The Molt

by Sheri Schofield

Have you ever been to a pond in early spring, when all the colorful ducks are swimming around, quacking and raising their young? It’s one of my favorite times to duck watch. The male mallard ducks are particularly beautiful, with their iridescent green heads, white collars, red breasts and blue-striped wings. This is the season when they are trying to attract female mallards, those plain, unadorned brown ducks on the pond. Eventually, the mallards pair up, build nests, and hatch ducklings. Life is busy and happy for the duck families.

But then comes The Molt. The males take off and go to a distant pond where they hang out together, turn grumpy, lose their beautiful feathers and get ugly.

This is a very difficult season for the female mallards. They are left behind to care for their young while they molt. They’re grumpy, too, but they have to watch the kids and molt at the same time. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

The next time the female sees her male partner, she probably thinks, “What did I ever see in him?” But her memory is short and she is kind. By the next spring, she’ll be looking for the bright plumage and sleek adornment her mate will develop. Once again, she will fall in love, help build a nest, and raise the ducklings. Wild mallards are monogamous. They stay with their mates year after year, through the good times and the bad.

Love forgives and forgets. Love doesn’t hold grudges. Love makes allowances for others to fail and to find victory. Though one’s mate may struggle at times, and though he may not look like the man one married anymore, love accepts. Love hopes for his best. Love supports. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love works toward a common good.

It is the same with one’s fellow Christian. Whether our brothers and sisters are doing well in their faith or whether they are struggling, we are told to be supportive and help them find victory. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (NLT)

Are you living through The Molt now? Or are you living in the springtime, when all is beautiful? Each season of life will call for different skills. But unity of focus and purpose is the key to survival. Are you focused on what will unite you?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:13,14 NLT.

It is not always easy to forgive those who cut you out of social gatherings, or say unkind things about you to others! Sometimes our mates may say and do things that hurt us, and we may not want to forgive them. Nobody said this would be easy! But if we want to fulfill God’s purpose, we need to forgive and learn to live in harmony.

Our world is watching us. Will they see infighting and anger? Or will they see unity and love? We influence their destiny by our behavior.

We are all treasured by the One who loved us enough to die for us. So, Lord, teach us to love one another. . . even in The Molt.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance . . . . Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 NLT

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Living through the molt with grace – 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: What season are you in? What helps you to unconditionally love the one who has treated you badly?

 

What Are We Really Forgiving?

by Ava Pennington

What’s one of the most common reasons we give for not forgiving others? If you’re like me, you might say forgiveness implies approval or tolerance of the behavior. We read about forgiveness, talk about it, and teach it. Yet for most of us, forgiving others is one of the most difficult things God asks us to do.

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that one reason we may find it difficult to forgive is because we misunderstand what it is that we’re forgiving.

What if I told you we are not forgiving the sin?

King David wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psalm 51:4 ESV).

Even the Pharisees of Jesus’ day understood that God alone can forgive sin. That’s why they pitched a fit when Jesus forgave the paralytic. In Luke 5:18-25 (ESV), we read:

Behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed…but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.

And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Yes, only God can forgive the actual sin. And since Jesus is God, He demonstrated that He also has the authority to forgive sin.

Perhaps that’s one reason we struggle with forgiveness. We’re trying—and failing—to forgive something we don’t have the right to forgive. We justify our failure to forgive by saying we don’t want to communicate tolerance for the sin. Or that it’s not right for the other person to “get away with” what they’ve done.

So if we’re not forgiving the sin, then what are we forgiving?

Consider that we’re forgiving the offense. The offense against our rights. Against our values. Against our family. Against whatever it is that we hold dear.

By forgiving the offender, I’m saying my rights are less important than freedom from bitterness and resentment. I’m saying my job is not to forgive the actual sin, but the offense against me. The offense that has trespassed my rights.

Could it be that the act of forgiveness is the ultimate act of admitting that I’m not God? That in giving up my right to be angry and resentful, I’m submitting to the authority God has to forgive sins?

Could it be that when we forgive others, we’re expressing our awareness that we’re in desperate need of the same forgiveness? Because, let’s face it, it’s just about impossible to go through life without giving offense, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Sooner or later, we’ll need others to forgive our offenses against them.

Even so, forgiveness is not something we can even begin to do in our own strength. We need the prompting of the Holy Spirit to motivate us to surrender our rights (Galatians 2:20). And we need the power of the Holy Spirit to humble ourselves to actually forgive (John 14:15-17). Finally, we need the Holy Spirit’s comfort to know that God is a just judge (Genesis 18:25), and we can trust that He will make all things right in the end.

There’s a freedom in forgiving others. Freedom in knowing God is God and we are not. Most of all, freedom in offering what we, ourselves, need.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to forgive?

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Extend Grace to Others

by Twila Belk

Bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.
Colossians 3:13 AMP

I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Gratitude is our ability to see the grace of God, morning by morning, no matter what else greets us in the course of the day.” One October many years ago, the grace and gratitude connection became very real to me.

The crisp fall evening was perfect for a square dance in the country—starry sky, lively music, hay bales, yummy food, sweet fellowship. A night to remember in so many ways. My husband, our six-year-old daughter, my mom, and I had a delightful time with church members and friends. Shortly before the party ended, we said our goodbyes so we could get Mom home.

A few minutes later, our full-size conversion van lay upside down in a ditch from the impact of a speeding car. A drunk driver. We had planned to deliver Mom to her Pleasant Valley address. Instead, God welcomed her into heaven, and doctors didn’t expect me to live.

In an instant, our lives changed dramatically. I lost my best friend, our kids no longer had their grandma, we had to rely on others’ help at home and with our businesses, and I entered into a several-month period of recovery. Yet in the midst of the shock, healing, and grieving, my husband and I were able to forgive the man whose choices caused this unnecessary tragedy.

As you may know, the ability to forgive doesn’t come naturally. When someone has wronged us, we want to retaliate, or hate the person forever. Many times I’ve thought about how we were able to release those feelings, especially after having to endure the man’s false accusations and a horrible court trial experience. I can honestly say it was only because of God’s grace. During all this, God gave me a glimpse of how much he had forgiven me. To not offer the same gift to another would be like saying I was better than God.

It may seem strange, but extending grace to those who’ve wronged us is an act of gratitude for the grace we’ve received from God. We are, in a way, saying, “Thank you, God, for your kindness and mercy. Thank you for your unmerited favor. Thank you for your unconditional love.”

And whether the person acknowledges our gift—or even has awareness of it—we do it more for ourselves. It’s a gesture that brings freedom. By letting go and pardoning others’ actions, we’re able to move forward with our lives. We’re not stuck in the rut of bitterness, resentment, anger, and all those negative feelings that imprison us.

Over the years I’ve learned that grace can’t be explained; it can only be experienced. And when we realize the amazing gift we’ve received, we can’t help but be grateful. God sees our hearts and smiles when we’re able to extend the same grace to others.

No, it doesn’t make sense, but it feels so good. And that makes me grateful all the more.

God, your grace is amazing. I don’t deserve it, yet you so readily pour it out on me. Thank you for your gift of forgiveness, and thank you for making it possible for me to extend forgiveness to others. It’s not always easy to do, Lord, but it brings such a feeling of relief and reminds me of the mercy and grace I’ve received from you. Regardless of what happens during my days, would you help me to always see your grace? I may not be able to explain what it is, but I sure know it when I experience it. And I’m eternally grateful.

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

twila belkAbout the Author: Twila’s new book releases TODAY!! 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: Have you ever thought about the grace and gratitude connection? How does receiving grace make you grateful? Is there anyone you need to forgive right now? Ask God for the grace to make that possible.