In the Bag

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

“But Jonah ran away from the Lord.” Jonah 1:3 NIV

In my role as the preschool Bible Story Lady at church one Sunday, I told the story of Jonah and the big fish to the four-year-olds.

The hard part wasn’t bringing the bit about Jonah deliberately running away from God down to the their level: little people who still get their fannies smacked when they run away from adults. No. They got that all right.

The hard part was how to tell it so they’d understand that some grown-ups are silly enough to think they can hide from an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God. Not even a four-year-old would believe that.

So I asked how many of the children like to play hide-and-seek. Every hand went up.

“Have you ever picked a really bad hiding place like this one?” I put my hands over my eyes and said, “Okay. I’m hidden. I can’t see you so you can’t see me either, right?”

The kids laughed hysterically.

“Or how about this one?” I tried to squeeze my jumbo adult body behind an itty-bitty kiddie chair. “Can you see me now?”

They howled.

“Or maybe you’ve been here.” I returned to center stage, carefully unfolded a paper bag, plopped it over my head, and reached out with both hands – searching, groping, even becoming a little tearful as I fell to my knees.

“Did you leave me?” I called out in faux panic. “Oh no! I’m all alone in this cold, dark, horrible place. And I’m so scared! Won’t someone help me?”

No laughter this time. Something had resonated with those little people.

I hadn’t expected this. Silence, so thick you could cut it with a knife. I wasn’t sure what to do next.

The kids apparently identified with my aloneness, with Jonah in his disobedience. With all humankind when we choose to dig a hole of disrespect to our Creator, then lie in it, isolated … frightened … confused.

Suddenly a little voice piped up. A warm voice heavy with empathy. “It’s okay, Miss Debbie. We’re still here. Don’t be afraid. You’re not alone.”

And then I heard footsteps mounting the stage and felt a tiny hand take mine. Then dozens of small hands found me, surrounding me with comfort and hope.

There I was, kneeling on a stage with a brown paper bag over my head and a huge lump in my throat, swarmed by a horde of uninhibited children who understood what it felt like to be alone and afraid – and didn’t want it to happen to me.

I was incredibly moved.

Running from God is something we silly grown-ups do, isn’t it? We actually think that secret sin of ours is secret and an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God somehow doesn’t know about our hidden shame.

So we isolate that part of ourselves and try to hide it in a cold, dark spiritual place that reeks like the innards of a gutted fish. We feel alone. And scared. Because our heavenly Father isn’t there.

But He is. He is. Like Jonah, we only have to call for help to be heard. “Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish” (Jonah 2:1 MSG).

Then Papa God’s warm, comforting hands will reach out from the darkness, enveloping us in forgiveness, redemption, second chances … hope.

That flash of blindness with the preschoolers truly opened my eyes. It was one of those rare teachable moments of adulthood that knocks your well-ordered world off its axis and cracks open the door for a glimpse into a higher realm.

Maybe I should carry a head bag around with me all the time.

Now let your unfailing love comfort me, just as you promised me, your servant. Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your instructions are my delight.” Psalm 119:76-77 NLT

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In the Bag – encouragement from @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debora-coty-250x250About the author: Debora Coty is a speaker, columnist and award-winning author of 200+ articles and over 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with over 1.2 million copies sold in multiple languages worldwide. Besides donning her floppy flowered hat as the Bible Story Lady, she enjoys teaching piano, mountain hiking, choco-scarfing, and playing tennis. Debora lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband and five feisty grands living nearby. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BBFFs (Blessed Blog Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Momsaddresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: Have you had a rare teachable moment with God lately? Please share!

 

Should I Love Those Who Do Things I Hate?

All who fear the Lord will hate evil.   Proverbs 8:13 NLT

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

On Saturday, May 30, 2020, my husband and I strolled down Fayetteville Street from the State Capitol Building to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. We stopped to get fresh juice on a side street before returning to our car. After weeks of silent streets, it was a joy to see families enjoying the spring day. While restaurants were still closed or taking only sidewalk orders, life promised the return of normal. Little did we know that in a few hours this peaceful street would erupt in chaos as rioters smashed windows and destroyed property.

We live in a time when hate flows easier than tap water.

Is Hate Ever Right?

It may surprise you to know hate is not necessarily wrong. God hates.

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV).

This list doesn’t give us permission to judge others. Judgment and punishment belong to God alone (Romans 12:17-21). The Bible lists these so we won’t do them.

If we hate the things God hates, we’ll run from them—not to them. This list shows us what not to do. He grants us self-control, not other-control.

Speaking of Running

The division in our country reminds me of the prophet Jonah. When God sent him to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to warn them about God’s pending judgment, he ran the other way. Assyria was a ruthless nation and enemy of Israel.

God captured Jonah’s attention—literally. While in the belly of a big fish, Jonah submitted to God’s commission. He went to those he hated and preached a one-sentence sermon. As a result, “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth” (Jonah 3:4-5 NIV).

Was Jonah ecstatic that God used him to bring about one of the biggest spiritual revivals in history?

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live’” (Jonah 4:1-3).

Jonah didn’t believe the Ninevites deserved God’s mercy. He wanted God to punish them, not forgive them. God used a plant and a worm to expose his unrighteous anger.

Nineveh can be a word picture to us for those who do things that we hate. The book of Jonah reminds us God wants all people to find mercy and forgiveness through Jesus. He wants to use us to reach them.

Review the things God hates and pray with me.

Lord Jesus, help us to be more like You. We need Your grace to hate evil so that we won’t practice it and love the people who do practice it.

TWEETABLE
Should I Love Those Who Do Things I Hate? – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilson
Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]


About 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 Godand 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 do you express love for people doing the things that you hate?

Do You Love Me More than These?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

No one wants to be reminded of their sinful choices. Satan, our accuser (Revelation 12:10) loves to use guilt and shame to fuel our self-hate and distrust of God. His motive is to convince us God can’t possibly still love us.

At the famous fish breakfast on the beach by the Sea of Galilee (John 21), Jesus pursued Peter with laser-focused inquiries into Peter’s still-hurting heart. He created  circumstances that morning that would bring further healing through providing a contrast to Peter’s past with his present:

  • Peter denied Jesus three times. Now, Jesus asks Peter the same question three times and assures him with the same command three times.
  • Peter was called to be a follower by Christ after seeing Jesus’s miracle of providing fish. Now, Jesus provides a boatload of fish to one who already believes.
  • Peter denied knowing Jesus in the setting of a blazing fire in the high priest’s court. Now, Jesus welcomes the group to the campfire with fish browning on a blazing fire.
  • Peter had boasted to Jesus “Though they [the other disciples] all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33). Now, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” giving him an opportunity to reflect on his earlier boastful claim.

All of these important interactions continued the work of healing in Peter’s soul. If we were Peter, we possibly might think: “Does it really take all this to heal? I don’t want to review my sin.” But Jesus knew he was not fully healed.

Sometimes we aren’t, either.

Jesus’s persistence reaps the reward—a change in Peter’s heart. Peter’s interaction after Jesus’s third inquiry is different than ever before.

Peter is grieved when Jesus asks a the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).

Peter from the past would have passionately defended himself and taken impulsive action to demonstrate his love. But this time, Peter acknowledges Jesus knows everything, trusting that his Master knows his heart. Peter no longer has to prove his love.

Can we receive the Holy Spirit’s work of healing even as he reminds us of past sin? We might not be as spiritually healthy and healed as we think. Satan calls attention to the needed places of healing, accusing us and wanting to defeat us. His motive is to destroy our confidence in God’s forgiving and healing power.

God’s motive is the opposite. God does not intend to shame us but to steadfastly pursue our heart’s need of greater healing. As we face our sin and receive forgiveness and cleansing, our pride is shattered. Our ability to tell others of our Master’s loving acceptance increases. Our compassion for others empowers us. Our gratitude for salvation blossoms and deepens our relationship with Him.

Convinced he is no better than the others, Peter becomes a powerful leader in the church, giving the first sermon ever about Jesus on the Day of Pentecost.

When you remember your ungodly past, don’t let Satan use it for harm. Trust God to bring deeper healing.

 My Lord God Almighty, I praise you for your steadfast nature, which never gives up inquiring into my heart for my good. Thank you for helping me see the difference between Satan’s evil intent and your loving motives.

TWEETABLE
Do You Love Me More than These? – encouragement from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller, author of over 55 books, loves to remember herself and others that God’s convicting power is always meant for our good. She has traveled the world sharing Jesus and has spoken in over 35 States and 9 foreign countries. She and her husband live in Southern California and are parents, grandparents, and lay-counselors. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com  

Kathy co-authored her latest book, God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature, with her husband Larry. It provides a fascinating exploration of who God is and all the amazing aspects of his nature—his love, grace, faithfulness, mercy, kindness, wisdom, and so many more.

Join the conversation: Has the Holy Spirit reminded you of memories in you that still need to be healed? Were you able to trust His kind intention through the process?

How Do You See Him?

by Stacy Sanchez

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.    Psalm 103:11-13 NASB

When I was a little girl, I had a favorite Bible storybook that was beautifully illustrated by Francis Hook. I loved to look at the pictures while my grandmother read the stories to me. It is a wonderful memory that I hold dear today.

Each time we read the book, I begged her to read again the story of Jesus beckoning little children to come to Him. The illustration was of four children surrounding Jesus, yearning for His personal attention. Jesus is holding the face of one precious girl gently in His hands, looking lovingly into her eyes. The expression on her face shows her utter adoration.

That particular scene spoke to my heart even at that young age. I so wanted to be that little girl. Years later, I found the picture and put it in my office. It reminds me of those wonderful times, sitting at my beloved grandmother’s side while she taught me about Jesus’ love.

Sadly, in those days, I never pictured myself as the child being held by Jesus. I related more to the girl standing off to the side, desperately hoping He would notice her. But this was probably my fear speaking; imagining such a personal interaction with Him in light of all my faults and failures was downright scary. I was afraid of having Him look directly at me.

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Luke 22:61 NIV

Strong, brave, impetuous Peter had zealously sworn to Jesus that he would never betray Him. He even vowed this on his very life. But when accused by a servant girl in the courtyard of the high priest, Peter caved into his fear and vehemently swore that he “never knew the man.”

“The man”? Wasn’t Peter the first disciple to boldly proclaim Jesus as “The Holy One of God, The Christ”? Yet in the pressure of the moment, he sheepishly demeaned “The Holy One of God” to just “the man.”

How often do we do the same? Bold one moment, proclaiming allegiance to our King, then fearfully hoping He doesn’t see us disappoint Him in the next? I sure have. Many times. Just call me Peter.

After Peter’s third betrayal that terrible night, the rooster crowed, and as Jesus, battered, bloodied, and bruised, was being led out of the high priest’s court, He turned and looked straight at him.

Try to put yourself in Peter’s shoes. What if it was you who failed, then saw Jesus turn and look straight at you? What do you think you would have seen in His eyes?

Our answer reveals how we perceive our relationship with our Heavenly Father. When you imagine Him looking at you, what do His eyes portray? Anger? Guilt? Disappointment? Or, do you see love tenderness, forgiveness, and mercy in His eyes?

Spend some time today, honestly talking to Jesus about what you think you would see in His gaze. Believe me, He wants you to only see His love.

It has taken me many years; I have let God down all too often. But my acceptance to God has never been about what I do or have done. It’s Christ’s righteousness I wear. His blood has paid for every one of my sins. There is no shame in my relationship with Him. Jesus bore my shame on the cross.

Because of Jesus’ unfailing love, I now picture myself as the little girl in Jesus’ hands. I can see His eyes of love boring deep into my soul. He knows every thought, word, and deed I have ever had or done, but He loves me anyway and tenderly holds my face in His hands.

Lord Jesus, Help us to see You as the forgiving, merciful Savior and friend that You are. Help us to have a correct estimation of your love for us. Because you surrendered your life on the cross, instead of seeing anger and disappointment in your eyes, we can now only see forgiveness and mercy in your look of love.

TWEETABLE
How Do You See Him? – encouragement from Stacy Sanchez on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

stacy sanchezAbout the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog: writetotheheart.org and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: What would be in God’s eyes if you could see Him looking straight at you?

That Stinking Sin

by Dena Dyer @denajdyer

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.                                  Romans 3:23-24 NIV

“What is that horrible smell?” my husband asked me after climbing into the front seat of my car.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve looked under the seats but there’s nothing there. Maybe something spilled?”

A day later, the smell was even worse. Desperate to find the cause, we got our brightest flashlight and looked under the hood (thinking maybe a mouse had crawled up in the engine and died). We even searched the side pockets on the car’s doors to see if some bit of food had gotten trapped.

Finally, I looked in a box of clothes I had been planning to take to Goodwill, which had been behind my back seats for a couple of weeks. And I found a small grocery sack with—wait for it—a two-week old tube of ground turkey. It had expanded and looked ready to explode. Holding my nose, I put the gaseous tube, along with the donation box in a big garbage bag and deposited into our outdoor trash can.

The next morning, as I drove to work, God nudged me. That’s like sin, He pointed out. Even small sins can become a big problem over time. At first, our sin may seem like no big deal. But over time, it poisons more of the areas and relationships in our lives, until nothing remains unaffected.

I remember when bitterness over a friend who betrayed me turned sour, affecting my ability to trust in others and risk friendships. It stank up my words and thoughts, until my husband noticed and called me out. I had felt justified in my emotions and reaction, and so I had allowed myself to become blind to its insidious, creeping nature.

But here’s the good news: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NIV).

I did confess my bitterness and anger to the Lord. I rejoiced that Jesus paid for that sin, and that it would not stand between the Lord and I. But the Lord did more than forgive. Over time and with His help, I forgave the person who had hurt me, releasing her to God, and I felt the freedom to pray for her and (gasp!) even wish her well.

In the illustration above, the Holy Spirit is like the flashlight, helping us search out sin and convicting us of its presence so we can confess. God has already removed our sin by the blood of Jesus. We are clean and wear His righteousness. In His grace, he has set us free.

Today, ask God what sins–big or small–are “hiding” in your own life. Then confess the wrongdoing and thank God for His forgiveness and mercy.

This blog is excerpted from Dena’s book, Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms, which is available as an e-book from online retailers. 

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Only Cats Have Nine Lives – encouragement & insight from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Clic, to Tweet)

dena headshotAbout the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Dena’s book, Grace for the Race,  uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled females. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help moms realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: Have you nursed bitterness in your heart? How did God set you free?

The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 ESV

Around the fifth century, as the story is told, Irish raiders stole an adolescent named Patrick from his family and enslaved him for six years until he escaped back to his family in Britain. After entering the church, Patrick returned to Ireland – to the people who had held him in slavery – serving them as a missionary and spreading the truth of Jesus Christ.

Patrick is quoted as saying, “Before I was humiliated, I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.”

In his studies, Patrick must have read the story of a boy named Joseph, favored by his father above all his brothers. One day, out of jealousy for their father’s attentions, the brothers conspired to kill Joseph, but instead sold him to passing slave traders.

Joseph was enslaved in Egypt but found favor with the man he served. Once again, though, despite Joseph’s innocence, he was falsely accused and imprisoned. Any one of us would have been tempted to sink into self-pity, bitterness, and anger. Joseph’s faithfulness had been once again repaid with injustice and humiliation. During his imprisonment, Joseph, again, distinguished himself for his faithful work.

Finally, Joseph was freed and rose to be second only to Pharaoh. God used him to serve and deliver not only the nation where he served as a slave, but also his family, the very brothers who betrayed him. By the time he saved them, he, like St. Patrick, had found a greater purpose to his trials than they could ever know.

To celebrate St. Patrick is to celebrate the power of the One True God who continues to work in those of us stones that lie in modern mud, in those of us betrayed or victims of injustice, in those of us who suffer despite our faithfulness and love.

Today, before you don the green, cook up the corned beef, or raise a pint, consider those who have committed wrongs against you – those who perhaps held your spirit captive  – and choose, like St. Patrick and Joseph, to forgive them, maybe reach out to them, to serve in the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

People harmed many of us in our youth. Like St. Patrick who was taken captive, or Joseph, the dreamer, sold by his brothers into slavery, we experienced harm and a certain type of bondage that interrupted our direct track to growing as we thought we should. St. Patrick and Joseph both found the power of God to be stronger than the power of those who had done them wrong.

They overcame through the spirit of Jesus Christ and not only broke free but forgave those who wronged them. Rather than being crippled by their captors, they translated their experiences into the language of God’s love and wove it into a greater story.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to celebrate a kind of freedom that many still have not experienced. The freedom to forgive those who have harmed us and to live our lives defined – not by them – but by our devotion to the truth and to Jesus Christ.

It isn’t an easy path. But it is a possible path. Jesus. Jesus is the Way.

Ask Patrick. He found the road. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. It is a celebration of those, freed by Christ, who spent their freedom serving others.

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The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick – insight from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been given a rock? What deeper issues did it lead you to question?

Join the conversation: When did you receive the correct diagnosis on you spiritual ailment?

 

Come to Your Senses

by Lane P. Jordan @Lane_Jordan

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worth to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.” Luke 15:17-20 NIV

Has there been a time in your life when you were so ashamed by your actions that you felt completely worthless? Have you been embarrassed or humiliated to the point you didn’t know what you should do next?

The young man in Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son found himself in that very same position. With an air of entitlement, he had demanded that his father give him his inheritance now. When his father did, the son quickly squandered the money on friends and fast living in a foreign land. He ended up broke, homeless, and hungry, forced to take a job feeding pigs (an animal of abomination to the Jews).

Finally, in a climactic moment, the son “came to his senses.” He said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger?” He got up and headed home.

The son truly humbled himself. He acknowledged what he had done to his father: his betrayal, his disrespect, and his total failure with his inheritance. He confessed his sin to heaven and to his father, fully accepting that his position in the family would now be as a hired servant. He didn’t care. All he wanted was to be reunited with his father.

Jesus showed through the father’s unconditional acceptance of his prodigal son, the great grace and mercy God offers to each one of us! God is waiting for us to come back to Him and then He will run to us. He will pour His love and His forgiveness over us. He will give us His robe of righteousness through His Son Jesus, He will give us a ring, and He will rejoice with us. We only need to approach Him in humility, acknowledging our desperation and inadequacy to go it alone.

What a God! What a Savior! To know that our God will forgive us our sins and keep us as sons and daughters forever!

Even though the father’s other son criticized and judged his father, the father wouldn’t budge from embracing this son whom he thought he had lost forever.

Are you lost right now? Or do you have a loved one who is lost? Then begin to pray. God is the persistent seeker. All God wants from us is to turn to Him. It doesn’t matter what we have done. God’s forgiveness has no bounds.

If you feel your sin is too great for God’s forgiveness, then look at some of the people of the Bible. Each one had serious sin in their lives: David committed adultery and murder, Jonah ran the other way from God’s will, Noah got drunk and shamed himself to his sons, and the woman at the well had lived with many men. Even the Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, had killed many of the early Christians before meeting Jesus on the Road to Damascus.

There is nothing that you have done that can keep you from the loving forgiveness of our God. Come to your senses and turn to Him.

TWEETABLE
Come to Your Senses – encouragement from @Lane_Jordan on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lane Jordan - High ResolutionAbout the author: Lane P. Jordan is a best-selling author, international motivational and inspirational speaker, singer, artist, Bible teacher, and professional life coach. She lives in Frisco, Texas with her husband who partners with her in ministry and waits impatiently for daughters and granddaughter to visit!  Lane’s desire is to encourage, support, and motivate women of all ages to be better wives, mothers, and women of God by organizing their lives and time. You can find her at: http://www.LaneJordanMinistries.com and her blog at http://www.PathwaysToOrganization.com.

Lane’s book, 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman, is an invaluable resource for every woman–from soccer moms to single grandmoms. It combines practical information on managing a fast-paced life with biblical wisdom and assurances that even when life seems overwhelming, the Lord is our keeper, our father, our husband, and our shepherd.

Join the conversation: What does God’s being a persistent seeker mean to you?

 

Disturbing the Peace

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.     Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Every single morning, he stood right outside my window at precisely 5:40 a.m. and crowed—loudly. Uganda, situated on the equator, where the sun always rises at 6:00 a.m., provides consistency for roosters. For the better part of my stay, at the first hint of daylight, this annoying bird sounded the alarm. The only break from this strutting rooster’s morning routine were the days we were away on mission.

After returning to the U.S., I almost missed him—but not really. I still got to hear him occasionally though, because my friend and host, Monique, planned our phone conversations to discuss ministry when it was late at night here, but early in Uganda, just about rooster crowing time.

On one of our conversations, something seemed off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I realized I hadn’t heard the rooster crowing in the background. Distracted, I just had to ask. “Monique, where is the rooster? I don’t hear him.”

She simply replied, “I don’t have a rooster.”

Confused, I laughed and said, “What do you mean? Of course, you do! He woke me up every morning like an alarm clock.” We went back and forth about it a few times, with her Insisting she didn’t have a rooster, until I finally pressed her, “What happened to him, Monique?”

And in her lovely East African accent, she replied simply, “He was disturbing me, so I ate him.”

Thinking back on that conversation, I can’t help but chuckle at my friend’s solution to an annoying problem. But it also makes me think about how we deal with our own crowing roosters—and I’m not talking about the feathered variety.

Most of us have at least one person strutting around disturbing our peace. We might not serve them up on our dinner table like Monique, but we can be just as biting in our responses. In the blink of an eye, we can verbally chew someone up, spit them out and then find a way to justify it by pointing to their incessant crowing.

But God has a better way for us to deal our roosters, especially if we want to live a life that glorifies our God. It’s found in the Bible: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV).

This sounds like an easy answer—“Just be kind”. But when you have someone crowing in your ear, it’s a lot easier said than done.

The verse just before the one I quoted says: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” God knows it’s hard, but when we hold anger, bitterness and malice in our hearts, especially after we have been forgiven of similar things (and even worse), it grieves the Holy Spirit.

Today, when your peace is disturbed by that crowing rooster, instead of serving him/her up for dinner, take a moment, remind yourself of the price that was paid for you. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. Instead, look for a way to respond with kindness and forgive.

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Disturbing the Peace – insight from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: How do you cope when you are angry?

Undos and Do-Overs

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

I love the “undo” button. You know the one on the computer—that little arrow that curves to the left. When you click it, the last thing you did magically reverses. Make a mistake? No problem. Click, it’s fixed! Accidentally deleted something? Not an issue. Click, it’s back!

But “undo” isn’t an option for everything. Like Christmas morning, when I got distracted and “overcooked” the cinnamon rolls. Sadly, it’s not possible to uncook something.

Wouldn’t it be great if life had an “undo” button? I could click it to magically erase the unkind words I blurted. Or wipe out my selfish behavior. Or eliminate the wrong decision that proved to be oh, so bad. I could “undo” all those things that brought unwanted consequences or now weigh heavy on my conscience.

“Do-overs” would be another great life tool. For instance, it would come in really handy when the trials and difficulties of life pile up around us until we’re overwhelmed. When every path forward is blocked we’d just call a do-over. We could simply start over like on one of those puzzle apps. No more moves? Okay, let’s just begin a new game.

Yep. I think undos and do-overs for life would be very popular. When everything is messed up, when nothing is right, we could get a clean slate. Then we could start fresh.

It might sound too good to be true, but for Christians, that’s exactly what we received when we entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. A clean slate.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV

Our “old” life seriously needed a do-over. It looked like the ungodly world around us. We were burdened with the weight and consequences of self-centered living, bad decisions, and poor choices. But our “new” life is radically different from the world, holy and set apart to God. A life of holiness brings glorious freedom and joy. Freedom from the weight and consequences of sin.  And joy in a deeper intimacy with our holy God.

Sometimes Christians living the new life of faith can still get off track. We may fall back into old habits or allow the things of the world to distract us from following Christ. But praise God, He continuously invites us to repent and return to Him.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

We will not be perfect in this sinful world. Even as we grow spiritually to be more like Jesus, we will sometimes fall into temptation. But our faithful God will continue to give us second chances, undos, and do-overs until Jesus returns. Then we won’t need them ever again.

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Undos and Do-Overs – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” will lead you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.

Join the conversation: How does the possibility of a do-over affect your walk with Jesus?

 

Renew a Right Spirit

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 ESV

All was in readiness. Outside, luminaries flickered on the curb. Inside, polished furniture gleamed, a fire crackled on the hearth, strains of Handel’s Messiah filled the house, candles glowed, and mouthwatering aromas wafted from the kitchen. The presents were wrapped, the Christmas china in place, the relatives on the way. Everything was perfect, except for one thing.

I was in a rotten mood. My sour attitude had been building all day like dark thunderclouds on the horizon and now threatened to storm all over the festivities. I was being a grump at the least, and at most, closely impersonating the Grinch.

Circumstances earlier in the day combined to fuel my mood, culminating with a last- minute request to purchase a gift for a family member to give. As I drove around in the cold pouring rain, dashing in and out of crowded stores without finding the requested item, I fumed. Why didn’t she ask me to do this weeks ago? I’m suffering because of her procrastination!

I arrived home hours later to find the children lounging all over recently straightened sofas, pillows strewn across the floor. Their chores remained undone. My husband had gone on some secret Christmas Eve gift-purchasing mission, failing to do the one job I requested of him before leaving. His foray was probably for my benefit, but by this point I didn’t care. As I barked orders to reluctant children, I knew I was being unnecessarily gruff. When my husband returned, all smiles and excitement, I greeted him with a sullen look and a cold shoulder.

Now, I attempted to plaster a polite hostess smile on my face as the relatives arrived. I looked nice and managed warm greetings, but inside, my spirit was anything but right. Following our tradition of having a birthday party for Jesus, we gathered around the piano and sang carols. I heard the words of each song in my heart as my husband played the piano, our beautiful daughter played the violin, and our handsome son sawed away at the cello. Precious grandmothers and great-aunts sang in beautiful harmony.

A lump formed in my throat and tears stung my eyes. What is the matter with me? I am so blessed, but I’ve chosen to allow a negative, ungrateful spirit to overwhelm me on Christmas Eve.

During the reading of the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2, I silently asked God to forgive me for my attitude. I thanked Him for home, family, traditions, and most of all, for the precious gift of his son, Jesus. As we circled around a fluffy white confection of a birthday cake and sang “Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus,” I whispered, “And renew a right spirit within me.”

King David wrote Psalm 51 after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin. Not only had David committed adultery, he had arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to be put forward in battle, knowing it would ensure his death. Until Nathan confronted him, David ignored his sin. David’s plea for God to cleanse him from his transgressions and create a clean heart within him demonstrates humility and repentance.

All too often we compartmentalize sin and allow it to hamper our relationship with God. Is there something festering within your heart that is stealing your joy today? Search your heart for any sin that you’ve been ignoring. Come clean with God and ask him to restore a right spirit within you. It could make this Christmas Eve especially bright.

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Renew a Right Spirit – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout 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: Are you struggling to have a happy heart this Christmas season?