Can True Satisfaction only Come through Self-Exhaustion?

by A.C. Williams @free2Bfearless

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 NIV

Feeling satisfied is tough for me, but recently, I think I experienced it. In March of last year, I joined some friends at a Bible camp in Tennessee where I volunteered as a day-laborer.

You never know what assignment you’re going to get at this place. This past year, I ended up in a team of four cleaning up the fallen trees around the archery plaza. Three or four 70-foot-tall trees had come down, and we needed to chop them up, haul the logs out of the hollow, split them with the industrial splitter, and stack them in the wood yard.

Yes, it was as hard as it sounds. I wasn’t using the chainsaw (with my lack of coordination and general clumsiness, there was a definite danger of unintentional amputation), but I did haul branches and logs.

I worked my butt off, y’all. I couldn’t move at the end of the day. I had entirely exhausted myself. And I was satisfied.

But is that real satisfaction? Self-exhaustion? The end of your rope? Wearing yourself out to the place where you can’t even move? I think true satisfaction is deeper than that. It stems from our individual cultures, our worldviews, our personal perspective on what it means to have, do, and be enough. It’s a soul-deep longing for completeness.

As a believer, being satisfied should be part of my identity, but if that’s true, why don’t I experience it? For so long, I’ve had to choose to be satisfied with something when I didn’t actually feel it. Choosing to be satisfied when you aren’t is contentment.

Contentment is good too (don’t get me wrong), but being satisfied is different. Being satisfied is being full, having enough, doing enough. You don’t have to choose it. You just are.

I feel satisfied when I worship, standing in God’s presence, lifting up my voice to sing about what He’s done for me. I know He is enough—more than enough to provide for my needs, to redeem my foolish choices, to forgive my wrongs. He is enough, and I am satisfied.

Can that experience translate to my work? When I eat? When I sleep? Of course, it can, and it should, but it must start with Jesus. God gives us satisfaction. He is the source of it. Maybe we should ask Him to satisfy us in specific ways. 

Before I work, I need to ask Him to help me be intentional in my task list.

Before I eat, I need to ask Him to make me aware of when I am full.

Before I sleep, I need to ask Him to fill my thoughts rather than all the other things going on around me.

Living as a consumer is a never-ending struggle against the unachievable. Nothing but God can fill the cavernous void in our souls, not perfection or money or pleasure or status, yet we would spend our lives chasing satisfaction. Outside of God, we’ll never find it.

Only God can satisfy. That’s not a fuzzy concept or an abstract theory. It’s a practical reality. We only need to apply it.

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Can True Satisfaction only Come through Self-Exhaustion? encouragement from A.C.Williams, @Free2BFearless, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williams
Finding Fireflies

About the author: A.C. Williams is an author and entrepreneur who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks will never match. She prefers Trixie Belden to Nancy Drew, wears her watch on the wrong wrist, and Mr. Darcy is her love language. Follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced satisfaction? Please share your story!

Don’t Stick Your Finger in the Fan

by Crystal Bowman

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”                                                             Genesis 2: 15-17 NIV

I enjoyed the convenience and comfort of living next door to my grandmother when I was growing up. If Mom wasn’t home, Grandma was. If Mom didn’t have something, Grandma did. My siblings and I had the privilege of going in and out of her home as though it was our own, and we always helped ourselves to the pink and white peppermints she kept in the milk glass candy dish on her bedroom dresser. 

Every Sunday, Grandma attended church with us and came to our house for dinner. She often contributed something fresh, homemade, and delicious to our meal. One warm summer Sunday, as we sat down to eat, my mother noticed that we were almost out of butter. When Grandma offered to donate a stick from her refrigerator, I volunteered to get it. As I went out the door to walk across the driveway to Grandma’s house, she hollered, “Don’t stick your finger in the fan.”

Since those were the days before air-conditioned homes, Grandma had a portable fan on her kitchen table. As I passed by the table on my way to the refrigerator, I took one look at the fan and promptly stuck my finger into the large spinning blades. Fortunately, the blades were rather dull and rotating at a slow speed. I only sustained a minor cut, but the oozing blood required a bandage which I found in Grandma’s medicine cabinet. After bandaging my finger, I finally opened the refrigerator and took out a stick of butter—which was, after all, the purpose for my trip.

As I walked into our house and placed the butter in the empty butter dish, everyone noticed my bandaged finger. Through tears, I confessed my act of disobedience to a stunned audience.

So why did I stick my finger in the fan? Because Grandma told me not to. If she had said, “Be sure to stick you finger in the fan,” I never would have done it! There is something about our human nature that makes us desire what we can’t have or do what we are told not to do.

In the book of Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve that they may eat from all the lush trees in the Garden of Edan, except for one. Seems pretty generous to me. But what do Adam Eve do? They taste the forbidden fruit and change the world forever.

The laws and commands we find in Scripture are not suggestions. They are designed by God to protect us from harm. Obedience to God’s Word results in blessings, whereas disobedience can result in emotional or physical pain. The more we read and study God’s word, the more we will understand that his commands are founded in love and that he desires what is good for us. 

It’s a daily challenge to live according to God’s Word. But with fervent prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can walk in obedience and enjoy the blessings God wants to give us. God can give us the strength we need to resist temptations, avoid forbidden fruit, and keep our fingers where they belong.

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Don’t Stick Your Finger in the Fan – encouragement from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: Does hearing something is off-limits tend to make you want it more?

How to Ask God for Help

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Do questions dog you or wake you up at night? What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Do you know how to ask God for help?

Recently I’ve heard people wondering—

  • If it’s safe to return to business?
  • What’s the right medical protocol for my issue?
  • Does God want me to start a new project?

Even before the added complications of Covid-19, we faced questions that reached beyond our understanding. Where do you go for answers?

After observing His prayer life, a disciple asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus showed His disciples and us the art of asking. Let’s look at the familiar verses of what many call the Lord’s Prayer in relation to finding answers to our questions.

Call Him Father: Jesus said to call God “Father.”

This speaks of our special relationship with God through Jesus and reminds us to approach God with childlike trust and humility. We aren’t asking an impersonal computer or busy call center for help. We’re approaching One who has a vested interest in us. One who counts us as family. His care for us reflects on Him (Ps. 23:3).

Remember God’s Nature When You Ask: “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2 NIV).

My husband is a seasoned relationship counselor. If I have a question dealing with people and relationships, I ask him. But I don’t ask him for technical support. He’s a counselor, not a techie.

Hallowed means holy. Our Father grants requests that line up with His nature. Remembering His holy nature eliminates foolish requests. Does my request agree with God’s character?

Ask God for Daily Needs: “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3 NIV).

For 40 years, God provided daily manna for the Hebrews in the wilderness. A few foolish people hoarded some for the next day, even though God told them not to. The day-old manna was stinky and wormy.

God provides the grace we need when we need it—not before. Learning to look to Him for my daily needs teaches me to trust Him and removes my fears of the future. How many of your concerns deal with the future? How might trusting God with today help you not worry about tomorrow?

Ask God with a Clean Heart—Forgiven and Forgiving: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” (Luke 11:4 NIV).

If we have trouble forgiving, we need only to remember how much God has forgiven us. By receiving God’s forgiveness, we then have grace to extend to others. This clears any blocked channels so we can better hear from God. Has unforgiveness hampered my connection to God? What do I need to confess and forsake? Who do I need to forgive?

A Different Kind of Protection: “And lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4b NASB).

God never tempts anyone (James 1:13). So why does Jesus include this? To remind us to ask for protection from temptation. I once read of a study where individuals were put in a room with a plate of fragrant chocolate chip cookies and told not to eat any. Other individuals were given a plate of radishes and told not to eat.

Afterwards, both groups were given a set of problems to solve. Those who hadn’t spent energy resisting cookies spent more time solving the problems before giving up. Resisting temptation taxes our strength and energy. When we put ourselves in positions to be tempted, we drain strength and energy that could be channeled to more profitable endeavors.

The Most Important Ask: “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13b NASB).

Today, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer (Rom. 8:9). Whatever fills us controls us. A person controlled by worry acts very different from one filled with hope. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we manifest His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), have the power to resist sin (Gal. 5:16), and understand His will for each day.

When you need help, ask God. Your heavenly Father wants to help you.

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How to Ask God for Help – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About 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 Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What part of the Lord’s Prayer is most difficult for you to pray?

He Cares

by Penelope Carlevato @TeaTimePen

 Our pastor and his wife were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. The church presented them with a gift for a four-day cruise out of Los Angeles Harbor on a “party” ship.  I couldn’t help but wonder, “what are you thinking?”  It was called a party ship for a reason! Anyway, off they went to celebrate their anniversary.

On their return home, they were full of smiles and reported what a wonderful time they had. A few weeks later, we had lunch with them, and I decided to find out what “really” happened.

Well, they were shocked when they first boarded the ship and saw all the party-goers. They found their cabin and couldn’t decide if they should get off before they left port or stay on board and make the most of it. Maybe this was all part of God’s plan. After praying, they felt God had a reason for them to be on this particular ship.

A big concern was who would be sharing their dinner table for the next four nights. They prayed about the situation and trusted it would be good.  At dinner that evening, they were delighted to meet their dining partners, a young Christian couple on their honeymoon. The newlyweds were just as surprised about the atmosphere of the ship, and had been praying the exact prayer.

It turned out to be a fantastic four days. The young couple was delighted to have marriage advice for a few nights, and our pastor and his wife loved the joy and excitement of the newlyweds.

Our pastor’s wife shared, “Don’t ever doubt what God can do when we ask for his help.”

We had been asking God for help for several months. We found ourselves priced out of the housing market in Southern California in the mid-1980s because of the high-interest rates – almost 20 percent. We decided we would rent for a while, but rentals were very scarce because of the high prices. Every day I would study the for-rent columns in the newspapers, but as soon as a house was available, it rented.

I was very discouraged, and time was getting short, as our current home had sold, and we needed to move. For some reason, our friends’ situation regarding table mates on the cruise ship came to my mind.

I thought, “If God cares about who our pastor and his wife sat with for dinner on the cruise ship, surely He cares about where we live.”

That evening we all prayed and thanked him that he had just the right house for our family. We wanted a home in the same school district, three bedrooms, a fenced yard, and within our budget. My spirit lifted, and I thought again about our pastor and the cruise ship dining experience.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV

The next afternoon, I drove through a beautiful neighborhood to pick up the children from school. As I drove down a quiet, tree-lined street, a man placed a for rent sign on the front lawn of a very nice house. I stopped and inquired about the rental. It sounded perfect, and as I looked inside and out in the fenced back yard, it was perfect. But the owner told me several interested parties had already called, and he was interviewing them first. He would be happy to let me fill out a rental application. I prayed to stay calm and trust God. I repeated the scripture from Philippians and our pastor’s wife’s advice – “don’t ever doubt what God can do when we ask for his help.”.

Our family prayed that evening for that house. Early the next morning, the landlord called and said he had chosen us!  He told me, “The moment you stopped yesterday afternoon and talked with me, I knew you were the family God wanted in this house.”

We spent several years in that lovely three-bedroom home with the fenced yard. God does care where we live and with whom we dine. The extra blessing was the Christian landlord.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

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He Cares – a timely reminder about #GodsLove from Penelope Carlevato, @TeaTimePen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Penelope Carlevato -5

About the author: Penelope Carlevato is a Christian author and speaker, member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Bureau and Titanic Speakers Bureau, and a contributing author for numerous compilation books. She serves as a regular columnist for Leading Hearts, the award-winning magazine for Christian women, and also writes for Innovative Health and other medical and wellness magazines.

Penelope’s book Tea on the Titanic, First Class Etiquette is a collection of recipes, special menus, and interesting facts and stories of life in the Downton Abbey and Titanic era. Whether planning a Birthday Tea, a Christmas Tea, a Christening Tea or even a themed Downton Abbey Tea, the pleasures of sharing tea time come alive as Penelope shares her enthusiasm, knowledge, and inspiration.

Join the conversation: Do you have a story about when you brought your needs before God and he provided for you? Please share!

Don’t Forget to Play

by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Carey, my husband of 25 years, is a comedian—in both the best and worst sense of the word. He makes me laugh so hard I snort; this is a good quality. However, he also has favorite jokes he has repeated—ad nauseum—for two decades.

Two. Decades.

For instance, if one of us is eating a Caesar salad, this man of mine can’t help himself from grinning and quipping, “This salad is so good, I could et tu” (as in “Et tu, Brute?”). See how funny that isn’t? I do appreciate a good joke, but not when it’s repeated hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of times.

That said, I am grateful for a mate with a sense of humor. Laughter keeps us bonded in fun ways. It has also provided us with countless, priceless memories. (Even doctors say laughter is good for your body. It increases blood and oxygen flow and even works your abdominal muscles. Score!)

While pondering this topic, my friends and I came up with some ideas about ways to keep the laughs coming in a relationship:

–Play miniature golf, arcade games, or bocce ball (or just do some old-fashioned bowling).

–Do a “Goodwill” date. Each of you takes $20 and finds the other person an outfit. Then you both must wear what the other picked out while you go to dinner.

–Send each other funny memes, texts, videos, or gifs.

–Play pranks on each other (but ONLY if you know the other person is okay with it. Some people hate to be pranked!)

–Buy your partner a funny gift. For Valentine’s Day last year, I got Carey chattering teeth. He loved them and keeps them in his office!

–Be spontaneous once in a while…and not just in the bedroom. Take a road trip with no map—just drive and see where you end up.

–Watch funny movies, comedy specials, or favorite sitcoms together.

–Try not to take yourselves too seriously.

–Tease one another…up to a point. Have a code word or “look” when things get to be too personal or annoying, so you don’t upset the other person.

–Buy “googly eyes” or other fun cheap items and put them in strange places.  Jackson, my 15-year old, put a pair of stick-on eyes on our coffee maker, and it makes me smile every morning.

Truly, laughter lightens the heaviest load. In fact, Proverbs 17:22 (NLT) says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” God designed us to benefit from laughter! It’s like medicine to the soul. Both Carey and I are in ministry jobs, and we sometimes come home burdened. It’s a real blessing to have a fun atmosphere around the house.

Our sons are young adults now, but when we do sit around the dinner table, it’s a lively place, full of puns and wordplay. I hope the boys will continue to bring laughter into their own homes when they marry and have kids. I also think they’ve learned that it’s dangerous to go too far when you’re ribbing a family member. It’s all good fun, until someone gets hurt–so it’s wise to know when to quit.

And while it can be infuriating at times that Carey is young-at-heart, I wouldn’t trade his optimism and good humor for anything. I can tend towards negative thoughts and worrying. If left to my own devices, I’d probably drown my sorrows in tortilla chips and the latest sad movie too often, and he is good about pulling me out of my seriousness when I need it.

So I’ll quote him to end my encouragement to you about playing together: getting older is inevitable; growing up isn’t.

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Don’t Forget to Play – encouragement from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: This article was adapted from Dena and Carey’s book, Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples (Barbour). Dena Dyer is the author or co-author of ten books for women and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Texas with Carey and their sons Jordan and Jackson. She loves bargain shopping, decorating, and traveling. Find her on Instagram and Facebook, or at her website.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep humor in your relationships?

Trial, Not by Fire, but Almost Everything Else

by Carol McCracken

Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.                                                                      James 1: 2 NIV

Her wedding dress, which had begun at thirty pounds, now weighed at least fifty.

A tropical storm was making landfall soon, and the rain bands had toyed with the venue all day. As her wedding planner, I knew chances of the planned outdoor ceremony were slim. But God had just given us a forty-five minute rain-free window. The surface under the decorated arch where the bride and groom stood was wet with residue, which the bride’s gown had absorbed. Unfazed, she grabbed her groom’s hand and recessed victoriously down the aisle.

I’ve seen many weddings with challenges, but this one was an extreme. The ironic thing was the bride and groom met when a tropical storm canceled a concert they had separately planned to attend. They met when pouring out their sorrows about that with mutual friends. Without a tropical storm to start things, they never would have crossed paths. And now here was another.

In the last months of planning, a global pandemic paralyzed the economy. Multiple crises occurred, one after the other. Carefully made plans were repeatedly derailed. She had shed many a tear, but with the quiet support of her groom, she always rallied.

As the world seemed to settle, it was decided to move forward with the wedding. But the bride called me in tears yet again when half the groomsmen’s suits didn’t arrive. The resulting customer service was abysmal, and the bride seemed ready to jump off the proverbial ledge.

Now a tropical storm loomed in the Gulf. The venue staff graciously offered to postpone the wedding. She turned the offer down, saying she was going down the aisle with her fiancé no matter what. Now, with all those trials and troubles behind her, the bride waved her bridal bouquet in triumph. She had just married her love and wanted the world to know it.

We will all none-too fondly will remember 2020, because we faced trials of all kinds, forcing us all to navigate uncharted territory. Not that we should be surprised at hardship: take a look at what James wrote at the top of this page. Notice, he didn’t say if, but when trials come. God tests our faith. This is not for His benefit; He already knows what is in our hearts. I think He does it to help us see where our faith really lies.

Some of us got mean. Some of us gave up. Some of us searched for answers in the wrong places. Our bride felt forces were against her as she tried to plan her special day. But amid the challenges, when the going got tough, she refused to postpone the wedding because she loved her groom and wanted to walk down that aisle in front of God and everyone. She stood before God in faith and thanked Him.

Are we as steadfast when difficulties appear or plans are canceled or postponed? Are we trusting in the circumstances we see around us rather than in a faithful God who holds all matters in His hands? God may be using the difficulties you are experiencing to help you see where you have placed your faith.

God loves us and wants us to face the tests by turning to Him in trust. He will reward the faithful in the end.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 NASB

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Trial, Not by Fire, but Almost Everything Else – encouragement from Carol McCracken on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Carol McCracken has been a Bible teacher for over twenty years. She has been on church staff in Leadership Development and Women’s ministry for over 30. Her passion is to make the Bible come alive for women and connect it to a real relationship with Jesus Christ in today’s busy and demanding world. She is an AWSA Protégé and Destin Word Weavers member.

Carol is a contributor to ChristianDevotions.us, Arise Daily, and Mustard Seed Ministries. She is currently working with an editor on another Women’s Bible study.

Join the conversation: What has God revealed to you through the trial of the Covid crisis?

The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30 NLT

Four baby barn swallows peered over the edge of the mud nest on a wall in a corner of our patio, eagerly waiting for their mother to return with breakfast. I had a really good view of the feathered family from my bedroom window. “This is going to be great,” I thought. “I can watch them grow, learn to fly, and leave the nest.” Like my own empty nest, the experience would be bittersweet, but exciting.

Then I remembered the beast. Our ninety-pound yellow lab dominates the back yard. Did the baby birds have a chance against a dog that pulls trees up by the roots? Maybe it would be better for the babies to never leave the nest. The mama bird could continue to feed them. Of course, the daddy bird would have to build an addition to the nest…

Two days later I stood at the bedroom window again. One baby clung to the edge of the nest and one was perched beside it on a brick that jutted out from the wall. It was time for flying lessons! Mother Swallow called to them from atop a blade of the patio ceiling fan about five feet away.

The beast lay on his side by the back door seemingly unaware of the unfolding drama. The baby on the brick hopped off into space, untested wings flapping. He dipped low, coming within eighteen inches of the ground. I held my breath. The beast slept on. Then the baby’s wings caught air, and he awkwardly joined his mother on the fan blade. Whew! One down, three to go.

Within a few days, all four baby birds had successfully learned to fly. At first they only flew to the ceiling fan, then back to the nest. As the days went by, they became a little more adventurous, visiting the roof and the large tree beyond the patio. Then one day they were gone. The nest stayed empty. Their mother had done her job, and they were on their own.

All three of our babies have tried their wings and left the nest. Even now, I worry about what could happen to them outside the nest. Will they watch out for those “big yellow labs?”

Now more than ever, this world is filled with things we could worry about. Most of which we have absolutely no control over. But the glorious thing is, I know someone who has full control, absolute sovereignty. The Creator is still and forever on His throne.

As Jesus reminded us in Matthew, nothing happens to a single sparrow without God’s knowledge. If He cares that much for a sparrow, how much more does He care for my children? For yours? They are worth more than many sparrows.

Summer is a time of transition. It’s filled with transitions like graduations and children planning to leave the nest. Give your worry to God and cling to His promises. Then watch from the fan blade with squawks of encouragement.

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The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest – encouragement from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy Howard

About 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: Is there a transition going on in your life? How are you doing with it?

When Forgiveness Leaves Justice Up to God

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

“Are you ever going to get over it?”

I was surprised by the question and a little annoyed.

“I certainly hope so,” I replied. But did I really want to move beyond what happened? I was a victim. Didn’t I rather enjoy recounting a litany of injustice?

Once a collaborative project I had worked on for several years was complete, another person swiftly moved to claim sole credit, leaving me stunned and wounded. I felt used. When I attempted to discover the reasons for this behavior, I was answered with anger and verbal abuse. I was mystified by this unexpected twist that ended our relationship.

A year later, I was still reeling with hurt and ranting about injustice. Like a dog worrying a bone, I’d grabbed the subject at every possible opportunity, gnawing it again and again. I wanted others to see the unfairness of what happened and sympathize with me. Although I had recorded my feelings in a journal and prayed for resolution, I had no sense of peace.

One day, while asking God to help me forgive, he surprised me by pointing out that what I really wanted was revenge. God reminded me forgiveness and revenge cannot coexist. Forgiveness involves releasing offenders from paying for the injury they inflicted. Since I still wanted my offender to pay, it was impossible for me to forgive.

Still, I was reluctant. The word “justice” hovered like a banner across my mind. But as I continued to pray, I began to see that not only would I never put the hurt behind me if I didn’t do what God asked, but I’d also be guilty of disobeying him. So, in a heartfelt prayer, I relinquished my desire for justice to God and asked him to give me the grace to obey and trust him. I felt a spiritual weight lift as I took the first breath of forgiveness.

God changed my heart, but not immediately. It was a process. When I was tempted to recount injustice, God gently reminded me to be silent. Sometimes I listened and obeyed, other times I couldn’t seem to resist diving into the familiar tirade again.

God brought to mind times when I’d hurt others through careless or deliberate words, indifference, or purposeful exclusion. Painfully, I began to see myself as guilty of wounding others as I had been wounded. When I started seeing the “logs” in my own life, my offender’s “specks” didn’t seem quite as significant (Luke 6:41-42 NASB).

Finally, God prompted me to offer blessings instead of curses. Initially, that seemed like too much to ask, but in a willful act of obedience, I tried. At first, my prayers were tiny, stiff, and peripheral. I prayed for God to bless my offender’s family, but avoided praying for my offender. But those prayers paved the way, so eventually I could pray more directly and sincerely.

I may never know exactly how God handled justice, but to my amazement, I don’t feel the need to know. My heart is no longer crushed and weighed down by resentment. My mind is not clouded by thoughts of revenge, and my tongue no longer spews venom. I have experienced the freedom of forgiveness, a place I would never have reached without continual dialogue with God through prayer.

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Prov. 20:22 NLT

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When Forgiveness Leaves Justice Up to God – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to forgive? How did it finally happen?

More or Less—And Better Mores and Lesses

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Oh that moment. That moment of extreme delight when the waiter brings out a spectacular tray covered with every dream dessert. Be still, my heart. Of course, for me, right after that moment of delight comes the next moment of complete despair when I realize the guy expects me to only take one.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love cake pops. They’re tiny. So that means you can eat a whole tray of them.

I also love cake pops because:  Cake. On a stick. … And apparently, I now think even forks and plates are too much trouble.

I’ve wondered if dessert trays should come with instructions. Like, “Choose only one.” Or better: 1) Reconsider eating any of this. And then, 2) Never eat any of this.

I’m obviously still working on forming better habits. I’d really like to eat less of this kind of stuff. Also I’d really like to eat more of this kind of stuff. So that’s where I am. More or less.

It’s a little similar in my faith life. Sometimes I long to see God do more. A new thing. Around me and in me and through me. When I pray and then stop and think what that might require, it pretty much always boils down to this:  Less me. More Him.

There’s no doubt I need to become much less satisfied with everything chocolate-covered and comfy-cozy and much more resolute in the Kingdom work that will bring Him glory. More Spirit-directed intention. Less off-the-cuff, on-the-fly and on-my-own.

I wonder how many miraculous happenings occur inside comfort zones. I’m thinking not many. Sometimes God brings us to a place outside our comfort, outside our own strength, outside the box—sometimes maybe even outside of the possible. It’s often in that place of squirming that He shows up biggest.

No, I’ve not seen a lot of amazing things born of comfort zones. But thorny places? That’s a different story.

“A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 HCSB).

Want to see God do more? A new thing? In you, around you and through you? Sometimes it happens in the thorniest places. It’s accomplished in His strength and by His oh-so-sufficient grace. And here’s the kicker. Whatever you can dream? He can deliver more. By His strength and grace, it’s bigger. Better. More glorious.

As Paul is telling the people in Ephesus about his desire that they be filled with “all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), he reminds them of the God who is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us,” (vs. 20). The Amplified expands on verse 20 like this: “Now to Him who is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams.” More. And even more. And then superabundantly more!

Recognizing His “mores” will always result in the right kinds of “lesses.” Less of my self-focused distractions. More of His glory. Less fretting about my comfort zone. More of the kind of service that will bring Him glory.

Out of my comfort zone. Into His service. Though I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I’m still hoping there’s dessert there.

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More or Less—And Better Mores and Lesses – encouragement 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: In what kinds of situations has God done His best work in you?

Father Knows Best

by Christina Rose

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him
.  Psalm 18:30 NIV

Memories of long road trips as a child evoke thoughts of red vine licorice, flashcards, counting license plates, and tormenting my parents with, “Are we there yet?” or “I have to go to the bathroom again!”  On one such dreary drive I was relegated to the rear of the station wagon after my tantrum over having to share my McDonald’s French fries with my brother. Since dad was driving, and I was well out of arm’s reach to be spanked, I took advantage of this and howled for hours from Canada to Massachusetts.

Waiting on God’s timing can sometimes feel just as aggravating as an endless road trip in our fast-paced society that wants everything yesterday. If an unexpected glitch derails our plans, it is easy to become unglued. Knowing that God is in control and often intercedes to interrupt our plans for our benefit can ease our frustration.  God is sovereign and his plans always supersede ours to ultimately show us that “Father Knows Best”.  

When our prayers seem to go unanswered, our faith can wane. We may wonder if God is listening and worse yet, wonder if He even cares. Yet time will prove that God is always listening and does care. But He will always provide in His way and His timing, not ours.  When we trust Him like a child, knowing that He has our best interests at heart and is in control over every creature, event and circumstance, we learn to wait in peace.

I make known the end from the beginning  from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
(Isaiah 46:10 NIV)

A few years ago I had a long, stressful commute to San Francisco.  One morning I could not find a seat on the ferry and in exasperation, I leaned against the wall looking out over the sea of 450 passengers.  They were silently engrossed in their electronics and were seriously somber as if they were all on their way to a funeral. I thought, “Everyone looks as miserable as I am. I guess we’re all in the same boat.” Through constant prayer and surrender, God delivered me from this bondage. Six months later, I found myself on a sunny beach in Florida for an extended vacation.

Many divinely guided adventures have happened since then, as I have learned to let go and let God. He wants us to enjoy the life that Jesus died to give us.

I confess that I have struggled with worry over my children, even while knowing this does not serve them. One day as I was praying yet stressing unnecessarily over my daughters’ futures I heard, “They are my daughters and I have good plans for them. Thank you for taking care of them for me.” I was reminded that my daughters are God’s daughters first. He just gave me the privilege of helping Him to care for them while they are on earth.

God knows what He is doing, and we must trust Him. When we believe that our Father knows best, we learn to wait on His timing knowing that all things work for good to those who love God.

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Father Knows Best – encouragement from Christina 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. 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, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: For what do you have a hard time trusting God?