A Scary Verse?

by Julie Zine Coleman

I saw a link to a blog post the other day about the scariest verse in the Bible. Intrigued, I clicked on over. Apparently the offending passage was 1 John 4:7-8: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” NASB

Not only the author but several commenters took this verse to mean if we did not show love, we’d better be worried about our salvation. I had to leave a comment. Because any time we think our relationship with God is dependent on how we act, we are headed for serious trouble.

We are saved through grace alone. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man think to boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The key to salvation is in understanding that nothing I can do could ever earn forgiveness or favor with God. When I realize my insufficiency, I can then, in turn, put my trust in the sufficiency of Christ. His sacrifice more than paid for my guilt. When I believe in him, I am saved. That’s the gospel, plain and simple.

But as we try to live out our lives as believers, the reality of our insufficiency can fade. In our zeal to live holy lives, it can become once again about impressing God. If I am not acting like a Christian, I will fall out of his good favor. If I’m not being spiritual, I might never have even been a Christian to begin with.

Wait…what happened to grace?

Grace is undeserved favor. By definition we cannot earn it. It is one of those inexplicable sides of God: he gives it freely to those who believe. Even more astonishing: He continues to supply grace after we are saved: it is crucial to our relationship with him. Paul urged believers to “continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43, emphasis added, NASB). Our sense of dependency should only grow stronger as we walk with Christ. It should drive us to keep our eyes fixed on him, because looking at ourselves, our weaknesses, and continual failure will only lead to despair. When we understand grace, and how badly we need it, we cling to him like a life preserver.

So why then are commandments like this one to love so strongly stated?

  1. There is a purpose in our love. God’s intention is to reveal himself through the Church. In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul reminds his readers that their behavior (loving each other) will show God to the rest of the world. One sure-fire way to get some notice is by living the way the Bible instructs, and foremost, living lives of love (see John 17:20-21). When we love, we will stick out like a sore thumb. (In a good way.)
  1. Love is an expression of who we are. We have been rescued from sin’s hold over us. Why would we shed the robe of Christ’s righteousness and don the metaphorical garments of our old life? Paul writes, “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7 NASB). We were rescued from the misery of sin’s mastery over us. This includes living for self and carrying hatred and bitterness in our hearts, the opposites of love. Why willingly jump back into the cesspool?
  1. Love is a healthy life-style choice. God loves us. His Word instructs us to love. Whenever we choose what goes against His Word, it cannot end well. So it is with withholding love. Nothing will make us sicker than anger or hatred. In the end, bitterness is a heavy burden to bear, and often leads to further sin (Ephesians 4:26-27). God’s way is always the best way.

In short, yes, 1 John urges us to love. It marks a true believer and is an effective way we can show God to the world. Loving brings meaning and satisfaction to our every action.

But in no way is love a condition for our salvation or any kind of a relationship with God. As children of God, we live under the huge umbrella of grace. He loves us, not because of what we do for him, but because he is a merciful God and has already paid our debt. Any sense of accomplishment we get from following his commands should not undermine the reality of our dependence on him for the most basic of spiritual needs.

He is all-sufficient. We must rest in that fact alone.

“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17 NASB

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. 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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What is the scariest verse in the Bible for you?

 

Hope Comes in the Breaking

by Joy Anisa

I uttered a heartbroken plea to my Heavenly Father asking Him for a pretty bow to go on His very messy gift. My life was unraveling faster than I could comprehend, and I was beginning to accept that what was being allowed to pass through my Father’s hands had come with purpose. Nevertheless, it did not lessen my pain. The whole matter was just messy and ugly.

I did not share that prayer with anyone. His answer was divinely orchestrated weeks later. But while my kind, gentle Heavenly Father had allowed the discomfort, in the end, He used my distress to reveal Himself in an up-close and personal way. And that, I knew, was my bow.

Satan wants to convince us that we should handle things on our own. He lures us into hiding our mess, so everyone will continue to think well of us. But God has better things in mind.

“…We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5, NKJV). Four powerful words of truth, “hope does not disappoint”!

Our hope does not come from anything we have or could do. Our hope is in Christ alone.

Hope entered a broken world. Hope hung on a cross to cover us with grace and mercy. Hope continues to grow us into perfectly reflecting His character. Hope is birthed from a love that is perfect and pursues our soul at all cost.

When we think of gifts, we think perfect and beautiful. Sometimes God’s gift to us is not what we had in mind. But our mess and ugly circumstances can be an unexpected gift. What if we changed our perspective and trusted in His divine purpose in the middle of the chaos?  What if we believed Solomon when he wrote “He has made everything beautiful in its time”?  Ecclesiastes 3:11a NIV

When you find yourself thinking that you cannot take much more, you are in the perfect place for finding hope outside yourself. God places the seed of hope in the dark and dismal, because it is there we realize we need Him. Hope quietly whispers, “Rest in Me, I will carry you and light your path.” And holds us with a grip that will not let go.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.” Psalm 130:5 NASB

joy anisaAbout the author: Joy Anisa speaks for women’s retreats, MOPS, and Single Mom conferences. Her book, Identity Crisis: Moving from Crisis to Credibility,  offers an invitation to hope in the God who loves deeply, heals wounds, and offers His joy when life around us crumbles. You can find Joy on FB, Twitter, and Instagram. Joy lives with her husband, Jeff and their son, Caid, in Conyers, GA.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Joy’s book, Identity Crisis: Moving From Crisis to Credibility,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How have you placed your hope in the Lord?

God’s Love Game

by Cheri Cowell

“I love you more than vanilla ice cream with hot fudge,” my friend will say to his daughter, to which she will reply, “I love you more than kisses from a puppy.” Instead of sharing the usual I love you, they share in this lighthearted game. Each time the other tries to top what was named.

God plays this game with us, too. He gives us a breathtaking sunrise, and then whispers in our ear, “See this? I love you more than that.” He sends someone into your life with an unexpected blessing and then whispers again, “I love you more than that.” God’s love is so great there is no way we could have ever comprehended it—until He sent Jesus so there would be no doubt.

Do you still have a few doubts? Read today’s scripture carefully. The word used in the Greek for inner being means in the secret depths of one’s soul. God longs for us to know Him deeply, intimately, from our most personal, private place. To love from this place requires a depth of vulnerability and trust.

God knows this so He demonstrated His love and vulnerability to us first in the life and death of Jesus. Now, everyday of our lives, He continues to send us reminders of His love and His desire for a deep relationship with us. The challenge for us is to be tuned in to the game enough to keep from missing God’s often subtle communication. The world tries to tell us we are too busy, or that these things are coincidences. But when we slow down and look, we’ll see God saying He loves us everywhere we turn. May you and I have eyes today to see His call, and Hear His whispers of, “I love you more than this…”

In your prayer time today, praise God for His great love expressed in the life and sacrifice of Jesus. Thank Him for the work of the Holy Spirit in your life that continually woos you and seeks to draw you closer to Him. Express to God your willingness to join in His love game by noticing the blessings He puts before you today. Then return the favor by adding your own, “I see that God, and I love You more than ___________.”

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV

cheri cowellCheri Cowell’s book, 365 Devotions for Peace, is available through bookstores everywhere. To learn about Cheri’s other books visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Cheri’s book, 365 Devotionals for Peace , please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How has God demonstrated His love in your life?

Engraved on His Hands

by Tammy Kennington

The familiar ping of the cell phone alerted me to a new message. A hurting friend and I had been discussing the razor-edged struggles of the hard in her life. A loved one had said things. Done things. She wanted to know–could the relationship recover?

I paused before responding. I didn’t see the way. I didn’t know how the hurt could be redeemed. But God did. The words I chose? With God, all things are possible.

Tears blurred my miniature screen when this dear one answered. I feel worthless.

I understood these words. I had owned them for years. And I wonder…how many of us have been in that place? How many of us have felt the thrust of the enemy’s arrow digging into our hearts with messages that overshadow the love letters from God in His Word?

Maybe you’ve believed the lies, too. The messages burning in your heart may have been lodged there since childhood—words spoken by a parent, a teacher, or peers. Perhaps you were burdened with the weight of worthlessness when a marriage begun with promises ended in betrayal. Is it possible that your past—the sins you can’t seem to forget—deems you worthless?

Not in God’s eyes. Jesus wants to affirm you. What He offers is no mere positive mantra for personal repetition or word of false praise. He wants to give you so much more.

Jesus is calling us to follow him. As he called the disciples away from their fishing, He shouts out your name–a personal invitation to leave your own nets behind–those things that entangle and threaten to drag you into dark waters. He calls us to leave them in the sand, Friend. Like refuse scattered along the water’s edge after a storm, you can shed your hurts, cast off the lies, and release your burdens.

I’m not suggesting that Jesus is an easy answer. The world is still a place of broken people. Suffering continues. Tears still flow. Certainly, Jesus didn’t mince words when he said, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world” (John 16:31-33 MSG).

The God of the universe and creator of all things loves you so passionately that when He spread His arms wide on the cross He was dying for you. You are that valuable. “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would never forget you! See, I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT).

With Jesus, it is very personal. Even in all of our difficulty and doubts, let’s respond to His grace and love. Will you follow after Him in your present? Because one beautiful day in the future we’ll celebrate a heavenly homecoming and fully understand just how much He loves us.

 “So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:17 NKJV

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy leads women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them.

The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy’s work has also been featured by Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and others. You can meet regularly with Tammy at Mercy Multiplied.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Tammy’s children’s book for 8 to 11 year olds, Penguins,  (Exploring our Oceans: 21st Century Skills Library), please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What are the messages embedded in your heart that you need to cast off?

In Search of Peace

by Sandra Allen Lovelace

My days were busier than they’d ever been. There was no way I could keep up. Something would have to give, but what? I thought and prayed, organized and planned to no avail. It was as if I were trapped in a forest of responsibilities, unable to see any light. The escape route appeared one especially dark Saturday.

I called it a Day Apart—no alarm, no list, no schedule, no phone, no internet. Just me, my Bible, a notebook, and a pencil … for as long as it took. And it took a while. I checked the concordance for references to captive and freedom since that’s who I was and what I wanted. Surely I’d find some sort of strategy to handle my situation.

God is usually into a deeper process, and this confab was no exception. Rather than simply solve problems, the Father’s plan entails the transformation of minds and hearts. With what I found in the pages of my Bible, God worked to change my heart and guide my action. His Son came and gave His life for that very purpose—to ransom souls and empower the redeemed to enjoy new life.

Jesus explained His role with Isaiah’s prophetic words. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim release to the captives, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NASB). Those weighed down with burdens of any kind are called to receive Christ’s gift and come out from under the expectations from without or within which drive us—into His arms of grace.

The Old Testament commandments had their place, to underline our inability to satisfy the standards of a holy God. But the once for all atoning life, death, and resurrection of His Son settled the debt. A whole new world of opportunity awaits those who walk forward in Him. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB

And He did not leave us to find our way and fight temptation alone. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17 NASB) The Holy Spirit indwells each believer to guide and equip us to meet the challenges ahead.

We don’t need to be overwhelmed by the obligations we face, nor succumb to their pressure. As we come into God’s holy presence the demands fall away. The more we adopt the truth of who He is and all He’s done for us, the easier it becomes to pursue His purpose in His peace.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV

sandra allen lovelaceAbout the authorSandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a home-school pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). Her current manuscript is Wallflower Women: How We Got Stuck and Ways to Gain Our Freedom. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Connect with Sandra on her website, or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51xYzTxBG9L._AC_US218_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Sandra’s book,  Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!

Join the conversation: Have there been obligations in your life that held you captive? How did God provide the peace you sought?

 

 

Rocking with God

by Peggy Cunningham

 In the early mornings, I sit down with God and rock a while––with a puppy on my lap. A puppy at our age––senior citizens? What were we thinking?

We didn’t plan on coming home with a puppy the day we went to buy our Golden Retriever a sweater because he’d lost all his hair from chemo treatments. I had wisely warned my husband that morning ––”Don’t look at the dogs for sale.” I should have warned myself! There she was, a Shih Tzu. Our Shih Tzu, Kelsey had been gone six years. Never another little dog again turned into right now, this little dog. We brought her home to Jake. I’m thankful I didn’t listen to my own advice!

Now there is a puppy on my lap again. One morning, as I sat rocking with Zoey, I read this in my Bible:

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations underway. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed––or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38- 42 NIV

Every morning, Zoey chooses to sit on my lap and rock for a while just to be near me. Maybe she knows I won’t be sitting much the rest of the day. When I finish my reading, she goes about her day playing, napping, and going outside. But before all that, she chooses to be with me. Yes, she chooses what’s best before anything else––times of closeness with her master.

Isn’t that what Mary did? She chose to let the unimportant things go for the most important thing–time at Jesus’ feet. Maybe Martha, like me at times, was overwrought because of going overboard with preparations, unimportant things. She had lost her perspective. She was focusing on the service rather than the One she served.

We face the same kind of choice. It’s about loving God, not our schedules or to-do lists. We try to plan the things, and then seek the kingdom. If we heed Jesus’ words and seek Him first, maybe our priorities will be different; those overwhelming details we once thought important will dim in the light of His face.

Today’s (puppy) lesson: Let’s not be distracted and settle for less when God wants to give us more. Loving Him first will always be the best thing!

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Peggy CunninghamAbout the author: Peggy Cunningham and her husband have been missionaries in Bolivia since 1981, where they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also a prolific writer. Peggy’s heart for children and vibrant imagination led the way to having two picture book series published, Really Rare Rabbits, and her new four-book series, Hooray for Holidays (releases quarterly in 2018.) She also writes devotionals for adults: Dancing Like Bees and a new one for women, Shape Your Soul, which will release in summer 2018.

Join the conversation: What things get in the way for you in keeping your focus on the Lord?

 

Into the Storm

by Dianne E. Butts

I followed my husband up the interstate highway, he riding his Harley Davidson, me on my Kawasaki Vulcan. We’d put a lot of miles behind us already that day after leaving the motorcycle rally in New Mexico, bundled up against the chilly early morning air. An annual ride for years, we knew the 460-mile trip would take most the day. We pushed hard to get home before sunset, grateful for clear skies and good weather.

We rode two-lane highways to Interstate 25, then north over Raton Pass into Colorado. Getting weary and with still more than two hours to home, we turned from I-25 and headed east.

That’s when I saw the huge thunderhead billowing on the eastern horizon, brilliant white in the afternoon sun. Storms in eastern Colorado can dump torrents of rain and damaging hail, not to mention the dance of dangerous lightning. We made our turn eastward, straight toward the storm.

I glanced in my rear-view mirror. Behind us toward the Rocky Mountains was nothing but brilliant sunshine and clear blue sky. Ahead of us, a towering storm.

For a moment I so wanted to turn back! Growing tired, I wanted the rest of the ride to be sunny. Pleasant. Easy.

Seriously, though, if I turned around and followed the sun, where would that get me? The way home was into the storm.

Another day, long ago, Jesus purposely told his disciples to head into a storm. Matthew tells us immediately after Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men plus women and kids, “he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And…he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them” (Matthew 14:22-24, ESV).

The word Matthew uses here, that Jesus “made” them get into the boat, strikes me every time I read it. Jesus surely knew that storm was brewing and he was sending them right into it. Why would he do that?

Because he wanted to show them something more than they could fathom, something about himself, that he could not show them if they were not in the middle of a storm.

“In the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea…” (v. 25).

The day my husband and I turned toward that storm, either the road took us around it or the storm floated south, but either way we never ended up riding through the storm. We arrived home safe and sound. Tired, but dry.

Remembering that experience, when I catch myself longing for an easier, more pleasant journey, I resist the urge to turn back, away from the path God has me on. I no longer fear storms that appear to loom in my path. The Lord might remove them completely as he did that day, or stormy times may lie ahead, but he is leading me home. And I don’t want to go any other direction. We have to remember, even as Christians, sometimes the only way home leads into the storm.

“But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid…’

“And when [he] got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him…” (Matthew 14:26-27, 32-33a).

Dianne E. ButtsAbout the author: Writing for 25+ years, Dianne has written 300+ articles for Christian magazines, six books, and has contributed to twenty more books including Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her screenplay placed as a finalist in the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays and a short film she produced won Best Documentary and the Evangelista Award for clearest presentation of the gospel at the 168 Film Festival in August 2017. Dianne and her husband are 20+ year members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. Learn more about her at http://www.DianneEButts.com, follow her film at bit.ly/ConnectFilms, read her blog for writers at www.ButtsAboutWriting.blogspot.com, and join her newsletter.

Join the conversation: What storms have you experienced? How did God reveal more of Himself to you at that time?

Doing the Impossible

by Sheri Schofield

“For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37, KJV

If you could point to one year in your life and say, “I was created for that year”, what would that time look like? For me, it was the year I fought to save my husband’s life. The battle took me to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security, The President of the United States, Gannett News Services and ABC’s 20/20 program.

Not once during that year did I feel adequate for the task! Yet, God went before me. Almost everything I had experienced in life until then had prepared me for that struggle. In the end, I won. My husband was freed. A law was passed, named after him, to prevent that particular injustice.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had said “no” to the battle challenge. I truly did not feel adequate! I was small, with a child-like voice. I was not qualified – in myself – to fight that battle. But I had God, and He was enough.

Are you facing some huge battle? A giant in your path?

The nation of Israel faced giants once. Israel was on the verge of great success and fulfillment. God had rescued the nation through Moses, parting the Red Sea for them to cross. Moses guided them to Mt. Sinai to learn about this one, true God. For a year, God provided manna from heaven for their food in the desert. He brought water from a rock. He provided all their needs as they learned about him.

Not long after they left Egypt, the Amalekites attacked them. Joshua led Israel in battle. While Moses raised his hands toward heaven and prayed, Joshua gained ground. When Moses’ arms tired and his hands fell, Joshua lost ground. So Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands until Joshua won, demonstrating that in God alone would power and victory lie.

Now Israel stood at the entrance to Canaan, the Promised Land. Moses sent twelve spies to gather information about it. They all came back with fabulous reports about the abundance and fertility of Canaan. But ten of the spies said, “The inhabitants are giants! In their eyes, we are like grasshoppers! We cannot conquer them.” But Joshua and Caleb, remembering the power God had shown, said, “Of course we can beat them! We’ve got GOD on our side!”

But Israel chose to follow the ten who did not trust God, resulting in God’s sending them back into the wilderness for forty years, until everyone who had refused to believe God had died. Only Joshua and Caleb remained. Those two great military men who believed God led Israel into the Promised Land. They alone of their generation saw the promise fulfilled.

Sometimes it is easier to do nothing rather than go into battle. Most people do. But not the Calebs and Joshuas! They gear up for battle, trust God for victory, and do the impossible. They become giant-slayers! They are victorious!

You can be a giant-slayer, too. We are here to establish a beachhead for the kingdom of God, for the return of Christ. Trust the Captain of our souls! It is our Captain who tells us, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19, KJV) You can win – in God’s power.

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil then continues her ministry with the children’s book The Prince And The Plan.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Sheri’s book, One Step Ahead of the Devil,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What giants do you need to slay? Has God already enabled you in a struggle?

Family Matters

by Deb DeArmond

“Tact is the act of making a point without making an enemy.” – Sir Isaac Newton

I love this quote. Turns out Isaac Newton was not just a gravity genius. He apparently was a relationship guru as well. Must have come from a big family.

I was raised as an only child; my only sibling was 16 years my senior. By the time I was two, he had gone off to college and never returned to our home state. We grew close only after I grew up. So, as a child, I had my folks all to myself. I never needed to call “shotgun” to ride in the front seat, never had to split the last cookie with a younger sibling and never had the heartbreak that comes with being asked to sacrificially yield the last of the ice cream to another child in the family.

Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? I won’t lie—it was a great life. One I discovered (later in life) my friends envied. But it turns out, there was a dark side.

I never learned to share. Or at least to share graciously.

When required to do so in the midst of a school event or neighborhood pow-wow, I was known to be demanding, bossy and loud about what I wanted. Later I learned it was behavior considered immature. Who knew?!

Experience had taught me differently than it had my multi-siblinged comrades.

I eventually developed the ability to effectively relate to others, but it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t overnight. And now I wonder how I ever avoided being pushed out, pushed down, or simply outcast. I’m very grateful looking back that it hadn’t gone that way.

Now, as a full-grown adult, I watch as we all struggle with the urge to “have it our way” even in the relationships that are most important to us in life: our marriages or family members – adult kids, sibling in-laws, aunts, uncles, even grandparents have their preferences. It’s hard not to campaign for the thing you want. It can be tough to set aside your own preference without feeling sulky and sullen.

But it’s also not okay to simply let the loudest voice lead.

How do you cope? For starters, stop being the loudest, and start being the clearest voice— to bring a sense of peace and order when the conversation begins to give way to self-interest without regard for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

We can have candid, open discussion without damaging the people we love the most. Effective communication skills and using the Word of God as our guideline is a foundation that will stand every time.

Here are two Spirit-led reminders, designed to help us walk in love.

Show deference. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves…” Romans 12:10 (NIV). Putting the interests of another above our own is counter-intuitive to the flesh. Deferring to others will always cause people to sit up and take notice, because it’s not how the world does things. So this action serves a dual purpose, as it draws attention to our great God.

Be willing to give up your own preference. “…[Love] does not insist on its own way…” (1 Cor. 13:5 ESV). Spirit-led love is not Burger King. It’s not always going to go our way. Set your preference aside and listen. Be willing to be changed by what you hear.

And remember: how you say what you say matters. Volume does not equal leadership.

So, remember, tact counts. Just ask Isaac. Turns out that apple bonk on the head must have loosed some real Godly insight!

When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways,” 1 Cor. 13:11 (Passion).

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

 Join the conversation: What challenges do you face in communicating with family? What has God taught you about this?

Wrapped in His Feathers

by Amber Weigand-Buckley

 One of the greatest miracles in my Dad’s life happened in the last few months that he was on this earth.

In one day, one heart attack took him from the place of being a very strong 71-year-old, 6’3” man to a man who was in need of constant care. This began a year of terrible suffering.

579888_0c924d03b872484b874976b3bd94f0c5_mv2His legs never healed because of diabetes complications. He slept in his “lifting recliner” because he could barely breathe. He would cry out to Mom to intercede for him in the middle of the night. Cry out for his healing that never came this side of heaven.

On one of his most desperate days, he sat in the backyard of his house trying to pull every ounce of sunlight in to make his heavy mind feel better. He closed his eyes and uttered this prayer: “God, are you still with me, in all this pain? Please let me know that You are still by my side.”

He opened his eyes to find that a white dove had landed in the nearby tree. All of a sudden, a feeling of peace surrounded him. Then he said, “God, if this is You, could You bring that dove down to me?”

As soon as he spoke the words, that white bird flew down to the seat beside him and walked right up into his palm.

That bird stayed in my father’s hands until Dad released him to fly back up into the tree.

Then Dad prayed again, “God, could you let that bird stay here until Joyce comes home from work?”

Hours later, when my mother arrived, that bird again flew down from that tree. This time, it landed on the fence beside her, then gently climbed into her hands. When Mom finally released it, the dove returned to the same spot, right in the tree.

Even though that prayer didn’t take away Dad’s pain or change his situation, over the course of the next week, the bird stayed perched in the tree. But in the dark pit of his final days, Dad knew and felt the Comforter there with Him until his final place of complete rest. And in that extended time of pain, God showed His presence to us all by providing relational healing for our family.

The faithfulness of God provided supernatural comfort for the whole family. As the Psalmist promises in Psalm 91:4: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (NIV).

I will pass this story down to my children and my children’s children, not just because we witnessed a miracle. And not just because it reminds us that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way we would like.

It is a reminder that the God who brought something as simple as a dove—the wrap of His feathers—into the middle of my father’s pain, is the same caring, attentive, comforting Father we serve today.

I pray that in every story you hear of God’s love and faithfulness, you will remember in the very same way how He lavishly pours out His heart for you. No matter how many generations pass, His character will never change.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

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About the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley is founding editor, art director and podcast host for the multi-award-winning Leading Hearts magazine. She has been in the mag-making business for 22 years. Her publications in which she was editor have garnered a total of 13 Evangelical Press Association Awards. Amber was named the 2015 Advanced Writers and Speakers Association Member of the Year. You will find her design work right here on Arise Daily!

In her full-time she is wife to her Brit-native Philip & mum to 3 inspiring creatives: Saffron, Imogen, & Penelope, as well as a provider of social media management & communications support for many authors, missionaries, non-profits, and businesses.

Join the conversation: What stories have you heard about (or experienced) on God’s love and faithfulness?