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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

A Foundation When the World Shifts

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. Psalm 119:136

Everywhere I turn, I see believers crying out, looking for answers. Many are looking for our governments to step in and save us. And while I do have personal opinions about the events of these days—what I’m truly mourning is the fact that we’re no longer looking to God for salvation, but to man.

I don’t believe it’s possible for legislation to save us. More than that, we cannot look to legislation to guide morality. Morality must spring from something more foundational, and I believe it does. 

Each of us carries a foundational idea of right and wrong. It’s something that God has instilled within us. 

You see, our conscience comes from God. It was created within us when we were formed in the womb. If we were just products of Darwin’s theory, then our conscience would be weighted with a foundation of kill or be killed—survival of the fittest. Instead, we have a different foundation.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at our laws. Take a look at our day-to-day interactions. We don’t reward bullies and those who look out only for themselves. Our belief system reflects something more than that. It reflects God. 

We can stifle our conscience by ignoring it and trying to re-educate it. But it’s still there, and when we once again turn our ear to that pure voice, it will spring back to life.

In these days, we each need to turn back—to look to God to dictate what is right and what is wrong. First as individuals, then as a country. When we make God our priority, all the other things will fall into place. We’ll interact with one another in love.

No, I’m not suggesting some type of hippy nirvana filled with a false sense of anything goes. Or a watered-down version of who God is and how He demonstrates His love for us.

His love is the real kind. The hard kind. 

The kind that calls for

  • Loving our enemies.
  • Forgiving those who wrong us.
  • Holding one another accountable.
  • Turning the other cheek.
  • Standing up for what is right, whether it’s the law or not.

When we look to God for the answers, we’ll find unity. 

Not uniformity, never that. God created each of us unique and special. But He gave us traits in common—with Him—and with each other.

So today, I’m praying for our country. And I’m not praying small. I’m not focusing on individual sins, although I’m beginning there. I know I’m not perfect. So I’m first praying about my own short comings and asking for forgiveness and a renewed sense of right and wrong. I want God to clean out the junk and put me back on a track to be more like Him. Then I’m asking God to reclaim this country as His—with His definition of right and wrong.

Can one person make a difference? 

Maybe not at first. 

But for a difference to be made, we must all begin alone, in a one-on-one conversation with God. Then, when all those individuals come together and return to God…absolutely. 

Will you join me?

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

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A Foundation When the World Shifts – encouragement from @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: How do you pray for our country and its leaders?

At the End of Your Rope? Grace!

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Backwards.

I do remember sighing in the days of raising my five kids as I realized I put the baby’s shirt on backwards. Then I’d look at the toddler to discover I’d also put his shirt on backwards. What are the odds? Really. Because somewhere in there it would also dawn on me that I had also put my shirt on backwards. Most of the time when I had all those babies, I never knew if we were coming or going.

My dad and his four siblings tell stories of their comings and goings that make me feel better. Or maybe worse. I’m not sure which. Because they tell stories of what happened when their mom was out with her five exceptionally active kids. If she lost track of two or three of them too many times in one trip, she would take a length of extra-long twine and harness them all together. I know what you’re thinking. It occurs to me, too, this was an extreme response. (Also, I wanted to say here that she was fit to be tied, but it just didn’t fit). Anyway, to hear the siblings tell it, they felt like a little family of mountain climbers. Still: Oh my word.

Do you ever feel you’re at the end of your rope, so to speak? Life feels inexplicably backwards and you’re fit to be tied? I have good news. You can find blessing, even in the most overwhelming circumstances. As a matter of fact, there’s a special blessing that’s reserved exclusively for those who are at the end of their rope.

A.W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” Coming to the end of our rope? If it’s tied to coming to the end of ourselves, it’s not only good, but it’s needed.

Coming to the end of ourselves—realizing that on our own, our spiritual shirts are never really anything but backwards—can strip away pride and get our ego out of the way of what God desires to accomplish in and through us. It really is a place of blessing. Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs,” (Matthew 5:3 CSB).

His grace meets us at the end of that rope. I had to chuckle when I read a paraphrase of that verse: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (MSG). It’s a different kind of coming and going. Selfishness goes. Spirit-led living comes. God rules.

Anytime we’re bent on tightening our grasp on that rope, guess what we end up with. More rope. But as we get to the end of self-sufficiency and reach instead for kingdom living through the power of the Holy Spirit, all glory to Him, we find sweet, sweet blessedness.

Incidentally, if you’re curious about how my dad and his siblings turned out, no social workers were called and the children grew into happy people—though probably with an inexplicable attraction to mountain climbing. They’re still a close family. Blessed be the tie that binds? Wait no. Just, still no.

As for my own story, you might be happy to hear that I did eventually get better at recognizing the backwards shirts. Inside-out, however? Yeah, not so much. I still do that.

He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB

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At the End of Your Rope? Grace! – 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: Have you recently found yourself at the end of your rope? What happened?

The Shepherd’s Voice

by Louise Tucker Jones

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (TLB)

When my son, Jay, was a toddler, I wore a short curly hairstyle that I could quickly “wash and wear.” Then one day I came home from the beauty shop with a stylish, smooth style. Jay cried when he saw me. This didn’t look like his mommy.

My husband held Jay while he cried. Over and over I tried to take him but each time he saw me his tears started again. Finally, I sat down in the rocker and Carl placed Jay in my arms with his back toward me. I hugged him close, kissing the top of his head and whispering reassurances to him. He stopped crying, hearing my voice and feeling my touch. Then suddenly, he turned and saw someone that didn’t look like his mommy and started to cry again.

So many times we do this in our spiritual walk. We know the Lord’s voice. We hear Him whisper to our hearts. We even know His touch. But we look around at unexpected and difficult circumstances and scream, “This doesn’t look like God!” We may doubt and wonder if we really heard from the Lord. Or, like my son, we may even turn away from the very One for whom our hearts are longing.

John the Baptist was the designated forerunner of Christ. He preached baptism and repentance and told of a coming Messiah. One of whom “the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” (Luke 3:16 NIV). Can you imagine his humility as he baptized Jesus, knowing he was baptizing the Son of God? Yet later, as John sat in Herod’s prison, waiting execution, he began to doubt and sent his disciples to Jesus with the question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:20 NIV). John needed reassurance that Jesus was the true Messiah if he was to endure the grim circumstances he found himself in.

We too sometimes find ourselves in desperate situations. A spouse is unfaithful. A loved one dies with cancer. A child becomes a prodigal. We pray and pray yet the miracle doesn’t come. And sometimes we wonder if God really cares. At such times it is imperative to remember God’s nature and how much He loves us.

My situation with my son, Jay, was easily resolved. I simply washed my hair, erasing the new style. As I came into the living room with my familiar curls, Jay’s little arms reached for me and he cuddled into my embrace. This was the mommy he knew. With time Jay recognized me no matter my hairstyle.

Our spiritual maturity is much the same. It will determine how quickly we recognize God in the middle of our circumstances, no matter what they may be. It requires discernment, prayer, and listening intently for our Shepherd’s voice.

Lord Jesus, help me to hear you in the middle of the chaos that often encompasses my world.  Give me divine instruction and the courage to follow You. Amen.

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The Shepherd’s Voice – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker and Gold Medallion award-winning author. Her poignant life stories can be found in her monthly magazine column as well as numerous anthologies, including more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. LouiseTJ@cox.net

Join the Conversation: Have you ever failed to recognize God in the chaos?