How to Experience the Power of Easter

by Debbie Wilson

Did you know that you can grow up in the church and miss the meaning of Easter? I know, because for many years, I did.

I started attending church nine months before I was born and could recite the historical facts of Good Friday and Easter. I even memorized John 3:16. But, somehow, I missed the personal ramifications of Easter.

That changed when a speaker at middle school camp spoke on the cross, and I realized God didn’t just love the world in general; He loved me. God so loved me that He gave His only Son, that if I would believe in Him, I would not perish but have everlasting life.

It crushed me to realize Jesus had to die for my sins. Yet, after processing what this meant, incredible joy welled up in me. I was clean. My sins were forgiven, and heaven was my destiny. I returned home higher than a helium balloon, singing the camp songs I’d learned. But my high didn’t last.

I was still the impatient person I’d always been. One thing did change. Before I gave my life to Christ, I thought I was a pretty good person. I lost my temper but reasoned I wouldn’t have if someone hadn’t provoked me. After I invited Christ into my life, my impatience bothered me.

Every night, I promised God, “Tomorrow, I’ll do better.” Yet, every day I failed. Knowing Jesus had paid the penalty for my sins comforted me. But I needed power for daily living.

In college, I joined a small group Bible study. The women in the group enjoyed the kind of relationship with God I lacked. They lived as if God was involved in their day-to-day lives. Even though I attended church and read my Bible, I didn’t view the Bible as relevant to my daily living.

My view of God grew as I got to know Jesus better, and the obstacles to trusting Him shrank. I realized my ability to trust the Bible was directly related to how I saw God.

A big God can

  • Communicate with His children.
  • Preserve the integrity of His Word.
  • Provide timeless truths.

I discovered why I hadn’t been able to control my temper. I’d been trying to live the Christian life in my own strength. I learned that only one person has ever successfully lived the Christian life, and He wanted to live through me. The power that raised Jesus from the dead on that first Easter is available to every child of God now.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephes. 1:18-20 NIV).

Easter is more than a historical fact or holiday; it is the source of hope and power for daily living. God created us to live by faith in His Son. We celebrate Easter every day we live by faith in the Son of God.

“The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20 NIV).

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

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 God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

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

Debbie 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

Join the conversation: What is most meaningful to you this Easter?

You Can Be as Close to God as You Want to Be

by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“I believe, but I don’t feel close to God like some of you. Not sure why. I’d like to.” My friend’s words caused me to remember my own faith journey.

In Sunday School my young heart warmed toward God when I heard the stories of David and Goliath and Zacchaeus, the wee little man. My grandmother made sure I treated God with respect. No food in my mouth when we blessed our meal.

But I didn’t understand the part about being a sinner who needed saving. I wasn’t sure what people were saved from. That changed when a youth leader explained John 3:16 at a weekend youth camp and the Holy Spirit cut through my blameless veneer. I’d wronged God. Jesus had gone to the cross for my sin.

The realization broke—and healed—my heart. The gospel became personal. Jesus didn’t just love this conglomerate called “world.” He loved me! I returned from camp on top of the world—a citizen of heaven—a child of God. Could anything be better?

But the glow faded. Instead of sprouting wings, I bristled when Mama said, “Clean your room.” I fussed when my little sister got into my stuff. Knowing Jesus assured me of heaven when I died, but it didn’t seem to make much difference now. Even reading the Bible raised more questions than it answered.

In college, I spent a weekend with some vibrant Christians. Their lives created a thirst to know God better. At a friend’s Bible study, we listened to Bible teaching audio tapes. This group treated the Bible as if it meant what it said.

I’d filtered the Bible through my own understanding. What agreed with my world view I kept, but I dismissed the parts that didn’t. No wonder it didn’t make sense.

I wanted the peace my college friends who simply trusted the Scriptures shared. But could I let go of relying on my own understanding and fully trust the Scriptures?

God tenderly wooed me to trust Him. I exchanged my know-it-all approach for childlike faith. The Scriptures came to life. Questions, I thought would never be answered in this life, became clear. Scales fell off of my eyes.

“I feel I’ve been living blindfolded all my life, and now I see,” I told my friend. “Even how I view the evening news has changed.” Life brimmed with the presence of God, and I couldn’t get enough of Him.

Perhaps like me and my friend, you want to feel closer to God. You can! Here are some tips to help you get started.

Tips for Your Journey

  • Ask your heavenly Father for a closer relationship.“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-8 NIV).
  • Read the Bible with childlike wonder.“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do’” (Luke 10:21 NIV)
  • Invite Jesus to be your life, not just a part of life.I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him…the lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.  Psalm 34:8, 10 NIV

You Can Be as Close to God as You Want to Be – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps people live in God’s grace so they can enjoy fruitful and full lives. Debbie is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. She enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Share her journey to refreshing faith at

Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God. Debbie’s latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. 

Join the conversation: Are you seeking a closer relationship with God?




The Hardest Thing to Surrender

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

If God were calling me to a temporary fast, I could do it. Give up sugar? Ice cream? Television and technology? Though it wouldn’t be easy, I’d manage. But this, what God is currently calling me to surrender, indefinitely, will take my most earnest prayers and every ounce of strength I possess. This thing cuts to the core of my hopes and dreams, triggers insecurities and fear, and ultimately, reveals where my heart truly lies.

So what is this thing that God calls me, persistently, to relinquish?


My agenda. My time and my to-do list. Whatever I’m striving for that keeps me from saying, at each moment, “Not my will, but Yours, Lord Jesus, be done.”

When I’m sitting with my Bible, reading of His love and care, meditating on all He’s done for me, surrender comes easily. Or perhaps I should say, easier. “Take everything, Lord. And help me to obey You. Help me to give up everything to follow after You.”

But then the day begins, and pricks of selfishness weaken my resolve and hinder my obedience. My prayers sound more like complaints and long-winded requests than commitments to my Savior.

This is my greatest, most fervent and frequent battle—the battle against self, saturated in pride and selfishness.

But Christ calls me to love—not with the conditional, temporary, convenient love our world offers, but the kind He demonstrated when He stripped Himself of all His heavenly glory, took on flesh, and died in my selfish, prideful place.

For, though He was God, He “did not considering equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8).

This, Scripture says, is the same attitude I am to have.

Often, my prayers are centered on me—on what God wants me to do or not do, on how I wish things would turn out. And each time, God answers, but not in the way I expect. I’m looking ahead to countless external things. And though I’m certain He cares deeply about every one of my concerns, His focus often narrows on something of utmost importance, something that enables great ministry to occur and true love to flow, and that’s my heart.

If I want to be used by God and touch lives for eternity, to avoid the dangerous pitfalls of sin, my life must be touched first by the transforming power of God, the God who shows me how to love, to surrender, and to give all of myself no matter the cost.

Even if it means surrendering everything I hold dear.

In Romans 12:1, Paul urges us to “offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices.” In other words, to live sacrificially for Christ, not just today, or when it’s urgent or convenient, but always. To put God’s agenda above our own.

This is the call. The first step to greatness, and it begins with a quiet, yet desperate plea, “Change me, Lord. Help me. Do whatever you need to within me to make me pliable in Your hands, a cleansed and open vessel always and ready to do Your will and Your will only.”

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 NASB

The Hardest Thing to Surrender – insight from author @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found atJenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder ofWholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Check out her latest release,Restoring Her Faith, published by Love Inspired. She left belief behind…Yet this family could change her mind. With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How might pausing to reflect on all Christ did for us—His death and resurrection—empower you to surrender completely to Him? To daily surrender our heart to be cleaned and filled by Him? And why might this be of even greater importance than anything you or I might do for Him?


Transparency and the Unexpected Freedom it Brings

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

The past few years I’ve had a lot more opportunities to share God’s love in public settings…to a lot of people at once…from a stage. As a believer, you might assume that’s a good thing. It probably should be, except for one thing—it’s way out of my comfort zone. As a matter of fact, if I wasn’t certain God was asking me to share what He’s doing in my life, I wouldn’t be doing it.

Even the knowledge that I’m being obedient doesn’t help a lot. I’m just not comfortable with the spotlight shining on me. It feels wrong—like I’m calling attention to myself rather than to God.

The only way I’ve found to mitigate this feeling is by drawing a clear contrast between the mess God has to work through (that would be me); and the results of His miraculous effort.  But for this strategy to be effective I have to be willing to show myself honestly—with all my flaws.

At first that was as scary as the whole up-on-stage bit.

But after a time or two of letting people see through the me-I-wished-I-was (and tried to pretend to be) and directly at the real flaws-and-all me, I discovered something.

There truly is an amazing freedom in just being yourself.

I no longer had to keep up the pretense of being spiritual, or an expert, or anything else. Instead, I could just relax and be—resting in whatever God wanted to bring out.

This transparency also took the pressure off those who were watching me. They weren’t misled into believing they had to be something they weren’t. They didn’t have to start out already good enough to qualify to get better. They could start right where they were.

And in the midst of all this, I realized I actually had the ability to achieve one of my deepest desires: to be invisible.

Because through this God has taught me that transparent is just another word for invisible

When I’m truly transparent, God can shine through in all His glory. There are no smudges of me to get in the way.

So my question to you is this: what smudges are you holding onto? Take a chance and join me in the freedom of transparency.

I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.  Galatians 2:20 (CEV)

Transparency and the Unexpected Freedom it Brings – @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: How have you benefited from a transparent speaker/teacher?

What Are We Really Forgiving?

by Ava Pennington

What’s one of the most common reasons we give for not forgiving others? If you’re like me, you might say forgiveness implies approval or tolerance of the behavior. We read about forgiveness, talk about it, and teach it. Yet for most of us, forgiving others is one of the most difficult things God asks us to do.

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that one reason we may find it difficult to forgive is because we misunderstand what it is that we’re forgiving.

What if I told you we are not forgiving the sin?

King David wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psalm 51:4 ESV).

Even the Pharisees of Jesus’ day understood that God alone can forgive sin. That’s why they pitched a fit when Jesus forgave the paralytic. In Luke 5:18-25 (ESV), we read:

Behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed…but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.

And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Yes, only God can forgive the actual sin. And since Jesus is God, He demonstrated that He also has the authority to forgive sin.

Perhaps that’s one reason we struggle with forgiveness. We’re trying—and failing—to forgive something we don’t have the right to forgive. We justify our failure to forgive by saying we don’t want to communicate tolerance for the sin. Or that it’s not right for the other person to “get away with” what they’ve done.

So if we’re not forgiving the sin, then what are we forgiving?

Consider that we’re forgiving the offense. The offense against our rights. Against our values. Against our family. Against whatever it is that we hold dear.

By forgiving the offender, I’m saying my rights are less important than freedom from bitterness and resentment. I’m saying my job is not to forgive the actual sin, but the offense against me. The offense that has trespassed my rights.

Could it be that the act of forgiveness is the ultimate act of admitting that I’m not God? That in giving up my right to be angry and resentful, I’m submitting to the authority God has to forgive sins?

Could it be that when we forgive others, we’re expressing our awareness that we’re in desperate need of the same forgiveness? Because, let’s face it, it’s just about impossible to go through life without giving offense, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Sooner or later, we’ll need others to forgive our offenses against them.

Even so, forgiveness is not something we can even begin to do in our own strength. We need the prompting of the Holy Spirit to motivate us to surrender our rights (Galatians 2:20). And we need the power of the Holy Spirit to humble ourselves to actually forgive (John 14:15-17). Finally, we need the Holy Spirit’s comfort to know that God is a just judge (Genesis 18:25), and we can trust that He will make all things right in the end.

There’s a freedom in forgiving others. Freedom in knowing God is God and we are not. Most of all, freedom in offering what we, ourselves, need.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to forgive?

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Broken or Brokenness?

by Ava Pennington

I’m a broken person. I’m also someone who desires to live in a state of brokenness. These may sound the same—and maybe they are to some people—but the difference in my life is huge.

During a recent lunch with a friend, she mentioned a book she was reading on brokenness. Our conversation challenged me to consider brokenness in my own life.

Our world and its inhabitants are broken. Hurting. Seeking something better, even if they don’t know what that “something better” is.

Most would agree this broken world is not a good thing. Our culture has decided we can live a better life apart from a relationship with our Creator. But we were never meant to live apart from God. And the results of this willful independence can be seen everywhere we look. In people. In values and relationships. Even in the natural world around us.

When something is broken, it no longer functions as it should. In our disposable culture, broken things end up in the trash. But in God’s economy, He takes broken people and doesn’t just fix them, He makes them brand new through faith in Jesus Christ.

So as a Christian, I’m no longer broken in the sense that my only future is the junk heap. I’m now able to accomplish the purpose for which I was created. But the only way I can move forward is in a state of brokenness.

Brokenness is a continuing posture of humility and dependence on the One who created and saved me. It’s an accurate view of myself in the light of who God is. One of the best descriptions of brokenness I’ve found is in the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   ~ Matthew 5:3-12 ESV

Or consider these verses:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20 ESV

Total dependence on the Holy Spirit of God. Trusting His leading. Obeying His Word. The result is not just a repair of my broken self to be usable again. The result is that I become more valuable than I was before.

God redeems and increases the value of each person who relies on Him. In our brokenness, the cracks are still visible, but now they are made beautiful by His touch.

I am broken no longer. But I embrace the brokenness that allows His grace to work in and through me for His glory.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  Isaiah 57:15 ESV

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit

Join the conversation: How do you cultivate a sense of brokenness?

In Search of Peace

by Sandra Allen Lovelace

My days were busier than they’d ever been. There was no way I could keep up. Something would have to give, but what? I thought and prayed, organized and planned to no avail. It was as if I were trapped in a forest of responsibilities, unable to see any light. The escape route appeared one especially dark Saturday.

I called it a Day Apart—no alarm, no list, no schedule, no phone, no internet. Just me, my Bible, a notebook, and a pencil … for as long as it took. And it took a while. I checked the concordance for references to captive and freedom since that’s who I was and what I wanted. Surely I’d find some sort of strategy to handle my situation.

God is usually into a deeper process, and this confab was no exception. Rather than simply solve problems, the Father’s plan entails the transformation of minds and hearts. With what I found in the pages of my Bible, God worked to change my heart and guide my action. His Son came and gave His life for that very purpose—to ransom souls and empower the redeemed to enjoy new life.

Jesus explained His role with Isaiah’s prophetic words. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim release to the captives, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NASB). Those weighed down with burdens of any kind are called to receive Christ’s gift and come out from under the expectations from without or within which drive us—into His arms of grace.

The Old Testament commandments had their place, to underline our inability to satisfy the standards of a holy God. But the once for all atoning life, death, and resurrection of His Son settled the debt. A whole new world of opportunity awaits those who walk forward in Him. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB

And He did not leave us to find our way and fight temptation alone. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17 NASB) The Holy Spirit indwells each believer to guide and equip us to meet the challenges ahead.

We don’t need to be overwhelmed by the obligations we face, nor succumb to their pressure. As we come into God’s holy presence the demands fall away. The more we adopt the truth of who He is and all He’s done for us, the easier it becomes to pursue His purpose in His peace.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV

sandra allen lovelaceAbout the authorSandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a home-school pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). Her current manuscript is Wallflower Women: How We Got Stuck and Ways to Gain Our Freedom. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Connect with Sandra on her website, or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51xYzTxBG9L._AC_US218_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Sandra’s book,  Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!

Join the conversation: Have there been obligations in your life that held you captive? How did God provide the peace you sought?