Accepting and Utilizing Your Gift

by Candy Arrington

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

Have you ever encountered someone who was hesitant to receive gifts? In my lifetime, I’ve known a few people who didn’t want to be given gifts. Initially, I thought being given a gift embarrassed them in some way, but later determined it was because they didn’t want to be obligated to the giver, feeling they had to repay in kind.

Years ago, my husband and I participated in an in-depth Bible study that included a spiritual gifts inventory. Not only did we each do a personal assessment, the group members also assessed each other. When I tallied my scores, and the highest was in the category of prophecy, I was upset. I was even more upset when everyone in the group also scored me in the prophecy category. When I heard the results, I looked around the room and said, “But I don’t want to be a prophet!”

The leader replied, “But you are. That is your gift. Receive it.”

Historically, prophets were unpopular. In Scripture, prophets were ostracized, criticized, and sometimes killed for delivering God-given messages.

Why couldn’t my spiritual gift be something happy and heartwarming like hospitality or mercy? Why was I given the un-fun, unwanted gift of prophecy?

At the time I took the inventory, I didn’t fully understand what the gift of prophecy meant. I envisioned standing in a group of people delivering messages about the future that no one wanted to hear. I didn’t realize God had other ways of using me to speak His messages.

Several years after I learned my gift, our group re-gathered for a retreat. Early the second morning, God woke me. Words swirled in my head, forming phrases. I got up and could hardly get my notebook and pen in hand fast enough to capture the sentences that were pouring from my mind.

Later, when I shared what I had written with the group, many asked for a copy of my words. That weekend, I began to realize how God planned to use my spiritual gift. I wasn’t supposed to forecast the future. Rather, I was called to write God-given words of hope, encouragement, and help for readers, right now.

Like me, perhaps you’ve been hesitant to use your spiritual gift. Maybe you don’t like your gift or feel uncomfortable accepting and implementing it. Don’t worry. The gift God gave you is uniquely designed for you. If you’re willing to accept it, God will equip you to utilize your gift for your benefit, the church’s benefit, and for his glory.

Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be use in the service of others. So use your gift well. 1 Peter 4:10 CEV


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

Candy Arrington

About 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: What is your calling?

Honored, or Forgotten?

by Candy Arrington

But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15a AMP

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that it is a lot more fun to select, set up, and decorate a Christmas tree than to undecorate and dispose of it. Similarly, emotions of Christmastime: the excitement, joy, and anticipation, can be difficult to maintain after the fact, especially when a year is full of challenges.

One year, as I sat in the sunroom, I noticed our Christmas tree standing tall and erect in a secluded corner of our deck. There was nothing unusual about this, except it had been three months since Christmas. We pulled the tree out onto the deck early in the new year, intending to dispose of it later, and then forgot about it because it was not in a location easily seen.

Looking at the tree, I thought how it was a focal point in our home just a few months before. Selecting the tree was an anticipated family event, its decorating a family activity. It was a central part of our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Now it languished on our deck, forgotten. Although no longer ornamented, it was still beautiful, retaining its green color and shapely branches. The tree was a reminder of the joy and focus of the Christmas season.

Seeing the tree, I thought about how we sometimes push Jesus aside, out of view, in the same way. On Sunday, we honor Him with our time and attention in worship. We sing songs of praise and offer reverent hearts. Then, for the rest of the week, our Bibles are tucked neatly away somewhere, to emerge again the next sabbath, an ornament to our Sunday attire.

In the midst of our busy lives, we sometimes relegate Christ to a secluded corner of our hearts, while we frantically engage in the urgent, forgetting he is the source of wisdom and strength. Some nights, we fall into bed exhausted without spending time in Bible study or prayer.

Perhaps this year has made it even more difficult to maintain proper focus, giving Christ due honor. A pandemic has kept us away from places of worship for many months. What felt odd at first now seems commonplace. Fear and frustration seeped into our lives, diverting our attention. Yet our Creator and Sustainer patiently waits for us to seek him, to turn our attention toward him, and honor him with our time.

Decide today to make Jesus the focal point in your life every day, not just on Sunday, or at Christmastime. Commit to time alone with him each day and keep the joy and peace experienced at Christmas alive in your heart year-round.

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

Candy Arrington

About 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: How do you keep Jesus front and center every day?

The Wise Still Seek Him

by Candy Arrington

When Jesus was born, some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the baby who was born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. Matthew 2:1-2 NCV

Several months ago, I looked online for an unbreakable nativity set. I wanted one my young grandchildren could touch, hold, and rearrange. However, I discovered that most sets do not include the wise men. Although they likely arrived long after the night of Jesus’ birth, the wise men are an important part of the Christmas story.

Some of what we believe about the wise men is based on speculation rather than Matthew’s account. Were they kings as the familiar Christmas carol states? Do three gifts indicate only three visitors? Were their names Melchior, Balthasar, and Gaspar?

The word “magi” most often referred to wise men rather than kings. The Bible says they came from east of Jerusalem, which was perhaps Persia or Babylon. They may have been scholars who studied the prophecies of a coming Messiah. (Daniel, living in Babylon, wrote of the coming king.) Or God may have revealed Jesus’ birth to them in a more personal way, in a dream or vision. Whatever the case, they were intent on finding Jesus and asked King Herod for directions.

In addition, a star guided them. When it stopped, they were overjoyed because they had reached their destination. “When the men went into the house and saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshiped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to him.” Matthew 2:11 CEV

Notice the wise men came to “the house,” not a stable, and Jesus is referred to as a child, not a baby. Can you imagine the scene as these weary travelers bowed down before a toddler and presented him with gold and sweet-smelling spices? And what were Mary’s thoughts as she watched this scene unfold?

Although we don’t know if the Magi spent the night at Jesus’ house, in a local inn, or camped under the star that guided them, we can assume they slept because they were warned in a dream not to return to give Herod the information he requested. They obeyed and went back to their country by another route.

Despite speculation about who they were, where they came from, and how many were in the group, here’s what we can learn from the wise men that we can apply to our lives:

  • They were seekers. Some people today want God to reveal himself in some miraculous way. Instead, the wise men left the security of their homes, traveled many miles, and persisted in their quest until they found Jesus.
  • They worshiped with joy. Many times, we forget that joy is one of the benefits of knowing Christ and living a life focused on him. We get caught up in issues beyond our control or difficult life circumstances, and waste energy and time feeling disappointed or unhappy. Knowing Jesus and worshiping him brings joy.
  • They gave gifts. Often, instead of giving to Jesus, we expect him to give to us. Sometimes, our prayers resemble a Christmas gift list. We want God to do for us, but aren’t willing to offer our time or talents in service to him. The wise men presented gifts to Jesus, with joy, and asked for nothing in return.
  • They were obedient. When God spoke to them in a dream, the wise men obeyed. Perhaps their gifts funded Jesus’ family’s sojourn in Egypt, and their obedience in not revealing the family’s location ensured their safety. Likewise, when we decide to obey God, it is always a wise choice.

No matter how you view the wise men, realize they experienced the joy of seeking, finding, and giving to the King.

If anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! James 1:5 TPT

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

Candy Arrington

About 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: How has God shown Himself to you after you sought Him?

The Family Table

by Candy Arrington

Joining them at the table for supper, he took bread and blessed it and broke it, then gave it to them. All at once their eyes were opened and they realized it was Jesus! Luke 24:30-31 TPT

One of my favorite times is when our family gathers around our dining room table to share a meal together. Each person present is special and important to me. Each contributes to the joy of the gathering. Each brings different insights to conversations or injects humor. And the grandchildren provide an added element of happiness and celebration no matter what the occasion. Currently, the one-year-old expresses his satisfaction with his food by loud “ummming” as he chews, interspersed with squeals.

We sit at the table my parents started housekeeping with, dating back to the year of their marriage in 1947. For many years, after my mother bought a new table, my parents’ original table lived at my grandmother’s house. Countless family meals happened at this table, and when we moved the table to our house, the tradition continued.

The Bible provides numerous stories of times when people gathered for meals. Martha was busy preparing a meal when Jesus told her fellowship with him was more important. Jesus shared a last supper with his disciples around an upper room table before his arrest and crucifixion. After his resurrection, he prepared an outdoor breakfast for his fishmen disciples. During a meal at a family table, two disciples from Emmaus finally recognized their traveling companion was Jesus.

The family table is more important today than ever before. In a time when technology lures our attention and robs us of quality personal interaction and conversation, taking time to sit at the family table provides a chance for prayer, fellowship, instruction, and discussion. In addition to feeding our bodies, we also have the opportunity to feed our minds and model the life of faith for each other. Like the two disciples from Emmaus, the family table is often a place where our eyes are opened to spiritual truths that impact our daily lives.

When our family gathers for a meal, we sing the blessing, and often, one of our three-year-old grandchildren leads the way. When we finish singing, we all applaud, an offering of praise and thanksgiving. The words we sing give thanks for our food, but also for friends and family. As we sing, we look at each other’s faces, and give silent thanks for the blessing of our family bond.

When our grandchildren are grown, they will recall these times around the family table. They will remember thanking God, the joy of family time together, and the bond of love we share. And it is my prayer that they will teach their children the importance of daily communion with God and living lives that glorify him.

Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together. Revelation 3:20 CEV

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

Candy Arrington

About 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: What has happened around your family table?

Not Abandoned as Orphans

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. I won’t leave you like orphans, I will come back to you. John 14:16, 18 CEV

This year marked the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death. Although there have been times when the date slipped my mind until after it passed, this year I was keenly aware that I have been without her for a decade.

In recent months, I’ve been sifting through remaining boxes, reading letters, finding photographs, and examining rolls of plans drawn by my builder father. My son and his family lived in my childhood home following my mother’s death. Now, after ten years, the house is for sale, and I’m having to let this piece of my history go. Saying good-bye to the house I grew up in, a house my father built 70 years ago, is hard. In many ways, this transition stirs feelings I had right after Mama’s death and years before after Daddy died. Even with my husband, children, and grandchildren close by, I feel a little like an orphan.

Perhaps Jesus’ disciples and followers experienced similar feelings of abandonment as they huddled behind locked doors following His death. They feared what might happen next. Would they be arrested and executed, too? Although Jesus tried in the final days of his ministry to make them understand what would transpire, they were unprepared and stunned by his absence, left with feelings of grief and uncertainty.

All of us feel abandoned at times. When health issues, job losses, financial crises, and relationship problems overwhelm, it is human to wonder why God doesn’t immediately swoop in and fix everything. Why doesn’t he stop the pandemic and return our lives to normal? Why doesn’t he calm unrest? While we may never have answers to our questions, we have the assurance of the presence of the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Comforter.

Over two thousand years ago, God sent Jesus to dwell among us and rescue those who were lost, orphaned, and without hope. Jesus was God with skin on: a man who experienced temptation, persecution, pain, and grief, but also joy. He promised never to abandon us as orphans. His presence, via the Holy Spirit, and his promise to return, are our hope.

As I approach a new season of life, I see how the Lord sustained generations of my family through financial hardship, physical ailments, wars, periods of grief, and loss. We are not the first to experience challenges, fear, and uncertainty. Just as the Holy Spirit guided our parents and their parents, He will lead and protect us. He is a comforter, helper, and friend. Having been adopted into the family of God, none of us are orphans.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. Galatians 4:4-5 NLT

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Not Abandoned as Orphans – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About 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: How does the Holy Spirit help you?

Peace Like an Inlet Creek

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!    Isaiah 26:3 TLB

A number of years ago, my cousin and her husband owned a second home on a coastal island. They purchased the house and surrounding property from an old sea captain and renovated it. The house was a sprawling ranch-style, with quarters on one end of the home for the captain’s crew. On the other side of the house were tattered ruins of slave quarters, remnants of the plantation that once dominated the island. Live oak trees dotted the yard. Spanish moss dripped from their branches and swayed like long, gray tresses in the ocean breezes.

The house backed up to the marsh and was situated on an inlet creek. At high tide, the water level rose sufficiently to allow shrimp boats to navigate up the creek to an ancient fish processing plant. Their net extensions bobbed like wide-open arms as the boats made their way past the house.

The way in by car was a sandy side street off the main paved road. Once on it, the outside world faded. On the right was the house of the lady with too many cats; cats who lounged on the porch and in the yard and on the roof. On the left, colorful cinder block houses and palmetto woods lined the drive. Finally, the house came into view, low and long, beside the creek and marsh. In the evenings, as the sun slipped down, the  swath of orange and pink on the horizon were a stark contrast to the gray-green marsh grass.

At a time in my life, when I was struggling with many concerns, my cousin asked if I would like to use the house for a week. I gratefully accepted. That week, early each morning, I took my Bible, prayer journal, and a mug of hot tea down to the picnic table at water’s edge to read, pray, and watch the marsh come to life.

One morning, as I poured out my concerns to God, I said aloud, “Please give me a sign that you hear me!” Moments later, a dolphin surfaced in the creek and exhaled so close to me the spray touched me. It was as if God breathed on me. I laughed, and then cried, thanking my Heavenly Father for the quickest answer to prayer I’d ever received. In that moment, I experienced a sense of peace that flooded my mind and heart like the ripples of incoming tide up the inlet creek.

Sometimes, the reason we don’t experience peace is because we really don’t trust God. We spend lots of time worrying, trying to work out problems on our own, or escape them, instead of praying and trusting God to provide answers. But Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) reminds us: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Perfect peace hinges on trust, and trust is a by-product of frequent encounters with the Lord.

Perhaps you are navigating a difficult season of life and need a flood of reassurance that God knows your circumstances and is near. Take time to pray, asking for wisdom and direction. Trust that God is aware and working on your behalf. Although you may not receive an immediate resolution to your situation, watch with peace-filled expectation for what happens next.

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Peace Like an Inlet Creek – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About 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 God ever reminded you of His presence in an unmistakable, obvious way?

 

When Forgiveness Leaves Justice Up to God

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

“Are you ever going to get over it?”

I was surprised by the question and a little annoyed.

“I certainly hope so,” I replied. But did I really want to move beyond what happened? I was a victim. Didn’t I rather enjoy recounting a litany of injustice?

Once a collaborative project I had worked on for several years was complete, another person swiftly moved to claim sole credit, leaving me stunned and wounded. I felt used. When I attempted to discover the reasons for this behavior, I was answered with anger and verbal abuse. I was mystified by this unexpected twist that ended our relationship.

A year later, I was still reeling with hurt and ranting about injustice. Like a dog worrying a bone, I’d grabbed the subject at every possible opportunity, gnawing it again and again. I wanted others to see the unfairness of what happened and sympathize with me. Although I had recorded my feelings in a journal and prayed for resolution, I had no sense of peace.

One day, while asking God to help me forgive, he surprised me by pointing out that what I really wanted was revenge. God reminded me forgiveness and revenge cannot coexist. Forgiveness involves releasing offenders from paying for the injury they inflicted. Since I still wanted my offender to pay, it was impossible for me to forgive.

Still, I was reluctant. The word “justice” hovered like a banner across my mind. But as I continued to pray, I began to see that not only would I never put the hurt behind me if I didn’t do what God asked, but I’d also be guilty of disobeying him. So, in a heartfelt prayer, I relinquished my desire for justice to God and asked him to give me the grace to obey and trust him. I felt a spiritual weight lift as I took the first breath of forgiveness.

God changed my heart, but not immediately. It was a process. When I was tempted to recount injustice, God gently reminded me to be silent. Sometimes I listened and obeyed, other times I couldn’t seem to resist diving into the familiar tirade again.

God brought to mind times when I’d hurt others through careless or deliberate words, indifference, or purposeful exclusion. Painfully, I began to see myself as guilty of wounding others as I had been wounded. When I started seeing the “logs” in my own life, my offender’s “specks” didn’t seem quite as significant (Luke 6:41-42 NASB).

Finally, God prompted me to offer blessings instead of curses. Initially, that seemed like too much to ask, but in a willful act of obedience, I tried. At first, my prayers were tiny, stiff, and peripheral. I prayed for God to bless my offender’s family, but avoided praying for my offender. But those prayers paved the way, so eventually I could pray more directly and sincerely.

I may never know exactly how God handled justice, but to my amazement, I don’t feel the need to know. My heart is no longer crushed and weighed down by resentment. My mind is not clouded by thoughts of revenge, and my tongue no longer spews venom. I have experienced the freedom of forgiveness, a place I would never have reached without continual dialogue with God through prayer.

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Prov. 20:22 NLT

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When Forgiveness Leaves Justice Up to God – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About 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: Have you ever struggled to forgive? How did it finally happen?

Freedom Leaders

By Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

As a writer, I’ve always wondered what it was like to pen something as significant and monumental as the Declaration of Independence. Did Thomas Jefferson welcome the challenge? Did sentences form in his head faster than he could dip quill to ink pot? Or did he sit and stare at blank parchment, as he considered the magnitude of what he was about to write?

His mother’s family was one of the most prominent in Virginia. He studied at the College of William and Mary to prepare for the practice of law. Jefferson entered the Virginia House of Burgesses just as the rumble of opposition to British taxation was increasing, and in 1774, he wrote a pamphlet about the rights of British Americans.

At the second Continental Congress, in June of 1776, Jefferson was appointed to a 5-member committee, along with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Although an awkward speaker, Jefferson had already distinguished himself as a gifted writer and was chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence by the other committee members, who read, made suggestions, and agreed to the document before it was presented. Jefferson, however, was the primary author.

Moses was also a freedom leader. Like Thomas Jefferson, he was a son of privilege, the adopted son of the Egyptian Pharaoh’s daughter. Both Jefferson and Moses had issues with verbal communication, but as is often the case, had strengths in other areas.

Like Jefferson and Moses, all leaders possess strengths and weaknesses. They also had huge failures: Moses committed murder. Jefferson was a slave owner. Yet God used these faulty men to further the cause of freedom.

God may not have given you an assignment like penning a document that alters the course of history, but your task may still involve leading captives—those living in bondage to sin, shame, and guilt—to freedom by sharing the Good News of the Gospel.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free,” Paul wrote the Galatians (5:1 NASB).. Thanks to the saving work of Jesus, we were set from the condemnation that our sinfulness would have earned us (Romans 8:1). We were released from the yoke of sin, which previously ruled our hearts, will, and minds (Romans 6:8-14). We were rescued from death and raised with Christ to live forever (Colossians 2:12). We are free to rest in the work of Christ and know there is nothing we can do to add to His gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

This is freedom worth sharing to those still living in bondage.  And like Jefferson and Moses, God can use us even with our weakness and failures to give the news to everyone who will listen. The greatest liberty one can experience is the freedom we receive when we believe and are given salvation through Him.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV

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Freedom Leaders – encouragement & insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About 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: For what freedoms are you thankful on this holiday?

Faith Over Fear

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

My mother was a fearful person. As a child, I learned not to approach her unannounced. At times, I’d forget to call her name or make noise before I entered a room. I’ll always remember the look of fear on her face and the way she jumped when I “sneaked up” on her.

As Mama aged, her level of fear increased. My father’s death–nineteen years prior to Mama’s–contributed to her anxiety. She worried constantly about finances, taxes, potential home repairs, the health and safety of her loved ones, and world events.

One day I mentioned something I read in the newspaper and a report I heard on the evening news. “I don’t read the paper anymore or watch the news,” Mama said. “I don’t even like to answer the phone, because I’m afraid it will be bad news.”

I sat down beside my mom, held her hand, and said, “You don’t have to be afraid of the future. God has taken care of you all these years. He isn’t going to abandon you now.” Tears glazed her eyes and her chin quivered. As we held hands, I prayed for her. I asked God to help her trust his unfailing love and power to protect. Then we looked up several verses about fear.

The Bible addresses fear over three hundred times, coupled with the directives to be courageous, strong, remember God’s promises, his faithfulness, protection, and to trust rather than fear.

Today, as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19, fear seems to tap us on the shoulder at every turn. Media reports tend to focus on worst-case scenarios, enhancing fears and increasing anxiety. Shortages, protests, political bantering, misinformation, and medical concerns combine to discourage, disillusion, and depress. But we don’t have to allow fear to control our lives.

Near the end of her life, Mama seemed calmer, although anxiety sometimes surfaced. A few months before her death, a hospice worker identified my mother’s fears as classic symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), the result of some frightening experiences in childhood, including the death of a first-grade friend.

Following my mother’s death, I looked at the flyleaf of her Bible and found two verses in her handwriting:

“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

“Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:7 TLB

I believe these verses and prayer lessened Mama’s fears and provided a measure of peace in the final years of her life. Like my mother, you can make the decision not to let fear control you. Don’t allow COVID-19, or any other challenges you face, to paralyze you with fear and prevent you from following God’s designated path for your life. Fortify yourself with Scripture and prayer and choose faith over fear.

TWEETABLE
Faith Over Fear – encouragement 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: How are you managing fear in light of what we are seeing all around us?

Your Witness Lives On

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

I was blessed to have close relationships with my mother’s two unmarried sisters. Ours was a combination child/sister/friend experience. When my aunt Marge died, I delivered the eulogy at her funeral.

Marge had been in a care facility for several years, and as is often the case, had a number of roommates during her time there. The day Marge died, her roommate and the roommate’s daughter, Linda, cried with us.

When we gathered for Marge’s celebration of life service, Linda attended. Following the service, she came to me in tears, telling me how much the eulogy meant to her and how she wished she’d known Marge better. I assumed the account of my aunt’s faith, humor, and love for family and friends touched a nostalgic place in Linda’s heart. But several weeks later, she contacted Marge’s sister, Marilyn, and told her the eulogy caused her to experience a spiritual awakening.

“I haven’t been to church in years,” Linda said. “But hearing about Marge’s life has caused me to question my own approach to things, my attitudes, my actions, and my faith. I want to know more.” Marilyn sent her a devotional book and invited her to attend our church.

Weeks passed without response, but one day, Linda came to Marilyn’s house and talked for over an hour about what God had done in her life since Marge’s death. The changes in Linda’s life included reading the Bible daily and watching our church service on TV.

I’ve often heard the unattributed quotation, “Your life is the only Bible some people will ever read.” Linda knew Marge only as someone who shared her mother’s room at the care facility, until Marge died. God used the testimony of Marge’s life, presented in the form of a eulogy, to touch this woman’s heart and move her to embark on a faith journey.

God can use any means, even a funeral, to draw people to himself.

The story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection is still as powerful and life-changing today as it was to early converts to Christianity. Faithful disciples relayed the Good News then, and now it is up to us to share the gospel by various means.

Often we’re hesitant because society conditions us not to push our beliefs on others, and fear tells us we’re not equipped. So your living example of God at work in your life may be the only gospel some people ever hear. Paul reminds us not to hold back on sharing the gospel with others. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 NLT

Do people watch us to see how we speak, act, and react? Can our lives convey a message of Christ’s love? Can the testimony of our lives reach beyond the grave? I’m confident the answer to these questions is yes, and that’s why it is important to live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Above all else, you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ.                                                                                                                                    Philippians 1:27 CEV

TWEETABLE
Your Witness Lives On – insight and encouragement 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: What examples have you seen that have inspired you in your faith journey?