Idleness or Rest?

 by Terri Gillespie

She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 TLV

What does idleness mean? Possible definitions include: avoiding work, lazy, without purpose or effect, or spending time doing nothing. There’s also an idle like a car’s engine, running slowly while disconnected from a load or out of gear. Hmmm. There’s something about that last definition. Disconnected…

For a long time, I thought rest was the same as being idle. And when I compared myself with the woman in Proverbs 31, I began to believe I was really idle. As a result, I was in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Over time I noticed that because of that fatigue, I began neglecting my highest priorities— my family, spending time with the Lord, friends, and church.

I’m thinking that the difference between idleness and rest has a lot to do with a lack of connection. Could idleness actually be the result of disconnecting from our God-given purpose? Then that would make rest the act of reconnecting to God, in order to recharge ourselves for the journey ahead.

Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe, completed His work and rested on the seventh day. Why would an all-powerful God need to rest? Our answer lies in Genesis 2:1-3 (TLV): “Now at last the heavens and earth were successfully completed, with all that they contained. So on the seventh day, having finished his task, God ceased from this work he had been doing, and God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he ceased this work of creation.”

Our Father knows we are dust; we aren’t super beings (Psalm 103:14). Just so we are clear, rest is important for us.

How do we rest? Especially as Thanksgiving approaches—which is the second most stressful holiday of the year? Let’s take our cue from God.

God didn’t only make honoring the Sabbath a commandment (Exodus 20:8), but He appointed the Sabbath as a festival (Leviticus 23:3). Every week we get to commemorate and rest; celebrate and reconnect with loved ones and Him.

The British Statesman John Lubbock (1834-1913) once said, “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

Is it possible to rest and connect in light of all the preparations during this holiday season? Yes. If we chose to.

Over the years, I have learned to watch my husband’s face and body language. If all my scurrying from pot to pan to table décor has him looking like a worn-out dishtowel, I must stop and reevaluate. What is important? That everything looks perfect? Or that our home is an environment of peace and joy and gratitude for all—guests and husbands and our children.

Sometimes the rest is where I reassess my priorities and let God give me direction and peace. If the weather permits, go outside, breathe. Or one of my favorite escape locales is the bathroom. Shut the door and breathe. Listen. See if God has been trying to tell us something, and we have been too busy to notice.

Whether it’s an hour or a few minutes, reconnecting with the Lord can make a difference when we feel overwhelmed with activity. Just as God chose a whole day out of seven for rest, we can also add purposeful moments to connect more deeply with God and family anytime.

Rest has purpose. Probably even more than we realize. May we watch over our rest, my friends.

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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. She hopes to abide in rest for as long as it takes. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

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: These are just a few ideas to help reconnect in our rest. I would love to hear what you do when things are chaotic—where do you go for rest?

Wear the Uniform

by Julie Zine Coleman

Our family arrived at the Roosevelt Hotel the day of my cousin’s wedding late and flustered. We had experienced great difficulty navigating our car caravan through the busy Manhattan streets. Our cars pulled up in tandem under the marquis, hoping for assistance and directions to get us to the front desk quickly.

Two uniformed doormen stood watching us, but did not come to help with the large pile of luggage we pulled from the cars. They didn’t even hold the doors open for us as we struggled to bring our belongings up the stairs and inside. So much for New York hospitality. Miffed at their lack of assistance, I sent a meaningfully dirty look their way.

“I hope they are not thinking we are going to tip them,” I indignantly told my daughters-in-law.
 
Bethany looked over at the men. “Mom, I think they are airline pilots,” she said.
 
Uniforms identify the wearer with his place of business. For those observant enough to see the difference between a doorman and an airline pilot’s uniform (!!!), there is no question as to where they serve and what one can expect.
 
Jesus wanted His disciples to be easily identifiable in the world. He gave us a uniform of sorts to wear as well. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” He said (Luke 9:23 NASB).  What did that mean? How would that identification look when fleshed out in His followers to the rest of the world?
 
The concept of being marked as God’s was not a new one. God directed Abraham in Genesis 17:10 to do this very thing. Every male was to be circumcised, beginning with Abraham and continuing down through the generations of descendants that would follow. It was a physical sign that revealed the people’s covenantal relationship with God. Yet it was not just an outward sign that God desired. “Circumcise your heart,” Moses told Israel, “And stiffen your neck no longer… You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.” (Deuteronomy 10:16, 20) Israel’s “uniform” of trust in and obedience to God would identify them as different from the surrounding nations.
 
To anyone living in the Roman Empire, Jesus’ instruction to “take up his cross and follow me” would have brought to mind a familiar, horrific image. Crucifixion was a brutal form of execution. Once condemned, the criminal would be made to put a crossbeam on his shoulders at the site of sentencing and carry it to the place where he would be crucified. Carrying the cross would be the final act of one’s life. Therefore, Jesus was clearly using this as a metaphor, since He instructed His disciples to carry their cross  on a daily basis.
 
Christ’s first century followers knew crucifixion was a death sentence. Any possessions or wealth, along with rank or entitlement, were also forfeited at the time of sentencing. A crossbeam on one’s shoulders symbolized to the world that the carrier was under the authority of Rome.
 
When Jesus instructed his disciples to “take up [their] cross daily and follow me,” he was describing how his followers would identify with Him and thus be identified by others. Rather than an outward, physical sign, taking up the cross was an inward attitude that considered oneself dead to sin and alive in Christ. No longer would the disciples live for purely self-serving reasons. Theirs would be a life of surrender, yielding entitlement and self-interests to God, willingly placing themselves under His authority.

When surrounded by a world seeking to exalt itself, anyone with a uniform like that would be very easy to pick out of a crowd.
 
Christ calls us to take up our cross daily. It is not a once-in-a-lifetime commitment. Rather, it is a daily determination to put God’s priorities as first in our lives. It happens one small decision, one singular action at a time. We will not always succeed; in fact, we may well fail more than succeed. Yet our goal remains to make the fact we have been crucified with Christ a reality in our lives. Why? Because it is what identifies us as His.
 
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” 1 Peter 1:14-16

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What does taking up your cross on a daily basis look like in your life?

The Good List

by Crystal Bowman

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 117:1-2 NIV

When the coronavirus pandemic arrived on the northwestern shore of the United States, we did not know what to expect because this was out of our realm of experience. Some people were fearful and anxious, while others boldly proclaimed that we would get through this. And here we are—ten months later, still living with the pandemic threatening our daily lives.  

As days and weeks have come and gone and calendar pages have flipped, I am beginning to get weary of all I have lost. If I made a list of all the negative things over these past several months, it would be long. But here are a few items at the top of my list:

  • I am separated from my out-of-state grandkids.
  • The conferences and book events I planned on attending have been canceled or postponed.
  • I miss having lunch with my friends.
  • I miss hugging people.
  • The beautiful new coat that I bought in February still has the price tag on it!

When I am tempted to grumble and complain, I think of the Israelites in the wilderness. When God delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and miraculously brought them through the Red Sea by parting the waters, they danced and praised God for delivering them. In Exodus 15:11 they sang, “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” But can you believe that only three days later they were grumbling because they were thirsty? Their leader, Moses, went to God on their behalf and God quickly answered by giving them fresh water to drink.

On the 15th day of the second month after they coming out of Egypt, the whole community grumbled and complained because they were hungry. Moses again intervened for the people and God sent manna and quail. The manna rained down from heaven every morning, and the people were instructed to gather enough for one day with the exception of the sixth day when they could gather enough for two. God met their needs day-by-day, as Moses led them and prayed to God on their behalf.  

One of the lessons I have learned during 2020 is to depend on God one day at a time. I don’t know when bookstore events will return. I don’t know when I can travel to visit my kids and grandkids. I don’t know when it will be safe to hug my friends or meet them for lunch. But I know that I can trust God to meet my needs each day.

Another thing I have learned is to stop added items to my negative list and start making a “good” list. Here are some things I have on that list:

  • My husband and I are spending more time together, since neither of us are traveling.
  • I am enjoying time with my three local grandkids and helping them with virtual school.
  • I have more time to study and write.
  • I can call or email friends whom I miss.
  • I can attend Zoom conferences.
  • I am able to be a virtual guest at bookstores in other states.
  • I am reading books to my long-distance grandkids over FaceTime.  
  • I’ve gotten really good at ordering things online.

I don’t know how much longer the pandemic will be affecting our lives, but I do know that I can depend on God to provide what I need. I hope to keep adding items to my “good” list so that I will recognize and appreciate the blessings that surround me—because there are many! 

Lord, help me to trust you each day, knowing that you will lead me and provide all that I need. Thank you for life, health, and daily bread. Amen.  

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

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What is on your good list?

The Family Table

by Candy Arrington

Joining them at the table for supper, he took bread and blessed it and broke it, then gave it to them. All at once their eyes were opened and they realized it was Jesus! Luke 24:30-31 TPT

One of my favorite times is when our family gathers around our dining room table to share a meal together. Each person present is special and important to me. Each contributes to the joy of the gathering. Each brings different insights to conversations or injects humor. And the grandchildren provide an added element of happiness and celebration no matter what the occasion. Currently, the one-year-old expresses his satisfaction with his food by loud “ummming” as he chews, interspersed with squeals.

We sit at the table my parents started housekeeping with, dating back to the year of their marriage in 1947. For many years, after my mother bought a new table, my parents’ original table lived at my grandmother’s house. Countless family meals happened at this table, and when we moved the table to our house, the tradition continued.

The Bible provides numerous stories of times when people gathered for meals. Martha was busy preparing a meal when Jesus told her fellowship with him was more important. Jesus shared a last supper with his disciples around an upper room table before his arrest and crucifixion. After his resurrection, he prepared an outdoor breakfast for his fishmen disciples. During a meal at a family table, two disciples from Emmaus finally recognized their traveling companion was Jesus.

The family table is more important today than ever before. In a time when technology lures our attention and robs us of quality personal interaction and conversation, taking time to sit at the family table provides a chance for prayer, fellowship, instruction, and discussion. In addition to feeding our bodies, we also have the opportunity to feed our minds and model the life of faith for each other. Like the two disciples from Emmaus, the family table is often a place where our eyes are opened to spiritual truths that impact our daily lives.

When our family gathers for a meal, we sing the blessing, and often, one of our three-year-old grandchildren leads the way. When we finish singing, we all applaud, an offering of praise and thanksgiving. The words we sing give thanks for our food, but also for friends and family. As we sing, we look at each other’s faces, and give silent thanks for the blessing of our family bond.

When our grandchildren are grown, they will recall these times around the family table. They will remember thanking God, the joy of family time together, and the bond of love we share. And it is my prayer that they will teach their children the importance of daily communion with God and living lives that glorify him.

Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together. Revelation 3:20 CEV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Candy Arrington

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

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

Join the conversation: What has happened around your family table?

Being Extra Thankful This Year!

by Lee Ann Mancini

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11: NIV

My husband and I recently went on a road trip from Florida to Georgia and all the way up the East Coast to Boston, to visit our dear friends. Then we traveled to Ohio and Michigan to visit family.

It was such a beautiful trip. We left Florida’s ocean breezes, the swaying palm trees and the warm sandy beaches, and headed for the red clay of Georgia and onto the to the ever-breathtaking view of the fall colors that lined most of the highways we traveled. This fall treat to the eye made me recall Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV): “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  

As I listened to the music and viewed the scenery, I became aware of how much our great God has blessed my husband, me, and our family. We raised two children who chose to follow Christ. We survived and continue to survive the bumpy road called marriage (33 years this November). We overcame difficulties such as the death of loved ones and friends. We have celebrated weddings, birth of babies, anniversaries, birthdays and so much more.

With Thanksgiving on its way, memories of all the years we have celebrated this holiday with family and friends we love dearly, as well as all the traditional foods we have shared, I was reminded that we need to be thankful every day. But this year has made me aware that there are many who will not be able to celebrate because of great losses due to this extraordinary, unprecedented, catastrophic Covid 19.

As we were traveling, I thought of ways we could show our appreciation to the Lord for all he has done for us and all he continues to do. Every year we give to those who are less fortunate; however, this year, we want to give a little extra because many are suffering great personal and financial losses. Because of all the fear, less income, and uncertainty this year has brought, people need encouragement, hope, and truth. And it came to me that I could help. I would like to donate 200 of my Christian children’s books to children in need. And I have prayed, and will continue praying, that God would give me other opportunities to help others, to give a meaningful sacrifice for me and my family.

The widow who have all she had – sacrificially – has inspired me. Luke tells her story, “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4 NIV).

How will you show your gratitude for all God has given you? Don’t be afraid to give in any way that you are able, for after all, God has given you all you have and will surely give you all you need.

Thank you, Father, for all you have done, all you will ever do, and most of all thank you for sending your Son to die for our sins!

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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: How will you show your gratitude to God?

He’s Just That Good

by A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, Oh Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who live in your house, always singing your praises! Psalm 84:3-4 NIV

Can I tell you what Jesus has done for me?

He woke me up this morning and gave me air to breathe and lungs that work.

He gave me coffee to drink and taste buds to enjoy it, along with a sugar-free pumpkin spice flavored creamer to put in it that was simply delightful.

He gave me beautiful fall weather in a state that sees an actual autumn season once every twenty years or so.

 But not only that, He gave me a back yard with a step to sit on and a big floofy dog to cuddle with.

He gave me a comfortable home to live in. I have food in my refrigerator, not just for today but for next week, too. I have a car that drives, and thanks to God’s provision, I have new brakes and new tires and even new windshield wipers.

I live in a country where I get to vote for our leaders, to speak up for what I believe and how I think our country should be run. I am free to believe, live, and speak as I choose

I have a church where I get to worship freely, where I get to learn about God from His Word, where I have friends and relationships that support and encourage me.

I have a family that loves me. Parents and a brother and a sister-in-law (who I prayed for before I knew her and can say she is exactly the one God had in mind for my adorkable weirdo of a brother). I have a grandma who makes me laugh, and a grandpa who is more alive now in heaven than I am on earth.

But do you know what else I have?

Confidence. Assurance. Abundance. Security. Identity.

My Jesus tells me who I am. My God directs my steps. The Holy Spirit leads me in meekness and wisdom and truth.

I am so blessed. So blessed.

What about you? What blessings do you have? My list of blessings may not seem like much to some folks, but to me, they are a direct confirmation from God that He will always take care of me. And as I sit here making this list, tears are flowing down my face as I remember yet again just how good God has been to me.

How good has He been to you?

Honestly.

Look at your life. Look at what you have and recognize that you couldn’t have gotten where you are today without Him. Any good thing in your life comes from God. Maybe you feel like you earned it, but don’t you see that it’s not in your power to make your life what it is?

Even if it’s for something small, praise Him for it. Even if your life is full of trauma and sorrow and grief—praise Him for the good He will do through it. He’s the only one who can transform sadness into a reason to rejoice (Psalm 84:6).

Would you praise Him for that today? Would you choose to believe that a life in His presence is worth more than wealth and status without Him?

Praising God in dark times can be a challenge until you start, and then, you can’t stop. He’s just that good. And you have to admit, a life spent praising God isn’t a bad way to live.

So how about it? Let’s praise Him together.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

TWEETABLE
He’s Just That Good – thoughts on #Thanksgiving from A.C. Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Finding Fireflies

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.

Join the conversation: What ordinary, often overlooked blessings has God given you?

Thanksgiving With A Flourish

by Sheri Schofield

It’s harvest time in America. Pumpkins overflow the grocery stores’ produce areas. Wheat is reaped for baking in the year ahead. Rosy apples, satiny-smooth plums, and all those delicious garden vegetables are everywhere. Giant zucchinis appear as though by magic on doorsteps…and in one’s car if one forgets to lock the doors! 

Thanksgiving is near! Families gather to eat, share their lives, and watch football. Many times the only remembrance of God is said at the blessing. In many homes, even this is omitted. As this day approaches, we have an incredible opportunity to redeem Thanksgiving and turn it into a great blessing for our families and friends. With a little bit of planning, we can make a memory that will impact those in our homes that day.

Consider the first Thanksgiving: On the Hebrew calendar, harvest marks the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths, when Israel celebrates the blessings God has given them. It is a time of joy and celebration, a time of thanksgiving for how God has blessed them. It is a time of prayer, repentance from sin, and petitions for blessings in the coming year. It also looks forward to the coming Messiah.

Moses wrote: “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your feast – you, your sons and daughters… For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15, NIV).

When America was founded, the settlers also celebrated with a time of feasting at the end of harvest, thanking God for all he had provided, and asking for his continued blessing. Presidents down through the years would sometimes call for days of thanksgiving to refocus the nation on God and his blessings.

During the terrible days of the Civil War, in which an estimated 620,000 men died[1], Abraham Lincoln called upon the nation to give thanks to God, who had blessed the harvest. He wrote in part:

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.[2]

Then Abraham Lincoln established a permanent Thanksgiving Day. Yes, in the midst of all that grief! He turned America’s attention back to God, their Creator, in whose name they had established this nation.

Once again, America finds itself in the midst of great civil unrest. As Thanksgiving approaches, our spiritual leaders have urgently called upon us to repent, to turn from our selfish pursuits, to seek God with all our hearts[3]. For our nation is in grave danger of destruction because of our sins. In our time of national desperation, with our nation on the brink, consider the full scope of God’s week of thanksgiving. Let it be both a time of repentance and a time of celebration, for the sake of our country’s future.

Ask the Lord what activities you can do to re-focus your family on God on this special day. Do you want to re-enact the Feast of Tabernacles? Or the first Thanksgiving Day in America? Could you have everyone write down how God has blessed them this past year and put it in a memory book? With a little creativity, you may spark something awesome in someone’s life. This can be a Thanksgiving like never before: It can be the beginning of revival!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalm 107:1 NIV


[1] https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/civil-war-facts

[2] http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/thanks.htm

[3] The Return: Keynote, Word to America, the Potter’s Jar (Rabbi Jonathan Cahn) September 26, 2020.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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Thanksgiving With A Flourish – encouragement from author 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: In these days of Covid, what have you found to be thankful for?

How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

[Speak] to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father. Ephesians 5:19-20 NASB 

Every time I slid behind the wheel of my cheerful yellow car, I gave thanks. The Lord had provided this used car at an affordable price just in time for a cross-country trip. It was perfect for hauling my toddler and preschooler and a direct answer to prayer. That’s why I couldn’t understand why I had to lose it.

My husband, Larry, and I spent a month on a mission trip in Eastern Europe. The experience filled our hearts and emptied our pocketbooks. Our mission organization required us to raise money for our salary and the trip. Donations came in designated for the trip, however, we returned to short paychecks. We realized some donors had diverted their regular support for our trip, not added to it.

Larry’s elderly grandfather passed away, and Larry’s parents offered us his 1973 green Buick La Sabre. Since Granddad’s car wouldn’t sell for much, Larry decided to sell my car to solve our financial shortfall. The green giant had baked in the hot Arizona heat during Granddad’s decline. Rust spots showed through oxidized paint, the vinyl roof peeled like a bad sunburn, and the dingy interior recalled Granddad’s years of smoking.

Larry and I worked with high school students in one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Their up-to-date sports cars highlighted our rundown vehicle. Our church parking lot gleamed with polished Mercedes and BMWs.

One day, a young man helping me carry my groceries said, “Let me guess which car you drive.” He pointed out cars I wished I could claim. Reluctantly, I pointed to the green dinosaur. “Oh. I like vintage cars,” he said politely.

The car was also unreliable. One morning it stalled on at a busy eight-lane intersection with my children in their car seats. A kind stranger in the next lane saw our predicament and motioned for us to join her.

A friend, wanting to surprise Larry, arranged to have the car painted and a new vinyl roof installed. Our dated monstrosity returned sporting a fresh exterior, but it was not the sporty car I still missed. Disappointment washed over me. That night, as I returned home after carpooling students from Bible Study, I sensed the Lord interrupt my pity party. Debbie, have you thanked Me for this car?

Thank You? How can I thank You when I am not thankful?

Scripture filled my thoughts. “Give thanks in all circumstances…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV). “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

To refuse to give thanks now would be blatant disobedience. Oh Lord, You know how I feel about this car. How can you ask me to be thankful?

The pressure persisted. “Lord, I do not feel thankful. This car is ugly and unreliable.” I took a deep breath and went on. “But if you insist—THANK YOU; thank you for knowing my needs. Thank you that this is your will for me now. And thank you that you will use this for my good.”

Although I did not wake up to a new car, I woke up to a new attitude.

My grudge and self-consciousness vanished. And whether because we’d replaced every hose and valve or because of God’s grace, the car stopped breaking down.

The next year we moved from sunny California to northern Indiana. The green giant’s spacious interior and smooth ride provided a delightful trip. It started every morning in the below freezing temperatures with the first crank. Its heater never failed. While fellow seminarians worried about how the salted roads would tarnish their cars, we had no concerns.

The car became a great blessing and moved us to Oklahoma, where we finally sold it. This unwanted gift taught me a valuable lesson in the art of giving thanks. It’s not hypocritical to thank God before you feel thankful. Giving thanks is about trusting God, and God really does work all things together for the good of His children.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful – insight on #Gratitude from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

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

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

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to be thankful?

Put On Your Shield of Faith

by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:13-16 NIV

Do you feel as if your faith is faltering? To be honest, sometimes I do. I look at the uncertainties and tragedies in our world and I wonder if things will ever get better. Then I look at my own circumstances and feel impatient that some of my most-spoken prayers haven’t been answered…at least not in the way I hoped.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul urges the church at Ephesus to recognize that our spiritual life is a battle, and we have been given weapons which protect us and help us defeat our enemy, the devil. One of those weapons is a shield–but it will only help us if we use it (“take it up”). In other words, we need to be aware of Satan’s lies–pictured as fiery darts– (such as “things will always be this way” or “God doesn’t really care about me”), so we can defend ourselves with God’s truth.

The Greek word Paul used for shield is thureos, from a root word that means door or gate. During the days of the early Church, a Roman soldier’s shield was an oblong as large as a door; it completely covered the person wielding them. How awesome is that?! Our spiritual shield is not some dinky little facsimile, either. We believe in a God who is far bigger than anything the enemy can hurl at us. We can trust He can overcome any circumstance we will ever face.

And get this: Roman soldiers’ shields were woven from leather strips. Every morning, they oiled their shield. If it wasn’t oiled, the strips on the shield would become brittle and thus vulnerable to an opponent’s spear. 

What a terrific metaphor! As believers, we need to daily oil our shield of faith by reading and studying the Word of God. As we do, we learn more about Him. The better we know Him, the more we can trust Him. And that’s what faith is: the ability to trust in God.

One final nugget of truth: Roman soldiers would kneel down and link their shields to make their front line impenetrable to enemies. As believers, we too can link our shields by encouraging each other’s faith, and in this way work together to fight our enemy. Aren’t you thankful that even in 2020, with its social distancing challenges, we can have community with one another by phone, text, email, Zoom or Skype calls, social media)? I sure am.

Today, let’s encourage ourselves and each other by meditating on God’s promises and meeting together in whatever ways we are able. We are meant to go into battle together.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I don’t seek your word and truth. Help me to “oil” my shield of faith daily by studying and trusting in Your word. Give me faith that moves mountains and causes the enemy to flee. Thank you for the spiritual armor you provide. Amen.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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Put On Your Shield of Faith – encouragement to stand strong from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Dena Dyer is the author or co-author of ten books for women and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Texas with Carey and their sons Jordan and Jackson. She loves bargain shopping, decorating, and traveling. Find Dena on Instagram and Facebook, or at her website.

Dena and Carey’s book, Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples (Barbour) will give your marriage encouragement and hope when you find that the once endearing, charming, and distinct qualities that once attracted you to your spouse are now a source of stress and conflict.

Join the conversation: What do you do to increase your faith?

Bed, Bath, and Biscuits: A Dog’s Thanksgiving

by Patti Richter

…wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds…. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted. –Psalm 148:10, 13 NIV

I can almost taste it. But roast turkey is off limits for me these days, according to my vet, who said, “No more poultry for Rufus.”

I’m an old dog who never learned any tricks. I even struggled to obey commands, with the exception of “wait,” which is commendable for my breed of terrier—Jack Russell. Even so, I’ve been observant in other ways, and with help from “Mom” here, I’d like to share some wisdom I’ve gained—mostly through pain and disappointment.

First of all: Be thankful. For me this means looking beyond my weak stomach and other afflictions. From head to tail, here are some things that challenge me to embrace a right attitude:

–Diminished eyesight prevents me from doing things I once enjoyed, like ridding the yard of snakes and varmints. But it makes me appreciate those who watch over me.

–My hearing is beyond diminished—it’s completely gone. And though I greatly miss the voices of loved ones and the bark of friends, I no longer fear scary noises: sirens, thunder, fireworks, and my former nemesis, the vacuum cleaner.

–My teeth are quite bad. Chew-bones are such a thing of the past that I can’t remember where I buried my last one. I’m thankful Mom adds broth to my kibble and gives me soft biscuits made with cranberries and sweet potatoes.

–Muscle tone once fueled my ego; the loss of it now feeds my humility. I have to be lifted to the sofa and helped back down again, but I’m blessed to have strong arms around me and soft places to rest my sore bones.

–Allergies anyone? It’s hard to be thankful in this. Bermuda grass is tough on bare paws, and it’s everywhere! I’d bite my toes raw and rub the whiskers off my muzzle without antihistamines—they’re amazing. Warm baths also relieve my itching and make me feel like a brand-new dog.

While I’ve learned to show more appreciation for my family, this is merely licking the hands that feed me. For most of my life, the Creator of all things was far from my thoughts as I looked to my loved ones to satisfy all my desires. However, as everyone and everything around me slowly faded from view, God’s goodness became so clear! He is the only one who never fails.

I’ve learned so much about God through my family during my time of weakness and infirmities. Their faithfulness remained the same when I had nothing to offer them anymore. I came to realize they had chosen and adopted me because they had love to give, and I never had to earn it! And this is exactly what God has done for his people.

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace…. –Ephesians 1:4 – 6 NIV

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Bed, Bath, and Biscuits: A Dog’s Thanksgiving – encouragement from author Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What negative things have taught you to be thankful in a new way?