You Are Not Invisible

by Monica Schmelter @MonicaSchmelter

One day, when I was feeling incredibly invisible and overlooked, my scheduled devotional reading included a genealogy. The last thing I wanted to read was a genealogy. Instead, I wanted a Scripture that would encourage my hurting heart. Nonetheless, I pressed forward with the day’s reading. While I read who begat who and how many thousands waged war, I suddenly had a thought I knew emanated from God.

A lineage is more than a list of hard to pronounce names. It is a written record that God sees and knows us. All of us. Every last one of us.

One of my favorite shows is Long Lost Family. Sometimes it is an adoptee searching for a birth parent. Other times the search is initiated by a sibling or birth parent. The stories are heartwarming and each one has a common thread: the human desire to be known.

We can take heart when we feel invisible, because God is the God who sees.

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

This passage speaks to your value and provides peace in Christ. When you let this Scripture radiate in your heart, you are filled with comfort because you know that you are valuable to Him. You are not invisible. Your life and thoughts are important to Him. He sees you. He loves you.

Just think about how different your life would be if you rested in the truth that you are valuable to God? He sees your life and delights in your details.

I have lived many days believing the lie that I was invisible to God and others. The ache of feeling overlooked has filled my heart far too often. Then I encountered the genealogy in my devotional reading. My initial resistance to reading the long list was replaced with the comfort that God sees me and you.

After reading that morning, I started to get ready for the day. As I brushed my hair, I thought about the Scripture where God says He numbers the hairs on our head. If you take one look at my hairbrush you can see that my daily hair count fluctuates. We are talking about some serious counting! But God is very present in every detail of our life. His careful attention to our lives means that we do not have to be afraid.

Those long lineages with hard-to-pronounce names are there to help us see that God does not miss anything. We may not get the credit we deserve at work or home. We may feel invisible in certain areas of our personal or professional life.  But God’s Word declares He takes notice when a single sparrow falls to the ground. Then He says our lives have more value than the sparrow.

When you feel invisible or overlooked, pause and reflect on His truth. He sees you and your life is of great value to Him. You have great worth in His eyes.

TWEETABLE
You Are Not Invisible – encouragement from @MonicaSchmelter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

monicaheadshot (1)About the Author: Monica Schmelter is the host of Christian Television Network’s daily show Bridges. Bridges airs in over 50 million homes and is available on ROKU and online at monicaschmelter.com.

Got a junk drawer? Ever find yourself stuffing stray items in there without thinking? Monica’s book, Messy to Meaningful, will help you sift through and sort out the unnecessary spiritual things weighing you down. Stop holding on to so much junk that you can’t fit in the good things the Lord is calling you to. Monica and co-authors Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea will take you through your junk drawer and make you laugh along the way. Find yourself some beautiful…free.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled with feeling insignificant or even invisible?

 

Recess, Resurrection, and Redemption

by Kelly Wilson Mize @KellyWilsonMize

Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”  And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” John 11: 43-44 NLT

Blue skies, fresh air and good friends–what could be better? Remember the sense of joy you felt when it was finally time for recess in elementary school? Or in college when you completed the final exam of the semester?  Five o’clock on Friday after a long week? Stop and think about that feeling for a second…

Ahh, freedom.

As a former elementary educator, I was able to witness that kind of exuberance on a regular basis.  When the doors leading to the playground burst open, bright smiles overtook small faces and excitement permeated the air. No matter how much the kids loved school and their teachers, there was just something about being ‘set free’—released from a place of restriction and confinement—to one of liberty. 

Many of us have lived in a somewhat restricted environment the last few months: our daily outlook has been limited to the view of only ‘essential’ locations. And though some indirect blessings may have come as a result of this strange season of COVID 19—family dinners, leisurely nature walks, a breather from tight, hectic schedules—I think most of us have had struggled with feeling a little restless or maybe even downright claustrophobic. 

The entire world, it seems, is searching for a reason to hope.

As believers, we not only have a reason, but firm assurance of that hope. According to the New Testament, Jesus’ beloved friend, Lazarus, had been dead for four whole days by the time Jesus arrived on the scene. All hope seemed lost. But Jesus had a plan. He went to Lazarus’ tomb, ordered the stone to be rolled away, and called out to him, “Lazarus, come out!” 

Then, the Bible says, the dead man came out, still wrapped in his grave clothes. Can you even begin to imagine what it must have been like to be there?

Jesus then spoke a simple sentence: “Unwrap him and let him go!”

Different versions of the Bible use different words to describe Jesus’ command:

Free him.

Unbind him.

Unwrap him.

Loose him.

…and Let. Him. Go!

Do you sometimes feel that you are being held in the darkness of a tomb, bound by a force that is taking away your very life?

What is holding you back—binding you, wrapping you up—in a way that has rendered you helpless?  What daily confinement do you need to be released from: loneliness? Anxiety, Depression? Anger? Jealousy? Unforgiveness? 

How was Lazarus miraculously brought back to life from death? Jesus spoke. We may not physically have Jesus, in human form, verbalizing life over us. But we do, like Lazarus did, have His presence and His WORD. We were given a life-changing Book bursting with promises that assure us of His love, power, and protection. It’s a freedom that’s even better than the joy of recess on a beautiful day!

Allow God to free you from the negative things that restrict you, so that you can leave the dark tomb behind, and experience authentic life—peace, security, and hope. Listen to His voice when He commands that you be unbound. Embrace His presence and absorb His Word. Because that Word is perfect truth, and truth is the only thing that has the power to truly set us free. (John 8:32)

TWEETABLE
Recess, Resurrection, and Redemption – encouragement from @KellyWilsonMize on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother of two, educator, and freelance writer with a master’s degree in education and 20 years of published writing experience. She has written numerous articles, interviews, curriculum projects, and devotions, and has contributed to seven books. Credits include LifeWay, Bethany House, Guideposts,
(in)courage, and others. Find more from Kelly at kellywilsonmize.com.

Join the conversation: Have you been set free from something holding you back? Please share! What is holding you back or rendered you helpless?

 

Drowning in Stress?

by Ginny Dent Brant @GinnyBrant

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:8 (NKJ)

Hearing the words “you have cancer” just four months after my mother had died from cancer was a jolt to my entire body. The next week, the news got worse: “It’s aggressive.” But strike three came when my surgeon flashed my MRI up on the wall and said, “It appears your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.” It looked like a tornado had invaded my body. Was this really my MRI? Was this my ticket to Heaven?

The way we handle stress and emotions in the trials of our lives can determine our health and well-being. Stress releases a cocktail of hormones that can suppress or temporarily shut down our immune response. It’s normal to experience stress from time to time. However, when stress is constant, our body shifts from defense and repair to an inability to defend against disease. Where we focus our attention in the trials of our lives makes a difference.

God knew that stress would wreak havoc on our bodies, but in His wisdom He has given us remedies—things we can do to help our bodies to restore during troubling times. In the book of Philippians, Paul instructs us on dealing with difficult times that cause stress to rear its ugly head. He first points us to prayer and gratitude (in the preceding verses). Then he challenges us to refocus our mind and attention.

While writing Philippians, Paul was under house arrest and chained to a Praetorian Guard, awaiting to go on trial for his life. Yet his mind is not focused on his negative circumstances. He instructs us to meditate on the things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good reports, and those things that are worthy of praise. I call these “the good things.” Paul is admonishing us to refocus on “the good things” rather than the adverse circumstances around us.

Paul’s advice is well-taken. Drowning in the negative circumstances of our lives provides no benefit. Meditating on the truth of God’s Word, laying our concerns at His feet in prayer, praising Him for the blessings in our lives, and refocusing on “the good things” are all productive actions that give us hope. We know that God will use all things for our good and for His eternal purposes.

Paul’s imprisonment meant sharing the Gospel in ways he could not anticipate. Living under arrest gave him opportunities to witness, time away from the world to refocus, and solitude to write God’s Word.

Trials don’t last forever, but they do make us stronger. Research shows that people who practice a lifestyle of prayer, gratitude, and refocusing their thoughts on the “good things” daily are healthier and heal better.

So what did I do in the middle of a deadly and aggressive cancer journey?  I prayed more, I meditated on the truth in His Word, I sang His praises, I thanked Him for all the blessings, and I refocused on “the good things” along the way. I found that my cancer journey gave me time to refocus my life and eventually use my journey as a gift to help others. What’s good for the cancer patient is good for everyone. Where we focus our attention matters.

TWEETABLE
Drowning in Stress? – encouragement from @GinnyBrant on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Her recent book, Unleash Your God-given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer, was written with an oncologist after her cancer journey. Cancer prevention blog and more info at http://www.ginnybrant.com.

Join the conversation: On what do you focus when stress threatens to overtake you?

In the Bag

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord.” Jonah 1:3 NIV

In my role as the preschool Bible Story Lady at church one Sunday, I told the story of Jonah and the big fish to the four-year-olds.

The hard part wasn’t bringing the bit about Jonah deliberately running away from God down to the their level: little people who still get their fannies smacked when they run away from adults. No. They got that all right.

The hard part was how to tell it so they’d understand that some grown-ups are silly enough to think they can hide from an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God. Not even a four-year-old would believe that.

So I asked how many of the children like to play hide-and-seek. Every hand went up.

“Have you ever picked a really bad hiding place like this one?” I put my hands over my eyes and said, “Okay. I’m hidden. I can’t see you so you can’t see me either, right?”

The kids laughed hysterically.

“Or how about this one?” I tried to squeeze my jumbo adult body behind an itty-bitty kiddie chair. “Can you see me now?”

They howled.

“Or maybe you’ve been here.” I returned to center stage, carefully unfolded a paper bag, plopped it over my head, and reached out with both hands – searching, groping, even becoming a little tearful as I fell to my knees.

“Did you leave me?” I called out in faux panic. “Oh no! I’m all alone in this cold, dark, horrible place. And I’m so scared! Won’t someone help me?”

No laughter this time. Something had resonated with those little people.

I hadn’t expected this. Silence, so thick you could cut it with a knife. I wasn’t sure what to do next.

The kids apparently identified with my aloneness, with Jonah in his disobedience. With all humankind when we choose to dig a hole of disrespect to our Creator, then lie in it, isolated … frightened … confused.

Suddenly a little voice piped up. A warm voice heavy with empathy. “It’s okay, Miss Debbie. We’re still here. Don’t be afraid. You’re not alone.”

And then I heard footsteps mounting the stage and felt a tiny hand take mine. Then dozens of small hands found me, surrounding me with comfort and hope.

There I was, kneeling on a stage with a brown paper bag over my head and a huge lump in my throat, swarmed by a horde of uninhibited children who understood what it felt like to be alone and afraid – and didn’t want it to happen to me.

I was incredibly moved.

Running from God is something we silly grown-ups do, isn’t it? We actually think that secret sin of ours is secret and an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God somehow doesn’t know about our hidden shame.

So we isolate that part of ourselves and try to hide it in a cold, dark spiritual place that reeks like the innards of a gutted fish. We feel alone. And scared. Because our heavenly Father isn’t there.

But He is. He is. Like Jonah, we only have to call for help to be heard. “Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish” (Jonah 2:1 MSG).

Then Papa God’s warm, comforting hands will reach out from the darkness, enveloping us in forgiveness, redemption, second chances … hope.

That flash of blindness with the preschoolers truly opened my eyes. It was one of those rare teachable moments of adulthood that knocks your well-ordered world off its axis and cracks open the door for a glimpse into a higher realm.

Maybe I should carry a head bag around with me all the time.

Now let your unfailing love comfort me, just as you promised me, your servant. Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your instructions are my delight.” Psalm 119:76-77 NLT

TWEETABLE
In the Bag – encouragement from @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debora-coty-250x250About the author: Debora Coty is a speaker, columnist and award-winning author of 200+ articles and over 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with over 1.2 million copies sold in multiple languages worldwide. Besides donning her floppy flowered hat as the Bible Story Lady, she enjoys teaching piano, mountain hiking, choco-scarfing, and playing tennis. Debora lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband and five feisty grands living nearby. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BBFFs (Blessed Blog Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Momsaddresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: Have you had a rare teachable moment with God lately? Please share!

 

Waking Up with God

by Bobbie Frazier  @b2frazier                                                                            

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NKJ

Jesus tells us: seek God, pursue Him! Don’t give up but continue to ask Him for what we need to be His vessel.  “How can You use me today Jesus?” is a question I try to ask daily. Sometimes at the end of the day I look back to see what has been accomplished; line items may not have been crossed off my list, but He has used me in ways I would not have sought after on my own.

Jesus tells us we must consistently pursue God. Be consistent but not robotic. How do we do that?

So many times, our mind is spilling over with to do lists even before we get out of bed in the morning. How can we consistently pursue God and still accomplish what is needed?

Ask Him for the time to spend with Him, and He will give it to you.

When I first did that, I had to be at work at 5:00 every morning. So, God woke me at 3:30. I studied His Word, I prayed, and my ritual for getting ready for the day began. At first I didn’t realize it was God giving me this chance of time with Him—I was proud of myself for waking up. Since I couldn’t go back to sleep, I would think: well I might as well do my devotions and spend time with God.

It was almost a slap in the face one morning, when I realized that even though I was up that early, I was not any more tired at night. I was able to finish my day alert and productive. God gave me the time to spend with Him, but didn’t take away anything else. WOW! God did that for me?

Now I work from home. I can study His Word and spend time in prayer at all times of the day. BUT that time can still get away from me; my lists are long, and my strength is not what it used to be.

But after spending time with God, I will have all the strength I need for what He calls me to do. My strength is not my own—it comes from spending time in His presence. Jesus told His disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:1-5 ESV.

Over the years, I’ve come to look at exercising, waiting in line, sitting in a Dr. office, or being on hold as opportunities to be in His presence. So many things give me time to pray, to praise, to ask, and to serve. WOW—look at how much time we have to work on our relationship with Jesus! Don’t be frustrated by feeling like you are wasting that time. Be thankful for the time God has given you to worship Him.

Let’s be consistent with putting God first in all we do, asking for time to spend with Him, and He will arrange it. We must be obedient to the calling. When we find stability in who God is in our life, the consistency of spending time with Him will become a desire of our heart.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. Psalm 125:1 NKJ

TWEETABLE
Waking Up with God – encouragement from Bobbie Frazier, @B2Frazier on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Bobbie and her husband Tom have a family of five children and ten grandchildren.  She is co-founder of Prayer Pocket Ministries and has a passion for prayer along with talking and writing about Jesus.  Bobbie is the author of the children’s book – Dalton Discovers the Ten Commandments, which can purchased from her website or on Amazon.

Join the conversation: How do you manage to spend time with the Lord with your busy schedule?

Living the Psalms

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:5-6a ESV

I am not always okay these days. There are moments when I feel connected with Jesus, engaged with work, on-top of the pandemic situation, and prayerful.

Then, there are the other moments.

Emotions swell within me that are unpleasant and occasionally overwhelming. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Fear.

Not one of these feelings changes the truth of the gospel in my life, my foundational belief in Scripture, or my trust that God will work all this together for good for those who love Him, and yet, it doesn’t always feel okay to tell other Christians when I’m not okay.

I know it is fine to not be okay because I read the Bible. Jeremiah, Moses, Paul, Job, and even Jesus had moments when they were not feeling okay about their situations. We have recorded the times when they expressed these feelings to God in prayer. And, yet, we struggle to hear these same emotions from other believers without immediately responding with a Bible verse or Christian cliché designed to “fix” our friend’s mood.

The Psalms don’t do that. The Psalms remind us God designed us with a full emotional palette, not all of them pleasant. Better yet, we know the Psalms – in all their raw, emotional, transparent, theologically sound resonance – are blessed by God as holy Scripture and we find this more assuring than the rapid religious prescriptions too often doled out by our well-intentioned Christian friends.

Is it possible that David, a man of ancient times, was more willing than our modern cohorts to also honor the truth of his experience as a human being living in a fallen world?  I believe David’s faith in God’s character was so rich and full that he could risk being fully human in front of God. God rejects our sin, but He does not reject our humanity. He created us and knows our design better than we do.

The shocking truth is that as much as our society understands about feelings, many Christians still feel more comfortable turning to a dead Psalmist for comfort than they do one another. We have Scriptural evidence that we should be accessing support from both.

Of course, we want to encourage one another with God’s Word, to fortify our hearts with truth, and to inspire one another to hope. We do this by honoring the truth of Jesus Christ and clinging to that as the final word on all our situations.

But the pathway for most us to pinning our emotions to that truth is to bushwhack through the whole truth of what we’re feeling and experiencing. We need to honor our own humanity by honestly speaking the truth when we’re not okay, to express it and explore it before God (and often another mature believer) and only then restate the truth of Christ to which we cling. This is the pattern of most of the Psalms.

We can be living Psalms by being willing to be authentic with one another at the same time we state God’s truth. By honoring our humanity as we honor the unchanging truth of Jesus Christ, we deliver the whole truth and grow deeper in relationship to God and to one another.

TWEETABLE
Living the Psalms – insight and encouragement on #FollowingGod from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four

encouraging, unsettling books. Her first is Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and her latest is The Art of Hard Conversations. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: What encouragement have you received during the covid crisis?