A Lesson from a Dog

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Ecclesiastes 4:10 NKJV

The greeting my dog gives me when I come home from a trip is a picture of love. No matter how many hours I’ve spent inhabiting airports, navigating connecting flights, or stuck in traffic, her enthusiastic greeting never fails to make my heart rejoice. No matter how bad I smell or how cranky I am, she doesn’t know the meaning of “personal space,” much less “social distancing.”

I’m not a fan of social distancing either.

Shakespeare may have written “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but not so with every word in the English vocabulary.

Webster’s dictionary defines “social” as marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. Another variation is of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society.

Removing ourselves from the fellowship of others is not how we were created to live. Isolation leads to loneliness, depression, suicide, addiction, and more. We are trading one disease for another—one global pandemic for another.

We a need to be aware of others’ suffering and have the desire to do something about it. This is compassion, and it is the key to sustaining society.

The term “social distancing” implies the need to avoid interaction with and the companionship of others. It suggests disengaging ourselves from society. But a disengaged society soon becomes a compassionless society.

Even the most independent among us don’t want to live in a compassionless society. We all fall. Emotionally, spiritually, or physically—no one is immune to stumbling on a broken world.

When Solomon penned the book of Ecclesiastes, he purposefully included the passage above emphasizing the importance of friends. With all his wealth and wisdom, he could have hired someone to help him up, but I think he knew sometimes we fall in ways only a friend can recognize and in places only a friend can reach. God was telling us through Solomon’s pen that we need one another.

Let’s go out of our way to be social. Let’s greet everyone we meet with joy—from a safe distance if need be—remembering they are walking through these crazy times just like we are. Check on friends. Perform an act of kindness, preferably one that can’t be returned, for a stranger—or even better, someone whose views and opinions might differ from your own.

Stop looking at others as though they are the problem. Do something that says, “I see you and we’re in this together.” Be as social as possible through whatever means are available…phone, internet, or six feet apart in the grocery store parking lot.

I need to see the light of love in your eyes and feel the joy of your smile. I want to be a friend who recognizes when you are lonely, fearful, angry, or uncertain. I can do that those things from a physical distance, but not a social one.

Take a lesson in love from a dog who simply wants to know I haven’t forgotten or abandoned her, and refuse the misnomer of social distancing.

A Lesson from a Dog – encouragement from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

A Firm Place to Stand by [Lori Altebaumer]

About the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. With her boots on the ground, head in the clouds, and heart in His hands, she is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart in search of life’s best adventures. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Her first novel, A Firm Place to Stand, released in January 2020. She also blogs regularly on her website www.lorialtebaumer.com. In between writing, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here.

Join the conversation: What ways have you found to keep physical distance from interfering with social interaction?

Seven Ways to Know God is Watching Out for Us

by Janet Perez Eckles

The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. Psalm 121:5 NIV

Fall is almost here. We go into it with memories of hot summer days, walking on the sand and splashing in the water. This not-so-silly episode in one of Florida’s beach stands out…

“C’mon, Nana.” My granddaughter impatiently pulled my hand. Even at four years old, she knew to lead her blind Nana.

“Don’t go too far,” hubby said, from where he relaxed on a lounger.

With her small hand tight in mine, our feet sunk into the hot sand as we drew closer to the water. We jumped over the waves, giggled, collected shells, and giggled some more.

After a long while I realized I had no idea where we were—maybe too far from hubby. Was he still watching us?

I got on one knee and held my granddaughter’s wet cheeks between my hands. “Sweet baby, look at me, do you see Papa anywhere?”

“Nope. C’mon Nana, let’s jump.”

Suppressing the panic that cramped my stomach, I said silent prayers, the kind that blurts out from the heart. The kind you want to word just right so God would be quick to answer. And my silent pleas were those that bordered on self-pity. “Oh, if I could only see a little bit, this wouldn’t happen.”

With all traces of patience tossed into the sea, I quickly drew closer to a group of folks talking. “Excuse me,” I waved in the direction of their voices. Would you have a cell phone?” I said. “I think I lost my husband.”

As I gave the first few numbers for them to dial, I heard a familiar voice right behind me. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, there you are.” I grinned with relief at my hubby.

“I was watching you both the whole time,” he said.

A little shame swept over me. Not because of what had just happened. But I remembered how often, during tough times in my life, I doubted, I panicked, I feared that God took His eyes off me. I worried I had drifted too far from His love, His provision, and His care.

We all do that sometimes, don’t we? We listen to the news; fear grips us. We learn of the growing statistics of the virus; anxiety invades our peace. And the whole time, we wonder is God there? Is He watching? Does He care?

Even in the midst of our well-meaning prayer, doubt creeps in, because we’re still walking on the hot sand of uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fear leaves, doubt ends, and faith comes. They do when we follow these seven steps:

1. Readjust our priorities. Do we seek the answer to our prayer with more passion than we seek God Himself? Some seek answers first, but here’s God’s order of priorities: “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

2. Resist the temptation to recite memorized, perfect prayers, with lovely words and deep insights. God simply wants the genuine expression of our heart. He’s listening. He even knows what we need before we ask Him, “…when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7 NIV).

3. Recognize that sometimes we don’t know how to pray or what our requests should be. So, we can freely ask for Him to show us what to pray for. Confident that He’s aware of every detail, we whisper to Him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV).

4. Remember that His answer is always in His timing, not ours because a thousand years in God’s sight are like a day that has just gone by (Psalm 90 NIV).

5.Relax and relish in the fact that while we wait, He’s at work in us, in our heart, in our situation because, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

6. Remove anxious thoughts. In the silence of the moment and in the power of His presence, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6 NIV).

7. Embrace profound confidence, not in the world or government, but in the power of God because “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14–15 NIV).

Father, we praise You because You have Your watchful eye on us and You observe our anxious moments. Knowing that each tomorrow is in Your hands, peace fills us. In Jesus name we thank You.

Seven Ways to Know God is Watching Out for Us – insight from author Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez eckles

About the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker, author and founder of J.C. Empowerment Ministries. Through her books and conference messages, she empowers thousands to overcome fear, conquer worry and live triumphantly. Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite go-to verse when you struggle with doubt or fear?

Outwit the Overwhelms

by Nancy Kay Grace @NancyKayGrace

Imagine with me the sweet moments motherhood, of tucking our little ones in at night with soft moon-glow as they drift off in peaceful sleep. Reality shatters the quietness when little feet pad down the hallway. “Mommy, I need a drink!” says the bright-eyed preschooler in the doorway.

The elementary student pops out of bed. “I forgot to tell you something. I need black pants for the school program tomorrow.”

Ugh! Exhaustion and exasperation set in, erasing the sweet moments.

Later, in the middle of the night, the baby screams from intestinal discomfort. A massive blowout needs attention. After tending to the baby, it’s hard to fall back to sleep, thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list.

How do we cope with that overwhelmed feeling?

Jesus spoke words that encourage and help us remember the priorities of life, of loving and caring our family and ourselves. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

This passage helps us conquer the “overwhelms” in several ways.

  • Remember to nurture your relationship with the Lord. Even if it’s a few moments while your coffee is brewing, whisper words of praise to God for being loving and kind.  Read a devotional on your phone to use brief minutes to connect to with God when you are on the go.
  • Take care of you. Jesus taught us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Simple words, but hard to learn. It is nurturing, not selfish, and can improve perspective. We can get so involved caring for everyone else that we neglect healthy self-care.
  • Give yourself grace, just as God gives you grace. Learn to accept the fact that “good enough” is acceptable. Perfectionism is the enemy of grace. Do what you can and learn to be satisfied with it.

By focusing on doing our best for the Lord—pleasing Him and not others—we avoid heaping on extra mommy-guilt.

Psalm 90:12 (NIV) also helps us outwit “the overwhelms”: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

  • Prioritize tasks instead of doing massive multi-tasking. When I have much to do and little time to accomplish it, I try to do too many things at once. I can get overwhelmed with many half-finished tasks that it becomes hard to complete any of them. Prioritize what needs to be done first, and complete it. Then move on to do the next thing.
  • When the “overwhelms” gang up on you, look to the Lord for wisdom. Life is unedited. Unanticipated situations will occur. When we are stressed out, inhale deep breaths, and remember that inner strength comes from the Lord.

At the end of the day, reflect on Psalm 61:2-3 before drifting off to sleep. From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety. Psalm 61:2 (NLT)

Outwit the Overwhelms – encouragement when life is tough from @NancyKayGrace on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace enjoys the outdoors and zip lining. She 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, The Upper Room devotional, as well as online and print magazine articles. Nancy loves sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and grace. Please visit http://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for the monthly GraceNotes devotional newsletter.

Join the conversation: What overwhelms you?

Watch How You Twirl

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

“. . . so that there may be no division in the body, but so that the parts may have the same care for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer together. If one part is honored, all the parts rejoice together. Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, TLV

My friend twirled in her long gauzy skirt. Her curly hair extended like dreadlocks. Arms outstretched toward the heavens, she giggled, then shouted, “I love You, Jesus!” All this in a crowded church parking lot.

People stared. Some shook their heads. I was embarrassed for her. I think I said something clever to the onlookers, attempting to distract their focus from her.

Thinking about that moment today makes me cringe. Not because I’m still uncomfortable thinking about my friend “making a fool” of herself. I cringe because I am ashamed that I even thought that way.

We live in a confusing world. There are cries for diversity, and cries by those who long for unity. But what if they’re not mutually exclusive?

For most of my life I longed to be accepted. I believed if I mimicked others—abided in the status quo—people would see that I was like them. And, well, they would like me. If they liked me, I therefore reasoned, God would like me.

The thing is, I’m not like everyone else. My friend is not. You’re not. And that’s a good thing.

Finding our unique identity as children of the Creator of the Universe and followers of His Son, Jesus, is our lifelong struggle—or perhaps it’s better to say, goal. Our Heavenly Father created us to be distinctive, and His Son prayed that we would be one as He and His Father were One (John 17:6-23).

I struggled with this. At first, I wanted everyone to be like me. Which is what I did to my creative friend. When that didn’t work, I tried to be like people I thought God liked best.

This went on for years until one day a woman walked into our congregation’s bookstore. Within a few minutes of meeting me she pronounced, “You need to be writing.” I instantly broke into tears. She had no idea that thirty years before she set foot in that little store, I had given up writing. I had laid that part of me in a grave and buried it alive—not realizing it was a gift God had given me.

As she spoke those words, that gift awoke.

Since that time, I have gradually learned how to appreciate others’ God-inspired uniqueness.

What if the piercings, skin color, tattoos, style of music, and other uncomfortable differences are all part of who He created others to be? What if the reason we’re embarrassed by our brothers and sisters’ uniqueness is because we haven’t embraced our own?

The unity Jesus prayed for wasn’t about being the same. We don’t want a nose to be the same as an ear, right? What if trying to make others more like us, we cripple the Body of Messiah?

We are designed to be joined together—but we’re not designed to be the same. If we struggle with being critical of others who are different, we need to seek our Father. There may be a gift He has for us that we have buried or not revealed. A gift made for us.

Division makes us weak. Conformity will limit us. But holy diversity means we each do what God calls us to and rejoice with anyone fulfilling their God-given destiny.

So, twirl, my friends. Twirl all you want.

Watch How You Twirl – encouragement from Terri Gillespie @TerriGMaven on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Have you embraced what makes you unique?

When You Don’t Know What To Do

by Sheri Schofield

Yogi Berra, All-Star catcher for the New York Yankees, once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Don’t you wish it were that simple? Each of us comes to many forks in the road of life. Which way should we go? How will we know which path is God’s plan for us? Does God have an absolute plan for our lives? If we take the wrong road, will we miss out on God’s blessing?

I used to think that God’s will for my life was linear—like a map on paper. I would do my best to discover his will, but I did not always choose correctly. I made the best decision I could on the information I had. Sometimes I could not get full information about the choices available to me because my leaders would not tell me. No details… not even the basics!

As the years progressed, I learned that God’s will is not linear. It is not like a flat map or a board game of Scrabble. It is more like the game Upward, which is like three-dimensional Scrabble. One can build any word up from the one already formed, so long as the new word is a legitimate word going both upward and across.

I learned that God is not bound by my mistakes! As long as my eyes are on him, he will put me back on the right path if I miss it.

The prophet Isaiah wrote to the rebellious Jews, who had made some very, very bad mistakes, “People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you! Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it,”” (Isaiah 30:19, 21 NIV).

Sometimes I don’t hear that voice telling me which way to turn, though. I sometimes find myself feeling like a squirrel halfway across the road with a car bearing down on me! (I often identify strongly with squirrels, which is why I watch out for them.) As creatures near the bottom of the food chain, squirrels behave in a predator-avoidance manner. The squirrels freeze when they see a predator approaching, then dash away at an angle as the predator closes in. This works for avoiding big animals charging at them, but it really stinks for avoiding cars!

I’m like that. I freeze when I’m afraid and then sometimes make decisions to avoid trouble at the last moment, dashing toward what I feel is safe. This is not always a good move! But God is good to me anyway. He’s always looking out for me, and if he sees that I am afraid, and I call out to him, he will slow down and patiently wait for me as I try to discover his will. He does not allow me to be devastated or crushed by his displeasure.

Eventually, if I wait and listen for God’s voice, he will make his directions clear. I just need to be still and wait on him. As a squirrel-type, I find that this isn’t easy! I want to dash out into the road to get away from fear. So when I must make decisions, I ask the Lord to hold me still in his mighty hand and to calm my fearful heart while I wait.

He is faithful. He will speak.

Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10, NLT

When You Don’t Know What To Do – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

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

Join the Conversation: How has God guided your mistakes into opportunity?

Letting Go of the Guilt and Shame

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

I listened to Jean cry as she told me she could never forgive herself for committing what she believed was an “unforgiveable” sin.

It’s one thing when pain happens to us. It’s another thing when something we do—or fail to do—results in our pain or someone else’s. We tend to put that pain in the category of something that for which God will never heal us or forgive us.

Yet, as I explained to Jean, Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to heal the very deepest of wounds– even the self-inflicted ones.

If you’re holding onto something and continuing to grieve over it, thinking you are showing God that you really are sorry for your actions, hoping that this might somehow make up for your wrongdoing, be assured that God doesn’t need all of that. The reason Jesus had to die for us is because we are incapable of appeasing God on our own efforts… or with our penitence. If you believe God could never forgive you, or if you are struggling to forgive yourself for something in your past, remember these three things:

  1. God hears the cries of the brokenhearted. The Scriptures are full of stories of people who blew it and then cried out to God from a broken heart and were healed and restored. Tell God you need His love and forgiveness. Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (NIV)
  2. God forgives, heals, and purifies. First John 1:9 tells us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (NIV). Notice the verse says He will purify us of “all” unrighteousness — even the acts we believe are unforgiveable.
  3. You can hide IN God, not FROM Him. In Psalm 32 (NIV), King David wrote: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (verses 3-5). Then, two verses later, David was able to say to God: “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (verse 7). While David started out hiding from God because of his sin, he ended up hiding himself in God. Once you tell God all that’s on your heart, you will find He is a refuge for you—one to run to and not from.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 NIV

Letting Go of the Guilt and Shame – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, certified writing coach, and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 150,000 copies sold), When God Sees Your Tears, and When a Woman  Overcomes Life’s Hurts, from which this devotional  is adapted. For more on her books and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com

Join the conversation: Has a confession ever set you free from your guilt?

Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Do you have a friend that needs your grace? I remember one day a friend of mine made an unfavorable remark about my husband’s weight. It really hurt me, because even though he is overweight, his heart is pure as gold. I tried to forgive and forget what she had said, but every time I saw her, those mean-spirited words always came to my mind. I discovered that sometimes it is easier to forgive than to forget.

Praise God that we have the perfect example of what we need to do in what He has done for us. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV). While Jesus hung on the cross, He asked the Father to forgive those who were killing Him (Luke 23:34)! It is a wonderful picture of total forgiveness.

“The living God so forgives that he forgets!”[1]  If He can forgive and forget our many sins, surely, we can forgive and forget a sinful act of a friend or even a foe.

Grace is needed in order to forgive completely. Grace is the gift of mercy and love towards those who don’t deserve it. Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, found himself in a situation that should have cost him his life. It was common for the reigning king to kill the bloodline of the previous king to make sure the king’s position would not be jeopardized. King David’s love for Jonathan allowed him to extend grace to Mephibosheth, who voiced his gratification when he said, “All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table” (2 Sam 19:28, NIV). 

The Greek word for grace is charis. “It is significant that the most common cognates for joy (Chara, “inner joy,” and chairein, “to rejoice”) are derived from the same root— char—as in the Greek word for “grace.”[2] Grace may be the most important word in the Bible because grace is love in action!  We are to rejoice because of His loving grace and the hope we have in Christ. “We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 CSB).

I always extend grace to my friend, because a loyal friend is a treasure beyond comprehension. A friend who forgives and loves when we deserve nothing but condemnation is a treasure that can’t be measured.

When the world says we are to judge and punish the offense, God’s word says we are to lovingly extend grace. If you think your friend was loyal before, watch how your love and grace will transform them even more!

[1] Knight, G. A. F. Servant theology: a commentary on the book of Isaiah 40–55  (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publications), page 71.

[2]  Morrice, W. G. Joy. G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin, & D. G. Reid (Eds.), Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), p. 511–512.

Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace? – insight from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author:  Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.

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Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! In I’m Not Afraid!, Susie and her friend go to the Undersea Amusement Park. After  saying a prayer to Jesus, she rides the roller coaster and her fear turns into faith! She learns that praying to Jesus during difficult times and having faith are all she needs to overcome her fears!

Join the conversation: Do you need to forgive someone?

He Will Make It Rain

by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. Exodus 14:31 NIV

Today, the forecast on my side of the world is sunny. But this isn’t the case in many places around the world, I know.

Just recently, I read an article about the drought in Salinas Valley, California. The scarcity of water is so bad that the remaining water supply is salty. And nothing about salty water says relief to the farmers or life to the plants. They need fresh rain to restore the land.

With not a rain cloud in sight though, many people in California are calling on “mother nature” to act fast. The opposite is true for Louisiana and Texas. After getting hit with a hurricane, they want mother nature to calm herself down. So many people are surprised when she doesn’t answer her cell, but a brief look at the world with droughts and hurricanes, floods and earthquakes will tell you—mother nature is not a reliable friend these days.

But God is.

Although, I can’t say I’ve never rested my reliance on the wrong forecast. Or in the wrong thing. Even today we’re being tested with our ability to “fix” and restore things on our own. I mean, who doesn’t feel a little deep-down-dry right now? Parched maybe. SALTY even?

When it comes to daily dependence on God alone, I can certainly falter. Sometimes I’ve even rested in religion and not in the sheer power, truth, and love of Jesus. I can forget that no one, no institution, no right way will ever get it righteous. When I depend on the rules and regimens to get me through, it’s simply as silly as relying on mother nature to get it right. She may have a great day every now and then, but can she make it rain? Never. For me, it’s a great reminder that religion won’t save us—Jesus will.

Paul addresses this need to know God when he talked about what Jesus’ life accomplished: “For I passed on to you what was most important…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scripture said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NLT). God’s Word is the truth we can rely on. Jesus’ life is the hope we can live in.

Even so, my dependence on other things doesn’t stop. I’ve placed restorative power in the hands of my relationships. My efforts. My job. My grande cup of coffee in the morning. Lately, it’s been a bit bitter too, don’t ya think? Our souls know what it means to get dry. Parched even. We have to decide on who or what we will depend.

And I hate to pick on the Israelites. Over and over they’re the example of what not to do. But because I feel like I relate to them, struggle with them as a human, I thought we might look at the few things they got right.

For instance, they depended on God. Daily. They woke in the morning looking for God to drop what they needed from heaven, and they laid their heads down knowing He would send a cloud to lead their way. They knew a God who could supply them with the greater gift of life itself, could also be counted on for the lesser worries. They had to trust God.

“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant” (Exodus 14:31 NIV). They showed us this day-to-day-have-to-have-God mentality grows a bigger faith. It erases worry, it calms anxiety. It helps us trust Him fully and fearfully. Friends, we’re learning to trust God like never before. It can be big and scary. But mostly it’s big.

Like in C. S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian, a child named Lucy is reintroduced to Aslan the Christ-figure in the Narnia series. When Lucy sees him again after a long separation she says, “Aslan, you’re bigger.” But Aslan explains that he isn’t bigger, but Lucy is. “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” Such is our faith. A bigger faith sees a bigger God!

Friends, this is the joy of the drought.

Because anything we’re going through, any lack we’re suffering—when God’s plans the forecast—we can be sure that it’s growing something good. And big. The certainty of who Jesus is delivers us and pours life down on us. We don’t have to-do, re-do, and over-do. We simply must look up. Because GOD WILL MAKE IT RAIN.

He Will Make It Rain – encouragement when life is hard from @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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fix her upper reclaim your happy space

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

Join the conversation: Has God grown bigger for you through a drought?

It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage

A. C. Williams @Free2BFearless

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. Philippians 3:12 NLT

My car has some issues, and rightfully so. It’s a 2012 Malibu with 181,000 miles (I bought it with 12,000, so you can do the math). I drive a lot, because I’m from Kansas and flying anywhere is too expensive.

The brakes squeal. The tires wobble. The trunk has a rather impressive dent in it from where I backed into a mulberry tree one winter.

My car needs some work, but it gets me where I need to go. It does what it was designed to do, even though it’s a little rough around the edges.

Sound familiar?

I get so frustrated with myself, because I still have so much to learn about following Jesus. You’d think that after 30 years, I’d have this Christian thing figured out a little better, right?

But no. I still do the things I don’t want to do, and I don’t do the things I know are right. I didn’t understand what Paul meant in Romans 7:15-20 until I got old enough to start living it.

What I need to remember (what we all need to remember) is that sanctification is a process. Sure “getting saved” is instant, immediate, complete, but that doesn’t mean we lose our sin nature. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to fight with the baggage we were carrying before we came to Him.

Following Jesus will change us from the inside out, but oftentimes it takes a lifetime. For performance-driven perfectionists like me, that can be disheartening. I want to be like Jesus now. But that’s not how it works.

If He did that, my life would be about me, and what I can accomplish. Instead, He lets me struggle through daily impossible tasks that I can only conquer with His strength. He lets me face heart-wrenching choices that drive me to my knees, because I’m too weak to stand without Him. He breaks my heart for the people I love, because I know there is nothing I can do to help them.

And through it all He is faithful, because my life isn’t about what I can accomplish for Him. My life is about what He can accomplish through me.

God doesn’t use perfect people. Rather, His power is made perfect in those of us who are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). I’m rough around the edges. I’ve got a lot of miles on my soul. My joints don’t creak yet, but my knees do sound like bubble wrap when I go down a flight of stairs.

It’s right and good that I invest time and resources to become a healthier version of myself, to grow closer to God, to know Him better. But just because I need some work doesn’t mean He can’t use me right now. I can still do what He created me to do. I can still fulfill His purpose in my life while I have broken pieces.

The road might be a little rough in spots, but with His strength I can still get where I need to go.

Don’t wait to be perfect before you choose to follow Him. Don’t wait to be in good repair before you do what He’s calling you to do. You’re weak right now. So what? God can work with that. Will you let Him?

It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage – encouragement from A.C. Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless or on her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: When has God accomplished something through your weakness?

Unique Perspective

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

When we lived in Alberta, many friends and family from the southern United States visited us. It probably had more to do with the beautiful Canadian Rockies and the great city of Calgary than spending time with the Howards, but we enjoyed every minute.

These visits often required me to do a little “interpreting” and even “interceding.” I helped Americans figure out their Canadian currency. I converted from metric measure to US measurement and back again. I explained that toboggans are sleds and toques are hats. I played interpreter for a Canadian dry cleaner and one of my very southern speaking visitors. And I even put a very egocentric American teenager in her place for mocking a Canadian teenager’s use of the French term “serviette” in referring to a napkin. (Canada has two official languages – English and French.)

I had a unique perspective. As an American who grew up in the south, I understood the “language,” the culture, and the customs. And, since I had lived in Canada for a number of years, I also had a good grasp of the culture and customs of our northern neighbors. I could appreciate both sides. I had been north of the border long enough to teach the Americans what they didn’t know. And since I am an American, I could also gently put one in their place when necessary. I made the perfect American/Canadian intercessor.

Jesus Christ is our perfect intercessor with God. He has a unique perspective. Jesus is fully God and fully man. Although divine, Jesus had the full scope of human experience. He suffered through the trials and hardships of this life. He experienced everything from head colds and skinned knees to loss and betrayal. He knows both the pain and joys of humanity.

But our Savior is also God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and eternal. He not only knows our needs, He has the capacity to meet them. Jesus not only understands our emotions, He is able to comfort our hearts. He not only experienced the same temptations we do; Jesus can also extend the strength we need to resist them.

Only Jesus is qualified to be the Intercessor we need with the Father. He is our perfect High Priest. In the 4th chapter of Hebrews, the author reflects on the uniqueness of Jesus’ position and the benefit to us:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16, ESV

Our perfect High Priest intercedes with the Father for us. He has prepared the way for us to draw near, to enter the very presence of God. Let us step in with boldness and wonder.

Unique Perspective – thoughts on Jesus as our Intercessor from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest. Kathy’s latest book, “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents” combines Scripture, biblical insight, personal experience, reflection questions, and prayer prompts to provide spiritual and practical encouragement to those caring for aging or ill parents.

Join the conversation: How does knowing Jesus has gone before us in temptation and trial affect your relationship with Him?