“…And He Tells Me I am His Own”

by Sandi Banks

I lift my fingers from the strings of Mom’s grand old concert harp. The lilting strains of the beloved hymn “In the Garden” linger in midair, as I wipe fresh tears with the back of my hand and breathe a bittersweet sigh. How I miss her.

Memories flood my mind, as the lyrics soothe my soul:

“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.” Without warning, my mind punches “rewind,” to a day long gone: August 20, 1956. My 10th birthday.

Our family was in crisis since Daddy had left several months earlier and Mom had moved her three daughters to Denver. A difficult transition. But on this day, I bubbled with excitement at the thought of having friends over.

We cleaned house, picked fresh roses from our garden, and began greeting our guests. Instantly, all seven girls gathered like magnets around Mom’s harp and begged her to play.

So, there in the living room of our tiny duplex, Denver Symphony’s harpist gave her daughter a beautiful gift: a mini concert for her new little friends.

They were awestruck. I was overjoyed. “Thank you, Mommy,” I whispered. “My very first slumber party! It’ll be so much fun!”

In her warm and winsome way, Mom welcomed everyone and began presenting the party plan. “After dinner, we’ll play games and open presents, and—”

“Hey, where’s your daddy?” my new best friend Sheila interrupted, facing me squarely. “Oh … he’s … he’s working,” I lied.

“Where’s he sleep?”

“Umm … in there.” I pointed to Mom’s closed bedroom door.

Sheila burst into the room, the others trailing behind. A single bed; flowers and lace. “This is your mommy’s room. Where’s your daddy sleep?”

I felt my face burn red hot. A lump formed in my throat.

“Well, see, Daddy works really hard and comes home really late, and he loves us so much, he doesn’t want to wake us so he … umm … sleeps downstairs.”

No sooner had the words tumbled out my mouth than The Sherlock Seven, relentless in their pursuit, descended the basement steps, only to find a wringer washer and a pile of old newspapers. The truth became painfully clear to them all.

Incensed, Sheila strutted toward me, knuckles on her hips, eyes ablaze. “You don’t even have a daddy, do you!”

Her words pierced my heart. I burst into tears, raced upstairs, locked myself in my room, and made Mom send all the girls and their gifts back home. I sobbed into the night.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own …” Slowly, I lower the harp to the floor. It’s been over fifty years since that day, yet the sound of Mom’s gentle voice through that door remains a poignant memory.

Oh, Mom, I never considered what you went through that night. I only knew my pain. Now I understand, and I love you all the more.

“Where’s your daddy?” I answer now with a grateful smile, pointing to my Heavenly Father. The day I finally did open the door—the door to my heart— a few years later, He came in and drew me close. I embraced His truths and became His beloved daughter.

The love of a mother. The love of a Heavenly Father. Priceless.

“And the joys we share ,as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” Those joys, His promises, give us all hope:

“For God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you….’ ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5,6 GNT).

“Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love…revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39 NLT).

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

About the author: Sandi Banks is an author and devotional writer for numerous publishing houses. As a storyteller, she draws upon her years of ministry and travel in 40 countries, living abroad, leading Bible studies, and hosting Summit Ministries’ worldview conferences. Her passion is bringing the hope of Christ to hurting women through writing, speaking, and mentoring. Find her at sandibanks.com

Join the conversation: What promise of God gives you the most hope?

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A Banner

by Dana Peters-Colley

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people…thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.  Isaiah 49:22, 23b KJV

Today, I asked the Lord what to share. The word banner came. A banner is how people are led into battle. Isaiah 13:2 instructs the Lord’s army: lift the banner up on the high mountain, raise your voice, and wave them into the doors of the nobles.

Often, as I live my life, I don’t feel like I can make it one more day through the battle. I’m dealing with prodigals and decades of heartache. The Lord’s been super-good to me, but oh, the battle, and oh my, the giants. Yet, here is God’s instruction. The banner. Let’s look deeper at Isaiah 13:2.

First, we are told to lift what we have on a high mountain. It makes me think of when Moses ascended the mountain to spend time with God, to bring the Almighty’s standard back down to men. The places up there, so joyous. Why would you ever want to come back after experiencing that? But Moses was faithful to bring what God said to the people, and so must we be.

Second, the passage describes waving our hands. Israel gave the Lord wave offerings (Exodus 29:19-28). This made me think of the freedom we receive in Christ to use our hands to reach up and beyond our own limitations and ask for heaven to move in our behalf. People might stare as we lift our hands, so it shows we aren’t man-pleasers but God pleasers. Give the Lord a big wave and say, “I love you, Jesus!”

Third, in that Scripture is the invitation to enter in. And not only that, but enter to where the nobles are. This is God, through the Prophet Isaiah, instructing us that we belong amidst greatness. Nobles. Ones who live well, who are respected and esteemed. Righteous. The banner brings us to this greatness. Nothing we create or do is worthy. Jesus is worthy. And He considers all His children nobility (Ephesians 1:5).

Most Saturdays, I read the portions of the Bible that the Messianic communities and the observant Jews study. All over the world, they read from the first five books of the Bible and then read a portion from the prophets of the Old Testament. The day I received the word ‘banner’ I was in Isaiah 49. In my King James translation, they used the word standard, so I almost missed it. But in modern day English, the best translation is banner.

Our banner. God will place His banner over us. It was there for me to find after the Holy Spirit spoke. I realized as tears swept down my face that this is one of my favorite passages, because the promises are so good to someone like me who is praying that her grown children will return to the Lord.

I hope this simple word, banner, brings you encouragement. God’s banner is filled with His promises to us. It ends with Isaiah 49:25 KJV where it states, “I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children.” I continue to stand and wait with spiritual eyes, knowing that with God all things are possible. I wait for God draw them back to Him. The enemy has done a superb job in deceiving them; it’s been a nightmare. But God, with one word, turned my helplessness into watching what He will do. The banner. He has it over you, too. Don’t you just love the Lord?

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

About the author: Dana Peters-Colley is a creative who loves Jesus. She has been tucked away developing a brand of Christian parable books, faith-based fiction, and inspirational books as well as screenplays. Dana holds a B.A. in journalism, studied screenwriting at U.C.L.A., and is a former long-time Disney creative leader and producer. When the Lord got ahold of Dana everything marvelously changed. She is developing a heavenly-inspired brand line that brings stories to build family, inspire discovery, and teach kingdom ways. See danapeterscolley.com to connect to her spiritual blog and gaze at her adventures.

Do you have a friend you want to receive Jesus into their lives? Do you want to receive how much God loves and values you? Do you want to be empowered to do the impossible? Then, you have to know who you are! Treasure will take you into the realization of God’s love for you as you discover you are His treasure.

Join the conversation: What does God’s banner over you mean to you today?

Beauty in Barrenness

by Maureen Miller

There was a time I wouldn’t have believed anything beautiful could come from the barren season of infertility. My dreams were dead, plain and simple. With a broken heart, I was resigned to live with this truth.

But the Spirit persisted in the quiet, morning moments, in the afternoon, and even in the ready for bed weariness. He just wouldn’t let it go, and His gentle wooing turned my heart toward Him with affirmation that one day, I would be a mom.

You’re blessed in your barrenness, He’d whisper. Watch as I make beauty from what you consider broken.

And you know, as I replaced my stinkin’ thinkin’ with the truth of God’s Word, the sweet fragrance of Christ infiltrated my clenched heart to saturate all its fragmented pieces. What was hardened became soft. Where I’d once been emotionally arid, impregnable excitement grew.

What will God do? I’d ask, pouring my heart onto the pages of my journal. I couldn’t write my thoughts quickly enough. What had started out as a few quiet moments with the Lord became quiet hours instead. I desired to remain in His presence, because, despite unchanged circumstances, that’s where I felt most at peace.

Good fruit blossoms when one clings to God’s promises. Though the enemy tried to steal this newfound contentment, I took negative, dishonest thoughts captive and claimed instead passages that spoke life rather than death. I felt God’s favor and was finally able to journey with joy.

One morning, God spoke words I knew were from the Bible, though I didn’t know where. My word will not return void.

What did He mean? I pondered this prayerfully and journaled my thoughts. To be void is to be empty of something, and my womb was certainly this. Was God promising that a baby would one day fill that vacant space, the place I’d previously considered merely a tomb for my dreams?

I discovered that these words are from Isaiah 55, although some versions actually use “empty” instead of void. The passage speaks of God’s thoughts and ways being so much higher, much more purposeful, than our own—culminating with, “So is My word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return [void], but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it…” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV).

This truth took root in my heart and sustained me through years of infertility. I came to trust that God had a plan, though perhaps His manner of bringing it to fruition was different than I’d at one time imagined. Though my womb remained empty, God’s words did not return void but conceived within me flourishing fruits of peace and joy.

In time, I did become a mom. Through the miracle of adoption, I have three “born-in-my-heart” children, as well as two grandchildren, with another on the way. I relish in sharing the story of God’s faithfulness—His promises spoken through His Word which have blossomed beauty, even in the most barren of seasons.

No matter where one might find herself—no matter how dry and desolate her circumstances—God is calling each of us to step out in faith and to say Yes! to a joy-filled journey with Jesus. His promises are true and His Word a weapon against the enemy of our souls, the destroyer of our dreams.

Mostly, what we’ll discover as we press in to Him is that, without fail, our Redeemer’s words will never return empty. Rather, no matter where we find ourselves, no matter how broken or barren, when we walk with Him–

[We] will go out with joy and be led forth with peace. Isaiah 55:12a NIV

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: For what promise are you waiting for God to fulfill?

I Know the Plans I Have for You …

by Deb Haggerty @DebHaggerty

How many times do we rush blindly into our days, perhaps breathing a brief “God guide me” on our way out of the bedroom to get coffee and dive into our plans? I was reminded recently that our ideas may not be the plans God has for us.

I was scheduled for a left knee replacement March 10, 2020. All the pre-op tests were clear—I breezed through them. I was hoping to be scheduled for the first surgery slot so I could go back to sleep. I had to report at 6 a.m. and I am NOT a morning person.

My husband took me to the hospital and dropped me at the front door so he could go park the car. I felt a bit light-headed but thought the feeling was from lack of sleep. When they called me to the front desk, I was really off balance. They offered, and I took, a wheelchair for transport to the prep area. I was very glad to get back in bed.

For once, the nurse was able to place the IV easily. I lay there in bed feeling strange. I knew something was not right. The nurse took my blood pressure once, twice, then said the pressure was high, which was unusual for me. She said she’d be right back. When she came back, she told me I was in A Fib—ultra fast, very erratic heartbeat. The anesthetist came by and said they’d have to wait and see—they couldn’t do the surgery with my heart in A Fib. The ortho doctor called my cardiologist who told him in no uncertain terms to cancel the surgery.

The moment the surgery was cancelled, my heart went back into normal sinus rhythm. They took me to the emergency room to do some tests to make sure I was okay and didn’t have a blood clot, but everything was perfect. Instead of knee surgery and two days in the hospital, I was sent home.

But what else was going on? The COVID 19 virus is rampant in the world. People my age with underlying conditions are at the highest risk for contracting the coronavirus. I was at peace throughout the entire process, certain God was in control and that it was his intention that I not have surgery that morning. He protected me from any possibility of picking up an infection or the coronavirus at the hospital or during the physical therapy which would have followed.

As Scripture says in James 4:13-15 (ESV) “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

When your plans go awry, think of my story and know God may have better ones for you. Be at peace, wait and work on your craft until his direction for you becomes clear. James also says in chapter 1, verses 2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

God promises he will always be with us, so have faith and remember, God’s timing is always perfect.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”         Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

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

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I Know the Plans I Have for You … encouragement from @DebHaggerty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Deb Haggerty is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Elk Lake Publishing, Inc., a Christian publisher that “Publishes the Positive.” An author, blogger, and professional speaker, Deb has been writing stories for over forty-five years. In 2019, she released two books: Experiencing God’s Love in a Broken World—A Spiritual Journey, co-written with her husband of thirty-seven years, Roy, and These Are the Days of My Life, her memoir (with a bonus section of business tips). Follow Deb at Facebook.com/debhgrty or her blog, positivegrace.com.

Join the conversation: Has God ever changed your plans? What happened?

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.

 

Holding on to Hope

by Kathy Howard

“I wonder where heaven is,” Dad sighed. Then after a brief pause, “What do you think it’s like?”

Dad and I sat on his patio in the cool of the morning, watching the birds as we sipped our coffee. My Bible lay in my lap. I had just read to Dad about the eternal life we have in Jesus (1 John 5:12-13).

My father loves Jesus and has faithfully served Him and others all his adult life. But these last years of life are not what he expected, not what he hoped they would be. He feels trapped in a body that has betrayed him. He can’t participate in the activities he enjoys. Daily he patiently endures the consequences of my mother’s dementia. He feels there is nothing to look forward to. In this life, anyway.

For a while longer, we sat, contemplating heaven, eternal life, and earthly suffering. And we turned from one place to another in God’s Word. Reading, talking, reading some more. I wanted to give Dad something to hang on to. Something solid to stand on. I silently asked for God’s guidance on what to say and what to read.

From 1 Thessalonians chapter four, we read about the hope we have even in grief because of Jesus’ sure return for those who belong to Him. From 1 Corinthians 15, we read about the resurrection body that believers will receive. From Hebrews chapter eleven, we read about the great men and women of faith who stood firm on God in spite of their physical circumstances. And from 2 Corinthians chapter four, we read how God worked through Paul’s sufferings to display His grace, strength, and glory.

Dad’s weakness can magnify God’s strength. Dad’s struggles can point others to God’s glory. And one day, Dad’s “perishable” body will be raised “imperishable.” His earthly body ravaged by disease will be perfected and glorified. The sting of death will be swallowed up in victory. Jesus Christ, our Savior, has won it for us (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

That time with Dad on the patio was precious. A holy time, reading God’s Word and basking in His glorious wonders. That morning was also an answer to prayer. I knew Dad was discouraged. He knew well God’s truth, but the sufferings of life can cast long shadows. God ordained our time together as a gentle reminder. A sweet moment to see God’s promises for him in light of eternity. To be encouraged by God’s Word.

For a believer, death is but a gateway to eternity, the fulfillment of God’s promises to us. But the sometimes physically grueling process of dying can easily pull our eyes off the greater, spiritual goal. Pain, grief, and discouragement vie for our attention. We – our parents and ourselves – need a firm grip on the One who keeps His promises.

God’s Word gives us a fresh infusion of hope. His promises are recorded there so we can remind ourselves and our parents of everything God has waiting for those who love Him. Think about these truths as you rise. Talk about them as you go through your day. Hold them to your heart and impress them on your parents. Remember His promises. And hold on to hope.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”      Hebrews 10:23 NASB

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Struggling to navigate the parent/child role reversal? Kathy Howard’s new book, 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, explores God’s Word to find hope and encouragement for the wide range of physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges the adult child caregiver may experience. Each of the 30 devotions – which can also serve as a 30DaysHope_AgingParentsCover 300RGBguide for a daily quiet time – includes a Scripture passage, a real-life illustration, biblical commentary/application, and questions for reflection. You can pre-order your copy here. The book releases on May 21.

 Join the conversation: Perhaps you need to remember God’s promises as much as your parent. Which promises have you forgotten? Which ones do you need to hear the most today?

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

God Records His Name

by Brenda L. Yoder

“….In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” Exodus 20:24 (KJV)

I opened the inside of the hymnal and saw her name. It was written in the cursive handwriting I’d known to love. The simple, clean lines which spelled Lois Yoder made me feel she was somehow with me, though my mentor and mother-in-law had passed away several years ago.

This hymnal was important to her. She recorded her name on it.

I felt the same feelings when I read Exodus 20:24, “in all the places where I record my name I will come to thee, and I will bless thee.” In a flash, I pictured Jesus’ name written on people’s hearts. I thought of Cindy, who’s in an abusive marriage, and who knows God’s name is recorded on her heart. It gives her strength when others misjudge her for terminating her marriage.

I thought of the orphaned children my daughter works with who don’t know to whom they belong. She crouches down, looks them in the eyes, and tells them Jesus loves them. She calls them by name, letting them know they are also seen, known, and loved by those who minister to them.

I thought of my children who have chosen Christ as their Savior. His name is recorded on their hearts, and it’s that promise I take in prayer as I pray for their protection. How many times I have interceded for them, declaring in the heavenly realm that my children belong to Christ and the enemy has no authority over them.

This verse is a visual promise of God’s imprint and engagement in our lives. When we accept Jesus’ death as payment for our sins and gift of eternal life, His name is written on our hearts, sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Not only does He record His name on us, marking us as His own, but He comes to us and will bless us.

Just like the hymnal with my mother-in-law’s name recorded on it, God records His name on our lives. This is our mark of protection again the enemy. God commanded the Israelites to mark their doorposts with the blood of a flawless lamb that would save them from death. So is Christ’s blood the mark that saves us from death and destruction. Our lives are then sealed by the Holy Spirit.

How precious of God to tell us His Name is scripted on our lives. His Name seals us. It says we are His. Let that be a comfort when you feel lost, abandoned, or forgotten.

Prayer: Dear God, show me where you have recorded Your name, where you have come to me, and where you have blessed me. Thank you for this promise of hope, security, and protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Brenda YoderAbout the author: Brenda L. Yoder’s newest book, Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind releases in 2018. She’s been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Washington Post, and has a mental health column in her local paper. Her first book, Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All released in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, is found at brendayoder.com  where she authentically writes about faith, life, and family beyond the storybook image. Brenda speaks on a variety of mental health topics. She is a certified trainer by the Faith Trust Institute and an advocate for intentional parenting, children, and healthy relationships. You can connect with Brenda on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Brenda’s book, Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All,  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: Where in your life has God recorded His name?