Help! Someone Is Complimenting Me About my Child

by Kathy Collard Miller @kathycmiller

Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.  Proverbs 31:31 NASB

I’ve often been perplexed as to how to answer when someone compliments me about my child, especially as she’s now an adult. Of course, I’m thrilled my child is being acknowledged, but it feels like I am being invited to stand on the edge of quicksand and not know if I should step out or step back…or stand still.

No wonder hearing my friend’s words feel uncomfortable. Do I take credit? Do I try to convince my friend I actually wasn’t that great of a mom? Do I point out my good choices or my bad actions? How do I credit God even when I did depend upon His empowering to grow as a mom? Will I come across as humble or proud depending upon what I say?

In those moments, I feel paralyzed and confused.

If you’ve ever felt similarly, you and I can take encouragement and courage from an interaction Doctor Luke recorded.

While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that carried You, and the breasts at which You nursed!” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and follow it.” (Luke 11:27-28 NASB)

The woman’s comment is both a compliment to Jesus’s mother and to Jesus himself. She is saying, “Your mother must be so happy to have a son like you. You are wonderful.” She might even be insinuating Mary must be a special kind of mother to have raised such an amazing son who had the courage to correct the Pharisees in front of the crowd and deliver a man from an unclean spirit (Luke 11:14-26).

Interestingly, during Jesus’s ministry, Mary, along with Jesus’s half-siblings believed he had lost his mind (Mark 3:21). We can only wonder if in truth Mary was embarrassed to have a “son like him.” Thankfully, the truths told to Mary at Jesus’s conception and birth won out, and Mary and several of Jesus’s half-siblings believed in Him as Savior and became a part of the early church.

Jesus’s response to the woman in the crowd indicates He didn’t depend upon her recognition of His goodness, or how He was a blessing to His mother. And Jesus didn’t go into a detailed explanation about whether His mother was a good mother or not—or even whether He was a great son. Only upon His Heavenly Father’s acknowledgement.

Jesus’s dependence upon His Father’s recognition can strengthen us. We don’t have to be puffed up with pride hearing compliments about ourselves or our children. Jesus’s focus is on those who follow God’s Word. The change in other people is what thrills Him and is the ultimate blessing. If we can have the same focus, we will be strong in not depending upon the comments of others—whether positive or negative, especially about our offspring.

Of course, we should acknowledge the comments from others. This is not wrong. God most likely was prompting our friend to bless us through compliments about our child. We can courageously receive His support.

So what to do? Courageously reply with a simple sentence and joyfully receive God’s encouragement. Ultimately, the best compliment we and our children will ever hear is God’s encouragement, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Copyright and excerpted from Heart of Courage: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to show how Scripture reveals God’s wonderful nature, is relevant to daily life, and empowers us to trust Him more. Her 59th book was published in March, 2022, and is entitled: Heart of Courage: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, a 10 lesson women’s Bible study for groups and individuals. Kathy is also an international speaker, wife, mom, and grandma. She and her husband, Larry, (co-author on many books), live in Boise, Idaho, and speak together on marriage. They were high school sweethearts and married in 1970. Visit Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor, Twitter: @KathyCMiller, Pinterest/Kathyspeak, Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03, Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What have you found to be the best way to respond to someone complimenting you because of your child?

Do You Know a Late Bloomer?

by Ava Pennington

The amaryllis flower was a Christmas gift more than a year ago. Thankful for warm Florida winters, I planted the bulb outside after the blossoms died.

Then I waited for a year, eager to see a repeat of the beautiful blooms the following Christmas. You see, the amaryllis has grown in popularity as a Christmas flower. With bright red blooms, they are beginning to rival poinsettias as a favorite flowering gift during the holiday season.

Anyway, back to my plant…

The next Christmas came and went. But while the bulb put forth green leaves, it failed to flower. I considered uprooting the plant but decided to leave it.

Four months later, I was glad I did. Just last week, two vibrant red flowers blazed from the single stem, with two additional buds following a few days later—a glorious show of color.

Is my plant a late bloomer? Possibly. But then a friend shared a similar experience on social media. Could it be both our plants were late bloomers?

An internet search solved the mystery. Amaryllises naturally bloom in the spring. Withholding light and water for three months, then placing the plant in bright light and watering it, forces the blooms at Christmas.

This made me wonder about people. If you’re like me, there may be a person or two in your life who you have identified as a late bloomer. You might have even been told you were a late bloomer. Then again, maybe you simply hadn’t received what you needed to blossom.

  • Encouragement at just the right time
  • Training and equipping for the task at hand
  • Someone to come alongside to mentor and coach you

How many people are walking around today with the same undeserved label? Judged by hasty assumptions based on what others see at first glance. The potential for vibrant flowering blooms nipped before anyone could see the purpose for which God created them. Critical words burying blossoms so deep that no one is able to be blessed by their beauty.

Maybe it’s a cognitive limitation. Or a physical disability. Perhaps the difficulty is emotional. Or maybe the potential for vibrant blooms has been crushed by the weight of wrong choices or insecurity.

But, as the saying goes, God doesn’t make junk. Each and every person is a masterpiece of the Creator, made ready to blossom at just the right time in just the right place.

Our Savior is tender with us. You and I can follow the example of Jesus and facilitate blossoms in others, or we can stifle them. We can water a bruised plant or crush it. Which will we choose?

How is God calling you to help a late bloomer in your life today?

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. Isaiah 42:3 NIV

About the Author: Ava Pennington is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher. She’s also a freelance editor, and a certified coach for writers and speakers, and she teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. Ava is the author of Reflections on the Names of God: 180 Devotions to Know God More Fully (Revell Books, 2022), an abridged gift book edition of the one-year devotional, Daily Reflections on the Names of God. Three devotions for each name/attribute explore who God is, and how this changes us and our relationships. Visit her at www.AvaPennington.com to learn more.

Join the conversation: Do you know a late bloomer? How will you help them reach their potential?

The Most Famous Love Words

by Sheri Schofield

The harsh realities of paganism surrounded Ruth in the land of Moab—until the day she met Mahlon, a young Jewish immigrant. Ruth’s people worshipped Chemosh, known as “the destroyer.” Her people offered human sacrifices to Chemosh, usually young children and babies. But when she met Mahlon, Ruth was introduced to the living God, Jehovah, whose laws required love and life, not fear and death. It was revolutionary!

Mahlon and Ruth were soon married. Mahlon’s brother, Chilion, married another Moabite woman named Orpah. But their joy was cut short when Mahlon, Chilion and their father died, leaving behind their three widows. Their mother-in-law Naomi decided to return to her hometown. She urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah eventually did.

But Ruth refused to be parted from Naomi. Why would she want to stay in Moab and suffer under the worship of Chemosh? She told her mother-in-law, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” (Ruth 1:16 NIV).

Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, Ruth worked in the barley harvest to gather grain to feed Naomi and herself. The people of Bethlehem grew to respect the young widow for her faithfulness to Naomi. Eventually Ruth married a local landowner, Boaz, and provided a son to inherit Mahlon’s land, a son who was laid in Naomi’s lap, to bring joy to the widow.

While Ruth’s words to Naomi are often used in wedding ceremonies between a bride and groom, those words were originally meant to show the devotion of a young woman to her mother-in-law. Ruth became Naomi’s caretaker, her provider. She did it out of love.

Caretakers often support and provide for others who cannot live on their own. Older women care for husbands whose health is failing. Husbands care for wives who are incapacitated in some way. Parents care for handicapped children. Many caretakers work without thanks, for their loved one cannot speak or understand or express words of love. Yet those caretakers give unselfishly day after day, year after year, serving those whom they love.

Most people do not understand or even think about the sorrows of those who have taken up the role of caretaker in their homes. Often, those who give care do so out of an inner strength, upheld by the Holy Spirit. They have learned to stand alone, in God’s strength.

Valentine’s Day is very hard for many caretakers. Do you know anyone who serves in that capacity? Have you considered sending him or her a Valentine this year? How about a card signed by many, letting this lonely worker know they are loved and appreciated?

Let this Valentine’s Day be the beginning of a pattern among us. May the Lord help us seek out and recognize the Ruths who patiently and quietly serve others. Let’s tell them they are loved and treasured. We can lift their spirits with our encouragement. Let this Valentine’s Day go beyond romantic love and touch the servant-hearts of those in need of joy.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

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

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

God? Where Are You?: Answering Your Questions About God and How You Can Find Him by [Sheri Schofield]

Her first book on salvation, The Prince and the Plan, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, God? Where Are You?, tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: How can we show love and support for those in a caretaker role?

A Banner

by Dana Peters-Colley

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people…thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.  Isaiah 49:22, 23b KJV

Today, I asked the Lord what to share. The word banner came. A banner is how people are led into battle. Isaiah 13:2 instructs the Lord’s army: lift the banner up on the high mountain, raise your voice, and wave them into the doors of the nobles.

Often, as I live my life, I don’t feel like I can make it one more day through the battle. I’m dealing with prodigals and decades of heartache. The Lord’s been super-good to me, but oh, the battle, and oh my, the giants. Yet, here is God’s instruction. The banner. Let’s look deeper at Isaiah 13:2.

First, we are told to lift what we have on a high mountain. It makes me think of when Moses ascended the mountain to spend time with God, to bring the Almighty’s standard back down to men. The places up there, so joyous. Why would you ever want to come back after experiencing that? But Moses was faithful to bring what God said to the people, and so must we be.

Second, the passage describes waving our hands. Israel gave the Lord wave offerings (Exodus 29:19-28). This made me think of the freedom we receive in Christ to use our hands to reach up and beyond our own limitations and ask for heaven to move in our behalf. People might stare as we lift our hands, so it shows we aren’t man-pleasers but God pleasers. Give the Lord a big wave and say, “I love you, Jesus!”

Third, in that Scripture is the invitation to enter in. And not only that, but enter to where the nobles are. This is God, through the Prophet Isaiah, instructing us that we belong amidst greatness. Nobles. Ones who live well, who are respected and esteemed. Righteous. The banner brings us to this greatness. Nothing we create or do is worthy. Jesus is worthy. And He considers all His children nobility (Ephesians 1:5).

Most Saturdays, I read the portions of the Bible that the Messianic communities and the observant Jews study. All over the world, they read from the first five books of the Bible and then read a portion from the prophets of the Old Testament. The day I received the word ‘banner’ I was in Isaiah 49. In my King James translation, they used the word standard, so I almost missed it. But in modern day English, the best translation is banner.

Our banner. God will place His banner over us. It was there for me to find after the Holy Spirit spoke. I realized as tears swept down my face that this is one of my favorite passages, because the promises are so good to someone like me who is praying that her grown children will return to the Lord.

I hope this simple word, banner, brings you encouragement. God’s banner is filled with His promises to us. It ends with Isaiah 49:25 KJV where it states, “I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children.” I continue to stand and wait with spiritual eyes, knowing that with God all things are possible. I wait for God draw them back to Him. The enemy has done a superb job in deceiving them; it’s been a nightmare. But God, with one word, turned my helplessness into watching what He will do. The banner. He has it over you, too. Don’t you just love the Lord?

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

About the author: Dana Peters-Colley is a creative who loves Jesus. She has been tucked away developing a brand of Christian parable books, faith-based fiction, and inspirational books as well as screenplays. Dana holds a B.A. in journalism, studied screenwriting at U.C.L.A., and is a former long-time Disney creative leader and producer. When the Lord got ahold of Dana everything marvelously changed. She is developing a heavenly-inspired brand line that brings stories to build family, inspire discovery, and teach kingdom ways. See danapeterscolley.com to connect to her spiritual blog and gaze at her adventures.

Do you have a friend you want to receive Jesus into their lives? Do you want to receive how much God loves and values you? Do you want to be empowered to do the impossible? Then, you have to know who you are! Treasure will take you into the realization of God’s love for you as you discover you are His treasure.

Join the conversation: What does God’s banner over you mean to you today?

Sweet Words to a Stressed-Out World

by Karen Wingate

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”  Proverbs 12:25 NIV

I feel rather s­orry for Amazon workers.

Recently, my husband and I moved from an isolated rural setting to a big city with an Amazon distribution center three miles from our home. Within 24 hours after placing our first order, an Amazon delivery truck stopped at our driveway. Ah! That’s how Amazon could boast, “25,000 items delivered to your doorstep in two hours.” I could get used to this, I thought.

That’s the problem. I hope I don’t get used to it.

Our hurry-up society likes to push us to new records and accomplishments. Lunch at the speed of a microwave. Athletic record setting for faster times and higher scores. High tech music performances that make a performer wannabe feel inadequate because it’s not perfect enough.

For years we’ve been told to reach higher, try harder, and run faster.  Is faster really better? Is better and more any more perfect?  And what if, at our accelerated pace, we’re running in the wrong direction? Attaining what was never meant to be ours?

In the case of speedy delivery Amazon service, what’s the tradeoff? Stressed out workers who are asked to do the impossible. A society who learns they don’t have to wait for anything and who forgets the impact our convenience has on others.

Our world’s incessant demand for more, better, and faster is not the lifestyle God intended us to have. The Bible tells me to trust God for my needs (Proverbs 3:5), wait on Him (Psalm 27:14), and put the needs of others before myself (Romans 12:10).

As a Christian, how then should you live? It might feel like you are swimming upstream, but determine in your own life to view time, perfection, and accomplishment from God’s view. You also have a fabulous opportunity to minister to the people around you who are worn out from their high demand world. A few words of kindness will be enough to show them not everyone expects them to kick up their performance by a notch or more.

Words like:

  • “Take your time.”
  • “That’s okay. You did your best.”
  • “You go ahead. I can wait.”
  • “How can I help you?”
  • “Thanks for going the extra mile for me.”
  • “You did a great job.”

Will our reassuring words do any good toward relieving stress? Yes. They will. A lot. Your kindness and concern have the potential to reverberate for perhaps the span of a lifetime.

I was a young, anxious teenager when I went shopping one day with my sweet Aunt Charlotte. I freaked at the line of people behind me in the checkout line, and in grabbing my change, I fumbled coins and became even more distressed.

Aunt Charlotte’s voice murmured in my ear. “Stand where you are. Put your money in your wallet now. Take your time. They’ll wait for you.” Her kind words taught me that haste really does make waste, doing a job well is more important than doing it fast, and to resist assuming that other people won’t wait for me.

Gracious words that allow time, space, and room for mistakes may not sound like much, but they will stand out in stark contrast to the constant barrage of a do-better, move-faster world. Your sweet words will make your listener feel like someone has lifted weights from their shoulders; they’ll feel reenergized to keep moving forward.

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

About the author: Karen Wingate is learning to take life at a slower pace after her husband retired from 33 years of located church ministry. She is author of the soon to be released book, “With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind,” published by Kregel.

Join the conversation: What gracious words and acts can you express to diffuse the stress in those around you?

The Gift of Words

by Shirley Brosius

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 BSB

After taking in mail for a friend while she vacationed, she sent me a gift—six small LED flashlights. How practical, I thought, as I distributed them throughout our home. When I called to thank her, she said, “You know why I got you those flashlights, don’t you?” She explained that once, when our power had failed and I was caught without a light, I told her I was going to have my husband put flashlights in every room of the house. She wanted to furnish those lights. My friend remembered my words months after I had spoken . . . and forgotten . . . them.

Our words—whether delightful or derogatory—impact others. They plant seeds. And their words affect us. I still remember the words of a patient pastor to always read the Bible in context when I, as a new Christian, visited him with questions about Bible passages. I still remember the words of teachers who told me I could go to college to become a teacher even though I lacked finances.

A woman once approached me at a church bazaar to tell me how much it meant to her when, 40 years earlier, I invited her to serve on her high school yearbook staff. She said she would never have had the confidence to join had I not encouraged her. It turned out to be such a positive experience for her. Truth be told, she was doing me, as yearbook advisor, a favor. She was an excellent student, and I knew she would be an asset to the staff. But little did I know how insecure she felt.

The words we hear may bless our lives, but I also hear the cruel words of teasing classmates echo across the decades. They knocked down my self-esteem and made me feel bad about getting good grades and having a lanky body.

An older sister often joked that my legs were my redeeming feature. I suppose she meant it as a compliment, but it made me wonder what was wrong with the rest of me. Why did the rest of my body need redemption?

In his letter, James warned of the destruction words could cause: “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tone is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and set on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6 NASB). Just a few misplaced words have potential to change a life, for better or worse.  

We dole out words on a daily basis—to children, spouses, coworkers, friends and even store clerks. We communicate through emails, text messages, phone calls and face-to-face conversations. Do we think about the messages we send through the words we choose? Do we realize that we plant seeds or sow weeds with our words?

What words do we allow to enter our minds? Do the characters we watch on television show grace or do they promote crudeness and rudeness in relationships? Do our children learn words of disrespect for authority by the shows we allow them to watch? Even game show hosts may promote sarcasm and disdain for the inept.

As they say, “garbage in/garbage out.” We need to watch not only our own words but the words of others to evaluate how they affect us and our families. Do they make you doubt your uniqueness as a person made in the image of God?

Go out today and encourage someone to use their God-given abilities to step up to the plate, whatever that plate may be. Mind your words because others mind them as well. Plant seeds and block weeds from growing in your garden of relationships.

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

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About the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events throughout the east as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she enjoys passing on inspirational thoughts and books to two married sons and five grandchildren.

Join the conversation: What impacts have the words of others had on your life?

Resurrection Victory

by Julie Zine Coleman

O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?… Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:55, 57 NASB
 
Once only inhabited by a small Japanese civilian community of sulfur miners and sugar farmers, the island of Iwo Jima became a stronghold of pivotal importance in World War II. As the war progressed, Japan evacuated its citizens from the island and prepared for the inevitable Allied forces invasion. A huge number of bunkers, hidden artillery, and an amazing eleven miles of tunnels were in place by 1944. Twenty-one thousand soldiers were at the ready when Allied forces began firing on Iwo Jima.
 
On the fourth day of the battle, the first objective was captured: Mount Suribachi. Five marines and a Navy corpsman were photographed raising the American flag at its summit. That moment is now immortalized in the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, VA.
 
Once the high ground was secure, the invasion slowly moved northward. Very heavy fighting continued as Allied forces eventually took the airfields and remainder of the island. The Japanese fighters considered surrender dishonorable and most tenaciously fought to the death. A month into the invasion, 300 Japanese soldiers launched a last-ditch effort counterattack. The casualties were heavy on both sides, but the next day, the island was officially declared secured by the Allies.

Even so, over 3,000 Japanese troops remained in the island’s maze of caves and tunnels. More American lives were lost as they worked their way through the tunnel system routing those Japanese that refused to surrender. The battle may have been won, but the enemy continued to fight, determined to take as many with them in their demise as possible.

Yesterday on Easter Sunday we celebrated the greatest victory the world has ever witnessed. The Son of God, after three days in the grave, rose from the dead. No longer are we under condemnation for our sin. It was dealt with, paid for, and cast from us as far as the east is from the west. The victory is already ours because Christ has already won. “When you were dead in your transgressions,” Paul wrote, “He made you alive together with Him . . . having canceled out the certificate of debt . . . having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-15 NASB). Sin no longer holds us slave in its power.
 
The enemy has also been soundly defeated. Satan’s future final demise is already recorded in the Bible, when he is cast into the lake of fire to suffer torment for eternity (Revelation 20:10). The war is over.
 
Yet while victory has been recorded with indelible ink, the skirmishes still go on. While we were given new life at our salvation, we still struggle against our old sinful nature which relentlessly demands satisfaction, and we fight the enemy ever-tempting us to sin. As Paul wrote the Galatians, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:17 NASB) The war may be over, but the fighting continues on.
 
These skirmishes are a part of the life God expects us to live. In fact, He carefully equips His soldiers to fight the good fight. Satan may have lost the war, but he is deadly serious about taking as many down with him as possible before the last nail is driven into his coffin. So we have been issued a belt of truth (a great thing when you are up against the Father of Lies!), a breastplate of righteousness, and shoes bearing the gospel message in which to stand firm. Our shield is one of faith, which can deflect every fiery dart of doubt and accusation the enemy can launch at us. Our head is protected by the helmet of our salvation. And last but not least, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, contains all the knowledge we need to win each skirmish, which mostly, after all, takes place in the mind.
 
We may even lose some of these skirmishes, especially when we attempt to fight in our own strength. But it is important to remember in those moments of depressing defeat: the war’s victor has already been determined. The Good Guy won. Our hope is not in the circumstances of this world. It is in the future God has prepared for us, “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4 NASB). Nothing that happens to us on earth will impact the surety of our salvation. The battle belongs to the Lord.

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What has been the most meaningful to you this Easter Sunday?

Accepting and Utilizing Your Gift

by Candy Arrington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Candy Arrington

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: What is your calling?

Reserving my Spot

by Deborah McCormick Maxey

            I’m always among the first to register for a favorite writer’s conference held at a massive complex, tucked into the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. What a blessing to learn from top professionals in Christian writing, share laughs and meals, crazy costumes on genre night and deep and moving praise time together. Not to mention that my mountain girl heart soars looking out on the majestic scallops of those blue mountains lining the horizons as I walk in the woods. I feel so close to God in outdoor cathedrals.  

But the reason I book super early is I always want the same room. Every year. You might wonder why I would request a room that overlooks a huge parking lot and the backside of a mountain.  But the reason is beyond the asphalt and the wooded hillside directly across from my window. What draws me to that room requires me to look up. Like the first step in worship.

High atop the hill that my window faces is a massive white cross that can be seen on the interstate from miles away. I look forward to doing my devotions every morning in a small chair pulled up to the window and focusing first on that enormous cross and what it represents.

No matter what I do throughout the conference, when I unlock that door and return to my room, I feel a sense of home at the foot of the cross.

But the first morning of the last conference I attended, when I prepared to do my devotions, I positioned the chair and opened the drapes only to stand in stunned silence, flooded with disappointment. Fog. Fog so dense I couldn’t even see the parking lot.

After I read my devotions, I turned to prayer, starting with praise.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

So, digging deep, I thanked God for the fog and whatever reason He had for it. Within minutes warm tears of gratitude slid down my cheeks. I felt His presence, loving me with a fog lesson, recognizing that even though I could not see the cross, I knew for certain that it was still there. In those times when it seems as though my prayers hit the ceiling or I pray but don’t feel Him near me, it is just like the fog, my limitation. My emotions and thoughts, seasons, years, cultures, government, even white crosses on a hill can change. But not God.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)  

My worry, doubt, fear, disconnection, or emotional numbness is only a temporary internal fog.

We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7(KJV) 

I am so grateful that unlike a manmade sculpture our Father is indestructible, steadfast, unchanging, and waiting faithfully in the fog of my humanness with outstretched arms. Arms that reach as far as the east is to the west (Psalms 103:1 KJV), to welcome me back from my internal nearsightedness.

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

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website that focuses on miracles.  Her debut novel, The Endling is available for preorder on Amazon, and will be released by Firefly Southern Fiction/Iron Stream Media, May11, 2021. https://deborahmaxey.com

Join the conversation: What Scriptures have encouraged your heart lately?

Strengthened in Prayer and Lion-Aware

by Kelly Wilson Mize @KellyWilsonMize

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5: 8 (NLT)

Most people either love cats or despise them. I am most definitely a cat person: I love small cats, big cats, house cats, and wildcats. Cats are strong, independent, and beautifully graceful creatures. 

One species of big cat especially fascinating to me is the lion.  No zoo visit is complete without seeing the King of the Jungle. But while captivating to observe from a safe distance, this extraordinary creature has the power to be deadly.

Did you know that male lions weigh around 400 pounds, and can reach running speeds of up to 50 miles per hour? A lion’s roar can be heard from up to five miles away! As intriguing as they are, I would never want to share personal space with a hungry lion.

Peter warns believers that our enemy, Satan, is like a roaring lion. He roams around just looking for someone to attack, devour, and utterly destroy. A lion attack is horrific; the process is graphic and violent.

Have you experienced a season in your life when you felt you were under attack?

Peter prefaces the above verse with words of comfort and encouragement–to prepare us for the inevitable times in our lives when we will experience attack from our enemy. He writes: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).

Then, only after we are assured of God’s great love and care, we read the warning: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). 

Here’s another interesting fact about lions: they hunt for food mostly in the dark hours between dusk and dawn. How many times do we wake in the middle of the night, plagued with worry, doubt, loneliness, or fear? The lion is most dangerous at a time when there is an absence of light. 

So what can we do to protect ourselves from the enemy’s powerful attack? We welcome the Light! God’s word continues by telling us exactly what to do! Verse 9 says:

  • Stand firm.
  • Be strong in your faith. 
  • Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Don’t you just love it when God’s word gives us clear, step-by-step instructions? We are to stand firm, be strong, and remember that we are not alone. Through God’s Word, His presence, and the accountability of other believers, we are able to withstand the violent attacks of the Prince of Darkness. Together.

But verse 10 offers the best news of all. After we have suffered through the pursuit, we will be restored, supported, strengthened, and given a firm foundation upon which to stand. Through His amazing grace and power—a power that is exponentially stronger than any roaring, prowling enemy—God will redeem us. Because even the King of the Jungle is no match for the King of Kings.

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Strengthened in Prayer and Lion-Aware – encouragement from @KellyWilsonMize on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother of two, educator, and freelance writer with a master’s in education and 20 years of published writing experience. She has written numerous articles, interviews, and curriculum projects, and has contributed to seven books. Credits include LifeWay, Bethany House, Guideposts, Group Publishing, (in)courage, and many others. You can find out more about Kelly at kellywilsonmize.com.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced an attack from the enemy recently?