Living On The Cutting Edge

by Sheri Schofield

The road leading toward our home in the mountains crosses a cattle grid that makes a huge, clanging noise whenever a car drives over it. For the past month, I have noticed two teenage ground squirrels perched on the long metal bars. I know they are teenagers not only because they are only half-grown, but also because of their behavior. As I approach the grid, I slow down and try to dodge them. They can hear and see me coming, but they stay on top of the bars until just before my tires touch the metal, then they duck at the very last second.

I get it now: these teenage ground squirrels are adrenaline junkies! They want to live on the edge and feel the thrill of near-death experiences! They love the feel of all that metal clanging and shaking around them! For them, it’s like going to the circus and riding the hammer or the roller coaster, or trying to ride a bull at the rodeo.

King Saul’s son, Jonathan, was like that. He loved living on the edge, out where he took his faith to the limits in win-or-die-trying situations.

The Philistines, constant enemies of Israel, had been raiding the land, robbing people of food, livestock and possessions. Jonathan couldn’t stand it! He and his troops attacked them. But that just stirred the Philistines up even more, and the problem just got worse. All Israel was frightened. Many fled to the mountains and hid in caves, and King Saul, Jonathan’s dad, was distinctly upset about his son’s actions.

But Jonathan learned that the Philistines were camped at Michmash. He told his armor-bearer to go with him to spy on the Philistine camp and see what God might do. “Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6b NIV).

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul” (1 Samuel 14:6-7 NIV).

Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the LORD has given them into our hands” (I Samuel 14:6-10 NIV).

When they arrived, the Philistines mocked them and told them to come up. So Jonathan and his armor-bearer did. The two men immediately killed twenty Philistines! Then God sent a panic that filled the entire Philistine army. They all fled!

I once stood as Jonathan did, in imminent danger, looking at an impossible battle, but knowing that God could give me victory. Should I or should I not fight? I remembered that D. L. Moody had once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him.”

I echoed that thought and said aloud, “The world has yet to see what God can do through the woman who is sold out to Him.” I moved forward into battle . . . against an enemy no one had ever beaten . . . and God gave me an incredible victory. My actions resulted in a new law that now protects many others.

If you are facing an impossible battle, know this: God gives victory to those who step forward in faith and trust Him. Take your faith to the limits! See what God will do!

This is what the LORD says to you, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s.”      2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV

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

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Living On The Cutting Edge – encouragement from Sheri Scholfield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: Have you ever faced an impossible battle? What happened?

Seeing Through The Veil

by Sheri Schofield

The other day I saw a beautiful red fox running across the road and into the forest. Though we are surrounded by wildlife, we seldom see some of the animals. When they hear someone approaching, they stand perfectly still and hope you won’t see them.

That works for most animals, but not for the fox because it is such a colorful creature. Other animals don’t see the fox when it stands still because they are colorblind.

Though some people also struggle with colorblindness, every one of us struggles with another kind of blindness: we are angel-blind. Angels have spirit bodies, and we cannot see spirits unless God lets us. I think we would be greatly frightened if we could actually see what goes on in the spirit realm, where God’s angels do battle with the spiritual forces of darkness.

The prophet Daniel spoke of such a battle in Daniel 10. God had given him a frightening dream about a future war, and Daniel was greatly distressed over it. What did it mean? When would it happen? He needed an answer from God in order to be at rest in his spirit.

Daniel knew things about the spiritual battle surrounding the inhabitants of earth. He knew that fasting and prayer somehow helped God communicate with humanity. So he chose to give up meat dishes and wine – luxuries provided by Babylon – while he prayed.

For three weeks Daniel mourned, fasted and prayed. Finally, he received an answer that went way beyond his expectations! An angel appeared. It terrified Daniel! The angel was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold around his waist. His body was like topaz, a transparent stone that can be gold or blue or green. His face was like lightning. His eyes were like flaming torches. His arms and legs were like polished bronze, gleaming in the light. His voice was like the sound of a multitude of people, strong and loud. The vision of this angel overwhelmed Daniel at first.

The angel told him that the moment Daniel had asked for an answer to the vision, God had sent the angel with the interpretation. “But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days,” the angel explained. “Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the King of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13, NIV) After the angel delivered the message from God, he told Daniel, “Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come.” (Daniel 10:20, NIV)

Imagine what a battle that must have been – the angel of God fighting the satanic ruler over Persia! The spiritual realm must have roared with the conflict!

Those spiritual battles continue, and are happening all around us. Though we cannot see the spirits doing battle, it is real. It is constant. And somehow our devoted prayers aid God’s angels in breaking through the ranks of our enemy to bring us God’s supplies for our needs, helping us to overcome the evils of this world and bring new believers into the kingdom of Jesus.

Prayer matters! It clears the path for God’s angels to reach us, to help us, to restore our hearts when we are overwhelmed, like the angel restored Daniel’s heart. Through prayer, we enter into the light and presence of God. We find grace for each day. We receive wisdom to reach our neighbors with the good news of Jesus.

Take heart! Your prayers are not in vain! They are necessary for victory.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand . . . And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  Ephesians 6:12-13, 18 NIV

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Seeing Through The Veil – encouragement from Sheri 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 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: Have you sensed a spiritual battle was raging in your life at times?

How to Trust God with My Biggest Battles

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

What do you do in that moment when you realize a battle is eminent? Your enemy has waged war against you, and the news punches you right in the stomach. Do you feel fear? Shock? Uncertainty of where to go, or what to do next?

For me, when a report of bad news comes, and I realize an attack is on its way, I immediately switch to defense mode. I pray, ask God for help, and even boldly claim my trust in God with my words. But sometimes my actions tell a different story. I try to convince myself that my situation is just a bad dream and waking up will make everything OK. And in a desperate effort to wake up from that dream, I start fighting the battle in my own strength.

We’ve all been there, on the front lines of impending battle. In that frightening place, it’s easy to see the magnitude of what we are facing and forget one important detail. There’s a huge difference between the way we see the battle and how God sees it.

King Jehoshaphat knew this. When Jehoram, King of Israel, asked Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, to join him and go to battle against Moab, Jehoshaphat agreed. The king of Edom also joined with them. But after marching seven days with no water for their men or animals, Jehoram lost faith.

“Then the king of Israel said, ‘Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.’” 2 Kings 3:10 ESV

But Jehoshaphat wasn’t ready to give up so easily. He called for a prophet, so they could see what God had to say about it. God’s words to these three kings revealed a powerful truth that still applies to our battles today.

“And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.” 2 Kings 3:18 NKJV

What we see as our most difficult struggles are the simplest matters to God.

God spoke through the prophet Elisha, telling them He planned to fill every dry stream bed with water, so they would have plenty to drink. That was His first promise. Then He also added another minor detail. God would do one more thing; He would deliver the enemy into their hands. Amazing.

You see, God had a plan all along. King Jehoram couldn’t see it. All he could see was three armies of exhausted, worn out, thirsty men without water to drink. How would they ever be able to fight?

I hear you, Jehoram. I’ve been in that place of doubt. We all have. We look around at our circumstances, and our human minds can’t possibly foresee a good outcome. We’re exhausted, worn out, and thirsty. Yet it’s in those moments God calls us into a deeper level of trust.

“And when they rose early the next morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood.” (2 Kings 3:22)

The enemy thought the kings had turned on each other, so they went after the spoil. But when they came to the camp, the Israelites rose up and took them down. God used the water to confuse the Moabites and win the victory even before the battle began.

Just like Jehoshaphat, when we trust God with our biggest struggles, He will bring us to a place of victory in the most remarkable ways.

Are you facing a battle that seems insurmountable? Are you ambushed by feelings of fear, shock, or uncertainty? Instead of taking matters into our own hands, let’s take our trust to a new level today. Our biggest battles are God’s simplest matters.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?                                                                                                                                                   Jeremiah 32:27 NASB

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How to Trust God with My Biggest Battles – 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 life experiences serve as a backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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 have you entrusted to God lately?

 

Side By Side And Back To Back

by Sheri Schofield

I was on my way home from town the other day. I turned off the highway onto the dirt road,  my eyes feasting on the beautiful valley and mountains ahead. As I passed a clump of willows, two bald eagles rose gracefully into the air, one flying directly in front of my car. I slowed down to give the other one room to fly. It passed over the hood of my Rav4, its giant wingspan as wide as my windshield. The two birds joined each other and slowly soared over the field, looking for mice and prairie dogs.

This was the raven family’s territory. I looked around for the ravens, but they were nowhere to be seen. The week before, they had caught one of the eagles trying to hunt their territory. They had ganged up on him and chased him away. Now he was back with reinforcements. Together, the two eagles owned that field for the day.

It reminded me of the battle Christians are in. Jesus did not save us so that we could coast through life then spend eternity sitting around on clouds playing harps! No. He saved us to join him in the battle for souls. We live on a doomed planet, a planet captured by sin and despair. Jesus came to rescue us and as many others as possible. He gave his life for this purpose! He has asked us to join in the battle to rescue others by sharing the good news, so that others can share in the magnificent blessing of an eternity with God in a place where there are no more tears, no pain, no suffering. A place of peace and beauty.

But that task is not an easy one. Working alone, we are like a lone eagle among the ravens. We spend all our time fighting off the opposition. But when we join together in the work, we become strong. Those who would oppose our efforts lose power over us.

On the battlefield, soldiers often fight back to back. In this way, they are stronger and less vulnerable. The expression “I’ve got your back” comes from the battlefield. Those who do this usually become lifelong friends.

Too often, Christians bicker among themselves, draining spiritual and emotional energy, distracting each other from the battle, leaving each other open to attacks from the devil and his followers. How can we serve Jesus effectively if we are constantly trying to guard ourselves from attacks from other believers?

This was the case in two women Paul knew. Their names were Euodia and Scyntyche. They were working in the church at Philippi. Their focus had shifted inward, toward each other. Bitter words were exchanged. They stood face to face, weapons pointed at each other.

Paul wrote to their church, “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News” (Philippians 4:2-3 NLT).

Are you part of a team of believers who are reaching this world for Jesus? Do you have each other’s back?

There’s nothing easy about resolving conflicts. But when we ask God to work, He does what we cannot do. He will make a way for us to work together, side by side and back to back, like we should. And when we do, we will be like those two eagles, harvesting the field together, seeing greater victory in the battle to reach the lost.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.                                                                                                                 Philippians 4:8,9 NLT

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Side By Side And Back To Back – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at 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!

Join the Conversation: Have you experienced an attack from another believer? How did the conflict get resolved? Please share!

The Lion Monument

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer 

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11 NIV

Mark Twain referred to the massive stone carving in Lucerne, known as The Lion Monument, as “the saddest and most moving piece of rock I have ever seen.”

From the moment it comes into view, there is something gripping and poignant about the dying lion carved in the sandstone side of a former rock quarry. Even before I knew the story, the expression of grief—a mixture of pain and sadness and regret—on the lion’s face resonated with something deep within my heart.

The inscription above the lion translates: “To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss.”

Curious as to know what inspired such a moving monument and inscription, I did some research upon returning home.

In the eighteenth century, the Swiss upper class generated their income streams by enlisting young men as mercenaries to other countries. This is how nearly one thousand of these mercenaries, known as the Swiss Guard, came to be protecting the French monarchy of King Louis XVI at the time of the French Revolution.

On August 10, 1792, a mob of angry citizens numbering in the thousands overtook the royal castle. There were approximately seven hundred of the soldiers stationed there at the time. The king, hoping to placate the rioting crowd, ordered the Swiss Guard to lay down their weapons. The soldiers did not immediately obey, but continued fighting until their ammunition ran low. The King’s order became a death sentence for these men.

The carving of the dying lion has a wooden stake driven through his heart, but it also shows his paw lying protectively over the shield bearing the Fleur-de-lis of the French royalty.

The story behind this monument fascinates, moves and inspires me. But I couldn’t help but note the resemblance to me as a soldier in God’s Kingdom. Would loyalty and bravery be noted in an inscription about my life? I certainly hope I live in such a way that it would.

But I do know my King will never tell me to take off my armor or lay down my weapons. Not when I’m sitting in church. Not when I’m teaching Vacation Bible School. Not even when I’m in the midst of praise and worship at a Mercy Me concert. Never.

Our enemy does not quit. He is no respecter of battle lines or boundaries. And our King knows this.

Sure, the enemy may allow me periods of peace where I can get comfortable and overconfident–convince myself I’ve won. That’s the trap he uses to catch me without my armor on.

Flash forward from the massacre of the Swiss Guards to only a few decades later, and we find ourselves at the battle of the Alamo. When Santa Anna came to San Antonio in preparation for the siege of this small mission, he rode in under a black flag: take no prisoners. Even to surrender meant certain death.

Satan, too, rides under a black flag—the flag of no quarter.

The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “Put on the full armor of God so that you may take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I haven’t yet found the verse that tells me to take it off this side of eternity.

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What the Lion Monument can teach us about the armor of God – @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet) 

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: Each of the pieces of armor is important to us in battle. Which piece has meant the most to you when you have been under attack?