.

Those assignments do require much of us. But there’s a lovely science involved when we experiment, observe and conclude that in even the smallest life minutiae, as we lead responsibly, we’re teaching how to become responsible leaders. At the same time, as we serve well, we’re demonstrating how to be selfless servants.

How do we lead responsibly? The truth is, I can only lead well as I’m God-led.

How can we model servanthood? It’s an undeniable fact that I can only serve well as I’m God-empowered by my Servant-King.

Paul’s “schooling” in Philippians 2 has inspired and convicted me regularly since I was a teen (and working on my own science notebooks). “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” (vv. 3-4, CSB).

Everyone should look out not only for his own science notebooks…

I do think one of the best tests of how “servant-y” my heart is at any given moment is my willingness to lead in not expecting to be treated as a leader. By not insisting on status or recognition or payback or anything at all in return. By not asking for even a free weekend or an A+. The real question: Am I willing to serve when it’s probably going to cost me—even when it’s going to cost me deeply and dearly?

The next verses in that Philippians 2 passage reveal my assignment—my motivation and my empowerment. It’s all in Christ Jesus.

“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity” (Philippians 2:5-7 CSB). It was a servanthood that took a King all the way to a humiliating cross. And when I “adopt the same attitude,” and allow this glorious Servant-King to work in and out and through me, I can bypass the denial and the crying and any other misdirected response. Bye-bye, pride.

No hypothesis about it, in raising our kids, those times pride was in check, weekends were grand—project or no project. You should also know that I’m mostly kidding about the projects I did with my children. Because in the middle of a lot of tears, toil and Tylenol, we had concentrated time together on a project weekend we might not have had. In essence: Hello, weekend. We explored a sweet handful of topics together. I had five kids, so that does mean my fingers were a little bit glued together on a lot of Mondays. That’s okay. Especially since on that last science notebook, I got an A. I mean my son. My son got an A.

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The Science of the Servant-Leader – encouragement from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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 novel, Turtles in the Road, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

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 lessons have you learned about leadership?

Taking Heart in the Heartache

by Beth Duewel and Debb Hackett 
@DuewelBeth
@debb_hackett

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NIV

Debb: My family is in a season of uncertainty as my husband’s current role in the military comes to an end, and we wait to see where we’ll go next. After years in our present location, it’s hard to start living through the ‘last time we’ll do this, go there, see them’ moments, especially as we don’t have anything to run toward yet. I look around at the families who are rooted in this community we have loved and think how different their predictable lives seem to ours.

I acknowledge this is solidly a first world problem. We aren’t in danger, hungry, or homeless, and we have no major health concerns. But each day, the not-knowing gets a little harder. I don’t want to waste these last few months in this mood.

Beth: I get this! When my daughter was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I found myself living in the space of “She may never graduate, drive a car…” It was a crowded place to dwell, and I must have been some kind of delirious to worry about such temporary things. The not-knowing kept me anxious. Moody. Makeup-less. Then one day her neurologist said, “You may want to at least try to look optimistic, because we really don’t want to make her think she is not going to be okay.”

That’s the thing: Jesus didn’t put on a face and pretend it was going to be okay, but assured that we can expect peace even though it’s not. Just imagine, in the early chapters of John, Jesus tells the disciples what will happen. He will go away. They will suffer. But, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33 NIV). He knew that in His absence their tired hearts could know the home of His presence.  

Deb: So Beth, how do we do it? Even in the short time of writing this, we’ve seen our lives change. A lot of those ‘lasts’ have been taken away. How do we find peace and take heart in heartache? Even as streets and grocery store shelves are eerily empty, when schools and playgrounds are closed and everything, even church, looks different? When so much we knew in life has shifted? No one’s shooting, but the military folks I know agree we are at war.

Beth: Just like any battle, the not knowing is the hardest. Eventually, we exhaust ourselves. We have somewhere to run to though, a destination, a home even. Because Jesus says this in verse 32, “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me” (John 16:32 NIV).

The thought of Jesus abruptly leaving had to have been a frightening thought for His disciples. The anxious worry of being scattered to their own homes, of being truly alone, would have been a shock after the security of traveling together for three years.

We now know this was one of the last conversations between Jesus and His disciples. Although Jesus knew what waited ahead—trouble then triumph—He offered harmony in the middle of both. His promises give comfort a voice. I am not alone. In me you will have peace. I have overcome the world. These truths, re-read after a makeup-streaked day of work in the ER, tell me it’s going to be all right. This connection is vital to our fierce, soul-filled peace. Life may shift and change, but we can expect the best because “…my Father is with me.”  

Debb: And that’s how we make it through whatever life throws at us—uncertainty, fear, anxiety, illness, or heartbreak. My family has always known and lived the trouble, but now more than ever, we need to claim the promise: we can take heart because Jesus has been to each of those hard, emotional places before us, and we know that in the end, The Story concludes in victory. He wins. And so do we.

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Taking Heart in the Heartache – an encouraging conversation between @DuewelBeth and @Debb_Hackett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

beth duewel (2)
fix her upper reclaim your happy space

About the authors: 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.

Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington D.C. with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: How does knowing the end of the story help you live in the here and now?

 

Welcome to The Mystery

by Christina Rose

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:2-3 NIV)

Everyone loves a great mystery! I’m convinced there’s no greater mystery than life itself. Looking back at the more than 60 years I’ve spent on earth, there were many surprises, just like the surprise of the corona virus putting the world on pause.

Much of what we depended was suddenly in jeopardy. Many of us were like little children, blinking in shock and asking, “What just happened?”

But as we wake up each morning and look to the sky – we know it will always be there, just as it has been since the earth came into being. When we can’t sleep at night and step outside to wonder, we can gaze at the stars and know that the light we see came from a place billions of light years away. While we may feel small, we come to learn how big God is. Everything is under His dominion. While we may not be able to count on ourselves and earthly structures we have relied on before, we can always count on Him.

A few years ago I had a three-hour commute to work in San Francisco. I shared this stress-filled commute with thousands of others. One day while riding the ferry, I was struck by the silence as people were engrossed in their electronics, oblivious to one another. We were all in the same boat, like little worker ants with our noses to the grindstone, trapped in the monotony of producing to stay alive.

About that time, it seemed as though everything I had worked for was leaving. My husband left, my home was sold, my kids had grown and left to build lives of their own. My health had failed, and because of that disability, my finances dwindled. As a believer, I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. Where was God in it all?

It was torment. One night, as I looked at the sky, I said, “God, why are you doing this to me? When will it end?”

And I heard in return, “I will be doing this to many people, as they have forgotten me. They will learn to turn to me. I walked you into this, and as I walk you out of it, tell everyone about me.”  That evening my fortune cookie read, You have a charming way with words, and you should write a book.  I started writing for God.

God doesn’t want us to be stressed out worker ants with heavy burdens that weigh us down. He wants us to enjoy our lives, and trust that His plan is better than ours. This global pause of the pandemic is causing all of us to rethink our lives and turn towards Him for guidance.

God knew it would be hard for us earthlings to see and understand him, so he sent his son Jesus, to walk upon the earth as a human being. Jesus is the gateway to understanding how God’s ways are so far beyond human reasoning. We get a glimpse into the mystery that is God. Jesus leads us to how unfathomable God’s love and power are—so much greater than our human souls can comprehend.

This moment is a perfect opportunity to walk like Jesus and lead others to the great mystery of God.  When we know He is our father, and we are His children, we have nothing to fear.  He knows our every need, and will supply those things when we rely on Him. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:19 NIV.)

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Welcome to The Mystery – encouragement and challenge 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. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, 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 is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Where have you found evidence of the greatness of God?

A Father’s Perspective on Hard Times

by Patti Richter

My usual weekly phone call to my elderly parents opened with a question I’d never before asked: “Do you have plenty of toilet paper?” Isolated during the early weeks of COVID-19, they depended on my time-challenged sister’s weekly grocery run.

My father assured me they were well stocked, then added, “There are worse things than being without toilet paper.”

Hard times helped shape Dad’s outlook on life. My parents were both born into the deprivation of the Great Depression, and they grew up during World War II hearing horrific reports and seeing images of its atrocities. But Dad’s rural Arkansas family had an even harder row to hoe than some. His family home  had no indoor bathroom or plumbing. Their outhouse offered no toilet paper, but either a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog, and a house rule: only one page per visit.

My father doesn’t recall feeling terribly deprived as a child. He knew his forebears, homesteaders, had endured their own big challenges. However, the descriptions of his early years seem incredible today—such circumstances would equate to severe poverty in modern America.

It’s interesting how the tables can turn on us. After weeks of seeing too many empty grocery store shelves, we’re gleaning a healthy bit of context to relate to the trials of previous generations. And my dad’s perspective on life is now sage advice.

Gaining wisdom is a life-long pursuit, and, personally, it took a few decades to get over my self-focus. By the time my parents retired, I was occupied with my own family. I regularly called Mom and Dad to update them on our busy lives, but it took some close calls with health concerns for me to consider their well-being, to ask how they were doing and what they might need, and become more interested in their stories.

My latest reordering of priorities has centered on Mom’s hospitalization in an intensive care unit—under sedation, with breathing and feeding tubes. Though her condition is unrelated to COVID-19, the “no visitors” restriction has applied. My father, despite heartache, reassures me that he and Mom are at peace as their nearly 90-year-old bodies are failing. He wisely reminds me that we all have to accept the ravages of old age if we live long enough.

Adam and Eve, after their sin, received notice of their earthly composition. The Creator of Heaven and Earth said, “For dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19, NIV). This  offers a sobering perspective: If COVID-19 doesn’t take us, we still remain 100 percent susceptible to death. The young and healthy among us have no more guarantee on tomorrow than the ICU patient.

However, God has shown his mercy to humankind. The psalmist David wrote, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:12 – 14 NIV). For those who do not fear God, “He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV).

Our Father’s good plan was made perfect through his Son, whose atonement for sin yields a not-to-miss offer: eternal life to “whoever believes in him” (John 3:16 NIV). For me, this promise is yielding genuine comfort as I prepare to say goodbye to my mother. And I look forward to seeing her again in a much better place.

There is wisdom in my Dad’s acceptance of old age and the inevitability of death. But thanks to the saving grace of God, it’s not the end for those who believe in Jesus.

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. Revelation 21:4 NIV

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A Father’s Perspective on Hard Times – 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: Have you noticed your perspective changing as you grow older?

Falsely Accused

by Cynthia L. Simmons @CynthiaLSimmons

I didn’t want the pastor to see my face while he preached, so I positioned myself behind someone to block his view. But even without seeing his face, I still felt betrayed. I’d always believed God ordained preachers and guided the things they said. In this situation, the pastor failed.

Every Sunday, while taking sermon notes in the church bulletin, I’d usually write across the top of the page, “It’s the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

In that terrible moment, I looked at those words to remind myself of my motives in service and knew they were the truth. I wanted to please God, yet the minister was not only publicly condemning my actions but my thoughts and motives as well.

In that church, my husband and I taught Sunday school with all our hearts, and on occasion, my husband filled the pulpit. God was using us to touch hearts. Apparently, that threatened the minister. Perhaps if we took out the trash and changed diapers in the nursery, he might not think we were after his job? He accused us of arrogance and said we thought awful things about him while he preached, like he could read our minds.

The first time I heard those accusations, I cried all night.

Was he in the right to be judging us? After all, Luke 6:37 says “Judge not, that you not be judged.” However, at times God does tell us to judge. Paul’s first letter to the believers at Corinth was written in part to address sin that was going unchallenged in that church. A man committed adultery with his father’s wife, and the church ignored it. In arrogance, rather than mourning the sin, they refused to address it.

Paul unequivocally identified the man’s behavior as sin and told the church to do the same. He was to be put out of fellowship until a time when he humbled himself before God. If someone violates Scripture, you can call it sin because God already did. Paul knew it would have been damaging to both the man, his mistress, and the entire church body to allow him to continue. By doing so, they were actually enabling it.

However, trying to discern motives and thoughts is a lot trickier. Paul didn’t accuse the man of a motive (like saying he committed adultery in order to disgrace his father)—he knew only God can know the heart. In fact, in chapter four of the same book, Paul had warned the Corinthians: “…do not go on passing judgement before the time and wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts…” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB). That last phrase makes a big difference. Only God knows our thoughts and motives and can judge whether they are evil or good

We decided to respond to the accusations by humbling ourselves before the Lord. We confessed everything we could think of that might have caused offense, including any secret pride. A passage in Hebrews brought us great comfort, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NASB). For whatever we may have contributed to the situation, we placed our confidence in the mercy and grace of God.

Why could we be so confident? Because of what the verse proceeding Hebrews 4:16 said. “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NASB). There is nothing we can go through that Jesus has not experienced Himself. He was falsely accused and convicted of a sin He never committed: insurrection of the Roman Empire. It was all a big lie, styled to give the Romans a reason to crucify Him. What was the religious leaders’ motive? “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48 NASB). Pride led to false accusation. Jesus has been there.

In our greatest heartaches, He has already traveled down that road. He can sympathize with us like no other. We can trust Him to deal justly with false accusation in the end. He will always stand for truth.

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Falsely Accused – encouragement from @CynthiaLSimmons on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cynthia-Simmons-5About the author: Former home school mother of five, Cynthia has a special spot in her heart for young moms and loves to encourage all women to pursue God. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio, and writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction.  Find her at www.clsimmons.com.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with an injustice when it happens to you?

We’re all Connected

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.  1 Corinthians 12:26 NIV

I’m not sure what I did, but the doctor said I now have a bulging disc in my lower back. It hurts to walk, sit, stand, or do anything. Then, to make matters worse, and I have no idea how, I got a charley-horse in my calf. Maybe I was overcompensating for my back and overdid it that muscle, who knows? All I know is one day, I am on top of my game, and the next, I’m flat on my back unable to do anything, and everyone is taking care of me.

I’m one of those people who is always doing something. If I have nothing to do, I am looking for something to do. In fact, I kind of feel bad if I’m not working on something. I’m also the queen of multitasking. Going and doing is just in my DNA. I also have a tendency to move quickly—a perpetually, fast-forward kind of person. Grabbing this, tossing that, lifting and shifting is just part of my normal routine. So, when I somehow injured my back, life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.

But it’s interesting how restricted movement can actually be freeing. All the things that normally scream for my attention were silenced. I had to put aside things like laundry, running errands in town, cooking, and cleaning, not to mention computer work and anything requiring long periods of time sitting, standing, or walking.

But the good part of being restricted physically is that I got a whole new perspective of those around me.

My husband, some friends that were staying with us during this time, and the rest of my family all jumped in to do what I would normally be doing for them. They took up the slack when I couldn’t. And then as I healed and was able to hobble around better, they all counted my progress as a joint victory.

Through this whole incident, God gave me a good illustration of how the Body of Christ works. 1 Corinthians says; “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (12:26 NIV).

With this injury, I could not have managed by myself. And neither can we, as followers of Christ, manage alone in our walk with God, especially when we are hurt or going through a difficult time. We need each other. We need each other’s prayers, encouragement, biblical teaching, wise counsel, listening ears, and hugs. We also need to be there in a practical way for each other, just as my husband, family and friends were here for me when I needed help with doing things around the house.

I’m getting around better now, but I won’t soon forget how valuable family and friends are in time of need. Today, take a look around at your family and friends. You are the body of Christ. Is part of your body suffering? When one part suffers, the whole body suffers. Reach out and help.

“In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5 NIV). It is when we serve each other that the whole Church is built up and functioning in the way it was designed to be.

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We’re all Connected – 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: Have you ever been incapacitated? How were you helped by the people around you?

A Matter of Perspective

by Dena Dyer @denajdyer

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.  Philippians 2:14-15 NLT

I wonder if God sometimes feels as if he runs a heavenly complaint department. I, for one, am too quick to question God’s intentions when things go wrong, and am too slow to thank him for a daily multitude of gifts. Maybe you can relate.

I too often complain about the weather, my weight, traffic, my spouse, or my kids—instead of praising him for the rain, food in the pantry, gas in my car, and a loving family. It’s all a matter of perspective, really.

Speaking of perspective, Paul penned the book of Philippians as he sat under house arrest in chains. And yet the book’s theme is joy. His hard-won joy was defiant, born of dedication to a God who had shaken up his life and forgiven his mountain of sins. Paul is one of my heroes, both as a Christian and a writer. His Jesus-centered epistles are a handbook for gospel-centered, powerful life.

Perhaps the world would be more drawn to believers and the message of Jesus’ love if we, like Paul, focused on our blessings and what God has richly given us instead of complaining. What if nonbelievers heard us making the best of bad situations, instead of squabbling about differences in opinion? Perhaps if we daily cultivated gratitude for small gifts and made our thankfulness known, we would draw others to our positivity. In a world of badly behaving celebrities, news organizations that feed on tragedy and controversy, and political mud-slinging, we can be different. We should be different.

One of my dear friends exemplifies this kind of Christianity. He posts positive quotes on Facebook instead of ranting about the wrongs of the world and often sends encouraging cards to people who have influenced him. He sits on several boards of local charities and never hesitates to help folks in need. He even spearheaded an annual community outreach in which members of many different churches perform service projects together all over the city. He exemplifies the servant spirit which Jesus modeled.

Matthew says, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16  NLT). I pray that you and I will do just that.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the world is such a dark place. I am often frightened and unsure when I look at world events. And my daily life, with all its demands and responsibilities, can be overwhelming. I tend to argue with you about your plan and complain too much about my problems. Please forgive me of those tendencies, and help me to cultivate a more grateful spirit. I thank you that Jesus, who lives in my heart, is my peace, and that you have given me the light of Christ in my heart. Thank you for placing us, your children, on this planet as lights in the darkness. I pray you will give us the courage to shine for you. Amen.

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A Matter of Perspective – encouragement from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

dena headshotAbout 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 are you keeping a positive spirit these dark days?