The Rule of Double Negatives

by Doris Hoover

Don’t use no double negatives. That was a saying we had in elementary school to emphasize a grammar rule. When two negatives are used in a sentence, they indicate the opposite—a positive. So, the actual meaning of the example sentence instructs us to use double negatives.

The same rule occurs in mathematics, but as many times as I tried to make sense of it, my math-impeded brain couldn’t understand the examples. But whether you understand things mathematically or with words, the rule is accurate.

Not surprisingly, God incorporates the rule of double negatives in the spiritual realm. He cancels out a negative with a negative to create a positive. The sin we commit is cancelled out by the sin Jesus bore on the cross, so we can become sinless. Logically, it defies common sense. Just as I have trouble understanding things in mathematical terms, God’s double negative rule makes no sense to a fleshly mind. It is spiritually discerned.

When in our flesh, and we are confronted with the guilt of our sin, we frantically search for spiritual hope. The day the Lord opened my eyes to see the immensity of my sin, boy, did I hold onto the rule of double negatives. I desperately needed my sin cancelled out. I needed the gift of Jesus bearing my sins on the cross to make me sinless before God.

That’s not the only time I needed the rule of double negatives. As a Christian, I continue to stumble into sinful actions, thoughts, attitudes and choices. They cause me to build up guilt.

Guilt is the enemy’s delight. With it, he torments us. But God reminds us in Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The One who cancels negatives with negatives makes a way for us. He gives us the guilt-freeing gift of confession. Even though we may act according to the ways of our flesh, we don’t have to carry the guilt of those actions. The sins we commit daily in our flesh have been cancelled by the gift of salvation; yet God gives us a way to clear them from our minds and release the guilt that torments us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)

We can be certain that our blood in the flesh that brings us death was cancelled by the blood Jesus shed, so that through His blood we have eternal life. That’s a given. But God also provides a positive for those negative feelings of guilt. Jesus invites us to share our guilt with Him so He can deal with it and give us a clear conscience. Our negative actions which produce negative feelings of guilt are cancelled by the positive action of remembering we’re loved by the God of mercy, grace, and compassion.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-22 NIV

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

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Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: How does God’s unrelenting grace impact your life?

Cancel Culture

by Catherine Segars

A recent comment in an online Christian group I read recently showed how far our current “cancel culture” has infiltrated the faith: “Now that we understand that what David did to Bathsheba was sexual assault, what do you do with all of the Psalms?… Are the Psalms less desirable to you now? Are you able to separate the words of worship in them from the actions of the man?”

As Believers, we must be able to separate the words of the man from the actions of the man.

Why?

Because God does.

Why does God do this?

Because David genuinely repented.

In 2 Samuel, we read, “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin.'” (2 Samuel 12:13 NIV).

In David’s beautiful song of transformation in Psalm 51, He pleads with God: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me”  (Psalm 51:11 NIV)

If God does not cast David away, how can we? If God restores David, how can we discard that remarkable transformation and throw away his precious words?

We live in a culture that regularly “cancels” people for their mistakes. God doesn’t do that. God offers us forgiveness. And He offers us redemption. If God offered David that redemption, who are we to withhold it? Who are we to cancel someone God has forgiven and say that his words are meaningless or forever tainted?

We must never forget, God chose Moses (a murderer), Jacob (a liar and a cheat), Rahab (a prostitute), Esther (an orphan), Matthew (a tax collector), Peter (a Christ denier and ear-slasher with a serious temper problem), Mary Magdalene (a demon possessed woman), and Paul (a terrorist) to be His instruments.

God doesn’t pick pure instruments. God picks people with a past. This is the very heart of the Gospel message. The Gospel tells us that we are all hopelessly flawed, but God offers us forgiveness and redemption.

To deny David what God has given him is to put ourselves in the seat of the ultimate Judge. We aren’t qualified to sit there. That seat is for God alone.

Cancel culture isn’t new. In Luke chapter 7, Jesus addressed the cancel culture of His day by commending a repentant woman who had been discarded by some self-righteous religious leaders. Jesus educates the Pharisees saying: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7: 47 NIV).

Like this sinful woman whom Christ forgave, David had been forgiven much. So he loved much. His words offer us the depth and breadth of the Gospel message, proving that God uses the worst sinners to show the magnitude of His grace. When we participate in cancel culture, we are professing that the sin of others is greater than our own. And we hold redemption hostage.

We must never forget that the heart of the Gospel is God’s amazing grace. If we deny God’s redemptive grace, we’ve missed the primary purpose of everything Jesus accomplished on the cross. We must never deny that grace to those who seek it. And we must never deny the work of redemption in the lives of those who have received it.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV

Christian Parent, Crazy World - Christian Podcast

About the author: Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright—turned stay-at-home-mom—turned author, speaker, podcaster, blogger, and motherhood apologist. This homeschooling mama of five is the host of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD, a Life Audio podcast about raising godly kids in an ungodly world, and she is matron of the Mere Mother website, which delves into critical cultural issues that affect families and marginalize mothers. Catherine helps parents navigate through dangerous secular landmines to establish a sound Biblical foundation for their kids. You can find Catherine’s blog, dramatic blogcast, and other writings at www.catherinesegars.com and connect with her on Facebook.

Join the conversation: Have you been tempted to join the Cancel Culture?

Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Do you have a friend that needs your grace? I remember one day a friend of mine made an unfavorable remark about my husband’s weight. It really hurt me, because even though he is overweight, his heart is pure as gold. I tried to forgive and forget what she had said, but every time I saw her, those mean-spirited words always came to my mind. I discovered that sometimes it is easier to forgive than to forget.

Praise God that we have the perfect example of what we need to do in what He has done for us. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV). While Jesus hung on the cross, He asked the Father to forgive those who were killing Him (Luke 23:34)! It is a wonderful picture of total forgiveness.

“The living God so forgives that he forgets!”[1]  If He can forgive and forget our many sins, surely, we can forgive and forget a sinful act of a friend or even a foe.

Grace is needed in order to forgive completely. Grace is the gift of mercy and love towards those who don’t deserve it. Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, found himself in a situation that should have cost him his life. It was common for the reigning king to kill the bloodline of the previous king to make sure the king’s position would not be jeopardized. King David’s love for Jonathan allowed him to extend grace to Mephibosheth, who voiced his gratification when he said, “All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table” (2 Sam 19:28, NIV). 

The Greek word for grace is charis. “It is significant that the most common cognates for joy (Chara, “inner joy,” and chairein, “to rejoice”) are derived from the same root— char—as in the Greek word for “grace.”[2] Grace may be the most important word in the Bible because grace is love in action!  We are to rejoice because of His loving grace and the hope we have in Christ. “We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 CSB).

I always extend grace to my friend, because a loyal friend is a treasure beyond comprehension. A friend who forgives and loves when we deserve nothing but condemnation is a treasure that can’t be measured.

When the world says we are to judge and punish the offense, God’s word says we are to lovingly extend grace. If you think your friend was loyal before, watch how your love and grace will transform them even more!

[1] Knight, G. A. F. Servant theology: a commentary on the book of Isaiah 40–55  (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publications), page 71.

[2]  Morrice, W. G. Joy. G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin, & D. G. Reid (Eds.), Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), p. 511–512.

TWEETABLE
Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace? – insight from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author:  Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.

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Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! In I’m Not Afraid!, Susie and her friend go to the Undersea Amusement Park. After  saying a prayer to Jesus, she rides the roller coaster and her fear turns into faith! She learns that praying to Jesus during difficult times and having faith are all she needs to overcome her fears!

Join the conversation: Do you need to forgive someone?


It’s Not Okay, and I Forgive You

by A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:15 NLT

When someone hurts me, and they apologize, I usually respond with the same phrase: “It’s okay.” That works, right?

I don’t like saying, “I forgive you” because it ends up sounding sanctimonious. I’m not a stained-glass sort of person, so I tend to steer away from churchy vernacular.

But here’s the problem: If someone hurt me, it’s not okay.

Maybe the hurt was unintentional, maybe it wasn’t. It doesn’t matter. Hurt is never okay, and the truth of the matter is “it’s okay” and “I forgive you” don’t mean the same thing. They shouldn’t be used interchangeably, but I fear that there is a generation of Christ-followers who haven’t learned to distinguish the difference. I’m among them.

I don’t like admitting when I’ve been hurt. It feels petty. Like I’m nit-picking or being too sensitive. I think: Surely I’m mature enough to absorb a few hurt feelings.

So instead of dealing with the hurt, I pretend it isn’t there. I tell myself that no hurt was intended, so I should be happy to carry on working with or being around whoever hurt me. God commands us to forgive. So that’s what I do. They hurt me, and it’s okay.

But that’s not forgiveness. That’s denial. And it’s dangerous.

Denying that you’ve been hurt never allows you to heal. The hurt just gets hidden, stamped down in the dark recesses of your heart. Maybe you’ll be functional for a while, but the hurt won’t stay there. It puts down roots. What started as legitimate hurt at being wronged may grow into bitterness. Your heart will eventually overflow, and what comes out won’t be pretty. 

Our hearts are the core of who we are. When we speak, we speak from whatever is stored in there. Jesus said, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fill his heart” (Luke 6:45 NASB). If what’s in our heart is mercy and grace, that’s what we communicate; if it’s damage and pain, that’s what we communicate. If you’ve spent a lifetime hiding your hurt rather than facing it, your heart will be cold and resentful and afraid, and that’s not a heart God can use.

So what do you do to heal a hurting heart?

Friend, you can’t do anything. But Jesus can.

The first step to take may seem obvious, but if you’ve made a habit of hiding your hurt, it won’t be obvious to you. Your first step toward healing is to admit that you were hurt. Name it. If the hurt is some fuzzy concept, you can’t do anything with it.

If you can’t identify how someone hurt you, you can’t really forgive them. Choosing to live your life in hurt and pain is choosing a life of bondage, and you’ve put the chains on yourself.

Acknowledge the hurt. Name the hurt. Then, you can give it to Jesus.

You may not be able to address it with the person who hurt you, but you can address it with the Lord. You can recognize that how you were hurt wasn’t okay, and you can choose to forgive.

That doesn’t mean you’ll forget what happened. It doesn’t mean you will be immediately able to move on. Honestly, it may be better that you don’t, especially if you’ve come from an abusive situation. Forgiveness and restoration aren’t the same either.

Our world is full of Jesus-followers who have concealed emotional trauma all their lives because denying it was easier than confronting it. Stop hiding from your hurt. Stop ignoring that it exists. It’s time to heal. Give yourself the opportunity to do that, and be brave enough to extend it to others.

TWEETABLE
It’s Not Okay, and I Forgive You – insight & wisdom from A.C. Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williams

About the author: A.C. Williams is an author-preneur who weaves fantastic tales about #AmericanSamurai and #SpaceCowboys, and she’s passionate about helping writers master the art of storytelling. A quirky, coffee-

Finding Fireflies

drinking, cat-loving thirty-something, she’s on a mission to help authors overcome fear and live victorious. Join her adventures on social media (@free2bfearless) and visit her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: Are there hurts festering in your heart today?

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

TWEETABLE
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.

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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?