Whose Battle Is It?

by Sheri Schofield

It was rodeo season here in Helena. The bulls, heads tossing, bodies bucking and jumping, were trying to shed the riders from their backs. Suddenly, the sky was splashed with vivid red, purple and gold in the most magnificent sunset I have ever seen! The crowd gasped . . . and it wasn’t because of the bull rider in the ring. It was because of the glory God had spread across the sky behind the rider.

Moses and the Israelites had that kind of moment.

After a long, drawn-out dispute punctuated by God’s intervention, Pharaoh had released the Israelite slaves. They quickly moved out of the land of their captivity right up to the edge of the Red Sea. They must have wondered: what now? Would they go around it? There were so many of them!

Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Pharaoh had changed his mind. A large dust cloud rose behind the Israelites announcing the approach of Pharaoh’s great army. Seeing it, the people gasped in horror. Would they be slaughtered? After all that had happened, would they now be taken back into slavery?

Terrified, the people cried out to Moses: “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:11-14, NIV).

The pillar of cloud (by day, fire by night) that had gone before them in their exodus now moved behind them, keeping a distance between the Israelites and the approaching army. Talk about glory in the sky! It certainly stopped the Egyptians in their tracks!

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. All night, as the pillar of fire stood between Israel and the Egyptians, the Lord swept the sea back with a strong east wind, creating a dry path through the divided sea. The entire nation of Israel crossed over in the night. As the sun rose, the cloud lifted, and Pharaoh’s army raced after them. Moses, now on the opposite shore, once again stretched out his hand, and the waves crashed down on the Egyptian charioteers, destroying every one of them.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in crisis, like a rider on the back of an angry bull or like the Israelites with the sea in front and the Egyptian army at their back. But then God’s glory is splashed across my life! He intervenes in ways that cannot be humanly explained. My spirit lights up with his power. The difficulty parts before me, like the sea parted for Israel, and God makes a way for me, a way that is clearly his doing. God’s message is the same to me as it was to Israel: “You need only to be still.”

I am content to be still – to wait on God’s intervention. For then I will see his glory splash across my path.

. . .This is what the Lord says, “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

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, was launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God splashed His glory across your life?

Photo by Piotr Wilk on Unsplash

Fix Your Thoughts

by Twila Belk

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

Be still. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Sometimes I wish I could flip on a little “be still” switch to pacify myself, especially when I have days like today. Right now I’m struggling to gain control of my churning insides.

I’m currently dealing with several major life stressors—undergoing treatment for an aggressive breast cancer, caregiving for my husband who has a rare and progressive muscle disease, carrying a huge burden of financial responsibilities, handling concerns about my youngest son’s circumstances, and facing a looming book deadline. Add to that, in the last couple of days, both vehicles stopped working, my faithful recliner broke, and wasps are entering the house through the bathroom vent.

Then this morning, after putting in many hours on a special project for a person I greatly respect, I received a harsh email rather than a thank-you for my hard work. Reading that email, while being physically and mentally exhausted, pushed me into a not-so-good place. I turned into an emotional mess. Although the person apologized a few hours after sending it, my memory naturally wants to replay the narrative again and again, which agitates my spirit more and more.

And here I am with the task of telling people how to be still. Seriously?

I’ve learned over the years that God likes to give me plenty of opportunities to become well-versed in my topic. And this is one of those times. So after much consideration, I decided I need to change topics. I want to be well-versed in something else! (Perhaps I’ll change it to “How to be happy with a million dollars while living in the Caribbean and looking great in a bikini.”)

For now, I’m reverting to self-talk mode. “Breathe in. Breathe out. Calm down, Twila. It’s time to remind yourself of the sermons you so readily give to others.” In other words, I’m giving myself a pep talk to practice what I preach.

And one of the important truths I like to remind people of is this: whatever we focus on becomes magnified.

If I keep my attention on my problems and heartaches (or hurtful words), they become overwhelming to me and tend to control my life. But if I fix my thoughts on God, he becomes magnified in my heart and mind, and I’m reminded of who he is and what he’s able to do. My attitude changes, and my unsettled spirit quiets down. It takes resolve, but it’s so worthwhile.

Philippians 4:8–9 encourages us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. If we put that kind of thinking into practice, peace will be ours.

Lord, when the pressures of life become too much for me, and my circumstances are the foremost thing on my mind, I become stressed and overwhelmed. Would you help me to fix my thoughts on you? I want you to be magnified, not the stuff I’m going through. You are excellent and worthy of praise. You are able to calm my agitated spirit. You are the giver of peace. Thank you for being with me.

(This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.)

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT). What have your thoughts been fixed on lately? What current issues are keeping you from being still?

 


 

Flopping Like a Fish

by Ashley Schroeder

We celebrated a recent wedding anniversary by going fishing. I was proud of myself as I learned how to bait my own hook from my experienced husband. I dropped the line into the water, and waited for a bite.  A few minutes later, I felt something nibble on the bait and then a sudden tug on the end of my line. I pulled it in, and I tried to take the fish off the hook with a tool my husband gave me. It wasn’t so easy—the fish was jumping all over the place as I tried to release the hook from its mouth.  In its panic, it quickly wiggled its way out of my hands and onto the boat deck.

The more the fish flopped, the harder it was to remove the hook. Since I am an animal lover, I felt sympathy for it and desperately told it, “Stop flopping around so I can help you!” Finally, with a little more help from my husband, the fish settled down and I was able to release it. I put it back into the water to swim away, free.

As I later thought about that little fish in its panicked state, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the times I have been a flopping fish myself.  I have felt the panic of a bad situation, making it hard to hear God’s voice for the way out of my bad choice or sin. Of course, my panic made the situation worse, and harder to hear God, who was holding me in His loving hands, ready to help set me free.  Often, when I take it upon myself to try and escape the hook on my own efforts, I can end up swallowing the hook deeper—causing me even more pain.

It’s not until I become still and really listen that He can get through to me and guide me out of my problem.

Can you relate to my flopping fish experience? What did the heart of God say to you in those times of struggle? For me, it was: “Relax your thoughts and stop flopping around like a fish on a hook; be still and listen to My instructions. Will you trust Me to take the hook out of your mouth so that I can set you free?”

God loves you.  Don’t allow the hook of sin to hold you or a loved one captive.  Pray for direction and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Removing the hook might be scary at first, and the process may even hurt, but the Lord will be with you, leading and guiding the way forward to freedom.

Choose to be still in God’s presence. Remember Jesus is holding you in His loving hands, ready to set you free, if you will let Him.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, You shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 NKJV

 

Ashley SchroederAbout the author: Ashley Schroeder is married to the love of her life, Kurt. They have two daughters. Ashley loves teaching people about their relationship with God. Her blog, Papa God and Ashley, is a result of her quiet time with God in His Word. She also is an advocate for Holt International, promoting sponsorships that provide love, nutrition, education, and medical care for abused and abandoned children.

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

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt like a hooked fish? How did God set you free?