The Almighty Shadow of Rest

by Christina Rose

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, 
my God, in whom I trust.”                                                                                                                                          Psalm 91:1-2 NIV

We were happily married and joyfully expecting our first baby. We enjoyed a carefree life on San Francisco bay and never imagined anything could go wrong. I still remember the day a notice arrived from the lab showing abnormal test results. When my husband came home, I was too overcome by grief to speak and just handed him the notice. Further testing revealed that our baby was thriving, but I had to quit working, rest often, and notify my doctor with any problems.

There were many sleepless nights as I constantly prayed that our baby would survive and be healthy. In the early hours of dawn, I would head to my rocking chair by the fireplace and look out over the twinkling lights of San Francisco to the south. To the west was our lush green lawn and a view of the mountains. Deer would arrive in those early morning hours to feed on the grass before the sun came up. Their peaceful presence would calm me as I prayed. They had no worries, and I decided that neither should I.  I learned to rest and find peace in the shadow of the Almighty.  Months later, our beautiful little daughter arrived, perfectly healthy.

Now, many years later, sleepless nights have led to more rocking chair prayer in the early hours of dawn. My trip home to California was cancelled due to the pandemic of the corona virus. As I sit in the silent, dark hours, in Denver looking west towards my family in California, I choose to rest and trust in God’s perfect plan.

While this pandemic has seemingly paralyzed the world, it is instilling humility, compassion, and gratitude for many things we took for granted. This is a time of great harvest, as formerly self-reliant people are now turning to God for guidance. We will emerge from this global reset with a greater appreciation for our families, jobs, health, food, shelter, and most importantly, more trust in the God who has provided these things.

Not being able to see or hug our loved ones, especially in times of sickness and death, is something we have never known. But the silver lining is, once the crisis is over, we will embrace each other with greater love and affection. We will joyfully celebrate the simple pleasures that were temporarily taken away from us. We will have a greater appreciation for one another and all of life itself, realizing that each day is a gift from above.

As I watch the sunrise casting pink shadows over the snow-capped Rockies, I think of all the magnificent wildlife that is stirring in the mountains. I think of the vast beauty of the majestic mountains, lakes, streams and wildflowers that are starting to bloom. I think of my family on the California coast and pray that I will see them soon.  When we learn to rest in the shadow of the Almighty, we learn to find the peace that surpasses all understanding. We learn that while we may seem to be in the middle of a dark storm, it is merely a pause to reflect while God is birthing something new and wonderful.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

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The Almighty Shadow of Rest – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What have you been learning through the corona virus crisis?

The Grinch That Stole Spring

by Sheri Schofield

“Where did all those dandelions go?” I asked myself, as I walked through the mountain meadow near my home. There had been at least six cheerful flowers blooming on the bank the day before, some of the first flowers of spring after the long, barren winter months. I had been looking forward to seeing them! To me, they represented joy and new life.

Later that day as I was driving into town, I saw an animal head pop up from a culvert not far from the missing dandelions. It saw me and quickly ducked back into the tunnel. I stopped and waited to see what it was. The head looked kind of like a prairie dog, but it was much bigger. I thought, “If the prairie dogs are getting that big these days, I’m moving into town!”

Soon the animal’s head popped up again. I sat very still, my camera phone ready. Slowly, the creature moved a little higher, and finally climbed up on the bank where I could see it. I snapped a few pictures then drove down the mountain to a wide spot in the road to try and figure out what the animal was.

It was a yellow-bellied marmot. It turns out that marmots just love to eat dandelions! He’s been nibbling away at the cheerfulness of our mountain’s colors. I’ve named him Grinch.

Our current world health crisis is doing the same thing as that marmot: stealing the new life and joy of springtime. So what can we do to combat this Grinch?

Habakkuk faced a Grinch, too. He had been complaining to God about all the evil in Israel and asking God to do something about it. God told him that Babylon was going to invade Israel. God was allowing this in order to turn his people back to himself. God had had enough of Israel’s disobedience. Habakkuk describes what would happen:

God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble . . . (Habakkuk 3:3-6 NIV).

We are living in a time when God is, figuratively, shaking the earth, trying to get its attention and draw earth’s people back to himself. It is scary, even for believers! But Habakkuk’s response gives us great insight about how to overcome this time of trouble, this Grinch – this plague – that God is using to get earth’s attention. Habakkuk said:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV).

Do not be afraid of what God is doing! For he is calling earth’s people to himself. In the face of this great trial, rejoice in the goodness of God – goodness that will get people’s attention before it is too late, and will draw all who listen back to his loving heart.

Lord, let there be revival!

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God .  Psalm 42:1-2 NIV

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The Grinch That Stole Spring – insight from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: How has God gotten your attention in these troubled times?

Our Refuge And Strength

by Sheri Schofield

“Um, what is this?” I wondered. I had just walked into my office. There, in the middle of the room, stood a tacky old stroller that looked like it was from the 1950s. Its dull metal and frayed fabric stood in sharp contrast to my lovely peach and burnt orange office sanctuary.

Was my husband, Tim, trying to hint at something? Were two grown children, plus three grandchildren not enough? My thoughts went to Abraham and Sarah who had Isaac when they were in their nineties. No. That couldn’t be it! But what was he up to?

That’s when Tim brought the chameleon home. A chameleon is a kind of lizard that changes colors, kind of like the GEICO gecko, only bigger – but it doesn’t do commercials. I was okay with that. Tim put it in a small terrarium. It seemed harmless enough . . . unless . . .

“Honey, why is there a stroller in my office?” I asked with suspicion.

“Oh, it’s for the chameleon,” he said. “It has to get some sunshine every day so that it won’t get a vitamin D deficiency, and I can’t carry the terrarium easily. So I am going to put the chameleon in the stroller and take it along with me when we go for walks.”

Uh-huh. I could just see it now. Tim and I walking along our mountain road and some neighbors jog by.

“Oh! Let me see!” they say, smiling and coming over to check if we have a new grandchild.

The chameleon starts to turn brown and fades into the dirt in the terrarium.

The neighbors’ eyebrows go up. “Uhhhhh… It’s a lizard!” The neighbors look at us peculiarly and hurry away. Now we have a reputation! We’re The Lizard People.

I called my daughter, Christy, who immediately sided with her dad. “Mom, we’re moving back to Montana next year. My dog and I will go on walks with Dad and his chameleon!”

Great. She was no help at all!

I love being a mother. But not to a lizard! My maternal instincts are reserved for my human children and grandchildren. For them, my love is wider than the ocean, higher than the sky, and, as Randy Travis puts it, “deeper than the holler”.

As I write, our nation is being swept with a pandemic. My heart is sharply focused on my own children and grandchildren. Our son, Drew, is a nurse manager at a large hospital, where they are treating growing numbers of virus victims with inadequate equipment and supplies. My prayers focus first on Drew and his nursing staff each day, our front-line warriors.

Many mothers around this country are also praying non-stop for their children during this crisis. Many are wondering, “Where is God?”

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Our Refuge And Strength – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Israel was about to go through a time of suffering. The prophet Isaiah received this word from the Lord: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”(Isaiah 43:2-3 NIV).

God does not promise we will not suffer. But He is with us in the suffering, holding us close to His heart of love, comforting us. He hears our prayers. So I am storming heaven for my children daily, trusting that God is in control, whether I see it or not. I can feel His presence. Emmanuel – God with us.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. The LORD Almighty is with us. Psalm 46:1-3,7 NIV

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: How has God revealed Himself to you in these dark days?

Trusting God in a Season of Uncertainty

by Lee Ann Mancini

I have heard your prayers. I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you.  2 Kings 20:5 NIV

“Hi, Mrs. Mancini,” I heard a faint voice saying. Slowly, I opened my eyes and began to register that, once again, surgery was finished. This time, I had required a complete removal of my thyroid. Only three months prior, I had undergone surgery for avascular necrosis of the third metatarsal. What is that, you ask? It is when the bone in the middle toe of your foot begins to die.

I was carrying a large biblical commentary when, all of a sudden, I somehow managed to drop it on my foot. Unfortunately for me, the book did not land on its flat surface, which would have allowed the weight to be evenly distributed. Instead, the corner of the massive book struck my middle toe like a sharp-pointed knife! Wincing in pain, I told myself with resignation, “Well, that’s going to hurt for a while.” Little did I know that, only eight months later, I would require surgery.

Why do I mention my surgeries?

Well, I suffer from anxiety. Normally, just the thought of having to lie in bed for two weeks with my foot propped up above my heart—or the thought of possibly never being able to talk again should my vocal cords accidentally be cut—would normally have sent me into full panic mode. However, I am thankful to say the Lord was gracious to me, and this did not happen.

We all go through seasons of tests and trials, however, during those two recent health issues, I decided that I would earnestly focus on learning to trust God completely first and foremost. I wanted to rely on the Word of God, pray to the Lord in confidence, and trust in His promises without reservation.

Whenever a fearful thought began creeping into my mind, I would take that thought and bring it directly to Christ. “We demolish arguments and ever pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).

Do you earnestly seek the Lord in prayer during difficult times? Do you recite a particular Bible verse to help ease your mind as you feel anxiety creeping in? Or do you focus on the situation and dwell on the problem?

This time I didn’t dwell on the problem, but told my Father that I would accept whatever outcome He had planned for me. I was determined to praise Him no matter what the result. The Lord rewarded me by giving me peace and comfort through the entire process both surgeries entailed.

May the Lord protect and guide your hearts and minds during these very stressful days. May you be drawn closer to the Lord, trusting him and praising him. He promises to give you peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)!

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Trusting God in a Season of Uncertainty – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio PictureAbout the author: Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: What has helped you in dealing with anxiety?

 

What Would Jesus Say to Us about the Corona Virus?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.                                      Matthew 10:28 NIV

Have you wondered what Jesus would say to us about the corona virus? My inbox is full of emails from merchants and event planners sharing the precautions they’re executing to protect us from this virus.

My daughter, who works in airline reservations, had her shift hours doubled to handle flight cancellations. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math on that one! Paying your employees overtime to cancel your source of revenue? The threat of this virus has shaken our economy and our sense of well-being.

So, what would Jesus say? Several thoughts come to mind. Let’s look at one.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NIV).

I bet you didn’t see that one coming! While the Bible is full of verses that assure us of God’s care and protection over our earthly lives (Psalm 91; Matthew 6:25-27), this one reminds us of a core issue. We all will die. Some of us will die peacefully; others will die painfully, but either way, life on this earth will end.

How we live and whether or not we are ready to face eternity is more important than how and when we die. While the New Testament speaks of a time when Jesus will return and all believers who are still alive will meet Him in the air, statistically speaking, you have 100% chance of your life on earth coming to an end (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

I recently spoke with a young man who said his sister had canceled her family birthday party because of the virus threat. I mentioned that we all will die and need to be ready to die. This 38-year-old man said he’d had a brush with death just weeks earlier. He described riding his motorcycle down a city road when a rolled carpet fell off the truck in front of him, knocked him off his bike and sent him skidding across 100 feet of asphalt. He showed me the pink skin running down his arm where the asphalt had penetrated the layers of his clothing.

“When they put me in the emergency vehicle, I fell apart. I couldn’t believe I was still alive,” he said.

Jesus’ words really are a source of comfort to those who embrace them. For He reminds us there is only One with the power to destroy or to save an eternal soul. And He has gone to extreme measures to save us.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

If you were to die today and God were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you say?

Would you tell Him you’ve done your best?

That your good deeds outweigh your bad?

Your very eternity rests on getting this right. The Bible supplies the correct answer.

If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV). Have you put your trust in Jesus? Do you believe His death paid for your sins—past, present, and future—and His resurrection secured your eternal life (1 John 5:13)? If so, you have nothing to fear from the corona virus, or anything else, for that matter.

How much head space is the corona virus taking up in your mind? We should be wise in our actions. We should heed the precautions to wash our hands and protect ourselves. But let’s be counted among those who encourage each other to faith, not fear. Fear actually suppresses the immune system we need to fight not only this virus but other serious illnesses, including cancer.

Let’s follow the Bible’s admonition to: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

TWEETABLE
What Would Jesus Say to Us about the Corona Virus? – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: How are you coping with our present circumstances?

Bold as a Lion or Squeaky as a Mouse?

by Christina Rose

After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever! At the very moment, they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.                                                                        2 Chronicles 20:21-22 NLT

The people of Judah felt overwhelmed by the three enormous armies that were about to destroy them. They must have felt like terrified squeaky little mice who were about to be devoured by big, bold lions.  Knowing how hopeless their circumstances were, they called on God to rescue them.  The day before battle, King Jehoshaphat bowed with his face toward the ground and all the people of Judah bowed down to worship the Lord with him.

Early the next morning, Jehoshaphat appointed men to march while boldly praising the Lord as if the battle had already been won. As they marched in front of their army, loudly praising God,  He threw their enemies into confusion, who then turned on themselves, slaughtering one another.  Not only were their enemies defeated,  the people of Judah spent three days collecting the spoils of war that had been abandoned.

Paul and Silas were arrested by officials who severely beat them then placed them in an inner dungeon with their feet clamped into stocks. It is likely their injuries were serious. They had no idea if they would survive this imprisonment.

Rather than hopelessly whimpering or feeling like terrified little mice, they chose to trust God.

Throughout the night they sang bold hymns of praise while the other prisoners listened. Around midnight, a massive earthquake leveled the prison. Every door swung open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off. It was a glorious display of Gods magnificent power to set everyone free.

When my daughters were young, we would load up the little red wagon with a picnic and spend the day at the zoo. As feeding time approached, the bellowing, bone-chilling, thunderous roars of lions resounded throughout the zoo. Despite their being behind bars, we never got too close to the lions. We hung back, wondering if they could be strong enough to break through those cages and pounce on my little girls for a quick and tasty meal. While their majestic presence and intense stares were impressive, it was their bellowing, resounding roars that inspired the greatest awe and fear.

If the people of Judah were scared, squeaky little mice when they went into battle, they would have been squashed immediately. But God responded to their bold and mighty lion-like roars and protected them.

If  Paul and Silas had been whimpering in jail like terrified little mice they most likely would have ended up dying there. Instead, God honored their trust by shaking the earth, breaking their chains, and setting them free.

Sometimes the squeaky little mouse in me threatens to overtake me. I can feel myself shrinking in fear. But then my big, bold lion leaps to the forefront, reminding me of whose I am. We were born to be mighty warriors and to roar to the world that nothing is impossible when we call on our God with songs of worship and praise.

And when we do, He may well conquer our battles for us before they have even begun.

But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:17 NLT

TWEETABLE
Bold as a Lion or Squeaky as a Mouse? – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What do you need to trust Him for today?

 

Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I’m not going to lie, I allowed my kids to make a few bad hair decisions as they were growing up. I did it for two reasons. 1) I knew I would be able to show them the pictures years later and tease them mercilessly, and 2) if everything was all hair perfection for them growing up, how would they ever learn to be funny?

May I say now, “well-done, me.” Because I have pictures. And the laughter is very satisfying. And also, all my kids are hilarious.

I’m also big enough to admit that sometimes when we look at those pictures, the bad hair is mine. I’d rather call it a bad mousse day. Or as I’ve come to more often refer to it, “Serendipity-Do”—since I never knew exactly how that hair would turn out. Or how the gel would come off.

When I say that I’m big enough to admit it, sometimes I mean my hair was big enough. Big enough for whatever. Oh my, the sheer “bigness” of that hair. I look at the photos of those three-story bangs and wonder how it all held up without girders and trusses. I think the highest hair stood with a lot of teasing, spraying, wishing and even more worrying. Plus another jar and a half of the gel-mousse-plaster-of-Paris of the day.

Back then I also worried on windy days that those bangs might accidentally achieve enough thrust, drag, weight, lift and hairspray to fly me a couple of counties over. Oh the worries of heavy-duty aerodynamic bangs (hair-o-dynamic?). It’s enough to…well…make your hair stand on end. Or turn it gray.

Worry in all aspects of life can be as sticky as cheap mousse. It’s even sneaky. I often convince myself that worry works. After all, most of the things I worry about don’t happen. Doesn’t that mean it’s working?

Even in all its slick sneakiness, there’s something we can do with worry. When we feel we’re coming unglued (not a hair reference), and we don’t know what to do, we have a choice. We can trade in that worry. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (Philippians 4:6, CSB).

Trading worry for prayer, petition and thanksgiving? It’s the most amazing exchange. And you’re not even going to believe what comes along with it. A gloriously unexpected peace. We’re told about it in the very next verse. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, CSB). A heart-and-mind-guarding peace straight from Jesus Himself!

Seeking Jesus—heart and mind on Him—is the key. He said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow.” He preceded that command with, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33, CSB). When His peace rules, the fears that seem three stories tall one minute, appear appropriately minuscule the next. Is there any worry—anything at all—that can stand up against the perfect peace of God?

God’s peace has proven its ability to stand up against the biggest heartbreaks, the highest life-threats, or even the smallest and goofiest hair events—even events with pictures.

On the pics topic, I’m backing off my kids a hair. Possibly because for every shot I take at one of their styles, they can always pull out a Glamour Shot of mine.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.                                                                                                 Isaiah 41:10 NASB

TWEETABLE 
Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head – Encouragement from @RhondaRhea (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-CaffeinatedWhen the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. 

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep your worrying under control?

 

You Don’t Have to Hide Anymore

by Monica Schmelter @monicaschmelter

I’ve spent a lot of my life in hiding. I try to mask my insecurities, faults and shortcomings. Quite honestly, it’s grown to be a heavy load.

Can you relate?

I find I hide because I fear rejection or judgment. What makes you want to hide? Whatever the case hiding is nothing new. Adam and Eve hid because of sin. Gideon hid out of fear of the enemy.

One day, when my “if people really knew the truth about me” fears were overwhelming me, I happened on these Scriptures in the book of Colossians.

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.  In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15 NLT).

Jesus willingly took our wrongs and wiped clean all records of them. He nailed them to the cross and utterly obliterated them. By doing this, He disarmed and shamed the spiritual rulers and authorities with His victory on the cross.

Our enemy, Satan, and his army of fallen angels have been disarmed. They are deprived of power over us. The Cross is our safe place. The cross beckons us out of hiding into His love and into the Community of faith. With the cross as our safe place, we can enjoy an honest relationship with Jesus Christ – and with one another.

With the cross as our safe place we hear “You don’t have to hide anymore.” All those fears, like God can’t forgive me or what will people think dissipate at the cross.

I can almost hear some of you saying yes, I can accept the cross as my safe place, but the whole community of faith thing? That is another matter. I struggle with that as well. Take a look at the truths below for help in living in community and building healthy relationships.

Trust Christ Completely

He is the only One who will never let us down. When Christ is our anchor, our ship does not sink when people disappoint us.

Realign Your Expectations of People

When we lean into Christ fully our expectations of people are realigned. This means we are free to enjoy community in a brand-new way. No longer do we rely on people to fully meet our needs, affirm our value and strengthen our faith.

Develop Relationships Over Time

You can learn a lot by listening to what is said, as well as what is not said. It takes time to build rapport, confidence, and trust. It isn’t wise to trust and bear our deepest issues to everyone, but there are safe people in this world. Look for and be a safe, trustworthy person. None of us were meant to do life alone.

The next time you find yourself wanting to do life alone – or go into hiding for fear of judgment or rejection, take a moment to reflect on the Cross as your Safe Place – and remember You don’t have to Hide anymore.

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You Don’t Have to Hide Anymore – encouragement from @MonicaSchmelter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the author: Monica Schmelter is the host of CTN’s daily television show Bridges and also the General Manager of WHTN, Nashville TN. Bridges airs in over 50 Million Homes and also airs on ROKU. To learn more, go to monicaschmelter.com.

Got a junk drawer? Ever find yourself stuffing stray items in there without thinking? Monica’s book, Messy to Meaningful, will help you sift through and sort out the unnecessary spiritual things weighing you down. Stop holding on to so much junk that you can’t fit in the good things the Lord is calling you to. Monica and co-authors Rhonda and Kaley Rhea will take you through your junk drawer and make you laugh along the way. Find yourself some beautiful…free.

Join the conversation: Are you spending your life in hiding? What keeps you there?

 

 

 

Learning to Listen Well

by Natalie Flake Ford @tearstojoy

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Panic. Dread. Unprecedented Fear. These words describe the emotional turmoil in the car just moments before my daughter’s first driving lesson. After a quick prayer, I gently instructed her on keeping between the lines as well as knowing when to brake and when to speed up. As I did this, my anxious feelings slowly began to dissipate. Peace and calm gradually replaced my fear and anxiety.

In order for my daughter to drive well, we had to turn off distractions (cell phones and radio). As she listened intently to my voice and worked diligently to obey my commands, she gradually learned to drive.

God wants the same for us in our daily lives. Too often distractions drown out his still, quiet voice until we are consumed with doing what the world deems important. The result is becoming preoccupied with worry. Henry Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and psychologist, wrote, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.”

If we want to walk in obedience to Christ, we have to remove distractions so that we can focus on His voice. This is easier said than done. Silence can be uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I get quiet, my mind starts to race. I obsess over my to-do list and struggle with the urge to “do something.” If I am quiet long enough, anxieties, fears, hurtful memories, anger, and pain threaten to consume me.

Uncomfortable with these feelings, I want to stop this “inner chat” and hide in busyness. But to do so would mean missing God’s voice and the peace He offers. When we are still before Him, the Holy Spirit does a healing work in the deep recesses of our heart and soul.

One of my seminary professors required that we spend three hours alone with the Lord. Honestly, I dreaded this assignment and thought it to be a waste of time. But out of obligation, I gathered my Bible, a hymnal, a journal, and my guitar and headed for a local state park.

In the beginning, it felt awkward. My mind wandered, and I continually fought to bring it back to the Word. But as I disciplined myself to be still, I experienced one of the sweetest, most intimate times with the Lord that I’ve ever had. I left that park different than when I arrived. I was filled with contentment, peace, and joy, even though my circumstances remained the same.

Spending three hours alone with God daily is not realistic for most of us. But we can make finding quiet moments a priority, whether it be the few minutes before we get out of bed, turning off the radio in the car, or meditating on the Word during our quiet times.

Consider scheduling time in your calendar for solitude and don’t let anything change that appointment. Get up early on Sundays and spend time preparing your heart for worship — maybe even go to the Church and find a quiet place to pray and listen.

Solitude is not easy. It is awkward at first, but it has the potential to radically sanctify us and make us more like Christ. If Jesus was always intently listening to the Father, how much more do we need to do the same?

TWEETABLE
Learning to Listen Well – insight from Natalie Flake Ford, @TearsToJoy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Natailie Ford headshotAbout the author: Natalie Flake Ford teaches counseling and psychology at Truett McConnell University.  She is also a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Ford is passionate about missions and lives to make Jesus known.

In her book, Tears to Joy, Natalie details the tribulations of dealing with mental illness. Debunking stigma and presenting practical advice, she offers hope to those who have dealt with a loved one’s mental illness or suicide, even to those who have struggled with it themselves.

Join the conversation: How do you manage to incorporate solitude into your life?

Confident Dependence in the Face of Fear

by Jennifer Smith Lane

Last year my husband, an otherwise healthy man in his mid-forties, was diagnosed with cancer. The news blindsided us. Further testing led to the discovery of a second, unrelated cancer in his kidney. Another blow. This was particularly surprising because my husband is a urologist. Not only is kidney cancer his surgical specialty, it has also been the focus of his medical research for nearly two decades.

Suddenly our lives came to a screeching halt. Our world was turned upside down as a treatment plan was mapped out making the next six months look drastically different than what we had planned. If that wasn’t enough, during that same time, we had a water leak in our kitchen forcing us to replace all of the main level flooring, a close family friend died, and our son started having some health problems as well. I felt overwhelmed and afraid.

It’s one thing to say you trust God. It’s another thing to trust God when you are afraid.

Even though God had rescued me from my eating disorder and shown me that He was trustworthy, I still found myself afraid. Could I trust Him to bring me through yet another deep valley of suffering? “As for me, I look to the LORD for His help. I wait CONFIDENTLY for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me” (Micah 7:7 NLT). Wait confidently, with certainty?

When I’m afraid, I find that confidence and certainty are the exact opposite of how I feel. As I reflected on this, I realized I was afraid because I kept thinking the outcome rested on my shoulders when in actuality it rested on God’s. God was asking me to give my fears over to Him and trust Him, but I didn’t know what that looked like, so I turned to God’s Word for answers.

As I studied the Psalms, I was surprised by how often the psalmist prays in commands. Meaning when he prays, he doesn’t sheepishly skirt around his request. No, he pleads with God saying things like, “Save Me,” “Heal Me,” “Rescue Me,” “Help Me,” and “Vindicate Me.” I thought, how could David be so bold as to pray this way? It’s because David’s confidence rested in God, not in himself. David knew that the God he was crying out to was the same God who created the world and all that is in it. The same God who flooded the earth, parted the Red Sea, turned the Nile into blood, and performed countless other wonders and miracles. The same God who made up a plan to save all of humanity through His Son Jesus Christ. Even though David had a lot to fear, he prayed big because he lived in “confident dependence” (Hosea 12:6 NLT) on our amazing God.

We pray to the same amazing God David did. Don’t let fear hinder your prayer life by limiting our limitless God. The next time you’re facing difficult circumstances, pray like you remember how great God is and that He is on your side.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

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Confident Dependence in the Face of Fear – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: What is it about God that gives you confidence in Him?