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.

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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!

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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?

 

Grateful for Little Things

by Crystal Bowman

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1 NIV

My late cousin Marion spent most of her life in adult foster care or nursing homes. We lived in the same town, but since she was much older than I was, I rarely went to see her. She was closer to the age of my parents, who lived 40 miles away but regularly visited her. The week before Easter, my parents would always bring her an Easter lily. One year, my mom and dad were both sick, so my mom asked me to bring Marion an Easter lily. I thought it was a lot to ask, but I honored my mother’s wishes with a not-so-great attitude.

Since those were the days before online ordering, I went to our local supermarket, bought the lily, and delivered it to her with my three young kids in tow. “We’ll only stay a few minutes,” I whispered as I knocked on the door. Marion was thrilled to see me. She knew every cousin by name (dozens of them!) and greeted me with a bright smile. “Hello, Crystal! It’s so good to see you. And who are these children?”

I introduced Marion to my two little boys and my baby girl. Spending time with her was so delightful that we ended up staying for more than an hour. What impressed me the most was the joy that flowed from her because she was grateful for “little” things. “I’m so thankful for my window!” she said.  “It allows me to enjoy God’s creation. I love watching the birds find their food and shapely clouds sweep across the sky.” She was also thankful for her radio, which allowed her to enjoy hearing Christian music, messages from pastors, and current events.

After that initial Easter lily delivery, my kids and I went to visit her regularly. I usually went with the intent of cheering her up, but I was the one who was always blessed. Through the years, we brought her pictures my kids had colored, cards they made, and home-made holiday decorations.

But one visit will stand out in my mind forever.

As we entered her room, she greeted us with her usual smile. When I asked how she was doing, she replied with child-like enthusiasm, “I have a new job! I get to fold the towels when they come out of the dryer. They smell so fresh and clean, and I fold each one the best I can. It makes me feel useful, and when I do my best, it brings glory to God.”

The Apostle Paul encouraged the early Christians in Colossae to set their minds on things above, and to live with a God-focus and a grateful heart. In Colossians 3:17 (NIV) he says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This message is timeless and applies to us as well. In everything we do, we have an opportunity to do our best, to the glory of God, with thanksgiving.

I admit that I am not always thankful for daily chores, inconvenient requests, or business demands. Maintaining a positive focus and an attitude of thankfulness is a daily challenge. But every now and then, when I have a load of fresh towels to fold, I think of Marion and fold each one the best that I can to the glory of God.

TWEETABLE
Grateful for Little Things – encouragement from 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: Is there someone in your life that has lived out an important truth in front of you?

 

 

Whatever State I Am In

by Crystal Bowman

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  1 Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV

For the past fourteen years, our home in Florida provided an escape from bitter Michigan winters  where I spent most of my life. I have never been a fan of cold weather (like anything below 75!) so wearing flip-flops in February was a dream come true. I had the best of both worlds—warm, comfortable summers in Michigan and warm, comfortable winters in Florida.

It wasn’t just the weather that I enjoyed in each state. I also had a rich and meaningful life in both places. In Florida I had my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) ministry with more than fifty young, energetic moms to mentor and enjoy. I also had the Atlantic Ocean four miles down the road and often went for long walks along the shore. In Michigan I had my mother, siblings, high school friends, and my son’s family. I was happy and enjoying life to the fullest—until everything changed.

In July, my healthy husband became ill. Since the best doctors for his medical care are near our home in Michigan, we listed our home in Florida and sold it in two weeks. We are now living in Michigan indefinitely. And here I am—four months later—with snow on the ground in November wearing Uggs instead of flip-flops.

The Apostle Paul moved around a lot, preaching the Gospel wherever he went. He relied on God and others to provide for his needs and made tents with his friends Aquila and Pricilla to earn his keep. He was adaptable to his circumstances and didn’t get too comfortable in one place. Not only did he adapt well to change, he learned to be content in any and all circumstances. In Philippians 4:11 (NKJV) he wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Paul didn’t need sunny skies or warm temperatures to be content. He didn’t even need a roof over his head. His greater purpose was to tell people that Jesus died for their sins, and if they believed in Him, they would have eternal life. Sharing the Gospel and living for Jesus was more important to him than anything else.

I wish I could say I am adaptable like Paul was. I’m not. I’m more of a status-quo-type person. I get set in my ways and enjoy comfortable things—like warm weather, a full fridge, and a nice house. But through this new experience, God is stretching me and teaching me to be more adaptable and content no matter where I have landed. My priorities need to be more meaningful than merely where I live. I need to focus more on my blessings and less on the outside temperature. I have friends and family nearby, good doctors, a good furnace, and my cozy Uggs.

As I face a cold, bitter winter in Michigan, I am inspired by the Apostle Paul’s words. I can be content in whatever state I am in—even if that state is Michigan.

TWEETABLE
Whatever State I Am In – encourage from 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: What is challenging your sense of contentment?

 

The Fear of Missing Out

by Crystal Bowman

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV 

Have you ever suffered from FOMO—the Fear of Missing Out? I have before, and I’m still wrestling with it now! I was supposed to attend a major women’s conference in Tennessee where I would be schmoozing with my fellow Christian authors and speakers. The three-day event concluded with a fancy-bling banquet and entertainment by a major Christian celebrity. Following that conference, was the Christian Product Expo, where I’d have the opportunity for more schmoozing—this time with retailers and big names in the publishing industry.

I had decided months before these events that I would be there. I even felt like God was telling me to go. I registered for both conferences and booked a hotel room as soon as early-bird registration was open. I was invited to lead a workshop on writing for children. I was scheduled for four radio interviews and a television interview. I was invited to have not one—but two books signings. I not only wanted to be there, I felt I needed to be there. My newest book had just released in February and this was my big chance to let the world know.

As I anticipated this exciting opportunity, I pictured myself smiling and talking about my new book as I personally signed each copy. I even knew what outfits I’d be wearing and was tempted to start packing weeks in advance. But none of this happened. The events came and went without me, and I suffered from an acute case of FOMO.

When my mountain climbing-marathon running-alligator hunting husband ended up in ICU in July, I was sure he’d pull out of it in time, and I’d still be able to attend the mid-August event. But he didn’t, and I didn’t. He was released from the hospital after ten days, but was in no condition to be alone while I did my thing in Tennessee.

One-by-one I contacted my publishing companies, my hotel roommate, the conference directors, media interviewers, book singing schedulers, and more. Choking back tears, I notified each person that I would not be attending the conference. Then I had a chat with God that went something like this: “God, I don’t get it. I felt like I was supposed to be there and that You wanted me to go. My husband has not been in the hospital since the day he was born. Why now? Why this?”

The above words from Isaiah were written at a time when God was calling the nation back to Him. There was an infinite difference between their thoughts and His. They needed to trust Him. He did not act arbitrarily, but in love. Even when they didn’t understand what He was doing, they could count on His perfect character.

I believe that God is not accountable to me, and He doesn’t owe me answers. I know that as I surrender to Him, He will carry me through difficult times.

But I also love how He sometimes offers a glimpse of His purpose when the unexpected interrupts our lives.

Weeks later, on a walk, He helped me realize something. I kept thinking about all the people I had called or emailed to let them know my plans had change. I thought about what each of them said— “I’ll be praying for you and your husband.” “I’ll be sure to give this to our prayer team.” “Is it okay if I share this at our staff meeting, so we can pray?” Because I had to inform so many people about my change of plans, dozens of people were lifting up my husband and me in prayer. People I don’t even know.

I don’t know when I’ll have another opportunity to schmooze with authors and retailers to promote my new book. But I know that God’s ways are higher than my ways and that He is in control. When I fully trust His ways, FOMO is just an acronym that has no power over me.

Dear God, when life changes quickly in ways we don’t understand, help us to surrender our plans to You and trust You to work out Your ways for good. Amen.

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The Fear of Missing Out – 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: Has God ever given you a glimpse of His purpose when the unexpected hit?

She Prayed

by Crystal Bowman

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generation. Psalm 100:5 NIV

We celebrated Mother’s Day with the baptism of our newest granddaughter, then later that evening my ninety-seven-year old mother quietly slipped into heaven. And that’s how she lived—never wanting to be the center of attention. She let my son and daughter-in-law have their moment of joy in the morning before going home to meet her Savior face-to-face.

The following week, family members traveled by car, motor home, and plane to attend her funeral which she had planned. She had chosen three of her adult grandchildren to share thoughts of remembrance, which they did with eloquent tributes. One of my nephews summed up her life in one sentence:  My grandma prayed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by name every day.

My mother lived an active life after my father passed away in 2006. Still healthy and alert, she would drive her widowed friends to the grocery store and church meetings. She played the piano during lunch at a nursing home where many of the residents were younger than she was. She volunteered at local schools that offered after school Bible clubs, and she attended sporting events to cheer for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

But as the years passed, she gradually lost her physical abilities and independence, and she  moved into an assisted living home. Even there she continued to serve others. She made friends with a blind woman and helped her navigate the exercise bike in the fitness room. In the dining room, she would look for someone sitting alone and sit next to them. But as more years passed,  she lost her ability to walk on her own and care for herself.

One day when I was visiting her, she was depressed about her dependence on aides who had to dress her and bathe her and help her go to the bathroom. “I’m no good to anyone,” she lamented.

“You can still pray,” I reminded her. And she did. She made a list of her children and grandchildren, all their spouses, and twenty-one great-grandchildren. She prayed for each one by name every day.

It would be impossible to list everything she prayed for, but she prayed. She prayed for safety and protection, for careers and future spouses, for marriages, for physical healing, for salvation and spiritual growth. And she prayed a miracle baby into my daughter-in-law’s womb.

My mom loved the Bible verses that spoke of God’s blessings to the next generation, and she knew her prayers made a difference. These verses not only motivated her to pray, but also to speak God’s truth into the lives of her descendants. She often shared these Bible verses with me since they gave her so much purpose and joy:

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:17-18 NIV).

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18 NIV).

“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. . . so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children” (Psalm 78:4, 6 NIV).

“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise” (Psalm 79:13 NIV)

These Bible verses are a reminder to me, that now it’s my turn to carry on the legacy of prayer my mother exemplified. I pray that her legacy will live on through her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I also hope that someday one of my grandchildren will be able to say, “My grandma prayed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by name every day.”

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She Prayed – thoughts on a life well-lived from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for KidsM is for Mangerand Does God Take Naps? She is a mentor for MOPS and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. She lives in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best), and travels often to get hugs from her grandchildren.

Crystal’s latest release, co-authored with her daughter-in-law, is Mothers in Waiting, Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. Do you or someone you love struggle with infertility? In this book you will find 30 hope-filled stories of women who received the same diagnosis and experienced the heartache. You do not have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: What legacy do you hope to leave for your children?

Cucumbers and Sin

by Crystal Bowman

The cucumbers in the produce case were extra-large and only 89 cents each. The length and weight of each cucumber varied, but since it didn’t affect the price, I searched for the biggest one I could find. It’s not that I’m greedy or stingy, I just like a good deal. And the bigger the cucumber, the better the deal.

I always check my receipt when I return home to make sure all my groceries were bagged and loaded properly, and that nothing was left behind. It was then that I noticed the mistake. The cashier had entered my over-sized cucumber as a zucchini squash, which almost tripled the price. It was an honest mistake, but it made my good deal a not-so-good deal after all. Since I live within walking distance to the store, I decided to stop in the next day, so they could correct the error. They did.

This all made me think about our sins. Our society tends to label sin as not so bad, bad, and really bad. We believe a little white lie is not as bad as stealing or murder. The consequences, of course, are more severe for the “big” sins, but in God’s eyes, all sin is sin.  And whether our sins are small, medium, or extra-large, the price He paid for our sins is the same. Jesus suffered and died a criminal’s death on the cross. He paid for our sins—no matter the size— with his shed blood.

It almost doesn’t seem fair that a criminal receives the same forgiveness as the law-abiding citizen. But Jesus’ sacrifice was enough to pay for all of the sin. Every single one. He’s about forgiving all who confess their sins and desire to become one of His followers. He paid the same price for the murderer’s sins as he did for mine.

Romans 3:23-24 (NIV) says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

It’s so easy to forget that, isn’t it? When we see the horrific acts of evil on the news and hear of school shootings and riots in the streets, we tend to forget that Jesus died for all people, not just the goody-two-shoes.

I live only 45 minutes from Parkland, Florida, where 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School died on Valentine’s Day 2018 at the hands of a lone shooter. I watched the news for hours, trying to process what was happening too close to home. The next day, when I went to my exercise class, it was the topic for discussion. While most people expressed their horror and sadness, one woman said to me, “I’m praying for the shooter. He needs Jesus too.”

Gulp! I swallowed hard with conviction and had to admit that the thought of praying for him never crossed my mind. But she was right. He needs Jesus too. We all need Jesus.

Romans 6:23 (NIV) says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We deserve to be put to death for our sins, but Jesus took the death penalty for us. Salvation is free to us through faith in Jesus, because He paid the price—the same price—for all. I pray that I will always remember I am no better than anyone else, and that Jesus loves us all the same. This is the Gospel message we need to share with our children, grandchildren, friends, co-workers, neighbors—and people at the grocery store.

And the next time I’m at there and buy an over-sized cucumber, I’ll remember to tell the clerk it’s not a zucchini.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”                                                                                                                                                 Isaiah 1:18 NIV

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Cucumbers and Sin – insight from author Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for KidsM is for Mangerand Does God Take Naps? She is a mentor for MOPS and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Her latest release, co-authored with her daughter-in-law, is Mothers in Waiting, Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. She lives in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best), and travels often to get hugs from her grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Who are the people that you forget to pray for?

Waiting Patiently

by Crystal Bowman

Several years ago, my son and daughter-in-law found themselves in a cold and sterile infertility clinic 1500 miles away from home. They desperately wanted a baby, but things didn’t happen the way they had planned. After all attempts to conceive had failed, they flew home with shattered dreams and lost hope. Their story is heart wrenching, and it’s shared by more than 6 million couples in the U.S. who just want to have a child.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (ESV). Whether it is hoping for a child, a career promotion, or that special someone to share our life, it’s only human to want things to fall into place. We pray and plead and weep, wondering if God hears us. Our well-meaning friends quote Bible verses for us. We read and reread God’s promises. But when what we hope for is deferred, it truly does make the heart sick.

During a season of waiting, bitterness can take root and hopelessness can overwhelm us. We ask questions and wonder why, but the answers don’t always come. In Psalm 40, King David says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (40:1, 3 NIV). Waited patiently. Two words that tell us what David did in his time of distress, and that God heard his cry. But I wonder how long David had to wait before God responded—one week, two years, or a decade?  The Bible doesn’t say.

Waiting patiently for something our hearts long for is physically and emotionally exhausting. It consumes our thoughts and can make us feel weak as we attempt to go on with our daily lives. The prophet Isaiah offers encouragement with these words: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). When our hope is in God, rather than in doctors or bosses or dating websites, he renews our strength. His love and grace and mercy are great enough to cover our shattered dreams, heal our broken hearts, and restore us to wholeness.

My son and daughter-in-law were finally blessed with baby boy, and three years later a baby girl. They now have a noisy home with scattered toys on the floor and fingerprints on the windows. Of course, not every desire or hope we have will be fulfilled the way we want, and only God knows how each person’s story will be written. But while we wait patiently for his plan to unfold, we can soar with the eagles knowing that God will answer our prayers in his time and in his way.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.  Psalm 130:5 NIV

TWEETABLE
The struggle and the hope of waiting patiently – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps? She is a mentor for MOPS and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Her latest release, co-authored with her daughter-in-law, is Mothers in Waiting, Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms. She lives in both Florida and Michigan (wherever the weather is best), and travels often to get hugs from her grandchildren.

Join the conversation: For what are you waiting?

Under His Wings—Solid Shelter for Turbulent Times

by Crystal Bowman

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.  Psalm 91:4 NLT

As thunder rumbled and raindrops danced against the window, my infant granddaughter slept in my arms, melting into my chest. Oblivious to the afternoon thunderstorm, she rested in peace, knowing she was safe in my arms. My own body was also at rest, enjoying the tranquilizing motion of the silent rocking chair and absorbing the warmth of a six-pound human swaddle.

As I rocked back and forth, my eyes drifted toward a canvass print on the wall. The words of Psalm 91:4 were encircled by a pink and green floral wreath. “He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”(NLT) This verse reminded me that just as I was offering safety and protection to my granddaughter, God does the same for me. The metaphor of this verse is that of a mother hen, clucking to her chicks when she senses danger. She stretches out her wings and urges her young to run to her for shelter. Under her wings she will keep them safe from harm and the dangers that threaten.

We are living in turbulent times. Some of us are facing serious illness or financial challenges. Some of us have adult children who are questioning the faith they were taught in their younger years. Some have spouses who no longer desire to be married to them. Broken families and broken hearts have become the norm. But in the middle of these storms brewing around us, God spreads His wings and beckons us to run to Him for safety and protection.

How do we run to God? We do it with our words. God already knows what’s on our hearts, so why not have a conversation with him? God is a good listener. He is patient. He wants us to give Him our worries, so we can rest and be safe under his protective wings.

As we run to God and converse with Him, we can also invite Him to speak to us through His Word. Psalm 18:30 (NIV) says, “As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.” This gives us a second picture of God’s protection and shelter. The Bible is our compass, guiding our paths and giving us wisdom for daily decisions. The more we read it, the more we can hear from God, and the more we can be under His wings of safety.

No matter what you may be facing today, run to your heavenly Father, for there you will find protection. He will cover you with His feathers and shelter you with His wings. Sit at His feet as you mediate on His Word and talk to Him openly and honestly about anything that is on your heart. He is calling you to come and is waiting for you.

Thank You, Lord, that you are my shelter. Thank You for your promise to protect me and help me with whatever I may face today. I choose to run to You so I will be covered with your feathers.

TWEETABLE
God provides the shelter we need turning these turbulent times – Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for KidsM is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps? She is a speaker and mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a regular contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Crystal lives in both Florida and Michigan, and when she is not writing or playing with her grandkids, she loves to sneak outdoors to walk and talk with God.

Join the conversation: Tell us about a time when God’s protection was very evident in your life.