Embrace the Crawl

by Ashley Lane Jones @BigSisterTweets

My son Gordon refuses to crawl. He’s a healthy, chubby baby nearly nine months old, and he’s plenty strong enough to push himself up and crawl around. I’ve figured out the problem, though: he wants to move while sitting up. He’s so proud that he can sit up all by himself, and he loves being “up high,” so to get down on his hands and knees and scrape along the floor…no thank you!

 Instead, Gordon has mastered what I call the “roll and flip.” He starts by sitting up, then he lays down briefly, rolls over a bit, and then flips back up. While he can move some distance in this prairie-dog fashion, he doesn’t have much control in the direction he’s going.

While playing with Gordon the other day, I got down on my own hands and knees to show him how it’s done. That’s when I began to empathize with his plight, for I didn’t want to crawl around on the floor, either. Sitting is so much easier and more comfortable!

I realized the same can be said for our spiritual lives. When we get saved, we become enamored with such lofty things as worship, fellowship, and community. We love nothing more than to sit and bask in God’s presence.

As wonderful as that is, God doesn’t want us to spend our lives sitting on the sidelines.

God has unique plans for each of us, to give us “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASB). But every plan of God involves two things: salvation and sanctification. While our salvation is a gift we receive from God, sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus as we grow closer to Him.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3a NASB).

“… sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15 NASB).

Over the course of our lives, God will work with us to sanctify our hearts, often through prayer, Bible study, and the repentance of sin. These may seem like simple steps, but they aren’t easy. We all know we should pray and study God’s Word, but it’s hard to get up early in the morning, and we’d rather watch TV than read our Bibles. We desire to follow God, but it can be quite painful to admit our sins, ask God for forgiveness, and then choose the better path that He has laid out for us.

Sanctification is never flashy or glamorous. No one will stand up in church and praise you for your efforts. You might even feel self-conscious as you leave your cushy spiritual seat to scrape along on your hands and knees.

But don’t lose heart! There will come a time when the crawling leads to standing and then to walking—not on your own volition but in the power of the Lord. The time spent alone in prayer and study, and the lessons hard-learned, will all bear fruit and prepare you for the steps ahead.

If you’ve been sitting in church for awhile, ask God if it’s time to start crawling. If so, then humble yourself and get on your spiritual (and maybe even your physical) hands and knees before the Lord. Don’t “roll and flip” around, worried about what other people are doing and saying. Your time to walk will come soon enough. For now, embrace the crawl.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NASB

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Embrace the Crawl – encouragement from Ashley L. Jones, @BigSisterTweets on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://courtneywahl.pass.us/jones-familyAbout the author: Ashley L. Jones uses her Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies to write articles and books that help others see God as alive and relevant to their everyday lives. The first book in her faith-based children’s series, Big Answers, will release in Fall 2020.

Ashley’s debut book, Modern Cast Iron: The Complete Guide to Selecting, Seasoning, Cooking, and More, is available on Amazonashley lane jones book now for preorder. Chock-full of stories from Jones’s own childhood growing up with cast-iron meals, as well as recipe after tantalizing recipe, Modern Cast Iron explores the countless ways that cast iron benefits health and happiness. For more information, connect with Ashley at www.BigSisterKnows.com.

Join the conversation: Have you sensed God working on your sanctification? Please share!

I Really Blew It

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…   Romans 1:16a NASB

I missed a big opportunity. God handed it to me on a silver platter. Well, to be more accurate, it drove up in a silver pickup truck and stopped right beside me. But I let it get away without a fight. I really blew it.

It happened one beautiful Saturday afternoon. I had just stepped out of a Lifeway store and was headed to my car. Just as I reached the first car in the parking lot I heard, “Ma’am? Excuse me ma’am!”

“Ma’am?” Oh, does he mean me?

I turned to see a young man sitting in a pickup truck, now directly between the store and me. His window was down and he was looking directly at me. And there wasn’t anyone else close by.

Yep. He meant me.

The young “cowboy” wore a sleeveless t-shirt and tattoos covered both arms. He needed directions. “Is there a bookstore around here somewhere?”

I thought about looking around for a hidden camera. I mean, really? He was sitting in front of a bookstore. Surely this was a joke.

“Seriously?” I asked. “Lifeway is right there,” I pointed as I declared the obvious. But I could tell the cowboy had no idea what Lifeway was by the look on his face.

“Uh, it’s a Christian bookstore,” I stammered. Half statement, half question. Still no recognition.

“I’m looking for self-help books,” he added hopefully.

Okay. God threw the door of opportunity wide open, but I slammed it shut.

I stumbled around and told him I didn’t know the area – which I didn’t. That I had a friend waiting in the car – which I did. Then I suggested he try Sam’s, which was close behind us.

By the time I got to the car, I was kicking myself over the lost opportunity. As I began to tell my friend about the encounter, all sorts of better responses began to pop into my head.

There’s a Book in there – I would be pointing at Lifeway – that will give you help that lasts for eternity.

I have a Friend that can help you with anything and everything – of course, that would be Jesus.

Or if nothing else comes to mind, I could always simply ask:

Do you know Jesus?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve quoted or taught or written about Peter’s encouragement to always be ready to share Jesus.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

This guy needed hope. He was actively looking for it. He even asked me where to find it. I know the One who is our ultimate, eternal Hope.

I blew it. But, I’m praying today that God will give me another opportunity. Maybe I’ll head to Lifeway.

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I really blew it, but God is a God of second chances- @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s Bible study. Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Do you regularly pray that God will give you opportunities to give the reason for the hope you have?

Grace Calling

by Fran Sandin

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”   I Peter 3: 15 NIV

It all began when my husband, Jim, and I stopped for lunch in a small-town. Before entering the building, I excused myself to the ladies’ room. There was no appropriate area to set my purse as I washed up, so I placed it in the clean sink. Since it was raining when we arrived, I thought nothing of a few drops of water on the purse when I left the bathroom. Once we were seated, I reached into the purse for my phone.

That’s when I discovered the inside of my purse was soaked. It didn’t occur to me until that moment that the sink had an automatic faucet. Evidently the faucet mistook my purse for hands. Soooo—you guessed it. The phone was wet and dead.

We visited an AT&T store where a handsome young man, Jose, waited on us. He and another worker checked the phone and confirmed, “It is dead.”

I turned to Jim and apologized, “I am so sorry about this. Please forgive me.” He responded with such grace. “It was an accident! You need a phone, so let’s buy one now for your birthday.”

Thankfully, I answered a few questions; and while icloud loaded information from my old phone into a new one, we visited with Jose.

He told us he was a first-year college student working toward a business degree. During our conversation, Jim shared a tract written by our son, Steve, two months before he moved to Heaven. “So What Happens Next?

Jose repeated the title, and said, “I’ve always wondered about that. May I read it now?” We were quiet while he read most of it. Then he asked, “What advice would you give a young man my age?” It was a wonderful opportunity to share verses like—”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NIV).

Jim shared his own testimony and I asked Jose, “Do you have a Bible?” Jose was delighted when Jim helped him download a Bible app on his phone. We left the store feeling we had just experienced a divine appointment. I asked Jose to give us his name, so I could pray for him. He also included his telephone number. So, a few days later, I followed up with a text to thank him for helping us and added, “I hope you have trusted Jesus as your Savior.” He wrote back “I sure did,” and expressed gratitude for our time together.

I am overwhelmed by grace—the forgiving grace of my husband, God’s grace in providing our salvation, the opportunity to share good news, Jose’s prepared heart; and the joy of Jose’s accepting God’s grace toward him as he received Jesus Christ. To God be the glory!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace that is greater than our sin. Help us to always be ready to share that good news with others. In Jesus’ name, A-men.

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced a divine appointment?

 

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash