Beauty Born of Fire

by Maureen Miller

You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials, so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6- 7 CSB

As far as my eyes could see… skeletons.

The lodgepole pines poked heavenward, naked and marred—their lifeless forms telling a harrowing tale. Compared to the majesty of the Grand Tetons, these were a stark contrast. Nothing appeared beautiful to me—at least not until I observed more closely, leaned in to listen more carefully.

Right on cue, our guide, perhaps sensing my horror, continued. “See the wildflowers dotting the forest floor? And among them, the saplings—infant lodgepoles pushing toward the sun? These are just some of the results born of fire, because life is resilient and returns in extraordinary ways after the purging caused by destruction.”

And indeed, as I looked more intently, I saw them—signs of new life, and I sighed relief. After all, our guide knew so much more than me, shedding fresh light on my previous and limited perspective.

In reality, these unique coniferous trees possess a powerful life-preserving quality. Wildfires are not uncommon in the arid environment of the northwest, sometimes raging for weeks, destroying hundreds, even thousands, of acres of land.

Lodgepole pines, however, produce serotinous cones. Unlike other conifers, their cones must be exposed to intense heat in order for their outer coverings to open, releasing the seeds inside. In this manner, life continues, and beauty is born anew, even after the devastation of forest fires.

Beauty from literal ashes. New life from a refining fire.

With this broadened understanding, I observed differently—marveling at God’s creative hand even in the stark contrasts. The charred, lifeless lodgepoles no longer appeared to me mere skeletal remains but, rather, a source of rebirth—with wildflowers and saplings dancing joy among them.

And such is true for the child of God. Beauty is born when we endure the Refiner’s fire. Though one faces hardship in sickness and earthly sorrows, as she looks to God’s Son, her suffering and resurrected Savior, she can endure. More, she blossoms with fruitfulness that comes from abiding in the Holy Spirit—including love, joy, peace, and patience (Galatians 5:22, 23).

As we lean in, listening to God and applying His Word, our perfect Guide, our limited and narrow perspective is transformed, no matter the suffering we endure. We recognize that, despite what may have at first seemed destructive, God works through hardships, turning even the most harrowing life situation into a true tale of His interceding and gracious goodness.

And remember—others are observing our lives. As they hear our stories of endurance despite suffering, marred though we may be, they, too, will witness much more than sorrow and pain. After all, an abiding life in Christ is a stark contrast to one apart from Him, and a Christian’s testimony is proof that, while we yet dwell in an imperfect world stained with sin, God is faithful. Not only is He present with us in our suffering, but He suffered Himself that all might receive new life.

Because beauty born of hardship shines forth as pure gold, pointing others heavenward to the saving power of Jesus, resulting in praise, glory, and honor to His name.

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

About the author: Maureen Miller has a heart to convey God’s faithfulness and love to a world in need. She blogs regularly at www.penningpansies.com and is finishing her debut novel The Bible by the Bed, under contract with Redemption Press. She can be found picking wildflowers in western North Carolina or playing with grandchildren and her dogs in dancing pastures, the dwelling place for her family’s Scottish Highlanders.  

Join the conversation: Has God brought gold from the ashes in your life?

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The Grace of God’s Love

by Christina Rose

” As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 NIV

The dove has been a symbol of peace, purity and devotion across many cultures for thousands of years.  As a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Baptism of Jesus, the dove represents God’s peaceful, gentle and beautiful love. His presence in us produces qualities that show God’s character and grace.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

God called Noah to build an ark when he sent a great flood to cleanse the earth.  Once the rains had stopped, Noah sent out a dove to search for dry land. The dove returned the first time without a sign of finding land, yet on the second occasion the dove returned with a fresh olive leaf in its mouth.

“When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.” (Genesis 8:11-12 NIV)

The dove had found a new home on earth and thus became a symbol of God’s peace with the earth following his judgment.  Just as the earth was cleansed during Noah’s time by a flood, our earth today is being cleansed by the trial of the pandemic. We are growing in humility, forbearance, faith, and love as we turn to God more than ever in these uncertain times.

When my little daughters begged for a puppy, I said no, as I knew its care would fall on me. When they became tweens, I ran out of ideas for cool presents, so we got the puppy. While tiny Lily weighed just two pounds, the love and joy she brought to us was giant. As I suspected, much of the care for Lily fell on me for the next 19 years. I didn’t mind as she taught us so much about love and devotion.

Lily was used to waiting long hours for me to return from work, but the Pandemic brought a silver lining in that I could work at home. For the last six months, we spent every day together as she battled blindness, dementia, confusion, and other disorders. All she wanted was for me to be with her, and thanks to God’s grace, I rarely left her side.

Just a few weeks ago Lily left for heaven. She was laid to rest on my brother’s ranch in a beautiful spot with other beloved family dogs. Facing each day without my devoted companion of 19 years has been unbearable. One day I prayed, “God give me something, anything, to show me that Lily is okay.”

One hour later I headed to the park where I walked with Lily every day. As I approached the stream where we would stop to watch the ducks, a beautiful white dove landed on the grass and stared at me intently. In the hundreds of times I have traveled this path, I have never seen a white dove. The dove continued to look intently at me for quite some time, then spread his beautiful white wings to fly towards heaven. I felt God had answered my prayer, by sending the white dove to assure me that Lily was safe with Him.

In these turbulent trials of the pandemic, we are being tested, humbled and stretched. We may be experiencing loss on several levels. God is waiting on us to humble ourselves and call on him. He answers our prayers in signs and wonders, like the white dove that was sent to give me peace.  He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

“ If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)

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

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The Grace of God’s Love – insight from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

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

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you confirmation through a sign from heaven?

More Than Conquerors

by Sheri Schofield

“Hey, Jim, want to go on a rattlesnake hunt?”

“I’d love to!”

So our friend, Jim, and his buddy went out and had a blast hunting rattlesnakes and shooting their heads off. Afterward, Jim put his catch of headless rattlers into a plastic shopping bag, tossed it under the front seat of his truck and headed for home. (For some reason, guys like to take all their trophies home to show their wives. Eeeew!) The problem was that he forgot that rattlesnakes have reflexes. The headless snakes began crawling and rattling around in that bag under his seat!

Now, Jim knew the snakes could not harm him: they had no heads – no fangs with which to bite him. But it still unnerved him!

In the Garden of Eden, after the serpent – the S-N-A-K-E – talked Adam and Eve into disobeying God, bringing mankind under slavery to Satan and sin, God cursed it. In his first prophetic clue about how he would save mankind, God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 NIV).

Satan did not know what that meant. When God sent Jesus into the world to save mankind, Satan tried many times to get Jesus killed. He finally succeeded at Calvary. He gloated! He cheered! The forces of hell rose up in a roar of applause! What Satan did not understand was that he had merely struck the heel of Messiah. . . and signed his own death warrant.

When Jesus died on that cross and rose from the dead three days later, he crushed Satan’s power over mankind. The snake was now powerless – its head was crushed – its fangs were powerless against all who believe in Jesus and have committed their lives to him. Satan no longer has the power to drag us down into hell for eternity. We are free because of Calvary!

But Satan, like the snake he is, still crawls around making noise, scaring people, and creating havoc on earth. His reflexes are not dead yet. Only his fatal bite is gone. He can still wriggle into the hearts of mankind and drag them down. He can still wrap his coils around their emotions and squeeze. He gets people to live according to their fallen natures, the flesh.

Paul wrote about this in Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV): “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

When we choose to follow Jesus, he helps us to overcome these things. He frees us from the coils of the headless snake, Satan. He gives us the Holy Spirit to wash our hearts clean from Satan’s poison.

Paul goes on in verses 22 and 23 (NIV): “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

This is the kind of life Jesus wants for us – a life free from the power of Satan’s still active reflexes. The devil is a headless foe – but watch out for that tail! We can live free of Satan’s power. Just don’t hold onto that snake! Hold onto Jesus instead.

…in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans 8:37-39 NIV

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More Than Conquerors – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofield

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

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

Join the Conversation: Is there a sin you have become comfortable with?

 

You’ll Never Attend This Kind of Wedding

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17 NASB

You are at a wedding. After the bride and bridegroom are pronounced husband and wife, the groom turns and with a solemn face announces, “Now we all will mourn. Don’t expect any food at the reception, because we will be fasting.”

You look around to see confused and sad looks on the guests’ faces. A dirge fills the church as the bride and groom drag themselves down the aisle. After the dreary reception where there’s no food, dancing, or singing, everyone is given a little baggie of dirt. As the newly married couple leave the reception, everyone throws dirt on them.

No way! And yet the metaphor is a modern explanation for what John the Baptist’s followers want when they arrive at a party Matthew is hosting (Matthew 9:9-17). Jesus, his disciples, and other party guests are feasting and having a great time. Even those terrible “tax collectors and sinners” are joining in—at Jesus’s invitation. Can’t you just envision Jesus having the biggest smile of them all?

But the disciples of John the Baptist aren’t rejoicing. They look over the crowd with a judgmental scowl and demand, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Matthew 9:14 NASB). Wow, they are on the prowl to let others know everyone should follow the rules as they do.

We can understand the question considering their teacher is in prison, and they are mourning. They could be thinking everyone should be mourning along with them. They might be thinking Jesus should especially be concerned, because John is his cousin. Plus, John was the one who launched Jesus’s ministry as Messiah with an announcement as he baptized Him. Might they even be thinking Jesus wouldn’t have been successful without John? We don’t know.

Jesus interjects, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” (Matthew 9:15 NASB). Jesus reminds them who he is. He tells them that while He is with them, everyone should rejoice. He completely trusts his Father’s plan for his cousin. Plus, Jesus wants to enjoy the party because he is truly joyful in nature.

For many years, starting in childhood, I never pictured Jesus laughing, partying, and having joy. I believed he was a demanding taskmaster who was always on the prowl to squash any fun.

But as I began studying Jesus’s attributes in the Bible, I realized he is joyful. After all, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 includes joy. It’s impossible for Jesus to not be joyful since the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one along with the Father: the same in essence and character. As I realized this, my perspective began to change and I could actually visualize Jesus having a great time—with the biggest grin!

Adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature, copyright 2020, Kathy Collard Miller.

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You’ll Never Attend This Kind of Wedding – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s attributes. As a result, her latest two books are devotional books about God’s nature: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. These are co-authored with her husband, Larry, and make a wonderful couples’ devotional study. Kathy is also the author of 55 other books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 35 US states. Check out her website: www.KathyCollardMiller.com and YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 or Facebook.

Kathy’s most recent book is God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature from which this devotion is excerpted. Kathy and her husband, Larry, of 50 years, co-wrote God’s Intriguing Questions.

Join the conversation: What other words would you describe for Jesus’s joyful nature and is it easy or hard for you to envision Jesus as joyful?

The Telltale Tail (No, I’m not stuttering!)

by Sheri Schofield

It is autumn here in Montana. The air is crisp and we have had our first snow. It’s that time of year when bucks fight each other, competing for does. So it did not surprise me when I saw two bulls locking horns the other day in their corral. There were no cows around to notice, so they were being very careful with those long, sharp horns. But I knew they were having fun fighting because they were wagging their tails!

Sometimes I think it is a huge disadvantage that people don’t have tails. Have you ever wondered how another person was responding to you? If he or she had a tail, you would know! Serious face and straight out tail: “I don’t like you! I may attack!” Tucked tail: “I’m nervous and a little bit afraid.” Smiles accompanied by small wags: “I am willing to get close and see how we get along”.  Happy smiles and joyfully wagging tail: “I am soooooo glad to see you!” Then there’s the ever-popular male greeting of serious face and wagging tail: “Let’s fight!”

But then, animals don’t lie. Except for cats.

If the world had a tail, I think it would have a straight face and wag its tail, just like dogs circling each other preparing to attack. The world is engaged in battles at every level. Nations attack nations. People attack people. Even children fight each other over toys. It is our nature, just as it is the nature of animals, to fight or to run away in fear.

But someday, the Prince of Peace will return to this earth. The lion will lay down with the lamb. Men will hammer down their weapons and turn them into plows, and there will be peace.

The Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and to fill our hearts with peace. He brings us a foretaste of heaven. Those who surrender their lives to the control of the Holy Spirit will exude love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23, NLT).

Imagine a world filled with those qualities. What a world it would be! Imagine a church filled with those qualities. That is what Jesus intends. But even the early apostles struggled with their human nature, a nature that goes against God’s peace. Remember Paul and the conflict he had with Barnabas over John Mark, who couldn’t take the struggle of missionary work and went home? That’s just one example. And these struggles continue in Jesus’ church today.

We cannot change our world. We can only influence it. We cannot change our churches. But we can surrender our own hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit and allow the peace and love of Jesus to flow toward those around us, both inside and outside the church. The more Christians surrender to the Holy Spirit, the more we will see lost souls turn to Jesus, for love is a magnet to those who are searching for hope. Where there is love, there is hope. This hope blossoms into faith in Jesus and blooms into eternal life.

So today, I’m going to smile. If I had a tail, I’d wag it at you. Pass it on!

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.   Isaiah 54:10 NIV

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The Telltale Tail (No, I’m not stuttering!) – Sheri Scholfield on @AriseDailyDevo  (Click to Tweet)

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

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: What has been your more recent experience in hearing from the Holy Spirit?

Time with the Master Gardener

by Elaine Helms

We had dinner in the new home of my cousin when she moved back to town. It was a lovely evening, during the course of which she showed us around her intriguing courtyard garden. Both of us were drawn to the excellent job she had done with laying stone for sitting areas and paths. My thoughts started whirling as I considered a favorite private spot in our own backyard, where we had a lone cement bench.

It wasn’t long after that visit that we headed to home improvement stores to shop for our own artistic masterpiece.  My recently retired husband happily engaged in our new project, and we spent many weekend hours digging, leveling, dreaming, and laying stone. We planted flowering shrubs along the curvy path, then blooming plants in pots next to and behind the bench. It all created just the right vibe fit for a secret garden.

We were so excited and thought how much it looked like something at many flower shows we had attended. What a delight to sit on the bench and savor the beauty, and to be inspired to worship our Creator who created everything for our enjoyment.

Eventually, a few rainy days kept us inside. When I finally walked back out to look at it, to my horror thousands of little green weeds had sprouted, filling part of the mulched path and in between plants. I marveled at how quickly my spotless, manicured garden had changed into a plot in need of a gardener on her knees.

Three parallels to my walk with our Lord suddenly struck me as I began to pull weeds.

First, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly a voracious weed can appear seemingly out of nowhere and spoil a beautiful scene. Just like when surprising negative thoughts suddenly appear without warning. Like those pesky weeds, when allowed to linger and be nurtured, those thoughts could develop into full-fledged sin. As my garden needs faithful attention, so do my thoughts and walk with my Lord.

A little time with Jesus, the Master Gardener, allows Him to point out those weeds in my heart. Selfish ambition, pride, arrogance, and hurt feelings allowed to fester can be detrimental to my spiritual growth; but I can confess and turn from them, and know I am forgiven. “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15, NASB).

Second, the healthiest, most productive plants are those that have been fertilized and get the appropriate amount of sun. In the same way, yielding to the Spirit and knowing God in ever-deepening ways are fertilizer, water, and sunshine to a healthy and productive heart. As Paul wrote: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB).

Third, the kind of flowers, fruit, or vegetables produced in my garden totally depend on the kind of seeds that were planted. This reminded me to take care in what I plant in my heart—Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34b NASB).

I feel close to God when I visit with Him in the garden; but even closer when I yield my heart to His Master Gardener’s touch.

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Time with the Master Gardener – insight from Eliane Helms on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Elaine HelmAbout the author: With her passion for God, humor, vulnerability, and spiritual strength, Elaine Helms encourages audiences and readers to draw closer to God and live the abundant life Jesus came to give His followers. Prayer Coordinator for the Southern Baptist Convention for 10 years, and Prayer Coordinator for My Hope America with Billy Graham 2012-2013, Elaine has over 28 years of experience in church, national, and interdenominational prayer leadership. www.ChurchPrayerMinistries.org

God is at work all around us, doing things that only He can do.  Prayer is His plan for accomplishing His Purposes, and He invites you to join Him.  Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know, is a comprehensive guidebook for discovering how to pray as God intends. You’ll journey through Scripture, find inspiration in the stories of others, and learn simple and effective principles for prayer. An ideal resource for groups, Prayer 101 includes review questions for each chapter and a prayer ministry guide for churches eager to put prayer into action.

Join the conversation: How has the Master Gardener been at work in you lately?

See the Light

by Debb Hackett @debb_hackett

It was an hour before sunrise and the earth was shrouded in darkness. Not quite formless or desolate, like in Genesis 1, but definitely moody…

Some weeks ago I had the joy of attending a writers’ retreat in the heart of Amish country, in Lancaster, PA. As morning beckoned the sun, and it began to raise its sleepy head, the early shadows started forming. I walked into the dining room to have a quiet time of prayer, but was distracted by the sky. Shafts of golden light were embellishing the countryside, giving evidence to the hidden sun’s presence. It struck me that nature, God’s grand design, was providing me a metaphor to my relationship with the Father.

You see, I knew the sun was there, I just couldn’t see it. The beautiful evidence was right in front of me. But while certain parts of the sky were gloriously lit up, the shadows it caused kept some parts of the scene concealed. The work of the sun and its position below the tree line were unmistakable.

Life is the same. Our Bibles teach us the Lord is with us, and we know it in our hearts. Yet we don’t can’t take His hand in a frightening moment. Because the Lord isn’t a tangible, physical presence.

Except He is. Or rather the effect of his Spirit in our life is.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he assures his readers that when we believe in Jesus Christ and His saving power, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. “In Him…after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB). His Spirit is there to provide life, guidance, and instruction (John 16:5-11).

He is not always a discernible presence, but we can be sure He is within us. In Scripture, it is an indisputable fact. We may not see Him, but we can see the evidence of His indwelling. The fruits He produces are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB). Just like the rays of a hidden sun.

God’s Spirit reveals Himself all around me as well. Just like I don’t have to see the sun or the air to know they are present, so it is with the Lord. In the hardest moments of my life, hindsight has revealed the Lord was right alongside me. He was there when my husband whispered Scripture after we lost a baby to miscarriage. He was there when a friend brought flowers after news of a sudden death. When I was stretchered off a ski slope and wheeled into surgery, He was there in the skill of the medics. (And also in quieting my fear. Being skied down a mountain in a sled isn’t for the faint of heart.)

When I know just the right thing to pray for a friend who’s struggling, or feel the urge to stop and give a meal to a homeless person, learn their name and pray for them, that’s not because I’m a champion at love, but because the King of Love lives inside me and isn’t sleeping.

We might not physically see Jesus within us, beside us, before or behind us, but He is there. The evidence is compelling. Be encouraged to look for the signs. Look today for the tangible signs of God.

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.                                                                                                                                                  Hebrews 11:1 NASB

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See the Light – insight from @Debb_Hackett on finding God in the dark on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington D.C. with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What evidences of God’s presence have you noticed lately?

Superman’s Cape

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

When growing up, I loved to watch Clark Kent turn into Superman. He entered a phone booth as a shy, unassuming, everyday guy until he put on that cape and Superman clothes. Then he’d step out of the telephone booth as a new man—bold, certain, and… well …Superman! The clothes gave him cover to become someone he could not be otherwise. He was proud and confident when clothed in garments that made him a new person.

We are like that, too. When you and I wear certain clothes, we behave differently. For instance, when I get dressed up I feel pretty and professional, but when I put on my comfy clothes all I want to do is curl up with a good book.

As God’s chosen people, we are holy (set apart) and loved. Because we are set apart from the world, we are to “clothe” ourselves differently than those around us. To put in another way, we should stand out of the crowd because of the clothes we wear.

Our new clothes have names—the garments of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Each morning I have a choice in what I will wear, both physically and spiritually. Some days I physically make wise choices and put on clothes that make me want to exercise or smile throughout the day. Spiritually, I can make a similar wise choice to wear patience or kindness.

The Scripture for today tells us the clothes we wear are our choice as we dress every morning.  This implies we don’t wake up with them already on. Honestly, if I am left to my own, I will wear judgment and impatience. So, each day when I reach into my closet, I am reminded of this Scripture, and as I get dressed, I am mentally putting on the garments of God.

Thankfully we won’t be asked to leap tall buildings in a single bound! However, it is good to know that just like with Superman’s cape, these clothes come with power to help us do mighty things. God’s power. He enables us to show patience when we’re unable to muster it on our own. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, our lives will display love, joy, peace (Galatians 5:22-23)…the best wardrobe we could possibly own. 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12b NIV

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Superman’s Cape – and thoughts on #FollowingGod from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace (Thomas Nelson). She can be found at www.CheriCowell.com.

Cheri CowellCheri Cowell is also a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite piece of “clothing”?

Signs of Life

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The days are getting longer, and the sun is getting warmer. The daffodils are up a good eight inches, their sunny blooms ready to pop. Sap in the trees is obviously flowing, because the buds on the maples have swollen and changed to a bright red. Anyone with eyes can see the daily evidence: what lay dormant all winter is coming to life. Spring has arrived.

It reminds me of God’s work in us. God took what was dead and brought us to life when we believed in Jesus. Paul wrote: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-6 NASB). Where only death existed, the Holy Spirit now exists.

And where the Spirit is, there is life.

A young man came into our church at the urging of his live-in girlfriend. He liked the love and enthusiasm of the church community, and so began to attend regularly. One of our young couples had he and his girlfriend for dinner one evening. They plainly laid out the truth of the gospel: sin had separated us from God, and Jesus died to pay for our sin. By believing in Him, we would forever be in relationship with God, never having to fear punishment or rejection from Him. Ever. It is salvation that comes only through grace, totally undeserved and unearnable. What did he think about that?

“Who wouldn’t want that?” he responded. “But if I commit to that, we will have to change our living situation, which I really love. And I would have to give up partying.” There was too much of his life that would have to change. And he didn’t know if he could do it. Or even wanted to do it.

“None of that has anything to do with your salvation,” his new friend assured him. “All God wants from you is your trust.”

“Well, that’s a no-brainer then,” the man exclaimed. “I’m in.” He bowed his head right there at the table and called upon the name of Jesus to be saved.

The next Sunday we could all see something had changed. He was full of joy and worshiped with all his heart. A few weeks later, I got the chance to talk with him. He told me about his new relationship with God. “I had no intention of changing anything. But something crazy happened,” he said. “Within two weeks, my girlfriend and I knew we needed to begin living apart, because we want our relationship to please God. I no longer feel a desire to get drunk or live the wild life. He has seriously changed my heart. In spite of me, really.”

Signs of life. Where only death and darkness once existed had been filled by the Spirit of light and life. And our new friend would never be the same. The more He learned about His God, the greater his love for Him. The more he loved Him, the more He yielded to the Spirit within.

And the result of that profound new relationship was fruit that the Spirit in him produced: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). All of them evidence of the life that existed inside him.

The Hebrew word translated as “Spirit” is ruach. It was normally used for the breath of an individual or sometimes air in motion. The Ruach moved over the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2). The ruach of God changed a lifeless form into a living soul (Genesis 2:7). The arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost sounded like a rushing wind as He came upon each one in the Upper Room (Acts 2:2).

The very definition of ruach involves movement. Which is a great way to describe the Spirit of God. He is always moving, urging us forward into a more intimate knowledge of Him. And as we learn to love Him more, we are better enabled to yield to His Spirit.

Those fruits that the Spirit produces are evidence of life. Something that is dead cannot move. Or be transformed. But note that the fruit is not something we produce. It is the fruit of the Spirit. And undeniable evidence of His life within us.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NASB

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Signs of Life – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Can you see evidence of the Spirit of life in you?

 

Kinda Kind

by Kaley Rhea

We try to teach our children to be kind—to share and to say gentle words and to play nice, right? But between you and me, fellow grownups, we can be some real sass-mouths to each other.

As a culture, we’re inclined to celebrate the zingers: the quick come-backs, the smart insults, the comic teasing. Something in us loves to shout, “Ohhhh! Apply cool water to that burn!” after a particularly glorious comeback. After all, it really is all in fun.

The problem is that cheeky comebacks can too easily become a habit. We look to “score points” in our verbal exchanges with hardly a conscious thought— and attempting to honestly encourage someone feels like trying to do calligraphy wrong-handed.

But Ephesians 4:32 does tell us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…” (NASB) As a parent, what could be sweeter than seeing your kiddos show kindness to each other? Growing up as the middle child of five, I was always rewarded by the looks on my parents’ faces when I made any effort to be kind to my sibs. When we were tenderhearted to each other, our parents glowed. It changed the entire atmosphere of our home.

Have you thought how you can bless your Heavenly Father lately? Be kind. Be tenderhearted. While there may be awkwardness or an odd feeling of vulnerability in replacing glibness with kindness, it is an opportunity to show sweetness toward Jesus Himself (Colossians 3:17).

I think sometimes a kind person can leave the impression of saccharine-sweetness or even weakness. But let’s be clear: kindness doesn’t lie or flatter or overlook sin. In fact, sometimes confrontation is the kindest thing to do. Psalm 141:5 (ESV) says, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” Replacing truth with feel-good-isms is no kind of kindness at all. It’s more like apathy, in fact. But kindness does require approaching someone in love with the understanding that I am not superior. That their struggle could just as easily be mine. Kindness dismisses the desire to put someone in their place and instead asks the Lord to use me however He wants in that moment, that I might encourage them to victory in Christ.

There is something a bit sinister in habitual teasing, in that it tends to keep things on a superficial level. It’s difficult to share personal struggles or meaningful victories with someone whose tendency is to laugh things off or call things out. So even if sharp but funny insults are the popular thing, they’re not generally the thing for which people are thirsting. We may celebrate the wit of the jokesters, but we’re drawn to the hearts of the kind.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that kindness is a lesson reserved for children. It’s massively important. It’s a command. And it’s impossible to do well without the help of our tirelessly kind and merciful Father. Kindness is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in us. If you find yourself defaulting to clever put-downs or brush-offs, ask Him to change your mind. Ask Him to enable you to bless Him by blessing others with your words and actions today.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Adapted from Messy to Meaningful.

Kaley Rhea

About the author: Kaley Rhea is a St. Louis-area author and one half of the mother/daughter writing team behind 2017 Christian romantic comedy Turtles in the Road (along with the hilarious Rhonda Rhea). She also makes up one third of the writing team for the just-released non-fiction book Messy to Meaningful: Lessons From the Junk Drawer (co-written with Rhonda Rhea and the fabulous Monica Schmelter). She’s unclear on how fractions work, but if Rhonda Rhea is the common denominator, Kaley is pretty sure that makes her like five-sixths of Monica Schmelter. Or something like that.

Join the conversation: Has someone’s kindness ever made a difference in your life?

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

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