Gift Wrapped…for You

by Shirley Brosius

Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.                                                                                James 1:17 NKJV

My grandson Scott gave me two bugs. Oh, not real ones. They are ornamental bugs with a terracotta look. One is dark red; the other, orange. Both sport bulging eyes, multicolored spots, springy metal antenna, and hooks for feet.

One bug hangs on the handle of a mason jar filled with clear yellow balls with a solar lid that lights at night; the other sits by the jar.

The bugs warm my heart because Scott picked them out for me himself. He knows my love of nature and wanted to give me something that his little boy heart loved as well.

I love the gifts I get from grandchildren that reflect their knowledge of who I am.

Perhaps we might view the people, things, and situations in our lives as special gifts God has picked out just for us. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 NKJV). God loves us and is for us. He wants nothing less than His best for us. So we can look around with His eyes, from His perspective. We may not expect certain circumstances, but we can accept them as permitted by God, Who loves us and walks with us through them.

We may take people for granted. Our spouses will always be there to bring home the bread and milk, to take out the trash. Our children may annoy us with antics more often than delight us with cuteness. Our neighbors may be ordinary people whom we rarely see and make little effort to do so. After all, we don’t have that much in common.

Then there are the people with whom we work. Do we know anything about their families? Their cares and their concerns? Their joys and their pleasures?

People in our churches come and go Sunday after Sunday. We say “Hi” and “See you next week.” We may offer friendly greetings, but do we ever invite them into our homes?

But what if God brings people into our lives for specific purposes? What if He means for them to enrich our lives and for us to enrich theirs? We may be missing out by failing to appreciate or get to know them.

We might also look at situations in our lives as provided by a loving God. That burnt dinner. That challenge at work. That car that won’t start.

Challenges bless us with the gift of patience, one of the spiritual fruits listed in Scripture (Galatians 5:22). Challenges force us to rely on others, to work together to solve a problem. And as we do, we serve as God’s image-bearer to a watching world.

Take a second at the people and situations that touch your life. They are God’s gifts to you. How do you feel about them? Is there anything you might do to enhance that relationship?

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 NKJV). Perhaps that means we shall stop wanting what’s on the other side of the street and accept what’s in our own backyards as God’s gift.

TWEETABLE
Gift Wrapped…for You – encouragement from Shirley Brosius on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Shirley BrosiusAbout the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she enjoys pass

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ing on her faith—and cookies—to two married sons and five grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with accepting certain people or situations in your life as God’s gift to you?

 

When Life Hurts

by Monica Schmelter @MonicaSchmelter

I get lots of calls, letters, and emails requesting prayer.

Each request is different.  Some requests just really stand out.  One of them was “Frieda” who asked for prayer. After 16 years of marriage, her husband wanted out.  He’d met another woman online. He felt “alive” with the other woman and wanted a new life.

Frieda’s case is especially complicated: her husband was a pastor. She had worked by his side for years, supporting his ministry and raising their children. But despite her tears and prayers, the marriage ended.

Why such needless suffering? The events brought pain not only to Frieda and her children, but to their former congregation. With more questions than answers, they did their best to move forward, but the profound sense of loss and suffering persisted.

When it comes to suffering, there are no easy or pat answers. However, when life hurts, we can trust His Word. It assures us of His promises, purpose in our lives, and offers godly perspective.

 God’s Promises

What a comfort it is to know He stands ready to help! He says we can come to Him in total honesty and receive mercy and grace when we need it most. Hebrews tells us that Jesus the High Priest “understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:15-16 NLT).

God’s Purposes

God will use suffering to accomplish great things in our lives. Suffering has a way of helping us to realize just how helpless we really are. And as we cry out to God in our pain, He will use that moment to draw us into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Him. we are in a good position to go deeper in our trust of Him. He will also use suffering to develop and transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. And make us a better reflection of who He is to the world around us. As we trust and obey Christ amid suffering, He will accomplish great things in our lives.

God’s purposes in our lives are accomplished as we yield to Him in our pain. Hebrews tells us that even Jesus was perfected through suffering: “For it was fitting for Him…to bring many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10 NASB).

God’s Perspective

While it may seem like an eternity as we struggle through pain, we can know that it will not last forever. God’s eternal perspective is a comfort, as well as giving us hope that one day everything will be made right. Our earthly life may be limited, but life beyond the grave will be forever.

As Paul wrote: “That is why we never give up. Thought our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT).

If you are in a season of suffering, take some time right now to reflect on God’s Promises, Purposes, and Perspective. Allow His Word to encourage you and fill your heart with hope. You can trust Him to use your right now for good.

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Getting through a season when life hurts – insight from @MonicaSchmelter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

monicaheadshot (1)Monica Schmelter is host of the daily television show Bridges on Christian Television Network. In her spare time, she searches for delicious and decadent calorie free chocolate. You can find out more about her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Reading Between the Lines (and Living Between the Times)

by Rhonda Rhea

Someone once told me that all crazy women have super-thin eyebrows. I don’t see how I could even begin to argue with that logic. So I pencil. And I pencil strong. I feel I have a lot to prove.

That’s one reason doing makeup in the car is such risky business. One hard stop and a gal could end up with a seriously high eyebrow. No one could ever be as astonished as that kind of brow implies. And please excuse me if the humor here is a bit…ah…highbrow.

The other day, even full-well knowing the risk, I was doing my makeup in the car. My daughter was driving and hit a bad bump at a very crucial eyebrow moment. I immediately shot her a half-angry look. Not because I was really angry. Hey, bumps happen. I gave her the look because suddenly I had one fiercely anger-shaped brow. That’s hard to get rid of. To find some sort of symmetry I had to line and over-line both eyebrows. We’re talking, eyebrows full on. Like, high-beam on. I just combed my bangs extra low and hoped people would read between the lines, as it were. Goofy road-bump.

If anyone knew about bumps in the road, it was Paul. Talk about some hardships. It was enough to furrow any brow. But in Romans 8:18 he tells us that those difficulties were not such a big deal. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us,” (HCSB).

Difficulties? Temporary. But the glory? It’s forever! Our future is so much brighter than anything dark we could ever encounter here. What hope! A few verses later we read, “Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience,” (vv. 24-25, HCSB).

It reminds us that we live between the times. We can’t see the big picture full-beam. We’re living in that space between the bumps in the road and the glory that awaits. But this we know: we can walk in faith and confidence in the here and now because our Father has a great plan for our future. He is a trustworthy God who keeps His promises. That means we can wait with assurance—eager, yet patient.

That assurance changes our perspective on life and its challenges. We’re able to focus less on the things that won’t matter in eternity and more on the things of God. Jonathan Edwards, great revival preacher of the 1700’s, prayed, “O Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

Stamping eternity on our eyeballs is not about pencils or brows. It’s about keeping our eyes God-ward and staying ever-mindful of our future with Him, keeping His holy agenda at the heart of all we do. It keeps us mindful of those around us who need Jesus. It helps us sort out our thinking regarding bumps in the road and everything seen and unseen. We’re in this world, yes, but it’s good to know where to draw the line.

Knowing where to draw the line—yeah, that’s also good for eyebrows.

“…be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:9-11, AMP.

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant on the publishing team of Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Rhonda’s book, Fix HER Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God-Renovated Life,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What are things about eternity that encourage your heart the most?