Are You Angry?

by A.C. Williams

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.”  Daniel 3:16-17 NLT

The world is an angry place. Have you noticed? Everybody is angry at somebody about something, and social media has equipped everyone to be an influencer, whether they are qualified or not.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for freedom of speech, but freedom is only beneficial when the culture has some concept of morality. And I fear those days are long behind us.

Frankly, I’m angry too. There’s a lot to be angry about, and while anger isn’t a sin (Ephesians 4:26), it can definitely lead to sin. Anger makes our words feel powerful, and it does make us more influential. But one thing is certain: Human anger doesn’t accomplish God’s work (James 1:20). Human anger always leads to a breakdown in some way.

So how do we live with integrity in this angry world, where we are pushed and pulled in every direction by the politically correct? How do we tell the world that we mean business if we don’t sound angry? How do we stand up against the raging tide of immorality in our culture?

I struggle with this, because I want to be a difference-maker. I want to be the one who stands in the gap. But I’m learning that without God’s power, I can’t be either of those things.

I was recently reminded of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (bless them for enduring those names), and if you haven’t read about them, you should pick up the Book of Daniel and read chapters 1 through 3.

What caught my eye specifically was Daniel 3:16. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.”

Read that again.

In the face of a tyrant bent on forcing people to accept his politically correct ideals, these three young men respectfully declined to engage in a futile argument.

Keep reading for their reasoning. They didn’t need to defend themselves to the king or to the culture. They just needed to obey God, and they believed that God would save them. But even if He didn’t, they had already decided to stand firm on their convictions (Daniel 3:16-18).

Did they get angry? Did they rage and protest and rant on social media?

No. They simply refused to bow. It was quiet and humble, and it shook the world. Not because they were eloquent or gathered ten thousand signatures, but because they meekly obeyed God, and He did the miracle.

Too often our anger drives us to big, emotional outbursts or flashy events that draw attention to our causes. And maybe our cause is just. Maybe our anger is righteous. But will our anger change hearts? Will our fury point people to God?

There’s nothing wrong with peaceful protests. There’s nothing wrong with signing political documents. There’s nothing wrong with standing for something on social media (you may have even found this article that way). But I’ve never seen anger conquer anyone’s heart. Only God’s love can do that (John 13:35).

So what do you say? Can we release our anger? Can we forgo our natural instinct to defend ourselves? Can we quietly do what God has called us to do and let the Lord work miracles around us?

God, give us the courage to NOT defend ourselves to our politically correct culture. Empower us to point to You, the One who will save us whether we go into the fire or not.

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

amy c williams

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks won’t match. She has authored eight novels, two novellas, three devotional books, and more flash fiction than you can shake a stick at. A senior partner at the award-winning Uncommon Universes Press, she is passionate about stories and the authors who write them. Learn more about her book coaching and follow her adventures online at www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: Has anger caused damage in your life?

Squashing Fear

by Erica Wiggenhorn

“…Put out your hand and catch it by the tail…” Exodus 4:4 ESV

When our kids were little, they used to love to catch lizards. Living in Arizona, we’d come across a slithering Lizzy nearly every time we went outside. One morning, my daughter rescued a two-inch-long baby lizard from the swimming pool. She tenderly placed it into a 9-by-13-inch Tupperware container and set it on the edge of the patio table in the sunlight.

My three-year-old son, who moved only at the speed of light (yet without the same level of precision), accidentally knocked the container over, and in a rapid attempt to grab the baby lizard, inadvertently stepped on her, crushing her instantly. In utter horror over his mistake, he ran away and hid under his bed, sobbing, fearing the wrath of his sister.

About a week later I went into Nathan’s room to put his laundry away. When I opened his sock drawer, I immediately reeled from a horrific odor. What in the world was buried underneath those Superman socks? I spread them around and discovered a neatly folded paper towel with something inside. Squashed Lizzy.

“I thought maybe if we could bury Lizzy, then Sissy might not be so mad,” he explained. But when you’re three years old, sometimes you forget your well-intentioned plans. And Lizzy rots in your sock drawer.

Nathan initially responded to fear over his failure by running away. Then he hid that fear in a drawer, meaning to deal with it later, but forgetting to do so. Moses did the same thing. He enacted his personal Operation Deliverance by killing an Egyptian overseer. It didn’t work out as planned, so he fled to Midian. He ran away.

Since he hadn’t moved on from Midian in forty years, I’m going to assume that Moses buried his failure in his sock drawer or his tent trunk, or whatever, also. But as the smell from Nathan’s sock drawer proved, running away never makes it go away.

Moses recounts to God what happened the last time he tried to convince the people of Israel that he was supposed to deliver them. “Then Moses answered, ‘But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’” (Exodus 4:1 ESV).

Moses fears the people will not accept him as the chosen deliverer sent by God. He is certain they will question his calling and his capabilities. God forces Moses to face his fear head-on as He performs the miracle of turning the staff into a snake.

But look at Moses’ reaction and see what God tells him to do:

The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “‘Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—“that they may believe that the Lord . . . has appeared to you.” Exodus 4:2–5 ESV

Through this sign, God taught Moses that not only could God empower him to face his fear; He could also equip Moses to conquer and subdue it. God did not turn the serpent back into a staff while Moses stood at a distance and watched. Once Moses fled from the snake, he had to turn around and return to the place of fear, snatch the serpent with his hand, and subdue it. To conquer our fear and see God’s power over it, we have to face it. Running away only makes us more fearful.

What opportunities, circumstances or situations do you avoid out of fear of inadequacy or rejection? It’s time to grab it by the tail and squash it in your fist. Running away will never make it go away. If God has placed this person or position in your path, maybe it’s time to stop running, turn around, and face your fear. When the enemy slithers close, silence those hisses with the truth that your God knows the playbook. Even moments of rejection hold purpose.

And that failure you’ve tucked away in your sock drawer that you meant to deal with and then forgot? It’s time to give Squashed Lizzy a proper burial.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Erica’s new book from Moody Publishers, Letting God Be Enough: Why Striving Keeps You Stuck and How Surrender Sets You Free.

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

About the author: Erica Wiggenhorn is an award–winning author and the founder of Every Life Ministries, bringing you the truth of Scripture to Transform Your Life. A international Bible teacher, She loves to bring God’s Word to women’s conferences, church retreats, and those seated around her own kitchen table.

If you struggle with nagging thoughts of self-doubt, Erica Wiggenhorn wants to lead you to freedom. In Letting God be Enough, she draws from the story of Moses—the greatest self-doubter in the Bible—and shows how self-doubt is tied closely to self-reliance. It’s only when you cast yourself on God that you find the true source of strength.

Join the conversation: What fear incites avoidance for you?

Fire On The Mountain

by Sheri Schofield

A number of years ago, my husband and I moved into a home high in the Rocky Mountains. Deer, elk and moose crossed the property daily. Mountain lions and bears sometimes walked through. Those were just the large animals: you would not believe the number of squirrels, rabbits and other small creatures on our mountain!

Then one day, I met Corky and Louise. These little ground squirrels were obviously tame. Corky liked to follow my husband around like a little dog, sitting up to see what Tim was doing. Louise couldn’t get enough of my petunias, so I had to hang them up out of her reach. More timid than Corky, she would stand below the deck each morning and consider the unreachable flowers. So I’d pick off a few blossoms and drop them one by one over the side of the deck. As they floated down Louise would race over, hold up her tiny paws, catch them, and stuff the blossoms into her cheeks.

One warm summer day, I opened the door to the deck and stood enjoying the cool breeze. Louise came onto the deck and cautiously approached the open doorway, curious and ready to explore. She stepped over the threshold. I shook my head and said, “Louise, you need to go back outside.”

She sniffed the air and looked up.

I said, “You can’t come into the house, Louise.”  I moved my foot slightly. The sudden action startled her! What was this big THING in front of her? She gave a little squeak and fled.

Israel was a lot like Louise. They worshiped the invisible God, Jehovah, who rescued them from Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and fed them manna from heaven.

But one day Israel reached Mount Sinai. God came down onto the mountain. Thunder and lightning crashed! The mountain appeared to be on fire! The Israelites were terrified. They trembled as they watched Moses climb up the mountain to meet with God! They were not prepared for God’s mighty power and majesty.

The God we serve is more powerful and awesome than we can imagine. Yet he sends rain to the earth and makes the crops grow. He provides for our needs. We lift up our hands and gladly accept these gifts from the invisible God. But are we willing to experience him like Moses did?

The picture God painted at Passover was carried out at Calvary, when God sacrificed his one and only Son in order to rescue us from Satan’s power. The Mount Sinai picture, painted fifty days later, was fulfilled at Pentecost, when God poured out the Holy Spirit on believers in flames of fire over each one’s head, and allowed them to speak the languages of pilgrims assembled in Jerusalem. About three thousand people were saved as a result!

Now that Resurrection Sunday (Easter/Passover) has passed, we can look forward to the next great celebration: Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers in great power. If we are willing to seek God’s face like Moses did… like the early church did … that power is available to us now. It is only fifty days from Resurrection Sunday.

The power of the Holy Spirit can save and heal our world, if we open our hearts and become channels through whom God can pour out his salvation. Imagine heaven’s gates opening wide as we cry out to him for blessing, for healing, for filling!

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13, NIV

TWEETABLE
Fire On The Mountain – insight from SheriSchofield 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 for 2018 at 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: How has God shown Himself to you lately?

You Shall Receive Power

by Sheri Schofield

There was a sale at my favorite clothing store, so I headed toward town with the music of Travis Cottrell singing “Power In The Blood” on my radio. I am passionate about reaching the lost, and I long for that power to reach those in my town who do not know Jesus. Caught up in the song, the words of Christ came to mind: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32, NIV)

By the time I reached the store, my heart overflowed with the knowledge that Jesus’ blood shed at Calvary held a supernatural drawing power for those who so desperately needed him. I entered the store and looked around, the music still ringing in my spirit. Finding some items, on my way to the dressing room, I cheerfully told the clerks that my new book, The Prince And The Plan, had just been sent to the printers. As my friends, they knew something about this book on the plan of salvation I’d written for children.

When I was nearly finished in the dressing room, one of the clerks called back to me, “Is there an adult version of that book?” I hurriedly dressed and went out. The woman was full of questions. Those questions quickly became deeply personal. She asked, with tears in her eyes, “Is there a way for all a person’s sins in life to be swept away and someone can start over again with a clean slate?”

“Yes!” I told her how God put all the sins of all mankind for all time on Jesus that day at Calvary. How He punished Jesus instead of us for those sins. And if we believe in Jesus and accept his free gift of salvation, we are made holy in God’s eyes. We become new, clean, holy people!

My friend was crying openly by now right there in the middle of the sales floor. The other clerk, a Christian, was handling the customers so we could talk. The woman put her arms around me and sobbed as I led her in a prayer to receive Jesus as her own personal Savior. Over and over she said, “I am so glad you came in here today! Thank you for coming in here today!”

I walked out of the store knowing that I had just seen a demonstration of the power of Jesus blood drawing this precious woman to himself — and he had used me to do it! My friend is now attending church and Bible study. I spoke with her again yesterday. She said, “I had not planned on that happening when you came into the store that day! But you were so full of power!”

 I told her, “That power was not me! That was Jesus! He filled me with his own power,  and he sent me in here to talk to you, and to bring you to himself.”

The power of the blood of Jesus had taken away her inhibitions and overwhelmingly drew her into the grace of God. She had recognized that tremendous, supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in me.

I believe the Holy Spirit is preparing to pour that power out on Christ’s devoted disciples in this world, for Jesus’ return is very near. Let there be one last sweep of revival, Lord!

“He said to them . . . ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . ‘ ” (Acts 1:8, NIV)

 sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, will be launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the supernatural power of God?

Photo by Henri Meihac on Unsplash