Secret Petitions of the Heart

by Christina Rose

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.”                                                                                                              Psalm 37:4 AMP

One summer day many years ago I planted a secret petition in my heart. A thunderstorm had sent me and my cousin Susan racing from the pool to the cozy den where we plopped down with bowls of ice cream to watch a movie. “The Sandpiper” was filmed on the wild, central coast of California. I was overcome with awe by the spectacular Pacific coast. As I watched actress Elizabeth Taylor paint a canvas of sandpipers by the ocean, a bold dream was born in my heart. I knew I belonged there on that beautiful wild coast and that somehow and someday I would find my way there. For a little ten-year old girl who had never traveled west of Maryland, this dream seemed so big and impossible that I kept it to myself.

As years went by I forgot this dream amid the busyness of life. After college, I moved to San Francisco where I was married and had two children. Each summer we would drive down the coast to camp under the redwoods in Big Sur. We would spend hours on the beach, exploring tide pools and enjoying the surf. We would often stop by Nepenthe restaurant for an early dinner on the way back to camp.

One afternoon, as I was exploring the gift shop at Nepenthe, I noticed a huge poster of  “The Sandpiper” movie. Further inquisition revealed that the movie had been shot on the very beach I had been taking my children to every year. I learned that the stars in the movie often came to Nepenthe after filming for dinner. As the wonder of God’s grace in fulfilling a child’s secret dream from more than 30 years ago flooded me, I was filled with awe at how great God is. He never gives up on us or our dreams. He knows our every secret, even if we have buried them so deep, they have become secrets to ourselves. God actualized my childhood dream in a way far greater than I had imagined. He blessed me with a beautiful family with which to enjoy it all.

God’s greatness in restoring dreams is evidenced throughout the Bible.

Elisha was a prophet in the Bible who often traveled through the town of Shunem. A local woman wanted to honor him as a man of God, so she and her husband built a room for him in their home. Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her generosity, but she insisted there was nothing she needed. When Elisha discovered she had no children, he promised her that she would have a son within one year. She had kept her dream of having a child a secret, as she had given up on it many years ago. While she dared not hope again, the secret petition of her heart was granted when Elisha’s promise came true; she was blessed with a baby boy within the year. (2 Kings 4:8-17)

As a young teenager, Joseph had a great dream of being a powerful leader. When his jealous brothers sold him into slavery, he may have felt that this dream was just an illusion. For all the years he toiled in prison, there may have been moments when he wondered if his dream would ever be realized. All the while, God was not punishing Joseph, he was merely preparing him. Joseph’s dream came true, and he became the leader God called him to be. (Genesis 37, 41:38-43)

Have you given up on a dream that seems impossible? With God all things are possible, including granting the secret petitions of our hearts.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

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Secret Petitions of the Heart – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina rose

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

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God fulfilled a secret dream of yours? Please share!

How to Ask God for Help

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Do questions dog you or wake you up at night? What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Do you know how to ask God for help?

Recently I’ve heard people wondering—

  • If it’s safe to return to business?
  • What’s the right medical protocol for my issue?
  • Does God want me to start a new project?

Even before the added complications of Covid-19, we faced questions that reached beyond our understanding. Where do you go for answers?

After observing His prayer life, a disciple asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus showed His disciples and us the art of asking. Let’s look at the familiar verses of what many call the Lord’s Prayer in relation to finding answers to our questions.

Call Him Father: Jesus said to call God “Father.”

This speaks of our special relationship with God through Jesus and reminds us to approach God with childlike trust and humility. We aren’t asking an impersonal computer or busy call center for help. We’re approaching One who has a vested interest in us. One who counts us as family. His care for us reflects on Him (Ps. 23:3).

Remember God’s Nature When You Ask: “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2 NIV).

My husband is a seasoned relationship counselor. If I have a question dealing with people and relationships, I ask him. But I don’t ask him for technical support. He’s a counselor, not a techie.

Hallowed means holy. Our Father grants requests that line up with His nature. Remembering His holy nature eliminates foolish requests. Does my request agree with God’s character?

Ask God for Daily Needs: “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3 NIV).

For 40 years, God provided daily manna for the Hebrews in the wilderness. A few foolish people hoarded some for the next day, even though God told them not to. The day-old manna was stinky and wormy.

God provides the grace we need when we need it—not before. Learning to look to Him for my daily needs teaches me to trust Him and removes my fears of the future. How many of your concerns deal with the future? How might trusting God with today help you not worry about tomorrow?

Ask God with a Clean Heart—Forgiven and Forgiving: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” (Luke 11:4 NIV).

If we have trouble forgiving, we need only to remember how much God has forgiven us. By receiving God’s forgiveness, we then have grace to extend to others. This clears any blocked channels so we can better hear from God. Has unforgiveness hampered my connection to God? What do I need to confess and forsake? Who do I need to forgive?

A Different Kind of Protection: “And lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4b NASB).

God never tempts anyone (James 1:13). So why does Jesus include this? To remind us to ask for protection from temptation. I once read of a study where individuals were put in a room with a plate of fragrant chocolate chip cookies and told not to eat any. Other individuals were given a plate of radishes and told not to eat.

Afterwards, both groups were given a set of problems to solve. Those who hadn’t spent energy resisting cookies spent more time solving the problems before giving up. Resisting temptation taxes our strength and energy. When we put ourselves in positions to be tempted, we drain strength and energy that could be channeled to more profitable endeavors.

The Most Important Ask: “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13b NASB).

Today, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer (Rom. 8:9). Whatever fills us controls us. A person controlled by worry acts very different from one filled with hope. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we manifest His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), have the power to resist sin (Gal. 5:16), and understand His will for each day.

When you need help, ask God. Your heavenly Father wants to help you.

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How to Ask God for Help – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What part of the Lord’s Prayer is most difficult for you to pray?

Is Love All We Really Need? Or is There Something Else Missing?

by Lee Ann Mancini

I love music! When I hear an old familiar song, it brings back memories of when I first heard it. But sometimes the words suddenly take on a new dynamic, even though I’ve heard them hundreds of times before. Like the other day, when after listening to one of the Beatles’ blockbuster hits, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. And it’s no wonder: at the very end of the song, “All you need is love” is repeated twenty-five times! As it continued to echo in my mind, I found myself wondering: is love all we really need?

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 lists the benefits of true biblical love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”  Colossians 3:14 states that love binds all the virtues together in perfect unity. God commanded us to love one another as He loves us (John 15:12). And remember, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

We all exhibit love in some capacity. Most people love their families, friends, and neighbors. But obviously, love has not been enough to keep us from family problems, political division, or racial conflict. On its own, love cannot bring peace. So what is the missing piece of the puzzle?

We need more grace.

Grace can bring peace to any relationship. Grace is practicing unconditional favor towards those who don’t deserve it. Grace is love in action. It chooses others over ourselves. We’ve been given abundant grace by God—Paul described the grace of God as lavish (Ephesians 1:7-8). It was grace that enabled us to receive salvation (Ephesians 2:8).

The thing is, grace and intended retribution cannot simultaneously exist in our hearts.

All we need is love and grace. John Newton, who wrote the song Amazing Grace, was once a slave trader. It was God’s grace that changed him. In gratitude, he wrote,

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found: was blind, but now I see.”

As racial tensions and anger unfold this spring, I’ve been examining my heart. Where am I blind to the needs of others? How can I reach out and bridge the gap that stubbornly continues in this country? Why can’t love be enough?

I would say that love is crucial to all of us understanding each other. But we need grace as well. Grace says I have done nothing to earn favor with God. Recipients of grace know: “I was lost but now I see. I was hopeless and now I have hope. I am unworthy but God has made me His daughter. I was helpless to fix my sin, but Jesus paid my debt.”

The important thing to remember is that spiritually, we are all coming from the exact same place. We are sinners in need of a Savior. None of us can be righteous on our own. We all need Jesus and owe everything to Him. We all need God’s unconditional love.

When we understand what we have been given, in spite of our failures and sin, we can let the abundant love and grace we have been given spill over into the lives of others. Forgiving those who have wronged us becomes the only reasonable option. God’s grace can set us free to love as He loves.

The two really do go hand in hand.

Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:32-33 NASB

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Is Love All We Really Need? Or is There Something Else Missing? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author:  Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.

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Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! In I’m Not Afraid!, Susie and her friend go to the Undersea Amusement Park. After  saying a prayer to Jesus, she rides the roller coaster and her fear turns into faith! She learns that praying to Jesus during difficult times and having faith are all she needs to overcome her fears!

Join the conversation: Of the two, which is more challenging for you–giving love or giving grace?

Living in Grace Will Guide Our Words

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.                                                                                                                                        Proverbs 18:2 NIV

Over the years, my words have gotten me into a heap of trouble. I’ve initiated and meddled in arguments I shouldn’t have, fought to be right rather than understand, and wreaked destruction in the name of self-defense.

For years, though I longed to behave differently, my mouth failed to change.

Here’s why: I fought the symptom instead of the cause.

Whenever my words run amuck, my pride’s at fault. The solution, then, is surrender—making Jesus, obedience to Him (rather than man’s opinion) and the intimacy that follows—my treasure.

Let me explain.

Proverbs 18:1-4 (NIV) says, “An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. When wickedness comes, so does contempt, and with shame comes reproach. The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.”

When I speak foolishly, focused on defending myself or proving my point, I’m likely acting out of fear: fear of losing face or not getting what I want or hope for. But in my desire to elevate or defend myself, I miss crucial unspoken “heart talk.”

A while back, I engaged in a heated discussion that revealed considerable miscommunication—things heard that were never said, statements taken out of context, and others extrapolated in confusing ways. Focused on the miscommunication, I attempted to unpack each one.

I remained oblivious to the insecurities and wounds underlying it all, and thereby only exacerbating the problem. Had I focused on the person’s heart more than their words, I could’ve responded with wisdom and grace.

Reading through Proverbs 18, I thought of this interchange and prayerfully evaluated my heart.

I came up with this list of reminders and steps:

  1. I don’t need to defend myself. When someone criticizes me, if their complaints are valid, acknowledge them and prayerfully consider ways I might change. Because living in grace means I’m in need of it, too. I’m broken, prone to sin, and nowhere near who God would have me to be, yet even now I’m accepted and deeply loved. This disarms my pride, as I humbly recognize my need for Christ, which increases my courage to grow.
  2. God’s opinion and my obedience to Him is more important than man’s perception of me. When I base my identity in Christ and treasure intimacy with Him more than saving face, I don’t need to defend myself or prove my point.
  3. When I begin to feel defensive, I must uncover the fear beneath and remind myself of who I am in Christ. He’s my defender, protector, perfect guide, and the One who holds my future in His hands.
  4. Don’t own whatever’s not true. Simply disregard it, reminding myself of steps one through three.
  5. Finally, listen for the fears and insecurities behind my “opponent’s” words and address those before attempting to resolve anything external.

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Living in Grace Will Guide Our Words – encouragement from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Relational conflicts can be messy, confusing, and cloaked in emotion and false perceptions. Seeking grace-filled resolution means putting a guard rail on my tongue and taking time to go deep—to my and my opponent’s heart. It also involves surrendering my pride and emotions to Jesus so that He can love others through me. It’s just another way to live out grace in our lives.

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author:  Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Hometown Healing and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Do you ever feel insignificant or unseen? As if what you do or even who you are isn’t quite good enough? If so, this seven week Bible study, Becoming His Princess, is for you. Based on the remarkable life of Sarah, you will find a grace that will prove sufficient for all your failures and insufficiencies.

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to guard your tongue? When considering times your words have gotten you into trouble, can you see similar “root causes” as I mentioned above? How often has fear and pride lied at the root of your conflicts? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

 

Seasick from Traveling with Jesus

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” Psalm 107: 25-28 ESV

For years, I encountered wave after relentless wave of trial. After a time, I cried out against the storms. Alone in the dark, I asked: “Is it something I’ve done?”

I repented over things I did, things I should have done, things I could have done better. Which decision had sent me spiraling into this Odyssean wormhole? Was there some prayer, an “open sesame” combination of phrases or liturgies that would release the blessing, open the door, move God’s hand to stop the crazy spinning helm, the everyday vertigo of being me?

But there are no Christian incantations, and God isn’t an idol to be flattered or a genie to be conjured. And anyway, what did I expect following a God who naps through storms?

My spirit flailed on the deck of the life and heaved over the side, sickened by the unending waves.

I watched as others seemed to have a measure of peace, security, victory, calm seas and fair winds. They seemed to be peacefully traveling on a cruise ship with buffets, entertainment, and day trips to the shore. While my peace allotment was ladled out in splattering scoops like sips of water rationed to galley slaves.

I developed an intense aversion to manna. I didn’t want grace for the day, bread enough for now, strength for the moment! I wanted a diversified grace portfolio that would allow me to retire on grace at any time of my choosing; an account full of provision so I could live off the interest; bona fide security that came from earning enough blessing that I was assured calm seas for miles.

I didn’t want to be along for the ride, I wanted to own the ship, direct its course and hire weathermen to dictate the weather. At least that’s what I screamed into the wind as I lay drenched on the storm-tossed deck.

And when God whispered to me to trust His goodness, love, His plan – the hope of that was sometimes like a stale cracker. Internal waves competed with the assault of the sea—waves of self-pity, bitterness, doubt, and fear, leaving me tempted to abandon ship and hope for dispassionate strangers willing to toss me over the rail and a large passing fish.

But then, the wind blew in the truth like an albatross, and as I watched it glide and land beside me on deck, I suddenly recognized the blessing of my storm training and the kindness of God. He never allowed me the illusion that I could bank grace. I stood for a moment on the deck, utilizing muscles that had developed by clinging on so hard and experienced a new confidence; not in the sun or the soundness of the ship or in a hopeful breeze, but confidence in Him, the One who is outside me, within me, and around me. The One who is able, because I never am, even when I feel like the captain of my soul.

He knew that a steady diet of manna is the prescription for self-righteousness, which is no righteousness at all. He knew that if He removed all other resources I would hunger and thirst after the real thing: only available through Him and only provided in each day, each moment, each breath, but promised for eternity.

Manna. It is a holy word. God provides. What is it? Grace. Wow.

The waves still crash over my bow, but the nausea has passed. I have my sea legs now and hope no longer feels like a weight I cannot bear. Now it is my anchor, Jesus.

Are you in the storm? He is with you. Hang on.

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Seasick from Traveling with Jesus – insight 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: Are you in a storm? What are you learning?

Kill Me Now – Keeping It Real with God

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15 ESV

What I love about the relationship between Moses and God is how real it all gets. Moses spent time meeting with God “face-to-face,” the Bible says, “as a man speaks with his friend.” Wow. I mean, seriously, wow.

You can’t read the book of Numbers and miss what a whining, complaining, grumbling bunch of people Moses led through the wilderness (and before you think I’m picking on the Israelites, my husband and I can’t drive thirty minutes without a quarrel. So I’m pretty certain they’re representative of the entire human race on a forty-year wander with only McManna burgers and McManna fries to eat.)

Their complaining reaches such heights, there are moments when God tells Moses to stand back while He destroys them all (Exodus 32:10). He assures Moses He can create a whole new people using just Moses’ DNA. Moses intercedes for them, then marches down the mountain to have a word with his wayward flock.

Then there are moments when Moses loses it. If we paraphrase the Numbers 11 passage above, essentially Moses is saying, “Kill me now. I’ve had it with these people.” This is the prayer of a holy man who speaks with God face-to-face.

I’ve prayed that prayer under far less pressure.

Even after five-plus decades of following Jesus, I’m trying to go deeper. I’ve seen some amazing things following God – miracles, answered prayer, and transformed lives. I’ve also known disappointment, silences from heaven, prayers that fell back to earth like shot-gunned quail, and lingering questions about big theological issues.

What I sense about going deeper with God is this idea of being real with Him. At my baptism, they played the hymn “Just as I am.” Its message is that I come to God through Jesus Christ, with nothing to my own credit.

But, somewhere along the way, I started trying to clean up my own act before I appeared before Him in prayer. I started masking feelings and questions with flattering phrases and religious words I thought would provide the formula to getting the answers I wanted. My prayers often bordered on idolatry as I struggled to break the “Open Sesame” code that would pry open God’s fists that seemed to be clenched around my desired blessing.

I’ve discovered that “Just as I am” still applies. Even after knowing Him for decades. Even after reading the Bible cover to cover again and again. Even after a degree in Biblical Studies. Even after all I know and all I’ve done “for Him,” I still appear before Him with nothing to my own credit. I come just as I am in the name of Jesus and am welcome in Jesus’ name.

Sometimes, “just as I am” means lost or confused. Sometimes it means happy and content. Other times it means angry, doubting or “just kill me now, I’ve had it with these people.” It’s freeing to stop hiding from God and working so hard to get something from Him. I want to want God first. Usually, I come to Him wanting something else, but I want to aim higher.

So, I’m learning from Moses, because he was real with God. He spoke with God face-to-face, as one would speak with a friend. I suspect the reason for this is that when Moses met with God, he knew immediately that God was the real Promised Land.

Are you keeping it real with God? Start today and you’ll also find that He is your Promised Land.

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Kill Me Now – Keeping It Real with God – insight 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. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Lori’s latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. The dialogues everyday Christians delay are often the very channels God wants to use to deepen relationships and transform lives. Through funny, vulnerable personal stories and sound biblical teaching, the principles here are guaranteed to increase the confidence and competence of Christians in discussing sensitive topics of every kind.

Join the conversation: How do the words of “Just as I Am” speak to your heart?

 

Creating a Culture of Grace

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 NASB

Our response to other people’s failures and mistakes matter. A lot.

Our daughter has always been the type who longs to please. She hungers to know her father and I are proud of her, and at times, this heightens into an unhealthy fear of displeasing us. When she was younger, I often told her, “I almost want you to fail in this, so that you can see failure isn’t the end of the world.”

Mostly, I wanted her to experience grace and learn to live in it.

Grace isn’t overlooking sin or acting as if it’s acceptable, nor is it diminishing its effects. Grace says: I know you messed up here, and that stinks. But your actions won’t push me away. Instead, they motivate me to draw closer. Because I know you can do better. I believe you will do better, and I’ll be walking beside you each step of the way.”

Fear paralyzes, but Scripture says perfect love casts out fear.

Let me play on those words a bit. We all fear that we’ll be cast out. That others will reject us when we fail. But love draws near. If I instill nothing else into our daughter’s heart, I want it to be this: my love will always remain. No matter what.

Imagine our relationships, our churches and Bible study groups, if we learned to communicate grace-based love, not just with our words, but more importantly, with our actions and reactions. How can we create a culture of grace in our churches?

Understand failure will occur. We’re all in a process of growing. We know this intellectually, but it’s easy to forget when someone behaves badly.

Often, when I disciplined our daughter when she was growing up, I’d say, “You’re supposed to mess up. You’re a kid. That’s why God gave you parents.” That didn’t mean I condoned or ignored her behavior. It meant I saw it through a grace-and-growth-based lens. Paul put it this way to the relatively new believers in Philippi: “[I am] confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

Prioritize relationships above behavior, mistakes, and incidents. We need to keep the end goal in mind: working toward the kind of relationships that go beyond the superficial. One bad incident does not a relationship make. The challenges that inevitably come can actually be relationship builders, if we work through them together with an attitude of grace.

Jesus offered Himself. Completely. When He met a tax collector who’d swindled money from others, He didn’t list all the man’s sins. Instead, He drew the man close, saying, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5, NIV).

We forgive because of what Jesus has forgiven in us. When healthy and filled with grace, relationships give others a safe place to land, an opportunity to come clean with themselves and others, and grow from the experience.

Deal with things as they come then move on. When our daughter was a teenager, she and I went through a “passive-aggressive” phase where we routinely threw snarky comments at one another. Whenever we took the effort to unpack these interactions, we learned one of us had spoken out of hurt or fear. Watch others, or even better, analyze yourself, and I suspect you’ll discover the same.

Usually, passive-aggressive behavior stems from aversion to conflict, yet that is precisely where it leads—to ongoing, unresolved conflict. We discovered how important, how healing and powerful it can be to simply state our feelings and concerns. This allowed us to get to the real issue, which so often wasn’t what originally presented. It gave us the ability to move on, grudge and hostility-free.

I’ll never love others as Christ loves me. But I want to grow in this area. I want to create a culture of grace, where relationships are prioritized over mistakes and poor behavior and growth is valued above perfection.

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Creating a Culture of Grace – insight from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Hometown HealingShe’s home again, but not for long…
unless this cowboy recaptures her heart…

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Join the conversation: When has someone extended grace to you? How did it affect the outcome of your failure?

 

My Heart’s Desire

by Christina Rose

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 NIV

After 22 years in the family home it was time to sell. I dreaded it. The house seemed so quiet and empty after my two daughters left for college, yet it was filled with joyful memories of new babies, holidays, birthdays, love and laughter. I never wanted those days to end. Now that my husband was living nearby with someone new, I felt more lost and alone than ever. I was on the verge of sliding into a serious pity party, and there was only one thing to do. I put on my hiking boots and headed out with the dogs to call on my Father.

My home was at the base of Ring Mountain, a beautiful nature preserve that overlooked San Francisco bay. Each day I hiked and prayed and found my peace.  Today I needed it more than ever. I looked to the sky in prayer and heard, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.

The Lord spoke these words to His people in exile, spread all over the known world to give them hope. While things were grim at the moment, they were not to fear. The Lord would uphold and restore them. He never forgets His own.

Peace began filling my spirit and answers flowed. I was guided to call an old friend who had a beautiful historic home with a few rental cottages in the nearby town of Larkspur. His 100 year- old home sat on a hill in the middle of a redwood forest with spectacular mountain views and was a short drive to the beach. While I had not spoken to my friend in years, God’s message to call him was insistent. He was now living a few hours away and offered me the main house for a reasonable rent. He was in bankruptcy which meant if he lost the house I might have days to move out if I moved in. This was a huge financial and emotional risk. Again, I prayed on my mountain and the guidance to make this move was clear. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

I lived in paradise for three years. My daughters and their friends loved to visit. The stained glass windows, high beamed ceilings, decks, views of the mountain, lush garden in the redwoods with visiting deer, hummingbirds and butterflies were heavenly. Each sunrise and sunset I prayed on the top deck. In the evenings the fog from the ocean would roll over the mountain refreshing the air. A cottage became vacant and my sister and her kids spent the summer with us. A niece came by with friends on their way to a Bible retreat. One morning as I was watching the group praying in the garden, I thought, God’s plan is so much bigger than our own if we would just ask for his help and trust him.

The three years I spent in Larkspur were so blessed, and I am beyond grateful. My leap of faith was rewarded in ways that were far greater than I could have ever imagined. But I learned the true desire of my heart was not Larkspur. My true heart’s desire was to have comfort in knowing how much our Father loves us and how much he wants his best for us.

If we will just turn to him and trust him he will astound us with his mercy and grace. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

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My Heart’s Desire – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

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

Join the conversation: When has God blessed you beyond what you had hoped? How did it increase your trust in Him? 

One Example that Proves God has a Sense of Humor

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

The lights went out. And when the lights go out in the country, it’s really dark. I had gotten into my pajamas, washed my face, and brushed my teeth, but I wasn’t quite ready to crawl into bed just yet.

I had only been back in my room at the Christian camp about ten minutes. It was the second night of a weekend ladies retreat where I was speaking to a church group about God’s extraordinary grace. That night I shared how we are to be grace-givers. God wants us to be channels of His grace to others, not merely receptacles. Great truth, but also challenging. Apparently God decided I needed some practice.

I managed to locate my cell phone then used its light to find the number for the front desk. Assuming the whole unit was down, I reported a power outage for the K Building. Instead, the desk clerk said my key had been turned in. So, as per their policy, they had shut off the power to my room. What??

In moments like these I can picture God sitting on the edge of His throne. The Father turns to the Son and says, “Let’s see if she paid attention to what she told those ladies tonight. This should be good.”

I tried to calmly assure her that I was still in the room – and would remain in the room – all night. She apologized and said they would get the power right back on. I thanked her then waited in the dark.

No power means no lights or air conditioning. It began to get stuffy. After all, it was mid-September in southeast Texas and the humidity was about 125%. I checked the time on my cell phone. Five minutes had passed. I decided I would wait five more and then call again.

Five minutes later, still in the dark, I picked up the phone and dialed the front desk. I could feel the battle inside me. This graceless girl wanted to say “Just how long does it take to flip a switch?!” But I had just boldly taught a room full of women from Ephesians 4:29:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV).

So, I began to pray that gracious words would flow. Although I could have done worse, I also could have done better. Even a hint of irritation is not very gracious. And I know how I was feeling inside even if the desk clerk didn’t.

Not long after the second call the power returned and I finished getting ready for bed. As I settled in, God and I had a little “post-game” chat. I really do love that He gives us opportunities to apply what He’s teaching us.

After the retreat session the next morning, I returned to my room to gather my things, make the check out time, and head home. I opened the door and flipped the switch. Yes, you guessed it. No power. Oh well, no problem. I opened the curtains to let in the sunlight and smiled.

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One Example that Proves God has a Sense of Humor – @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Find out more about how to treat others with grace in Kathy Howard’s Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing, Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Grace with No Reservations

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

I’ve experienced it several times and you may have too – the miracle in the Starbucks’ drive-thru line. That thrilling experience when you order your drink, pull around to the window, and the barista announces that the person in front of you paid for your coffee.

My first reaction is always “Wow! How nice! That’s awesome!” Then almost as quickly I think, “Man, I should have ordered a venti!” (That means “extra large” in Starbuckese!)

My gratitude initially fosters a desire to buy the coffee for the person behind me. But before I pull out my wallet, I sneak a peek at the vehicle behind me to make sure it’s not a 12-passenger van carrying a high school basketball team. I mean, I want to pass along the blessing, but there are limits.

Sometimes I feel that way about sharing God’s grace. I want to actively love others and submit to them out of reverence for Christ. But some people don’t deserve it. And others can’t do anything for me. Then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me, that’s the point of grace.

By definition, “grace” means being kind to those who don’t deserve it. To give and do without any expectation that the other person will reciprocate. To show kindness to those who have hurt us and meet the needs of those who will never be able to help us in return.

Yet sometimes I still feel stingy or choosy with the kindness God has freely given me. As believers, we have an abundant supply of His grace. I love Paul’s description in Ephesians 1:7-8:

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on upon us, in all wisdom and understanding” (NASB).

God doesn’t just give us enough grace. He has lavished it on us with great abundance. Yet sometimes we hoard it, withholding it from those who desperately need it.

We may withhold kind words or actions from someone who has hurt us. Or we may take a meal to a sick friend hoping they will do the same for us in our time of need. While that expectation of reciprocation may not be our primary motivation, it is often still there, lurking in the back of our minds. We allow our sinful nature to qualify our grace.

Jesus constantly extended grace to those who could give Him nothing in return – the orphan, the prisoner, the widow, the homeless, the invalid, the dying, the sinner. He healed, He touched, He gave. The One “who came from the Father full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) extended grace with no expectations. And Jesus calls us, His followers, to do the same.

Who are the “needy” people right around you – neighbors, friends, family members, church members? In what ways are you extending grace with no expectation of return?

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Grace with No Reservations – wisdom from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s new Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle PaulLavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing by [Howard, Kathy] that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: When was the last time you experienced grace from someone else?