A New House Is Like the Body of Christ

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.                                                                              Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB

Every time I walk into the master closet of our new home, I’m reminded of the significance of our individual actions within the Body of Christ and in ministry. On the carpet of that closet is a deep stain the carpet cleaners have attempted to eliminate three times—at the builder’s expense. We know how it got there: when the tile around the toilet had to be replaced, the workers removed the toilet and dragged it onto the closet carpet.

At the final inspection of our new home, the customer service man added to his list, “Clean closet carpet,” so we assumed the stain would soon be gone. But it’s still there and the carpet will most likely have to be replaced—at the builder’s expense.

Many other things have needed to be fixed—many of them needed repairs because the original worker was sloppy or didn’t care about the work he left behind. That reminds me how our negative actions within the Body of Christ can have the same effect.

The Church is full of people who can be sloppy in their interactions with each other. When we make unwise choices, we can be tempted to think, “Well, this won’t matter. Who will care?” Some leave the kind of destruction their wake that will eventually require someone else to deal with the mess. Maybe that’s what the tile worker thought as he dragged the toilet along the carpet: “Someone will just clean it up. No big deal.”

The reality is, every member of the body of Christ is imperfect. We tend to promote our own self-interests rather than look to the interests of others. We are insensitive and cause hurt with careless or thoughtless words. We nurture the offenses we have experienced, allowing bitterness to creep into our hearts rather than extend forgiveness and grace. Perhaps worst of all, we are tempted to judge others when they fail to act in ways that we feel are wise or spiritual.

And so, with so many flawed people meeting in one group, church life can get messy at times. And those mistakes, purposeful or unintended, leave stains behind, all-too-evident reminders written on the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even when we may manage to avoid the fruit of our mistakes—like the man who put the toilet on the closet carpet—others will suffer the consequences.

How can we turn our fellowship around to reflect Jesus? How can we stop the hurt and the strife?

It all comes down to one important truth: Jesus sacrificed His life to pay for those very sins. Paul tells us that “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB, my emphasis added).

As our builder will have to pay the price for his thoughtless workman, God has already paid an extravagant price for our “repair.” The messy stains on our hearts, created by our sin, have already been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. We wear the righteousness of Christ, not because of anything we have done, but because of the grace of God. Every one of us is a sinner saved by grace.

Knowing that truth can go a long way to transforming our relationships with each other.

We will allow the abundant love and grace so abundantly given to us to spill over into the lives of others. Knowing how patiently God works with us will inspire us to do the same for them. In response to His love, we will value others because He values them. Out of deep gratitude, we will be motivated to honor and represent Him in our choices.

And those godly actions will transform fellowship within the body as God is glorified.

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A New House Is Like the Body of Christ – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to encourage women to know who they are in Christ and about the incredible attributes of God. Kathy loves to travel, so she is grateful to have spoken in eight foreign countries as well as traveled to many others. She has spoken at women’s retreats in 35 states. She is the author of 55 books.

Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Are You a Butterfly or a Slug?

by Doris Hoover

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.                                                                                                                                                    Matthew 6:34 NIV

 A Monarch butterfly flitted from one flower to another. Then it lifted on the breeze and fluttered through the garden, light and carefree. Enchanted by its graceful movement, I got lost in its happy world. The tiny creature seemed to be dancing on air currents, free from any kind of worry.

I wished I could feel as weightless as that fluttering beauty, but a family situation weighed heavily upon my shoulders. I felt more like a slug than a butterfly. I was creeping beneath a load of concerns. Even though I knew the Bible instructs me to cast my cares on the Lord, I was so consumed with my burden, neglecting to look up to see Jesus offering to help me.

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25 NIV ). He directed his disciples’ focus onto the birds. They never plant seed or harvest crops, yet they have food to eat. God faithfully provides what they need. Each day they wake up singing delightful melodies, content in where God has them. In fact, they seem as happy and unburdened as butterflies.

Certainly, you and I carry legitimate burdens. Some issues, like health problems or the loss of a loved one, are so intense we can feel overwhelmed with distress. Life can be a challenge, but the Lord doesn’t want us weighed down with worry, crawling about like a slug. He doesn’t want us obsessively mulling over our problems, analyzing them from every angle, fearing the worst that could happen.

The Lord asks us to look at Him instead of our grim scenarios. The future is not for us to control. The only one who has that kind of power is the One who holds the future. He wants us to hand Him our heavy hearts. He can bear the weight that crushes us. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

So how can we take hold of the rest Jesus offers? Through prayer. By giving our burdens to Him as we sit in His presence. Prayer is a divine passageway that brings our worries into God’s realm in exchange for peace for our troubled hearts. And as we do, choosing to trust Him with every concern, the Holy Spirit fills us with a sense of wellbeing. We feel lighter knowing we don’t bear our troubles alone. The One who has power over our circumstances is sharing the load.

As I watched the Monarch butterfly flit among the flowers and listened to the birds sing that day in the garden, I thought about the power of prayer. Closing my eyes, I asked the Lord to take care of the issues that weighed me down. I leaned into His strength. My shoulder and neck tension relaxed and I could feel my spirit rising above my burden. I was no longer a slug. As I released my worries to the Lord, I felt as light and carefree as a butterfly dancing on the breeze.

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Are You a Butterfly or a Slug? insight from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Is something weighing you down today? How can we pray for you?

Comforting and Encouraging Others

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 TLB

After my father’s death, I uncovered an ancient cardboard box wedged in the back of his closet. Inside were some remnants of his military service during World War II: a good conduct medal, his wings, war department ID, aircraft spotters’ guide, a 1943 Christmas menu from headquarters in Fortaleza, Brazil where he was stationed for a time, and the letter notifying my grandparents that my father was a prisoner of war.

In a daring endeavor, my father eventually escaped captivity through the Underground. When he returned to America, he didn’t talk much about his experiences. One of his brothers told me that Daddy often sat in front of the radio in those days, head bowed and arms on his knees, listening. If someone entered the room unexpectedly, daddy jumped, wary, eyeing the intruder with suspicion.

Today, my father’s post-war reactions would likely be labeled post-traumatic stress, but there was no name or counseling for it then. Daddy packed his emotional pain in a mental compartment and shoved it to the back of his mind, in a similar fashion to the back-of-the-closet cardboard box housing the history of his military service.

Decades later, my cousin was accepted at the US Air Force Academy. The summer before his freshman year, my father bought Wesley a pair of military dress shoes, took him out to our driveway, and taught him to march.

“I want him to be a step ahead of the other boys,” Daddy said.

My father also hauled out war stories, dusted them off, and told him about his experiences. Much of what he said had never been shared with others. He identified with some of the challenges Wesley faced in the coming four years, and hoped to help him in his adjustment to military life.

Often, when we go through difficult life situations, we swallow the hurt and consign the pain to a private corner of our minds and hearts. Some stagnate in grief, withdrawing from those around them, never discussing their challenges, or moving beyond the pain. Others find a way forward, with God’s help, yet never encourage others dealing with similar situations.

But 2 Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that we are to minister to those around us with the same comfort we’ve received from God. My father didn’t share his experiences until my cousin embarked on a similar journey.

Perhaps someone you know is struggling. Although the situation might not be identical to yours, your wisdom and encouragement may be of great benefit. Dredging up memories may feel uncomfortable, but despite the emotional pain, be available to support someone marching down a difficult path. By listening and encouraging, you pass on the comfort you found through Scripture, prayer, and a deeper relationship with God forged through hardship.

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Comforting and Encouraging Others – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout 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: Has anyone ever encouraged you with their experience of God’s faithfulness?

The Cave

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1, NIV

I don’t like this cave I’m in. Not one bit.

It’s dark. It’s uncomfortably damp. And it smells like rancid mushrooms.

I feel terribly alone one minute, and the next, I’m not sure I’m alone at all. I think I can hear someone – or something – breathing. If I strain hard enough in the darkness, I can make out the shape of a man on the far side of the cave.

Still. Silent. Facing me.

I feel my skin crawl. But I’ve no one to blame but myself. I chose to come in here. I slipped into the cave of disappointment on my own volition. No one chased me here or forced me to enter.  It just seemed the only place to go under the circumstances I was facing. Hard times. Heartache. Uncertainty.

So here I am. Hating the darkness and wishing I could find a way to escape this cave of disappointment. Disappointment over people I thought I knew and trusted. Disappointment in witnessing injustice and helplessly watching those I love suffer.

Disappointment with life itself.

I’m reminded of a biblical shepherd-king named David. He spent a lot of time in caves too. He was running from a man (Saul) he once trusted and even revered; a hand-picked-by-God king whom David had been honored to serve and comfort with music during his deepest emotional struggles.

A man who then turned on David and sought to take his life.

And so David fled to caves (documented in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel). Many different caves over the years. Many different disappointments. David was forced to live life on the run.

A cave-dwelling fugitive.

And there he must’ve shivered like me in the cold blackness, feeling the deep disappointments of life to the marrow of his bones.

The Cave is an awful place. It sucks light, joy, and hope right out of us. Drains us dry. Because it makes us overlook all the things we have to be grateful for, all the blessings of life that our Papa God has lavished upon us. Things we forget to notice when times get hard. When things don’t turn out the way we envisioned; when dear ones betray us and God seems silent. When we’ve lost jobs, security, mentors, friends, health, or the dreams we secretly nurtured.

And we cannot fathom the why of it.

We all spend time in The Cave. It’s where Papa God does some of His finest character-sculpting. The Cave is where He keeps his sharpest chisels and coarsest sanders. Where He meets us one-on-one, to shape and mold us into the beloved son or daughter He’s had in mind for us to be from the very beginning.

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love” (Ephesians 1:4, MSG).

Mother Teresa, who spent quite a few of her precious years here on earth in The Cave, said, “You’ll never know Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you’ve got.” In her own barren cave of disappointment, she learned that when all else seems lost, He is enough. And He was.

You know, the more I stare through the murkiness of this cave, I can begin to make out the identity of the shape over there, patiently biding time, watching me.

It’s … why, it’s Jesus.

I get the feeling He’s been waiting there a long time for me to notice that I’m not alone. And now He’s drawing nearer. There’s a warm light radiating from His eyes. I think He’s got something in His hand. And He’s smiling.

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The Cave – insight from @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

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

Join the conversation: Tell me, dear friend, when did you last spent time in The Cave?

Freedom from Overload

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

“Then David continued, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.’” 1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT

My writing space, also known as my office, doubles as a guest bedroom.

Or maybe I should say, our guest bedroom doubles as my office.

So, as I sit at my makeshift desk, peeking out the window at raindrops bouncing off piles of leaves in the yard, something out of the corner of my eye begs for my attention. I’m trying not to look, but I give in to the pressure. It’s the overstuffed closet I’ve been meaning to clean out for months.

I immediately turn from my writing task and scan my monthly planner. Maybe I can squeeze it in between work and dinner one day this week? Or better yet, let me work on revamping my entire schedule. Something has to give, so I can fit everything in and finally enjoy a clean closet! Planning helps me feel more in control, so I resolve to make a new plan. Again.

Organizing, analyzing, prioritizing, scheduling: I’m a planner by nature. I love the idea of becoming more organized. But even though organizing the schedule can be fun for a detail-oriented girl like me, all that planning doesn’t leave me feeling any more at peace.

I know deep down the best thing to do is just clean the closet.

When David passed along the assignment of building the temple to Solomon, he began by encouraging his son with this advice, “For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought.” A task like that came with a lot of detailed directions, too! Maybe David knew Solomon would feel overloaded and need words of wisdom to help him get it done:

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly” (1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT).

David gave Solomon sound advice in his instruction for building the temple. After encouraging Solomon to be strong and courageous, he then added these three simple words.

“Do the work.”

We can learn an important lesson from this statement. Sometimes we try to find solutions for our overload, but it just adds more to the to-do list than what’s already there. When instead, we should stop trying to give our schedule an overhaul and just tackle the tasks – one at a time.

I don’t know about you, but I can make things so complicated. That’s why I love it when God keeps it simple, as He does here in this message to Solomon. After his instructions, David goes on to share the best news of all. “He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work…is finished correctly.”

When I do my small part, God will make sure the work is finished correctly. What freedom!

So, the next time a seemingly overwhelming job taunts you, remember today’s verse. Let it guide you through the temptation to spend an hour rearranging your schedule or creating a new to-do list. Instead, spend an hour tackling that task. Just doing the work will free us from the pile of jobs that overload us.

Now if you’ll excuse me for an hour or so, I have a closet to clean.

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Freedom from Overload – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable  ways. Her lessons  highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Do you ever question whether you measure up? Kristine’s book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan,  learn the solution to a battle all women face. Through practical Bible teaching, find contentment in your God-given uniqueness and take simple steps to claim victory over comparison. Learn how to say “I’m over it” and mean it!

Join the conversation: What work do you need to accomplish today?

Your Soul’s Diet

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

Cake pops. They were my undoing. Who can resist a ball of soft, thick cake covered in a thin layer of beautiful icing with drizzle? I gave in. Twice.  First caramel, then strawberry. My hometown bakery is run by a Christian family who knows how to decorate cakes and cookies with personality and pizazz.

I could live on cake pops, but that would kill my diet. I need balance. How about cake pops and salads? After fifteen years of avoiding salads, I eat them almost every day now. I’ve learned how to balance my diet so that my body doesn’t react harshly to a splurge on sugar. Or fried chicken.

Our souls need balance as well. We need time with people and time alone, a to-do list that keeps us fruitful and rest that keeps us sane, an intake of encouragement and an outpouring of what God has taught us. Our souls also need a balanced diet—what we take in to our minds and hearts—and God’s word is what we need to take in to be healthy and satisfied.

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isaiah 55:2 NKJV).

Abundance. Sometimes ministry makes us feel lean. Spent. We pour ours souls into our writing and speaking, and we need replenishment.

As a ministry leader, it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed with the urgent and with what people need. Deadlines loom overhead, emails need to be answered, and I create my own stress. Instead of escaping the work altogether, I discovered that I can replenish my soul by going to God for nourishment. Time with God—fellowship with Him, meditating on His word, and talking with Him about anything and everything—is vital to a thriving heart and a thriving ministry. God calls for us to listen to Him, to take in what is good, and to delight in the abundance of who He is and what He provides.

For years, I have worked on books and blog posts in my quiet time. I found that the mornings give me the most inspiration and uninterrupted time to write. Then I discovered something. I was getting focused on the to-do list more than on time with God. I still wanted to seek His investment in my writing, because without it, what would I have to say? But now, if I work on a devotion or Bible study in my quiet time, I also take time to simply meditate on a passage of Scripture, just me and God. I try to listen to what He wants to tell me that day, and I pray that Scripture back to Him.

How often do we all focus on ministry even in our quiet times? It’s natural. Ministry becomes a part of who we are. It’s our life, as close to us as breathing. If we tend to focus on what we can give out to the exclusion of what we need to take in, we grow lean.

Instead, let’s slow down and focus on taking in the nourishment God wants to give us. Time with Him—just us and God—is an essential part of our soul’s balanced diet. Then we will remember why we’re ministering and have the energy and wisdom to serve God and His kingdom on this earth.

Nourish your soul with time with God, and flourish in the abundance that He provides. Eat what is good for your soul.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.  John 6:35 NKJV

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Your Soul’s Diet – thoughts on the lean times & balance from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author and teacher, editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves to compile books like Heart Renovation. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her new release, Feed Your Soul with the Word of God is a banquet of thirty short Bible studies. Is your soul hungry today? Taking time to be in God’s Word is like pulling a chair up to a banquet table. God is the Master Chef, and the food on His table is ready and waiting for us. It’s full to brimming of what our souls crave–hope, peace, courage, direction, answers, solutions, wisdom, encouragement, and more.

Join the conversation: How has God’s Word filled your soul lately?

 

What NOT to Say to a Drama Queen

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

I recently had a conversation with someone who volunteers in a nonprofit organization. Something she said sent up red flags for me. She was complaining about her clients, who were so dramatic over trivial problems. “Everything that happens to them sends them into a tizzy, even the smallest things. So I just tell them: you need to have more faith.”

Not the best response.

First off, the people she is serving have not had easy lives. Many have experienced major trauma somewhere along the way. Many have only recently come to know the Lord and are only now learning what healthy looks like. From my (albeit brief) foray into counseling training, I learned that trauma victims react strongly to “small” things for a reason. On a scale of 0-10, what would barely register at a 1-2 for a healthy person can be a 10 for the traumatized. Why? While a normal baseline is 0, the traumatized are living life at a steady 7 or 8. Unresolved trauma keeps them on continual fight-or-flight mode. So it doesn’t take much to get them to 10.

In ministering to someone in the healing process, one of the least compassionate things we can say is “you have to have more faith.” Because in doing so, we will only add to their burden, which is already too much to bear. It’s just one more way they are not measuring up. So while “you need to have more faith” might sound like good advice, it’s actually more damaging than helpful.

Second, Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, “you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20). Faith as small as a mustard is enough. Faith is not quantified in the Bible. You believe or you don’t. It is the line in the sand that sets believers apart from those who have not believed. It’s the only difference between saved and perishing.

Where believers struggle is not in how hard they believe. The problem is in doubting the object of our faith, in thinking Him to be only selectively involved in our lives. That while He may be capable, He is not concerned with the little things that matter to us. After all, we all prioritize what deserves our attention. You can’t jump at every little thing.

That’s true for us…but not for God. He knows the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). He knows when a sparrow, the commonest of birds, falls (Matthew 10:29-31). He knows what we are about to say before we say it (Psalm 139:4). He holds our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is a Heavenly Father who delights in His people and gives good gifts to His children (Psalm 149:4, Matthew 7:11). He is a God who is INVOLVED. In all of it. Even the things that might seem too trite to bring before Him. (Because really, what would seem big to God, anyway?)

So the answer to trusting Him in the “little” things is to learn about His intimate care for us. That He is not only capable, but interested. The better we know Him, the better we can trust Him.

After the conversation, I started thinking about what would have been a proper response to that volunteer. How should I have responded to  her frustration? (I am very good at “I should have said”s. In fact, it may be my spiritual gift.) What could she say to help someone on the path to healing? What would I have said if I were confronted with the same drama?

Thinking through what I know about God gave me the answer. I could encourage them with what I just listed about Him above. I could let them know that what is important to them is important to Him. That we can trust Him, no matter what is smacking us in the face at the moment. Because He is a God of details. And He is good.

There’s no burden in knowing God better. There’s no guilt induced for someone in hearing how deserving He is of our trust. And maybe, after receiving that encouragement, they will gain ability to place what has sent them into crisis into His capable hands.

Incline your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For you are my rock and my fortress, for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. Psalm 31:3-4 NASB

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What NOT to Say to a Drama Queen – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About 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 do you know about God that could be an encouragement to others?

The Case of Mistaken Location

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

It had been a busy and unusual year. A death in the family, the arrival of two grand babies, our son’s wedding, and my parents’ severe health struggles had kept me on the road. A lot.

One particular week included two trips back-to-back, with no going home in between. I went straight from my parents’ home in Louisiana, where we had been packing for their move to Tennessee, to my daughter’s home in Dallas to help with the baby while they unpacked after a recent move into a new home.

I had seen the house once before they moved in, but still needed to use Google Maps to find it again. I drove into the neighborhood and spotted what looked like their home on the next corner. As I turned onto the street in front of the house, Google announced “You have arrived at your destination!” Great!

As I parked on the street in front of the house I took note of the cars in the driveway. I didn’t recognize either of them, but since friends and family had been helping them move earlier in the day, I surmised they belonged to them.

Since I didn’t want to cause more work for them, I got all my stuff out of the car and up to the front porch. When I travel by car, I don’t travel lightly. I had a suitcase, a shoe bag, a snack bag, my rolling briefcase, and two king-sized pillows.

As I got the last of it on the porch, I knocked on the door and looked around. Although it looked just like the house I’d visited before, there were a few things that gave me pause – the potted plants, the door mat, and the multiple dogs that began barking at my knock.

Hmm. Could I possibly be at the wrong house? I texted Sarah. “Am I at the right house?”

Meanwhile, I heard a woman’s voice inside talking to the dogs, just inside the door. “Who’s out there guys?” It was not my daughter’s voice.

I envisioned the home owner looking through the peep hole. What did she see? Unknown middle-aged woman with baggage.

What should I do? What would she do?

About that time Sarah texted back. “No.”

My fear was confirmed. I was at the wrong house.

Okay. Well, I decided that when the woman opened the door, I would explain my mistake with a laugh and apologize.

But the woman didn’t open the door. She must have thought I looked too dangerous. Or crazy.

Either way, it was time for me to go. I wanted to run and not look back. But I needed all my baggage. And it took two trips to get it all back to the car. I wondered if the woman watched out the peep hole the whole time.

Sarah’s house was exactly one block to the south. Same corner. Same layout. But the residents were much more friendly. They even helped me haul in my bags.

I love how God works. In the midst of an overwhelming, chaotic time in my life, he used a case of mistaken location to give me a laugh and relieve some anxiety.

Is your life a little chaotic right now? God cares about your daily struggles, big and small. He will give you strength when you are weak and peace when troubles shakes your life. He is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4a, ESV). And He’s got a great sense of humor.

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The Case of Mistaken Location – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout 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. Kathy, who has a Masters in Christian Education, is the author of eight books, including “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” 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.

Join the conversation: What comic relief has God given you recently?

Angels Unaware

by Sheri Schofield

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!  Hebrews 13:2, NLT

 The young man was standing by the side of the road near a busy corner, holding a sign asking for help. His very pregnant wife stood next to him, holding a sleeping child over her shoulder. A little boy about four-years-old sat in the shade of the tree in a stroller.

They appeared to be Hispanic. Were they from our southern border? The thought crossed my mind. I pulled over. “Hi!” I said, smiling and holding out some money in one hand and the picture book about Jesus I had written for children in the other.

The wife smiled and came over, accepting the gift and thanking me in slightly accented English.

“I have a book for your little boy,” I said, handing her the book. The mother was pleased.

The family stood at that corner for two days, then they disappeared. I do not know if I will see them again, but at least they have been warmly welcomed to my town . . . and helped.

At our southern border, people from Central America are flooding into our country. I have no need to know how the politicians are going to handle the crowds wanting in. My only concern is to ask myself, “What would Jesus do?”

Abraham had that same spirit toward strangers. One day, he sat in the shade of his tent under a grove of trees. It was hot. He noticed three strangers standing nearby. He jumped up, ran over to them. “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey” (Genesis 18:3-5, NLT).

As they visited, one of the men told Abraham that his wife would have a son. But Abraham and Sarah were very old! Sarah laughed silently to herself and thought, “How could this be possible? I’m way too old for such joy! And Abraham is old, too!”

Now we come to the interesting part: “Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:13-14, NLT).

One of the strangers was the LORD! Later we learn that the other two were angels – His messengers.

We do not know all the reasons behind the migration from Central America to the United States. But regardless of human motivations, I see that it is ultimately God’s hand bringing them here to us. He is intimately involved with all people, not just our own.

So I ask myself, “What do we have here in America that people in Central America and other countries may not have?” Our freedom to hear and choose our own religion comes immediately to mind. This is not true in many places—in Latin America and around the world.

Next question: “Why is God sending these people to us?” That’s easy! So we can share the good news about Jesus with them!

Lord, let us put politics aside and see Your hand! You have brought Central America to our doorstep. Help us reach these people for Jesus! Let us demonstrate Your love for them. And just maybe, angels will be among those whom we welcome in Your name.

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Angels Unaware – thoughts on #FollowingGod from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout 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!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: What opportunity has God give you to share Jesus lately?

God Is Supposed to Do It My Way

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

My sister-in-law, Leslie, took her ten-year-old daughter, Megan, to the ballet and carefully explained beforehand what Megan would be seeing. But it turned out Megan didn’t quite get the concept.

During the performance, Megan watched the dancers communicating through their dance with a questioning look on her face, like, “This doesn’t make sense.” During one scene, when a male dancer was trying to communicate something to the ballerina, Megan leaned over to her mom and whispered, “Why doesn’t he just tell her?” Megan was troubled at the dancer’s frustration that the ballerina didn’t seem to understand his message.

Leslie replied, “It’s a ballet; they don’t talk.”

During the performance, Megan asked several more times about the lack of verbal communication. She just couldn’t get the non-verbal concept.

When Leslie and Megan returned home, her father asked about the ballet, expecting an enthusiastic response. Megan’s “OK” was definitely not enthusiastic.

Chuck was surprised. “Didn’t you like it, Megan?”

“No, Daddy, it was all in sign language.”

Megan had missed the beauty of the ballet because she expected something different—even though Leslie had tried to prepare her. Her incorrect assumptions had kept her from a wonderful experience.

Sometimes God’s children have the same problem. We expect God to work in a certain way, and when He doesn’t, it’s like He’s communicating in sign language—and we aren’t getting the point.

Maybe you have been waiting for God to do a certain thing. When He hasn’t, you have assumed He hasn’t done anything at all. But maybe your expectations are getting in the way of seeing the ways He is at work in you or others.

Maybe it’s time to release your expectations and believe that He is faithful according to His will. Let’s notice everything God is doing—not just what we are hoping for—and trust His will is best.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11 NASB

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God Is Supposed to Do It My Way – @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to travel and has been in more than 25 countries and has spoken in 8 of them. Her passion is to teach about God’s unconditional love and acceptance.  Kathy is the author of more than 50 books. She and her husband, Larry, are lay counselors and write and speak together. They have two children and two grandchildren and make their home in southern California.

Kathy’s recent release is a women’s Bible study. In Heart Wisdom: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, you will learn to navigate every area of your life through insightful commentary and challenging questions from the wisdom in Proverbs.

Join the conversation: When has God met your expectations differently than you assumed He would?