I Confess, I am a Hoarder

 by Lori Wildenberg @LoriWildenberg

I showed no mercy. This year, as I was preparing to decorate for Christmas, I got brave enough to finally ditch the ornaments I no longer display. My collection was significantly reduced. It feels good to scale back. As my purged pile of give-aways grew, God impressed upon me that I hang onto lots of things– and not just material ones.

It’s true: I am a spiritual hoarder.  I cling to poor habits and negative characteristics. YIKES.

During this Christmas season, with God’s prompting, I have challenged myself to ditch the qualities that look more like me and less like the babe in the manger.

I have 10 goals that I know will help my spiritual hoarding tendencies.

  1. I need to freely forgive. When I’ve hurt someone, I want to be forgiven. Why would I not be willing to give it when another has wronged me? Lord, replace my unforgiving heart with a forgiving heart. I want to be quick to forgive. (Matthew 18:21)
  2. I need humility. Pride divides. It gets in the way of any relationship and family closeness. Lord, one of the six things You hate is haughty eyes. Please replace my stubbornness with humility. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
  3. My love for people needs to be unconditional. Love is a gift. It isn’t meant to be parceled out, divided, or earned. Lord, give me the supernatural capacity to love when it is hard. (Matthew 5:43-48)
  4. Generosity needs to be my first response. The All About Me syndrome –my time, my resources, my feelings, my perspective has been ruling me too long! To cure this malady, I will be a servant and try to see things from God’s point of view. Lord, remove my selfishness, give me eyes to see what you see and create a servant attitude in my heart. (Mark 9:35)
  5. Contentment should define my attitude. I need to remember all that God has given me in His goodness and generosity. Lord, take away my dissatisfaction and replace it with contentment in the abundant blessings You have given me, so a thankful and grateful heart can blossom. (Philippians 4:11)
  6. I must make people my priority. The present of presence is the most meaningful gift of all. Lord, I am easily distracted by my list of to-dos. Remind me daily that people are more important than what I think I should be accomplishing. (Mark 10:13-16)
  7. Kindness must mark my interactions. Compassion and understanding is the glue that holds families together. Lord, replace my critical spirit with kindness. Nudge me to speak life by being positive and encouraging. (Ephesians 4:29)
  8. I need to think before I react. Rather than allowing strong emotions to rule me, I want to manage difficult situations with wisdom, love, and peace. Lord, help me to respond to difficult moments in a way that honors You. Teach me to address disagreements agreeably. (Proverbs 12:16)
  9. I want my home to be one that emphasizes participation and pitching in. A place where people care so much about each other that they want to do life together. I want us to function like a family instead of roommates and boarders, fostering relationships that will last a lifetime. Lord, wipe away my spirit of independence and exchange it for a dependence on You and interdependence with my family members. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
  10. Most of all, I want to become more like Jesus. I want to put myself aside and keep my eyes focused on Him. Lord, I want to reflect you in all I do. (Matthew 11:29)

Of course there’s no hope of accomplishing any of this on my own. A true change will require supernatural intervention by the One who shows us a better way. Praying for His help is the most effective weapon to fight my negative tendencies. And of course, learning more about Jesus is the way to become more like him…and less like me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.                                                                                               Galatians 5:22-26

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I Confess, I am a Hoarder – insight from @LoriWildenberg on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori WildenbergAbout the author: Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. She’s a national speaker, parent coach, and author of 5 books, including The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections. 

How do we create an atmosphere for connection while living in the messy moments of parenting? The Messy Life of Parenting shows you small changes you can make now to build lasting family relationships, even when the going gets tough.

You can subscribe to Lori’s blog or invite her to speak at your event by heading to her website: www.loriwildenberg.com. You can also find her hanging out on IG and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What qualities do you want to ditch so you can look more like the King in the cradle?

 

Badgers And Bullies

by Sheri Schofield

It was the first time I had seen the badger in the fourteen years we had lived on the mountain. It was trotting up the field parallel to the road. I slowed down. It looked over at me and kept trotting. I stayed with him all the way to the corner, where the road turned up the hill. Surely, he would cross that road! I stopped the car, pulled out my cell phone and began to focus the camera on him.

Ring! Ring! A call was coming in on my cell phone. Aaaaaaagh!

I glanced down. It was my sweet husband. I had to answer it. When I looked up, the badger was gone and so was the photo moment. The badger had dived into the culvert, crossed under the road, and disappeared into the grass. Badgers have a reputation for violence. But I think this one was laughing gleefully, “Ha! Ha! You missed me!”

Haman the Agagite, a great friend of King Ahasuerus, had one of those moments. He hated the Jews, because they were ancient enemies of his own people. Centuries before, God told King Saul of Israel to wipe out the Amalekites, including their king, Agag. But Saul did not. Now Haman, a descendant of Agag, going up against the Jews once again.

Did he think, “Ha! Ha! You missed me!”? Haman was a bully. He tricked the king into sending out an edict to destroy the Jewish people. But what Haman did not know was that Queen Esther, whom King Ahasuerus loved, was a Jew.

Mordecai urged Esther to go to the king, but she was afraid. Mordecai said, “Don’t think for a moment that you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, NLT)

Esther and her attendants fasted and prayed, then she went to the king. She exposed Haman’s evil plot and saved her people.

We face a similar danger today. The devil may have been defeated at Calvary, but he is still active. He looks back, sees how Jesus has not yet destroyed him, and gleefully laughs, “Ha! Ha! You missed me!” Like a roaring lion, he continues to roam the earth looking for people to devour.

The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history.”[1] Do not think that America will forever hold back the tide of evil while our brothers and sisters around the world die for their faith.

I believe that God is calling the church in America to pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution. As the Lord gives us opportunity to help them, we must. For who knows, maybe God has blessed us with power, influence and wealth for such a time as this.

In the end, Jesus will deliver us all from the schemes of Satan. But until then, let us remember that we are one with the Christians of Africa, the Middle East, China, Indonesia, Mexico and all other places where the church of Jesus is suffering. Let us defend them through prayer and aid, for Jesus’ sake and glory.

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:18-20 NIV

[1]https://www.newsweek.com/christian-persecution-genocide-worse-ever-770462

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Badgers and Bullies – thoughts from Scheri Scholfield 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: How do you stay armed against the enemy?

Tempted to Compare My Holidays

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

This time of year always brings to my mind fun memories of childhood Christmases. The pattern in our house rarely changed from year to year, and I loved it. I would anticipate every second, from munching on Chex party mix while visiting my dad on Christmas Eve to playing in the backyard at my aunt and uncle’s house Christmas afternoon.

I always knew what to expect, and I thrived on the predictability of it all.

I don’t know how my parents managed to pull it off, with the challenges divorce can bring. But somehow, they did. I felt safe in knowing and anticipating what our holiday had in store.

As a wife, mom, stepmom, and step-Mimi, holidays can be a bit more unexpected now.

For years I longed to create a Christmas season our family could not only count on, but look forward to each year. But outside factors and challenges always seemed to interrupt my best laid plans.

Frustration has a way of knocking at our heart’s door at times like that, when expectations lost cause us to feel like what we do for our holiday isn’t good enough. With a simple scroll through social media, I can easily become overwhelmed with post after post of recipes, decorations, and family outings that put my spur-of-the-moment schedule to shame.

When we compare our holidays to others’, we risk losing the mountain of blessings that God has given to us. Our expectations become disappointment, and what we long for becomes the enemy of what we already have. But God offers a better way.

Expectations can push contentment into the shadows, but God renews our contentment with the light of each new day.

So I’ve learned to be content with my circumstances. Even when they take an abrupt turn, like they have recently. In fact, our current circumstances have already affected my ability to plan, go, and do as much as I’d like through this year’s holiday season. But when disappointment tries to creep in, I will remind myself of God’s promise to me. His presence is always here, filling me with joy and peace through the holidays.

My holidays may not be perfect, but they are wonderful because God is in it.

You may be thinking, “But my holidays can’t be wonderful. Not this year. Too much has happened.”

I am right there with you, friend. We can let a diagnosis, grief, or hurt cast a pall over this season, or we can allow them to draw us into the throne room of grace, where mercy, hope, and healing reside.

So this year, join me in deciding to celebrate our wonderful, imperfect, unexpected, sometimes painful but always grace-filled, holidays.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 NIV

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Tempted to Compare My Holidays – 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. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with comparing your holiday experiences with others’?

 

Finding Forgiveness—Just in Time for Thanksgiving

by Patti Richter

A depressed soul and a holiday make a poor pair. So, I sat down to pray about my unhappy condition one morning in November.

I could have written a turkey-size list of things to be thankful for, including: good health; loving family; beautiful home. Instead, complaints ran through my mind like newsfeed in bold type, obstructing the bigger picture.

We had recently moved to another state for my husband’s job. Throughout this adventure, I sensed God’s help in all of the challenges: selling our house, getting our daughter off to college, resettling our sons into school, and house-hunting. But my confidence in God suffered a blow on the day we moved in to our new home. My wallet disappeared.

Such a loss on this big day left me reeling. I’d stuffed the oversized wallet with move-related receipts, cash, credit cards, and my wedding ring—tucked inside an envelope until I could find a jeweler to fix the loose diamond. A thief would have my driver license too, perhaps to steal my identity!

Two men had arrived unexpectedly to finish electrical work on the house while my husband and I directed the incoming boxes and furniture. I noticed one of the two had a strange look on his face as they left. When I reached into an empty kitchen cabinet to retrieve my purse and discovered my wallet was gone, I abandoned the move-in effort to head back to our hotel, in case I’d left it there. Disappointed and exhausted, I sat down to make phone calls to cancel credit cards.

Unpacking in the following days kept me too busy to let anger take over. But at night my bitterness came out like air from a pin-pricked balloon, and I woke up deflated each morning. I began second-guessing our decision to move, and I worried about everything. After too many sleepless nights, I fell into depression.

With Thanksgiving coming, I anticipated our daughter’s first time with us in our new home, but I needed the Lord to revive me. When I sat down that morning to ask for his help, those angry thoughts sprang up instead. And I blamed my poor outlook on the man I believed had robbed me.

Such bitter meditations made me realize I’d lost more than a wallet. I could live without getting all those items back, but I couldn’t go on without joy and peace. Paul warns against refusing to forgive in Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice…” (NASB) Holding on to bitterness was stealing my joy and peace. I realized what I needed to do: ask the Lord to help me forgive, and pray that He would help the thief see his need for a Savior.

By the time I finished praying, I felt sincere forgiveness toward the man. As the day went by, I realized my anger had somehow dissolved in the transaction. That night, my sleep returned to normal—just in time for Thanksgiving.

When the holiday arrived, I relished having my family together again. After dinner, while washing dishes with my daughter beside me, I noticed my husband stretched out on the floor of the guest bathroom. He wanted to examine the plumbing beneath the pedestal sink. Suddenly, with a smile on his face, he held out my wallet—as thick as the day it went missing. Except for thirty dollars of cash missing, everything remained inside, including my wedding ring!

Though I felt so thankful to have my wallet restored, I realized the Lord had allowed it to stay hidden for weeks. Perhaps he wanted me to discover something more valuable first.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 NIV

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Finding Forgiveness—Just in Time for Thanksgiving – Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Patti Richter headshot 2017-1n (2)About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She writes and edits global resourcing stories for The Gospel Coalition, and her Good Faith column appears at BlueRibbonNews.com. She is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering (2019).

Luann Mire faced overwhelming circumstances when her 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. Signs of His Presence is the story of her experiences, as God proved Himself faithful to His promises. Signs of His presence came at timely moments–often in astonishing ways.

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt the relief of finally forgiving?

Thankful No Matter What

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

The LORD is my strength, and my song; He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14, ESV 

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” For over 150 years, Americans – and people around the world – have thanked God for His many blessings on Thanksgiving.

But, what if we don’t feel blessed? What if we’re in the midst of some trial or difficulty or heartache right now? Can we still join in the Thanksgiving celebration with joy or will we just be going through the motions?

The writer of Psalm 118 knew trouble. His life had not been easy. He had been betrayed and attacked. And he had felt caught in a hopeless and dangerous situation with no way out.

But in the middle of those trials, he also experienced God’s personal intervention on his behalf. In Psalm 118:8-16, the psalmist testifies to God’s deliverance and expresses his gratitude. In this passage, we find 3 reasons to thank God when we face times of trouble:

  1. God is our refuge (Psalm 118:8-9) – When storms are raging all around us, we can always find safety in God’s presence. He is our shelter from the storm. Other people may not be fully trustworthy, but God can always be trusted. Other people may not always be dependable, but we can depend on God in any and every situation. Like the psalmist, when we’re in the midst of trouble, let’s thank God that He is our refuge. When we hide ourselves in Him, He will be our shelter!
  1. God is our helper and protector (Psalm 118:13) – When people and circumstances fight against us, we do not have to wonder or worry about victory. God Himself goes with His people and fights for them. When the psalmist was surrounded and swarmed by his enemies, victory came through the name of the LORD. Do you ever feel “swarmed by enemies?” Call on the name of the LORD. Thank Him that He is your protector!
  1. God is our strength (Psalm 118:14) – “The LORD is my strength, and my song; He has become my salvation.” God saves! He will deliver us through trouble with the strength of His might. He is our reason to sing, so let us lift a song of praise and thanksgiving to the God who is our strength!

God is our refuge, our protector, and our strength! If we can name no other blessings in our lives today, we can thank God for these. Let’s thank Him today, especially in the midst of trouble.

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Thankful No Matter What – @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. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” leads you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.

Join the conversation: Are there other things about God for which you are thankful?

 

More Gratitude = More Faith

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 136:1 NASB

Turning onto the main highway through Annapolis, I knew I needed to spend the next half-hour’s drive in prayer. Several things were weighing heavy on my mind. But before beginning my list, I decided to spend a couple of minutes thanking God for how He had already blessed me. I thanked Him for my family, naming them one by one. I thanked Him for my church, His provision in my ministry work, for the people in my life who were so important to me. I thanked him for our home, our neighborhood, and provision for our physical needs.

There was so much to be thankful for. Before I knew it, I had arrived at my destination. And I was still thanking God. I hadn’t even gotten to naming my requests! Those urgent items I had been stewing over? Suddenly they didn’t seem so urgent after all. My heart now brimmed with trust in a God of provision and love.

In Luke 17, we find three passages that together remind us that gratitude is vital to trust.

Jesus encountered ten lepers on the road to Jerusalem. In response to their desperate request for mercy, He told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” It was an odd thing to say, because lepers were not welcome in the temple. But the men turned and in faith did exactly what He said. And on the way, they suddenly realized they had been healed.

Most of them continued on to finish doing what Jesus commanded. One turned around and headed back to Jesus. His heart was too full of gratitude to continue forward.

Jesus had just finished talking with His disciples about their need to forgive. If someone sinned against them seven times a day, they were to forgive them seven times. The disciples were taken aback. “Lord, increase our faith!” they cried.

So Jesus told them a parable about a slave who spent all day working in the field. He returned to the house exhausted and hungry. But his master told him, “Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink.”

Jesus finished: “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to do.’” (Luke 17:7-10 NASB).

The very next thing Luke records is the story of the ten lepers. Are we supposed to connect these three sections? I believe we are. Luke tends to group his stories together to make a point.

The disciples had asked for more faith. Without it, what Jesus was telling them to do would be impossible. When the one leper came back to fall at His feet and thank Him, Jesus told him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” That was the kind of faith the disciples had just begged for. Where did it come from? A heart full of gratitude.

Why is gratitude so key to increasing our faith?

Gratitude supplies the correct perspective. Remembering what God has done puts Him at the center instead of us. When we thank Him, we are expressing belief that the good things in our life are evidence of a God who is at work on our behalf (James 1:17). We are acknowledging that our lives are in His hands. He is in control. That puts everything else we have been focusing on in proper perspective.

Gratitude teaches us to trust. When we remember His past faithfulness, we are empowered to trust Him for the future. Psalm 136 is a great example in this. As the psalmist recalls the works of a mighty God, the audience repeatedly responds: “His love endures forever” (Psalm 136: NIV). What better way to increase their faith in Him?

We need to stop thinking like a slave, and start thinking like a leper. A slave focuses on obligation: what he needs to do to keep his master happy. But a leper focuses on what he has been rescued from—and his heart overflows with gratitude.

So in these days before Thanksgiving, remember who He is to you and what He has done. Then spend time thanking Him from the bottom of your heart. The very act of expressing gratitude will provide an accurate perspective on his power and help you to go deeper in your trust.

Be that leper—the one whose full heart makes doing anything but adoring Him impossible. Start with simple gratitude.

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More Gratitude = More Faith – insight from @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: For what are you most thankful today?

 

Jiminy Crickets!

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Have you ever had a cricket in your house? Next to flies and mosquitoes, they are the most annoying insects. When I hear one chirping, I have to find it and put it outside where it belongs. I don’t like bugs in my house, especially noisy ones.

Recently, I was talking with a friend of mine. Her three little boys have pet lizards living in aquariums on the shelf in their bedroom. Pet lizards are creepy enough in my book, but what’s worse is they eat live crickets. Natasha said they buy the crickets from a local feed store. Fishermen buy them for bait and little boys get them for their pet lizards. They come in a canister of 100.

A few weeks ago, Isaiah, her oldest son, fed five crickets to the lizards, put the canister back on the shelf, and went to bed. In the morning, when Natasha came down the hall, she noticed a cricket crawling across the floor. She thought one must have gotten out of the lizards’ aquarium. Then she saw another. And another. Opening the boy’s bedroom door, she found crickets crawling, hopping, and chirping everywhere.

Their kitten, who’d been shut up in the room all night, had found the crickets and knocked the canister off the dresser, breaking it open. They’d all made their escape. Natasha and the boys scrambled to catch as many as they could, but it was too late to get most of them. They’d already found hiding places. I can’t imagine having ninety-five chirping crickets loose in the house!

Once they were set free, these little bugs are almost impossible to recapture—they have a way of disappearing into the woodwork. You can’t see them, they’re small and might seem harmless enough, but the noise they generate can be deafening.

If you think about it, the words we speak can be like all those chirping crickets. Too often, even us Jesus followers, tend to say things we wish we hadn’t. But once it’s out of the mouth, those words can’t be recaptured. And they have a way of coming back to haunt us later. Like crickets, words keep on chirping long after they’re released.

How often have we heard the phrase, “All I said was…” after being offended by an offhanded remark? More than once I’ve lain in bed hearing my own words chirping in the night, thinking and worrying about what I said to someone earlier. Feelings have been hurt, relationships broken, friendships destroyed and even jobs have been lost over words thoughtlessly spoken.

The Bible says the tongue though one of the smallest parts of our bodies, can be like a spark that sets a whole forest ablaze (James 3:5).

In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about how we should be careful about the words we speak. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” And 1 Peter 3:10 says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”

There are many more Scriptures that tell us God wants us to think before we speak and consider how our words affect others.

Once again, it’s all about loving God and loving people—the two greatest commandments. Today, let’s try not to knock that can of crickets of the shelf. Ask the Lord to help you and remind you of the effect of your words—before you speak them.

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.                                                                                                                                Proverbs 29:20 NASB

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Jiminy Crickets! – thoughts on the power of our words from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: Have you asked God to guard your words as the holiday celebration approaches?

 

“Have a Nice Thanksgiving Life”

by Christina Rose

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.                                                                                         Psalm 100:4 NIV

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.  For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.                       Psalm 95:2-3 NIV

 My dad was a dreamer and had big plans for his family.  While working for the government in Washington, DC, one day he noticed a job posting to enlist in the foreign service.  I had just finished sixth grade when he came home from work and announced that we would be moving to Bogota, Colombia. Our family of six was so excited. Within a few short months we were embarking on a life-changing adventure.

We spent six exciting years traveling throughout South America. Our three years living in Rio de Janeiro were the most memorable. We lived in a beautiful home on the water and went to the International School, where we met students from all over the world. Rio has many spectacular beaches; surfing after school was our favorite pastime.

After graduation, we returned to the United States, but my brother Chuck could not forget Karla, his high school sweetheart from Rio. He drove an ice cream truck for countless hours and saved every penny to join her in Colorado where she attended college.  They were married shortly thereafter. Then an unthinkable tragedy struck.  Karla’s brother Brek, who had recently married, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Brek was a handsome, blond, blue-eyed soccer star who was loaded with optimism and love for Christ. Shortly after the diagnosis, it was discovered that Brek’s wife was pregnant with what would be their only child. As Brek’s condition worsened, his daughter was being formed in her mother’s womb. Beautiful little Keah came into the world nine months later.

For more than 15 years Brek’s wife Kim devotedly assisted her husband as his body deteriorated. By the end of his life, he was confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak, walk, talk, feed or bathe himself. He was fed with a syringe of blended food through his stomach, yet through it all he never complained. His unwavering faith inspired all around him.

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”  (2 Corinthians 4:15-16 NIV). 

A friend rigged a keyboard so that he was able to use his computer with a muscle in his left leg. “Brek’s Briefs” were newsletters about his life. When I consider the many hours that it required to painstakingly type each brief, I am in awe of his perseverance.  Every brief was insightful and encouraging. They reminded us to approach every day with gratitude, knowing himself that any day could be his last.  He closed each brief with “Have a nice Thanksgiving life.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

The last time I saw Brek was a few years before he passed. We both attended a large family wedding full of dancing and celebrating.  Brek could only look on in silence with his devoted wife by his wheelchair. He glanced at me for a moment and instantly I could see that sunny, blond kid with the big grin from my childhood days in Rio. He seemed to smile at me while the steadfast light of devotion streamed from his eyes.

In his memory, I pray that all of you will “Have a nice Thanksgiving life.”

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV

TWEETABLE
“Have a Nice Thanksgiving Life” – insight from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: How had God refined your faith lately?

Search High and Low—Without the Low

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I just finished digging through my purse for about 20 minutes, desperately searching for a business card that I’d stuck in there a few days ago. Know what I found instead? Yeah, besides the candy bar of unknown origin. Or age. I found instead the list I spent 20 minutes searching for yesterday. I have proven once again that it’s not just about the looking. It’s also about the overlooking. And, multi-tasker that I am, I can do both simultaneously. Even while eating a candy bar. (Don’t judge. It was chocolate. It’s not like I had a choice.)

My husband doesn’t judge. He doesn’t even tease me when I can’t find something in my purse. One reason is that he’s a really nice guy. I’m pretty sure the other reason is that he knows I see his office on a regular basis. Not that I’m comparing Richie’s office to my purse or anything. Nevertheless, I have to say, if he added nail polish, some lip gloss and a travel-sized can of hairspray, I could picture myself putting a shoulder strap on that office and hauling it to the mall to find shoes to match. We recently had to rummage through his office on a hunt for his keys. We searched high and low before we found them. I was glad to make it out of there in one piece. And without tetanus.

Today I was also rummaging around in Scripture—though it was an entirely different kind of rummaging—and the word “seek” caught my attention. “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4 ESV). I may look for a business card, look for a list, look for the keys—even look for the candy bar I didn’t know I had. But no search is as vital as this one. It’s a three-pronged search that I never, ever want to overlook. We’re told to seek the Lord, seek His strength and seek His presence. And to do this searching “continually.”

It’s a high search. To seek the Lord is to actively desire a connection with Him. It happens through reading His Word, through prayer, through worship—and through keeping fervent our desire to know Him more and more. Seeking His strength is recognizing that all might is His and that there’s nothing we can do in this life without His empowering. Seeking His presence is understanding that He is in us and that He’s at work around us. It’s surrendering to Him, asking for His filling. It encompasses a stubbornly determined, unrelenting desire to love Him more completely and serve Him more passionately.

Guess what happens when we seek the Lord continually. All the other searches in life fall into perspective. That’s a happy place—with or without the candy bar. The verse right before says, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!” (Psalm 105:3 ESV).

A heart that’s rightly seeking is a heart that will rejoice. I want to glorify His holy name in the way that I seek. I want to be all about the looking. Never the overlooking. That’s definitely a key element in a life well-lived.

Incidentally, any time you find a key element, you might want to make sure you don’t leave it in my husband’s office. Or my purse.

But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.  Deuteronomy 4:29 NASB

TWEETABLE
Search High and Low—Without the Low – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for the Messy to Meaningful series, with My Purse Runneth Over coming soon. Edie Melson and Rhonda have a new book as well, Unruffled—Thriving in Chaos.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: How has God revealed Himself to you when you have sought Him out?