The Doors are Still Open

by Crystal Bowman

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 9:36 ESV

With only an eighth-grade education and some carpentry training in the U. S. Army, my dad became a successful contractor, building beautiful homes on Lake Michigan and remodeling almost every downtown storefront in our city. I enjoyed spending summers at our cottage on an inland lake in a small rural community. It was a way for our family to be on vacation while my dad was able to work in the area.

My dad had a burden for the lost, and when he discovered a poverty-stricken neighborhood only miles from our cottage, he could not ignore their spiritual needs. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion for them. With support from our church, my dad built a small chapel at the entrance to the neighborhood. Every Sunday afternoon, instead of taking a much-needed rest, he canvassed the dirt roads on foot, inviting the families to come to the evening service where a pastor told the people about Jesus. Recognizing their physical needs as well, my dad provided food and clothing for those who came to worship. 

The ministry flourished for decades, and because of my dad’s vision, many people from this poor neighborhood have a mansion in heaven. When my dad became too old to continue this ministry, another local church took it over and continued offering services in the chapel.

Before Jesus went back to heaven after His resurrection, He told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV). This passage is also known as The Great Commission, and if we are followers of Jesus, then the message is for us.

Many people leave their homes, friends, and families to serve on foreign mission fields. They follow God’s calling to share the Gospel in other countries or continents. The sacrifices they make for the sake of the Gospel are something I cannot relate to. But even if God has not called me to leave my homeland, He still asks me to share the Gospel in my neighborhood, my community, and at the grocery store.

We are surrounded by people who need Jesus. There are many different ways to share the Gospel, and opportunities are all around us. We can invite others to church or Bible study (even virtually). We can volunteer at local food pantries or after-school programs for children. If we have physical limitations, we can partner financially with ministries to support those who are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

In 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), the Apostle Peter shares these words, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” In other words—be ready to share at any moment because we never know when someone is open to hearing about the hope, joy, and peace that come from having a believing faith in Jesus.

My dad has been with Jesus for 15 years, and there are others walking in heaven with him because he saw their needs. He built that little chapel 55 years ago, and I could never count the number of people who have come to know Jesus because of his compassion. The chapel is still standing and the doors are still open.   


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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Who has inspired you?

Holding God’s Hand

by Crystal Bowman

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

After 63 years of being married to her soulmate, my mother went into a deep depression when my father died. She was 84 years old and didn’t want to live anymore. But eventually, with the help of a caring doctor, close friends and family, she gradually emerged from her depression, ready to live again.

My mother was “young” for her age and sill had many years to enjoy life. She volunteered to chauffeur her widow friends to doctors’ appointments and grocery stores. She entertained nursing home residents by playing the piano during their lunch hour. She referred to the facility as “the old folks’ home” when in fact, many of the residents were younger than she was. I told her often that Dad would be proud of the way she found purpose and meaning in her years of widowhood.

In her early 90s she began falling, even with the help of a walker. We moved her into a beautiful, assisted living home where she was the most popular resident because of her kindness. In the dining hall, she would look for someone sitting alone and join them. In the fitness room she assisted a blind woman on the exercise bike. And she always thanked every staff member for caring for her.

My mom loved the Lord and spent hours every morning reading Scripture and talking with God. She knew it wouldn’t be much longer before she would be going to her forever home and grew closer to God every day. One day, as she was writing in her journal, her pen ran out of ink. She got up and walked to her desk to get another pen. As she was about to walk back to her chair, she froze in place, realizing she had forgotten to use her walker. She reached her hand toward the ceiling and said, “Dear God, please walk with me.” Then she felt the strength of His steady hand in hers, as God walked her back to her chair. 

In Isaiah 41, God reminds the children of Israel that they are His chosen people, and that He cares for them and fights for them. In verse 10 (NIV) He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Anyone who has received Jesus as their Savior is part of God’s family. When we belong to Him, there is no need to fear for we are never alone. Life can be full of sadness and grief. We lose spouses, siblings, children, and best friends. It’s easy to let the troubles of this world bring us down. But when that happens, we need to look up, reach out our hand and say, “God, walk with me.”

My mom lived to be 97 years old and passed away on Mother’s Day 2019. She left a legacy of faith to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She didn’t just speak about her faith, she lived it every day. Her faith continues to bless me as I read the pages in her journal.  I’m so happy she was able to get another pen. 


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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced God in a tangible way? Encourage us with your story!

Love One Another

by Crystal Bowman

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NIV

With Valentine’s day being smack dab in the middle of the month, February is known for celebrating love and romance. According to the National Retail Federation, about 55% of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, and those who do will spend close to $150 to give gifts to their loved ones.

To love others and to be loved is one of the strongest and most basic needs we have. When God created our innermost being (Psalm 139), He created us with that desire to love and be loved.

There are four different kinds of love in the Bible. Eros is a Greek word that refers to the longing or desire that is present in romantic love. Storge is the love we have for our family and close relatives. Mary and Martha showed this type of love in their deep grief over the death of their brother Lazarus. Philos is the love we have for friends. It’s the type of love we practice through social friendliness and acts of kindness. Agape is divine love. It’s the love God demonstrated when He gave His Son to die on the cross to save the world from sin (John 3:16). It’s the highest form of love and the kind of love God gives us every day.

Agape love is the type of love God commands us to have for others. It’s unconditional, unselfish, and sacrificial. In John 13:34-35 (NIV) Jesus tells His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Loving my friends and family is easy to do (most of the time). But loving strangers or people we don’t like is another matter. Do I truly care about the people suffering in 3rd world countries or inner-city slums? Do I offer agape love when it’s an inconvenience or a burden? 

One summer afternoon (before the pandemic), while walking downtown, I saw a homeless man sitting on a bench in front of our high-rise condo building. I’d seen him there often and usually smiled as I walked by. But this time, the Holy Spirit nudged me to do more than smile. I thought about my options as I rode the elevator to our floor. I knew he was probably hungry, but I wanted to offer more than physical food. 

After I packed a sack lunch and a bottle of water, I enclosed a copy of Our Daily Bread—a monthly devotional. I slipped some cash in between the pages of the devotional and rode the elevator back to the ground floor. I handed him the sack and said, “Here’s something I want to share with you.” He looked surprised, smiled brightly, and said, “Why, thank you so much. God bless you.”

This small act of love was not an inconvenience or a sacrifice. I’m not even sure in which category of love it belongs. But the smile on that man’s face is something I will never forget. I hope he read the devotions in the monthly booklet, and I hope he knows how much God loves him.

Expressing love is not just for the month of February, it’s for every day of the year. I pray that God will open my heart and my eyes to see ways I can show love to others.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16 NIV

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you been led to show love lately? Tell us your story!

A Word of Hope

by Crystal Bowman

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love. Psalm 33:18 NIV

It’s become sort of trendy to choose a word or phrase to focus on for the coming year. Maybe you’ve been doing this for years, or maybe this is new to you. Either way, I like this idea. The phrase I picked for 2020 was hang in there. In the fall of 2019, we had some sudden and unexpected changes in our lives, and I knew the adjustment to these changes would be long and hard. We had to leave our home in paradise (Florida) and return to our home in the Midwest for a variety of reasons. I was doing my best to “hang in there.” Then the pandemic reached the US and once again I was adjusting to sudden and unexpected changes.

Along with my 2020 phrase, I also chose a Bible verse: 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).

I taped the verse to my bathroom mirror and read it every day. During the months of 2020, I had multiple reasons to be anxious and worried about the future. But every day, as I soaked in the words to that verse and chose to thank God, His peace filled my soul.

In John chapter 14, Jesus begins preparing His disciples for His departure. Since He would not be with them much longer, He offered words of comfort and the promise of the Holy Spirit. He knew they would be troubled because they didn’t understand all that would soon take place. He explained that the Holy Spirit would help them remember Jesus’s words and instructions. I love what Jesus says to them in verse 27 (NIV): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The peace we receive from the Holy Spirit in the midst of our anxious moments is a peace that we can’t explain. This peace does not come from the world, it only comes through faith. Even when troubles swirl around us like an F-5 tornado, we can experience inner peace when we belong to Jesus.

I began 2021 with a new word to focus on. That word is hope. There are two definitions of the word hope. One is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. The second definition is a feeling of trust. I chose the second. I trust that God will continue to be my source of strength and peace in the coming year. I trust that my life is in His hands and that nothing will happen to me outside of His will.

My Bible verse to focus on this year is Hebrews 10:23 NIV: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Do you have a word or verse for 2021? I’d love for you to share in the comment section below. May God richly bless you in the coming year and fill your life with peace, hope, and joy. 

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What is your word for 2021?

Not What I Expected

by Crystal Bowman

The year 2020 was not what I expected. I had several story hour programs scheduled at bookstores. I was looking forward to teaching courses at writers’ conferences. I planned on flying to see my out-of-state grandkids to celebrate their birthdays. Some of my kids and grandkids were going to stay with us for a few weeks in August. I bought a backyard toddler swimming pool and splash pad. I couldn’t wait to see my little ones laughing and splashing in the warm summer temps.

But none of that happened. Like the rest of the world, I was not expecting a global pandemic to bring my life to a screeching halt.

When God sent his Son into the world more than 2000 years ago, Jesus was God in human form. For hundreds of years, prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah. They spoke of his birth, his ministry, and triumphal reign. They even knew where Jesus would be born. In Micah 5:2 (NIV) the prophet tells us, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clansof Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  And in Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) we read, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.”

The name Immanuel means God with us. But when Jesus came to earth, he was not what the people expected. The Jews were looking for a conquering king who would deliver them from Roman rule and establish an earthly kingdom. They were looking for a Messiah and Savior who would make all things right. But things didn’t happen the way they thought they would. Instead, Jesus’ followers watched him die a criminal’s death on a rugged cross. This was not what they expected, but it was part of God’s plan to make a way for people to be forgiven and restored into fellowship with God.

Even though Jesus told his followers he would rise from the grave, they didn’t fully understand what he meant. When he appeared to them after his resurrection, they were surprised because they were not expecting to see him again. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples once again asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 NIV). They still didn’t understand.  

Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom of peace and justice which comes through God’s grace and mercy. Through faith in Jesus, we become citizens in the kingdom of heaven. His kingdom is here and now, but many don’t see it.  

When Jesus returns, he will establish his kingdom on earth and will reign through all eternity. He will make all things right and we will live forever in peace. It’s a kingdom we will see, and it will be better than we expect.

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord
 (Philippians 2:10-11 NIV).

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: How has God surpassed your expectations?

The Good List

by Crystal Bowman

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 117:1-2 NIV

When the coronavirus pandemic arrived on the northwestern shore of the United States, we did not know what to expect because this was out of our realm of experience. Some people were fearful and anxious, while others boldly proclaimed that we would get through this. And here we are—ten months later, still living with the pandemic threatening our daily lives.  

As days and weeks have come and gone and calendar pages have flipped, I am beginning to get weary of all I have lost. If I made a list of all the negative things over these past several months, it would be long. But here are a few items at the top of my list:

  • I am separated from my out-of-state grandkids.
  • The conferences and book events I planned on attending have been canceled or postponed.
  • I miss having lunch with my friends.
  • I miss hugging people.
  • The beautiful new coat that I bought in February still has the price tag on it!

When I am tempted to grumble and complain, I think of the Israelites in the wilderness. When God delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and miraculously brought them through the Red Sea by parting the waters, they danced and praised God for delivering them. In Exodus 15:11 they sang, “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” But can you believe that only three days later they were grumbling because they were thirsty? Their leader, Moses, went to God on their behalf and God quickly answered by giving them fresh water to drink.

On the 15th day of the second month after they coming out of Egypt, the whole community grumbled and complained because they were hungry. Moses again intervened for the people and God sent manna and quail. The manna rained down from heaven every morning, and the people were instructed to gather enough for one day with the exception of the sixth day when they could gather enough for two. God met their needs day-by-day, as Moses led them and prayed to God on their behalf.  

One of the lessons I have learned during 2020 is to depend on God one day at a time. I don’t know when bookstore events will return. I don’t know when I can travel to visit my kids and grandkids. I don’t know when it will be safe to hug my friends or meet them for lunch. But I know that I can trust God to meet my needs each day.

Another thing I have learned is to stop added items to my negative list and start making a “good” list. Here are some things I have on that list:

  • My husband and I are spending more time together, since neither of us are traveling.
  • I am enjoying time with my three local grandkids and helping them with virtual school.
  • I have more time to study and write.
  • I can call or email friends whom I miss.
  • I can attend Zoom conferences.
  • I am able to be a virtual guest at bookstores in other states.
  • I am reading books to my long-distance grandkids over FaceTime.  
  • I’ve gotten really good at ordering things online.

I don’t know how much longer the pandemic will be affecting our lives, but I do know that I can depend on God to provide what I need. I hope to keep adding items to my “good” list so that I will recognize and appreciate the blessings that surround me—because there are many! 

Lord, help me to trust you each day, knowing that you will lead me and provide all that I need. Thank you for life, health, and daily bread. Amen.  

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What is on your good list?

Three Boys and a Pizza

by Crystal Bowman

But the Helper will teach you everything. He will cause you to remember all the things I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name.  John 14:26 ICB

Going for a walk several times a week is therapeutic for me. It gets me out of the house during these stay-at-home days and offers fresh air, healthy exercise, and a time to chat with my heavenly Father.

I always park my car in a small village shopping center near our home because it’s a safe place to park and walk. On a recent walk, I spoke though my mental prayer list bringing my needs, wants, thanksgiving, and praises to the Lord. But then I went deeper.

I asked God to help me be more in tune with promptings from the Holy Spirit. I have had many “God spoke to me” moments in the past and longed to experience them again. I know the Holy Spirit dwells in me, and that God speaks to me every day when I read the Bible, a devotional book, or listen to Christian music. But sometimes an unexpected opportunity comes along that can be a divine intervention, if I listen and pay attention.

As I was walking back to my car, I notice three boys on their bikes in front of the take-out pizza place. One of the boys was on his cell phone with his mother, and I overheard the conversation, “But we only need about two more dollars,” he said. Then he hung up and told his friends, “My mom said she can’t come to give us the money, so we just need to figure out something else.”

“Talk to them,” said a voice in my head. “You can help them.”

“Hey, Guys,” I said as they turned toward me with surprised looks. “Do you need a couple of dollars?” The boy with the cell phone looked at me and said, “Yeah. We want to get a pizza, but we are two dollars short.”

“Well, here’s the deal. I have five dollars on me, but I need to run into the grocery store to get some cheese. I’m sure I will have two dollars in change, so wait here and I’ll be right back.”

“You don’t have to do that,” the boy said.

“I know I don’t have to, but I want to, okay?”

The boys smiled as I put on my mask and went into the store. The cheese was $2.50, and so was my change. As I handed the money to the boys, they were overjoyed and generous with their verbal gratitude.  “Thank you so much! You are so nice! I can’t believe you would do that for us!”

“You are very welcome,” I replied. “God told me to help you out so be sure to thank Him when you get your pizza!”

“Okay, we will!” they said.

The God who spoke to people in the past, is the same God who speaks to us today. God told Noah to build an ark even though it had never rained. God told Abraham to leave his county and go to a place where God would show him. God told Moses to go to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from their lives of slavery. God told Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. And God told Mary she would be the mother of His Son.

Of course, there are many more examples from the Bible, but God’s messages are not limited to people who lived in ancient times. They didn’t end when the Bible was completed.  

I had heard God’s voice that day, and He allowed me to help out three boys who were hungry for pizza. I smiled all the way home. My heart was full of joy. And then I imagined the boys telling their parents how they were able to buy their pizza: “This lady just showed up out of nowhere. She gave us the money and said God told her to do it!”

Lord, help me to pay attention and listen for your voice so you can use me to be a blessing to others. Amen.

TWEETABLE
Three Boys and a Pizza – encouragement about #FollowingGod from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: When is the last time the Lord nudged you? Tell us about it!

Are You Zealous?

by Crystal Bowman

Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:13-14 NKJV

The word zealous can be found a few times in the Bible depending on which translation you read. It’s not a word we use much these days, especially in casual conversation. To be zealous means to be dedicated and committed to something with all your heart. It means you have a great desire or passion to be part of something you believe in.

Some people are zealous about sports and competition. Olympic hopefuls train 25 hours a week for 10-20 years before qualifying for an event. Others may be zealous about music and performing. Becoming a professional singer involves a long career path. It takes years to properly develop a voice and many begin taking voice lessons as children. Still others may devote their time and energy to an organization or worthy cause.

The Apostle Paul was an enemy of Jesus until Jesus spoke to him while he was traveling to Damascus. Paul soon became a Christian and spent the rest of his life telling people that Jesus was the Savior the Jewish people were looking for. Paul was zealous about sharing his faith in Jesus with everyone he met. 

Titus was one of Paul’s followers and a leader in the church. The book of Titus in the Bible is a letter Paul wrote to Titus to help people understand more about Jesus and how he wants us to live. Paul tells Titus that as we wait for Jesus to return, we should be zealous about loving others and doing good deeds in the name of Jesus. That message is for us too, and as I reflect on my commitments, priorities, and activities, I try to identity what I am zealous about.  

I’m zealous about spending time with my grandkids and making the most of every opportunity I have with them. My heart is filled with joy as I indulge in creative play, reading stories, or snuggling on the sofa. I’m also zealous about writing. I am usually well aware of what time it is, even without looking at a clock. But when my fingers are on the keyboard, I get so immersed in my writing that hours seem like minutes. 

As I examine my life during this pandemic season, I pray that I can be zealous about sharing my faith and doing good deeds in the name of Jesus, even if it means doing things differently. I can read a Bible story or picture book to my grandsons in Texas over Facetime or Skype since I cannot visit them. I can leave a bag of kids’ books on my neighbor’s front porch so she can read them to her preschooler and new baby. I can send a card to my sister-in-law who was unable to have a funeral for her mother who passed away. And I can call my friend in Florida who is a recent widow to help fill a lonely Saturday evening with some long-distance conversation.   

As we wait for this pandemic to pass, and as we wait for the return of Jesus, there are many ways we can share the love of Jesus with others. We can be zealous—even if it’s a word we don’t use anymore.  

TWEETABLE
Are You Zealous? – insight and encouragement from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)  

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: What are you zealous about in your life?

Don’t Stick Your Finger in the Fan

by Crystal Bowman

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”                                                             Genesis 2: 15-17 NIV

I enjoyed the convenience and comfort of living next door to my grandmother when I was growing up. If Mom wasn’t home, Grandma was. If Mom didn’t have something, Grandma did. My siblings and I had the privilege of going in and out of her home as though it was our own, and we always helped ourselves to the pink and white peppermints she kept in the milk glass candy dish on her bedroom dresser. 

Every Sunday, Grandma attended church with us and came to our house for dinner. She often contributed something fresh, homemade, and delicious to our meal. One warm summer Sunday, as we sat down to eat, my mother noticed that we were almost out of butter. When Grandma offered to donate a stick from her refrigerator, I volunteered to get it. As I went out the door to walk across the driveway to Grandma’s house, she hollered, “Don’t stick your finger in the fan.”

Since those were the days before air-conditioned homes, Grandma had a portable fan on her kitchen table. As I passed by the table on my way to the refrigerator, I took one look at the fan and promptly stuck my finger into the large spinning blades. Fortunately, the blades were rather dull and rotating at a slow speed. I only sustained a minor cut, but the oozing blood required a bandage which I found in Grandma’s medicine cabinet. After bandaging my finger, I finally opened the refrigerator and took out a stick of butter—which was, after all, the purpose for my trip.

As I walked into our house and placed the butter in the empty butter dish, everyone noticed my bandaged finger. Through tears, I confessed my act of disobedience to a stunned audience.

So why did I stick my finger in the fan? Because Grandma told me not to. If she had said, “Be sure to stick you finger in the fan,” I never would have done it! There is something about our human nature that makes us desire what we can’t have or do what we are told not to do.

In the book of Genesis, God tells Adam and Eve that they may eat from all the lush trees in the Garden of Edan, except for one. Seems pretty generous to me. But what do Adam Eve do? They taste the forbidden fruit and change the world forever.

The laws and commands we find in Scripture are not suggestions. They are designed by God to protect us from harm. Obedience to God’s Word results in blessings, whereas disobedience can result in emotional or physical pain. The more we read and study God’s word, the more we will understand that his commands are founded in love and that he desires what is good for us. 

It’s a daily challenge to live according to God’s Word. But with fervent prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can walk in obedience and enjoy the blessings God wants to give us. God can give us the strength we need to resist temptations, avoid forbidden fruit, and keep our fingers where they belong.

TWEETABLE
Don’t Stick Your Finger in the Fan – encouragement from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: Does hearing something is off-limits tend to make you want it more?

Have a God Day

by Crystal Bowman

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.                                                                                     
Psalm 5:3 NIV

For several years I was prayer partners with two mutual friends. Every Monday morning, we would email each other to share our personal requests and praises. We had a deep level of trust and could share whatever was on our hearts. Prayer requests for health issues, difficult decisions, and the challenges of raising kids filled the content of our emails.

Knowing we were praying for each other and our families created a unique bond of friendship. We prayed through countless doctors’ appointments, business meetings, parenting difficulties, extended family concerns, and more. Anything and everything could be shared with no rules or boundaries other than confidentiality.

As the months and years went by, we carried each other’s burdens and celebrated each answered prayer. We truly lived out the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:15 (ESV):  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

One Monday morning, as I finished typing my email, I closed with a typo. Instead of saying, “Have a good day” I typed, “Have a God day.” My friends responded with delight, assuming my closure was intentional rather than a typo. We all had a good laugh, but from then on, we always ended our prayer emails with “Have a God day.”

I have come to love that phrase, even though its origin was a typo. I’ve thought about what it  means to have a God day. We often ask God to be with us throughout the day, but the truth is that He already is. Rather than asking God to be with me, I’ve learned to pray, “God, make me more aware of your presence.” If I begin my day with prayer or reading God’s words in Scripture, I am aware of His presence. When I look at the glory of a morning sunrise or hear the melody of cheerful birds, I acknowledge my Creator. As I face my to-do list, I ask God to give me the wisdom and energy to accomplish  my tasks. As I think about my loved ones, I ask God to give them health, strength, and protection for the day.

King David lived in full awareness of God’s presence. Many of his Psalms are songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. In Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV), he writes: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. David recognized that all of creation basks in the fullness of God’s presence and shouts His name. If God’s creation acknowledges and praises Him day after day, how much more should we, who are created in His image, live in daily union with Him.

The more we communicate with God throughout the day with praise and admiration, the more we will be reminded of His continual presence. And when we give Him our requests and concerns, we can eagerly anticipate His answers. God is with us all day, every day. May we live in a greater awareness of dwelling in Him.

Have a God day!

TWEETABLE
Have a God Day – encouragement from a typo – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: How had you noticed God’s presence today?