God’s Best for You

by Karen Wingate

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 58:17 NIV

My 16-month-old grandson recently brought his dad for a 3-day visit while Major Mama did a two-week work trip (TDY) with the military. He quickly discovered the bottom kitchen utensil drawer and had a great time pulling out measuring cups, plastic funnels, and—Uh-Oh—my long-handled meat fork. I guess my house wasn’t as baby proof as I thought.

Being the good grandma that I am, I distracted him with the measuring cups and attempted to remove the meat fork from his fist. At first, his grip tightened. Come on, Buddy-Boy, don’t make me make you cry, my heart implored. With more “redirecting,” the fork soon found a higher home.

Grandson wanted that fork. To him, it looked and felt interesting. As Grandma though, I knew what was best for him. I knew the way he should play. Measuring cups and plastic funnels are non-traditional toys but safe; metal two-pronged meat forks are not. It would be inappropriate and defiant for him to insist on holding on to that fork.

My Bible reading in Isaiah 48 reminded me that sometimes my prayers are like my grandson’s desire for new toys. I see shiny, attractive things that I want. Possessions and accomplishments that I think would be really cool. So I ask for them. But, knowing He has something better in mind for me, God sometimes withholds what I want. If I’m listening, His Holy Spirit redirects me toward those better things or simply reminds me to trust that God wants what is best for me, even if I don’t understand.

There have been times (and I imagine there will be more times) when I tighten my grip on my original request. I may even make a frowny face at God, accusing Him of unnecessary delays or complications. I suspect I’m not the only one who has had the gall to question God’s love for me when He doesn’t let me have what I want, or even what appears to be reasonable.

Sometimes in those moments, God relinquishes, granting my request, so He can teach me the hard way that it wasn’t such a good idea after all. And He will grieve that I missed out on the riches of His peace and righteousness because of my obstinate will (Isaiah 48:18, 19).

The Bible says it so clearly: God wants to teach us what is best for us. I admit, the hard part is knowing what is best. How can I know whether what I request is God’s best?

We can work toward aligning our requests with the will of God in two ways.

First, ask. James 1:5, 6 tells us that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask, and God will generously give it to us.

We can also observe. The next time God doesn’t instantly answer in the affirmative to your request, pay attention to what else is happening. How does He provide for you in the meantime? How does He sustain you through the trial? How does He become more real to those watching you go through your tough time? How do you become stronger and grow closer to Him by not getting what you asked for? Finally, what does God give you instead that is bigger, better and yes, His best for you?

So, the next time I—or you—feel compelled to pray for something we want, here is a way we could pray.

“Lord, I want this, but I realize my judgement and experience may be as limited as that of a 16-month-old toddler. I ask that You give me what is best for me. And, while You’re at it, would You teach me why this is best so I can ask more in line with Your will the next time?”

God loves you so much. Even if it means making you temporarily unhappy because you didn’t get what you thought you needed, He wants to give you His very best.

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

About the author: Author, speaker, and Bible study leader Karen Wingate loves to brag on how she sees God working in the world. Karen is a veteran writer of 30 years, writing Christian education curriculum, magazine articles, and contributions to devotional guides and compilation books. Read about her latest sighting at www.karenwingate.com/blog.

Karen’s book, With Fresh Eyes, gives a fresh look at God, His creation, and people through the eyes of someone who is seeing the details of her world for the first time. It will challenge you to pause, ponder, and praise God for all His good gifts.

Join the conversation: Have you ever regretting receiving something you asked God for?

The Power of Three Little Words

by Jackie M. Johnson

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

Words are powerful and they can have a profound impact on our lives. While kind words can make a heart blossom with joy, cruel words close up the heart and make it wither like a bouquet of roses in the sweltering summer sun.

Over the course of a lifetime, three little words can make an indelible impact. For instance, when a child is born, parents will exclaim, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”

When the child grows up and auditions for a play or gets chosen for a sports team, he will burst with excitement, “I made it.” A teenage girl can’t wait to share with her best friend, “He likes me!” Or, upon graduation from high school or college, say, “I did it!”

But those elusive three little words that we all long to hear, “I love you,” have the greatest impact on our lives.

Of course, we want to hear them from the man we love. But it is wonderfully startling that God, the One who loves us most, longs to share those profound words with each of us. God loves us with an everlasting love. It never ends. We are loved every single day.

Over and over in God’s Word, the Bible, He demonstrates his love—He cares, He has good plans for us, and He never leaves. God shows the power of his love and mercy in Scripture as He rescues Daniel from a lion’s den and or when Jesus gives a blind man sight for the very first time. He also rescues and heals us, too. In fact, from start to finish, the Bible is all about God’s love for mankind—and how we can be restored to God through a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Three little words. God loves you. God loves me. In his kindness and loving care, God is reaching out to each of us. He simply wants us to reach back.

Lord, thank you for your love for me. And that You never leave. You are the One who loves me most. I want to know You and love you more. Teach me to love the way you love. Help me to be patient, kind, compassionate and other-centered. Empower me to receive Your boundless love and then give it out generously to others.

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

About the author: Jackie M. Johnson is an accomplished author and blogger who inspires readers worldwide with hope-filled and encouraging content. Jackie is the author of Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery resource, When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Emptyand Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie’s is member of AWSA and CAN (Christian Authors Network). Connect with Jackie at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

Join the conversation: How do you reflect God’s love to others around you?

Running to Love

by Melissa Henderson

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15 NIV

I witnessed a precious sight today. Three-year-old grandson Rowan had come for a visit. His mother, father, and six-month-old baby sister Eden came to the house, too. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, chatted, laughed, and watched the two little ones interact. The bond between brother and sister is already strong.

There is another special bond in the neighborhood. Rowan has a friend who lives next door to us. She is a very sweet little girl. Three years old and filled with love and laughter. Rowan and this sweet girl often play together, sharing toys and giggles.

The innocence of these children is something we all can learn from. When these two precious friends see each other, they often run toward each other and share a greeting of giggles. Sometimes there are words and other times, the laughter is all that is needed for the connection.

There is no need for explanation of the laughter. A simple smile, a hug, and being together brings joy to them and the adults watching.

I wonder how different the world could be if everyone greeted each other with a smile, a hug or handshake, a “hello”, a listening ear, and a few giggles.

Rowan and his friend are showing examples of how to share God’s love. They don’t realize the importance of their actions. The two friends know they are happy to be together. Their joy comes from simple things in life. Watching bugs crawling across the sidewalk, playing hide and seek, jumping through the water in the sprinkler, and sometimes sitting and chatting in the way only young ones can comprehend.

Each interaction is a picture of how God shows His unconditional love to us. He listens, He hears, He comforts, and He never leaves. With Rowan and his friend, His image can be seen through their listening, hearing, comforting when the other has a hurt. Their relationship stays intact even though the children don’t see each other every day.

There may be times of frustration, when a toy is wanted by the same child. Or times of sadness, when one person has to leave to go home before everyone is finished playing. Yet, even in those times, the friendship and love continue.

The book of Proverbs shares wisdom and instruction for life. Values and compassion can be found in Scripture. When a child is taught to love and show compassion, that child is able to share those special attributes with others.

The Bible shares examples of the love Jesus showed to people of all ages. When I see Rowan and his friend playing, I think of songs sharing how Jesus loves us. Yes, He loves us. This I know.

Have you watched children playing? Did they make you smile? Start off children in the way they should go, and they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

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

Melissa Henderson
Licky the Lizard by [Melissa Henderson, Mark Brayer]

About the author: Award-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon and Stephen Minister. Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and at http://www.melissaghenderson.com

Join the conversation: How have you trained your children to love?

Finding True Love

by Louise Tucker Jones

Recently, I watched a movie where a young woman was talking with an older gentleman who had been widowed after a lifetime of marriage. “You found your one true love,” she stated.

I love the man’s response. “I know that now,” he said. “But it wasn’t always so clear. Loving someone is the hardest work there is. We messed up plenty…disappointed each other…but never let that keep us apart. It wasn’t true love because it was easy. It was because we worked at it. We fought for it.”

Now that’s love! The kind of love that lasts “till death do us part,” as stated in most wedding vows. And isn’t it interesting that God set the precedent for this kind of love with the forgiving, merciful, selfless love of his Son, Jesus Christ, knowing that “true love” would also require a selfless sacrifice. Otherwise, how could marriage possibly last?

God knew that many of us would need not only His love, but also that of a partner in life. Someone to hold us when this broken world in which we live falls apart and shatters our spirits. Times when we need the arms of human flesh to surround us, even as we hold onto the divine love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV).

Love. It makes us feel safe and secure. It’s starry-eyed romance bound by deep commitment. It’s the arm around you when no one is looking and the sweetness of knowing you belong to each other.

Real love doesn’t come with a Webster definition. It’s a verb—an action word—as well as a noun. And this kind of love…well, it never dies. It doesn’t even grow old. It simply…grows. True love takes us to worlds beyond anything we ever imagined. It trudges through the dark times, races though the ordinary and soars through the extraordinary. It tiptoes quietly into hospital rooms and sits silently in cemeteries when that forever love is carried to heaven on angels’ wings. Love lasts. Love holds. Love lifts.

The Bible tells us that one of the names of God is “I Am,” (Exodus 3:14, NIV), meaning He was, He is and He will be forevermore. Past. Present. Future. Love is like that. True love is precious, like a pearl in an oyster, waiting to be opened and cherished. And if you treat love the way God intended, then you will have a treasure to hold in your heart forever.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.                                                  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

TWEETABLE
Finding True Love – wisdom from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly HusbandsLouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: What other qualities does true love have in your experience?

How Do You See Him?

by Stacy Sanchez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Tarnished World of Wonder

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

 When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind. 1 Corinthians 13:11  (VOICE)

When I was five years old, I had a front yard filled with wonderful secrets, like the enchanted oak tree. I discovered what looked like a tiny doorknob made of an old staple in the base of the tree. I spent hours imagining the tiny fairies using that doorknob in the deep of the night, so they could come out and dance on my lawn. Then there were the glorious azalea bushes that would burst forth in lush pink pedals just in time to celebrate the risen Savior and serve as the backdrop for my mother’s annual Easter photos. My front yard served as the setting of epic games of hide and seek, adventures of the walkie-talkie spies, and our amazing cowboy shootouts.

My old pit-pull dog ruled the yard, serving guard over us kids, and sometimes even killing the venomous copperheads that hid beneath the house. I marveled at the great oaks that stood like sentries after surviving many hurricanes in time. I’d often wondered if their old knotholes were scars left behind from the flying bullets of a Civil War battle waged a hundred years before I was born.

Not long ago, my husband and I drove through our Texas hometown and decided to drive past the old place that loomed so large in my memories. When we pulled up to the old house, we were amazed at how much remained the same. There, still intact, were the hurricane sentries, the old azalea bushes, and the front porch that the neighbor kids transformed into a stage for our talent ‘shows’.

However, the yard didn’t look as I remembered it. It looked small, shabby, and not at all like the place of wonder that I remembered.

My husband and I were taken aback. This was the cherished place of all of my dear, most precious memories?

Time has a way of tarnishing and shrinking the old places we idolized as children. My perspective had changed from that of a tiny child to the viewpoint of an adult.

Time may have a way of giving us new perspectives, but so does maturity in the Lord. For when we look at life’s disappointments, difficulties, and trials, our eyes may want to focus on the ugly pain and bitterness. But when we look at these same circumstances through the eyes of God’s love and grace, we will begin to notice His life-changing potential and miracles everywhere.

Paul wrote about a mature perspective in his letter to the Corinthians. “When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind” (1 Corinthians 13:11 VOICE). Knowing Jesus and the love of God gives us a whole new viewpoint on both our earthly home and gives us hope for our future in heaven.

May we continue to look at our world through the eyes of God’s love and discover His wonder on every face, difficulty and relationship.

Put the childish behaviors and attitudes away and grow into the wonder of God’s loving perspective of your life and world, and you will find awe in the beauty of his amazing care.

TWEETABLE
My Tarnished World of Wonder – @LindaShepherd on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda evans shepherd

About the author: Linda Shepherd Evans is the president of Right to the Heart Ministries and the CEO of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), which ministers to Christian women authors and speakers. She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily. Linda is an award-winning author who has written numerous books. Her prayer books have sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies. She is an internationally recognized speaker.

Linda’s latest release, When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power, is a practical and encouraging book that explains what intercessory prayer is, how to pray as an intercessor, and how to experience victory. You’ll quickly find the specific help you need to pray for the needs close to your heart. You’ll also learn how to develop your own intercessory prayer battle strategy and to celebrate each victory with thanksgiving.

Join the conversation: When have you been able to adjust your perspective?

The Love of My Life

by Rebecca Price Janney @rebeccajanney

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Romans 8:35 NIV

The earliest love of my life was my Pappy Harry, who taught me about baseball, took me to carnivals, and ate my pretend cooking. Unfortunately he died when was I was five, and as I grew up I wanted to learn more about him from others. My grandmother once told me his story, how they weren’t married until they were both in their sixties, she a widow, he a bachelor.

“Why didn’t he get married when he was young?” I asked.

“During World War One he met the love of his life in France.”

“My starry eyes reflected my romantic bent. “What happened?”

“She loved him, but she wouldn’t leave France to marry him.”

That captivating Frenchwoman deeply disappointed my grandfather and changed the course of his young adulthood.

Maybe in your own life, a special love has not been requited. The truth is, however, even when love is returned, fallen creatures—including redeemed ones—cause each other pain sometimes, and death eventually parts the greatest of loves.

There is, however, a deeper love we can rest our lives on from birth to death. The love of Jesus is ever-present and everlasting, secure for all eternity. Romans 8: 35-38 (NIV) proclaims, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither 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.”

Imagine never being separated from the Love of your life! Yes, there are human loves that enliven our spirits and bring us great joy, but we cannot always be with them. A dear friend and his bride are currently apart for several weeks while one of them works in India with a team from his company. They treasure each other beyond anything else in this world, but for now, they can’t be together. There is, however, no getting away from Jesus when we belong to him. There is no journey you can take anywhere on earth, or even in space for that matter, no condition or trial, no tragedy or downward spiral that can separate you from the One who holds you in the palm of His hand.

This is a “love divine, all loves excelling.” We can depend on God’s love for us throughout the course of our lives, from the time we are born until the time we depart this life. Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) puts the matter this way: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” There is no greater love!

TWEETABLE
The Love of My Life – encouragement from @RebeccaJanney on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Rebecca Price Janney Author Photo 2018About the author: Rebecca Price Janney is the author of twenty-three books including the Golden Scroll 2019 Historical Novel of the Year, Easton at the Crossroads, and second place winner, Morning Glory. Her latest book is Sweet Sweet Spirit: A Woman’s Spiritual Journey to the Asbury College Revival. She shares her love of American history and the Lord at speaking engagements and through her podcast, “Inspiring Stories from American History.” She lives in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with her husband, teenage son, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Join the conversation: Who is the love of your life?

 

 

His Love

by Fran Caffey Sandin

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.                                                                                                                                                    Psalm 33: 22 NIV

Weary from staying two weeks in the hospital with Steve, my sick son, I craved a big glass of iced tea with lemon. The cafeteria food was served in a covered plastic container, convenient for take outs. I made my selection and poured tea from the cannister, but no lemons were available.

After finding a quiet place to sit, I opened the plastic lid, and there to my great surprise was a large slice of lemon! Tears filled my eyes as I realized that lemon was added, not appropriate for the entrée I ordered. It seemed such a trivial thing, maybe even a mistake by the server, but to me God was saying, “I love you.” With gratitude I bowed my head and thanked my Heavenly Father that He loved me, He knew where I was, what I wanted, and He cared. Years later I still remember the emotions of that day.

My daughter, Angie, had a similar experience when she came to the hospital the same week and realized she needed to spend the night with her brother, Steve. Normally she would be at home preparing the evening meal for her husband and three children, and she wondered, what should I do?

Within seconds, before she could even make a plan, her neighbor sent a text: “Angie, don’t worry, I am taking dinner to your family tonight.” God loved Angie by providing for her loved ones while she was away. Sometimes we are responding to God’s promptings in helping others, and at times we are the ones being helped.

My husband and I felt God’s love in our early years when we had placed some money in an investment account recommended by a reputable source. One day the Holy Spirit strongly urged my husband to transfer our funds to a different financial institution. He did. Later we learned that our money was the last transaction made by the company, before they declared bankruptcy.  God protected our modest savings.

The various ways God shows His love highlights His PRE-VISION and PRO-VISION. I am always encouraged to read verses that speak of God’s love. Here are a few: 

God is love (I John 4: 8 ESV). This is God’s character. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136: 1 ESV). God’s character never changes.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar (Psalm 139: 1,2 ESV).  God knows all about us from before birth.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. He will always forgive.

Dear Father, thank you that You are God with us, and we can enjoy a personal relationship with You. What a blessing that while we were sinners, you came to earth to pay the penalty for our sin and guilt. It is more than we can comprehend, but You have shown true love. Help us recognize both large and small ways you demonstrate your love to us every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

TWEETABLE 
His Love – encouragement and insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Fran SandinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What aspect of God’s love means the most to you?

 

 

They Come That Way!

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

Have you ever admired someone and wished you could be like them? Maybe a good friend who somehow always seems to have it all together? Maybe you’ve known someone who’s faced incredible odds or trials and managed to land on their feet—faith and sanity intact? Perhaps you know someone who seems to have the Midas Touch—everything they touch turning to gold?

Have you admired someone with amazing talent, a great singer or musician, perhaps a powerful preacher, or even someone in great shape or athletically gifted? For me, I admire people with great organizational skills and those who manage their time well—they’re never late for anything.

By comparison, we’re nowhere close to that person. We love them, but can’t help but being a little envious. I know I should never compare myself with other people, but sometimes envy does creep into my thoughts.

Realistically though, those we look up to and admire didn’t come that way.

On one of my Ugandan missions, I shared the Gospel in a small church in the bush. Relaxing with my friend during lunch, we noticed two little girls behind us. They were watching my every move, whispering back and forth in Luganda, their native language. After they left to get their food, my friend, Monique, was chuckling under her breath. She leaned over and asked, “Do you know what those little girls were talking about?”

Of course, I was clueless, since I didn’t speak their language. Monique told me the girls were admiring me, the muzungu (white person). Neither had ever seen a muzungu before. The younger one, who was about four years old, pointed out my red fingernails.

In response, the older, wiser, and more observant five-year-old explained, “Did you also see her toes? They are the same. And then, with all the confidence in the world, she declared, “Muzungus come that way.” Silly as it might be, many of us are like those little girls. We see someone and conclude; they came that way.

We might think we don’t have the same value as the one we admire. But if we were to pull back the curtain on their lives, we’d see ordinary people—whose lives include hard work, study, practice and/or preparation that coexists with failures, rejections, heartache, and disappointments.

No one just comes that way. People are people. We all have our issues in life. We all have our failures and flaws. I didn’t come with painted nails and neither does anyone come into this world having it all together.

The good news is what we DO come with—God’s immeasurable love. Our real value is not in our accomplishments and talents, these are external add-ons. Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

His love for you is relentless, immeasurable, and infinite. Ephesians 2:4-7 says “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”. Your heavenly Father has planned a magnificent, never-ending future for you, and it doesn’t matter if you can sing, preach, wear a certain size pants, write a book, throw a football, climb Mt. Everest or be on time for every appointment.

It would be wonderful to be able to claim all those things, but it would never be what measures your value. We can’t earn God’s love, we just come that way, possessing His love.

Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes so you can see yourself the way He sees you. You might be surprised.

TWEETABLE
They Come That Way! – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

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

Join the conversation: How does seeing yourself through God’s eyes change your perspective?

 

 

 

When You Get a Rock in Your Candy Bag

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”                                                                                                            Hebrews 11:36-40 ESV

Don’t you just love Charlie Brown?

His big, old, round head, and his black dot eyes. His sober approach to the trials of daily life and his wise but innocent perspective? Charlie seems to exist in a dimension just one degree apart from all the other kids – separated by an invisible shield. One that keeps him from kicking footballs, but also helps him see what others cannot.

Remember Charlie Brown on Halloween? He is trick-or-treating with his friends, but when comparing their candy sacks after each house the other kids exclaim, I got a popcorn ball! I got a chocolate bar! I got gumdrops!

Then, poor Charlie – I got a rock. I can relate to Charlie Brown.

It’s hard to stand by while others receive exactly what they are requesting or hoping to find or need while you’re holding a sack full of rocks. But sometimes, that’s how life works – even when we love Jesus.

When disasters strike, there are stories of miracles, people who should have been harmed, but were somehow delivered. Praise God for that!

But there are also stories of those who fell victim to tragedy, were caught in the crossfire, lost precious loved ones in the storm. And how hard is it to praise God when the miracle passed over the one you love only to land on another? It’s hard as rock.

Or, perhaps you’ve worked towards a dream, knowing it’s a dream from God – a vision, a goal, a ministry, an art. And you thought you knew where it was going. Believed it was blessed – prayed over – inspired. And you have poured everything into the endeavor.

But the finish line eludes you, or worse, it seems to be disappearing all together. You find yourself on the sidelines watching others called out onto the field, crossing the finish line, achieving the dream while you sit by holding a bag of rocks. How hard is that? Hard as rock.

But, what gift does Charlie Brown give us? This little cartoon with a soul. His story makes us feel less alone in a crazy world. His perseverance inspires us to carry on. His disappointments help us see that often there is more to life than getting exactly what we want.

Through Charlie Brown, we are drawn to the mystery of grace. The grace of a God who pours out His love in ways we sometimes miss while we’re standing at His door asking for what we want.

And Charlie Brown reminds us that there is a bigger story. While the other children were busy about their lives, Charlie stands there with a sack full of rocks and moves us to ask the greater questions.

It’s hard to be Charlie Brown. It’s painful to watch others rejoice or receive while we stand there wanting, grieving, lacking, struggling, waiting. The temptation is to become bitter or to assume we’ve been rejected or that we are unseen. When really, God has simply written us a role that moves us – and others – to ask the greater questions. It’s a role that is hard as rock.

But Jesus was the first rock – the cornerstone – and on Peter the rock, Christ built His church, and we are all living stones. So, we are not alone.

Did you get a rock? I know it’s hard – but take it to Jesus who has held that same rock and praise God, dear Charlie Brown, praise God.

TWEETABLE
When You Get a Rock in Your Candy Bag – encouragement 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?