Eight Quarters and Lesson Learned

by Crystal Bowman

I was annoyed with the long exit line on the hospital parking ramp. Eager to get home after visiting a friend, I inched my way to the ticket booth where the attendant informed me of the eight-dollar fee. I handed him a ten-dollar bill, expecting two dollars in return. I did, in fact, get two dollars back—eight quarters.  

“Sorry, that’s all I’ve got,” he apologized. I groaned and rolled my eyes, even more annoyed than before. I planned on dropping the quarters into our coin jar but forgot about them when I got home. Several days went by and the quarters still jiggled in the bottom of my purse. 

Later that week I had a book signing at a local bookstore. This was during the early days of my writing career, and I was excited for the opportunity to promote the handful of children’s books I had published.

Many people think a book signing is a glamorous event for rich and famous authors, but nothing could be further from the truth! Most authors are neither rich nor famous, and book signings are a lesson in humility.

No one came to the store just to see me. I sold a few books to some shoppers who happened to be there, but that was about it. One woman asked me to watch her daughter while she went to the bathroom, and another customer asked me to help him find a book by another author.

As I began packing up my books to go home, a middle-aged woman with a contagious smile came to my table. “Are you a real author?” she asked as she picked up one of my short chapter books.

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

“Well,” she said, “I can’t read very well, but I know I can read this one.”

She fumbled through her purse for a few minutes and then her smile faded, “I don’t have enough money to buy your book,” she said. She put the book back on the table and started to walk away.

 “Wait,” I said. “How much more do you need?”

“Two dollars.”

At that moment I remembered the eight quarters in my purse that had never made it to the coin jar. “I might be able to help you out. I have a bunch of quarters that I don’t need, and you can have them.”

Her smile returned as I counted the quarters and dropped them in her hand.

“What’s your name,” I asked. “I’ll write a note in the book and sign it for you.” 

“My name is Gina.”

On the inside cover I wrote, “To my friend, Gina. I hope you enjoy reading this story. May God bless you.”

Too many times I let little things that don’t matter—like those eight quarters—annoy me. I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s challenge to the Christians in Colosse, which challenges me as well. He taught them to live a new life in Christ and put to death the old life. He told them to put on compassion, kindness, humility, and patience as if they were clothing (Colossians 3:12).

Even though we cannot live perfect lives, we can ask God to help us live in a way that shows we belong to Him. Colossians 3:14 (NLT) says, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  

As far as book signings go, my time at the bookstore was not very productive. But I learned a lesson from those eight quarters, and I met a woman name Gina whose smile I will never forget.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 NLT

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What are the little things that you find annoying?

Saying Our “Thank You” Prayers

by Neva Bodin

We were out for a ride in beautiful mountain country in our new ATV. The gray-white blousy clouds sailed across the sky; the sun played peek-a-boo with us. The temperature was perfect.

Five minutes later, the fat clouds darkened, began holding hands, and shoving the sun behind them. We looked up as the wind increased and said, “We’re going to get wet!”

“Should we go back?” my husband asked.

“No, let’s keep going a bit,” I answered.

Within a couple of minutes the clouds got over their hostile attitude and parted. The sun sent a radiant smile down, and the blue sky widened. “Thank you, Lord,” I whispered.

There were now no clouds above us, but a raindrop kissed my forehead. Just one. And I knew where it came from.

I think there are many times God gives us a metaphorical kiss (that’s not wet). And busy with our thoughts or troubles, we don’t feel it.

I am sometimes good at, and other times lax at thanking God for His many blessings throughout my day. It’s good to remember. For when I make an effort to recognize all the little pats on the head, the caresses, the silent “well done”s He has sent my way, I acknowledge His presence.

I have watched parents stroke a child’s head, straighten a lock of hair on a small forehead, or reach down and pick a fearful child up, all while carrying on a conversation with someone else. Even while accomplishing another task, they are mindful of their child, no matter what they are doing at any given moment.

Our Father God is always mindful of us, willing to send us a joy or a sign that He’s thinking of us. Do we always recognize these gestures? I’m sure I don’t. “From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another” (John 1:16 NLT).

When a child says “thank you” for a gift or favor from a parent, it brings a broad smile to the parent’s face. Parents like to be acknowledged. And so does our Father God.

So I am thankful any time He blesses me with a “kiss.” I pray He helps me to recognize my many blessings and nudges me somehow if I forget to say thank you. I have already received many blessings: that the big bale of hay that flew off a truck one day on the highway landed beside my car and not on it, the presence I felt beside me when driving in fear on ice far from home, the time I coasted up to a gas pump on an empty tank while on a trip, the friend who called me or gave me a compliment at just the right moment when my heart was broken, and a thousand other heavenly touches.

Praise and thanksgiving are such important parts of prayers. I don’t want to forget them. While I look for material and concrete things to thank God for, I want to remember to thank Him for grace and forgiveness, the two most important things.

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” Matthew 7:11 NLT

About the author: Neva Boden writes to help us laugh, love, and understand life. She aspires to infuse readers with faith and hope, for that may be all that keeps us going at times. Publishing credits include The Gift of a Goat, Bitzy Bunny Gets a New Mama, Montana Free, and There’s a Circus in the Sky, (all available on Amazon or direct mail from the author), short stories, newsletters, poetry, and freelance articles. Facebook or Twitter.

Join the conversation: When was the last time you noticed a kiss from God?

So Much for Good Intentions

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

“There is no more powerful motivation for holiness than loving God in response to the revelation of his redeeming character and eternal promises.” Bryan Chapell, Christ Centered Preaching

How are you at keeping resolutions? I am the world’s worst. Mind you, I am full of good intentions. I will keep a cleaner and more organized home. I will lose weight. I will get serious about an exercise program. At the start, keeping a resolution is a breeze. Why did I live like I did before turning over this new leaf? Life is so much better this way! I will never go back. Sometimes I even try to convert others to my cause. How could they not follow in my steps? This way is infinitely better.

But it’s not long before I begin to wobble. This is too hard. I miss the convenience of doing things the old way. It wasn’t so bad before. And before long I have fallen back into my old ways once again.

Living for Jesus can fall along similar lines. We read or hear something that convicts us. So we resolve to act on that conviction. We will be more diligent about reading our Bible. Pray more. Get control of our tongue.

But soon the enthusiasm wanes. The high priorities of yesterday diminish in light of the new urgencies of today. And the resolution dies a quiet death.

Where can we find motivation that will last longer than our good intentions?

Guilt is usually my chief motivation, a powerful force in my life. I attempt to change something because I foolishly think that God will somehow love me more if I can get a handle on this thing in my life. This, of course, is a very faulty assumption. He knew every selfish act I would commit before I was even born. But He chose to love me anyway. My relationship with God is based on grace. So trying to earn love or acceptance from God really is flawed thinking.

In the end, anyway, guilt fails to produce a lasting result. As soon as I have worked long enough at change to ease my guilty conscience, the motivation is at an end. And I regress.

But what if, instead, I acted in response to the unconditional love and grace God has lavished on me? Donald Miller, in Blue Like Jazz, suggested that if an ordinarily lazy man were to fall in love, he could swim the English Channel for the sake of his beloved. Love is a huge motivator.

Our greatest incentive for change comes as a response to the grace and love the Father has already poured out on us. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…that those who live should no longer lives for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV). The greater our understanding of who God is and what He has done for us, the greater our motivation to love and serve him in return.

So rather than focus on my behavior and what I need to accomplish, I will choose to focus on the God that I serve. I will focus on His great love for me and on His perfect character. And my behaviors and attitudes, the ones which so desperately need to change, will suddenly be revealed for the dark, damaging habits they are, inappropriately existing in a life which has already been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.

The stronger my love for Him, the stronger my motivation. Less of me, more of Him.

“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for he Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:7-8 NASB

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Finding motivation to fuel good intentions – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

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Join the conversation: What have you resolved to do in the coming year?

God Comes Down To Us

by A.C. Williams

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Philippians 2:6-8 NLT

Recently, I got to dog-sit for a dear friend. She has two dogs, a little old white fluffy dog and a bigger younger golden fluffy dog. She set me up in her adorable little house, gave me the run of her kitchen and pantry, and provided a list of things that needing doing while she was gone.

Not a problem, I thought. How hard can dog-sitting be?

Shoot. If I ever think that again, y’all have permission to kick me.

Turns out dog-sitting is very hard, especially when one of the dogs doesn’t trust you. This silly critter spent thirty minutes making sure I was fully aware of her disapproval. The entire first day, she wouldn’t let me within three feet of her. That was a problem because she wouldn’t go out. I couldn’t walk her. I couldn’t give her meds. AND she wouldn’t eat.

Worried for the poor dog’s safety, I asked for help, and my friend’s neighbor came running to the rescue. And what do you think she did?

She got down on all fours and crawled around the kitchen floor, laid down on the dog bed, and acted as though she would eat the dog’s food. I believe there was a conversation about vegan meatballs, too.

Guess what? The dog calmed down, ate her food, and chilled right out.

The dog was scared. She felt alone. And a stranger had come into her safe place. She needed someone to come down to her level, to walk like her, to live like her, so that she could learn to trust them.

As I watched this neighbor lady crawling around on all fours for the sake of a silly, stubborn puppy, all I could think about was God’s grace.

Maybe some of us sneer at the idea of crawling around on all fours for the sake of a dog. Maybe some of us would never stoop to doing something so ridiculous.

My friends, what do you think Jesus did for us? He is God. He made the universe. All of creation began with Him (Colossians 1:15-17). He didn’t begin in that Bethlehem manger. He existed before Time. And He put on human skin and came to us (Philippians 2:7).

We were scared and stubborn and lost (Luke 19:10). We were lonely and empty inside. And He didn’t sneer at the idea of humiliating Himself. He crawled down in the dirt with us for three years, going knowingly to the most excruciating death in history, all for the sake of giving us someone to trust with our eternal souls Philippians 2:8).

So the next time you run into someone who needs help, remember how Jesus helped you. The next time you encounter another person who looks different than you do or who doesn’t dress as nicely as you do, remember what Jesus gave up to reach you. The next time you butt heads with some stubborn person who disagrees with you, remember the status Jesus sacrificed to have a relationship with you.

Oh, in case you were wondering, the dog and I figured each other out. A few days into my dog-sitting stint, we became buddies. But I had to take a page out of the neighbor’s playbook and get down on the floor with her for a little while.

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

Flipping Fates (The Misadventures of Trisha Lee Book 3) by [A. 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 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: How do you practice the grace of God?

Irreversible

by Julie Zine Coleman

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

Some changes cannot be undone.

One of the science concepts I taught my fifth graders every year was the difference between a physical change and a chemical change. One is reversable and one is permanent. A physical change is a change in the state of matter. Applying heat to ice will melt it to liquid and eventually turn it into gas. But no matter in what state we find it, water remains H2O.

A chemical change is quite different. Heat actually causes a chemical break down of the bonds that hold atoms in a molecule together. They then rearrange to form new molecules that are completely different substances. For instance, the eggs you mix into cake batter, when baked, become something different. You can’t unbake a cake and retrieve those eggs again. What they were no longer exists. An irreversible molecular change has occurred.

There is another kind of irrevocable change: the transformation that God works in us at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

Just as a new substance has new properties, what once was true about us is true no longer. Where there was only death, now there is life (Ephesians 2:1). The Holy Spirit has come to permanently dwell in us as a guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13). Our status has gone from condemned to free, from people who once walked in the flesh now walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-2). Once alienated from God, we have now been permanently adopted into His family (Ephesians 1:5). Our spiritual blindness has been irrevocably altered to an ability to see and understand spiritual truth (Romans 8:5-6). We have been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13, Philippians 3:20).   

And again, just as in chemistry, where a substance cannot change itself (heat is responsible for any transformation), the transformation that happened at our salvation was nothing we could do ourselves. It was something only God could do for us.  

The best news of all: God’s changes are permanent. We didn’t make it happen, and we cannot undo what He has done. We can rest in His work with confidence. Like most children that grew up in Christian homes, I prayed every night for Jesus to come into my heart, just in case the last prayer didn’t take. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood it was God’s doing: He was already there.

Every other religion bases a relationship with God on what they DO. But followers of Christ trust in what God has DONE. Jesus told His followers: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

Do you worry that you can out-sin the grace of God? That somehow you can undo His work in you and change yourself back into what you were before He healed you? Lean into what you know He has already accomplished in you. Trust that His work is sufficient to save. We didn’t do it, and we cannot undo it. He has made us new.

The change is unalterable.

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

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About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What of God’s changes mean the most to you?

Grace to Help in Times of Need

by Alma L. Carr-Jones

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 KJV 

Blam! Blam! Blam! “Momma, somebody is at the door!” Louise knew it was the Rent Man there to collect the rent. Her momma opened the door.

“Well, you got my money this morning?”

“No sir, I don’t. Can you give me one more week? I can catch up on the rent then, sir.”

“Don’t bother; I want you gone by Sunday or I will have you set out!”

“Now see here Mr. Rent Man, you can’t …”

Louise stepped boldly in front of her mother. “Excuse me, good morning Mr. Rent Man.” Her words came out a whisper.

“Uh, good morning Lula’s little kid,” and down the steps he stormed.

Later at church, Louise’s prayer was silent but fervent. “Hey, JESUS, It’s me. The rent man was hollering at Momma and he told her we have to move by Sunday. I don’t know what to do. Please help us. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.”

The next day she walked up the huge steps, wiped her nervous, sweaty hands on her dress, and went inside the door of The Cotton Exchange. She asked a lady for Mr. Fred Smith.

When she walked into his office, he looked up distractedly from his desk. “Excuse me, Mr. Smith. My name’s Louise; I’m Lula Mae’s daughter. We live on…”

“I know where you live and I know your Momma,” he interrupted.

“Yes sir, well the bus ride took my $0.50 but I have ten cents left from the bus that you can have and Momma will only owe you $9.90.”

Mr. Smith nodded and cleared his throat, “Put the dime on the table and tell Lula Mae I’ll see her on Sunday.” “Yes sir! Thank you, sir!” She thanked Jesus all the way home! 

Grace to help in time of need. The above verse says that God knew there would be times in our lives when we would have need. Because He knew about the need, He prepared the way for us. You see, I learned need when I was a child and learned where and how to go for help in those times. I prayed in faith; I stated my need; I thanked God, and closed my prayer. My need was met by God’s grace through the rent man because the LORD gave me favor in his sight. 

Have you ever been in need and experienced someone’s grace? Has God ever given you an opportunity to show grace to someone else? Look for opportunities this week to offer grace. Don’t be surprised if God uses you in some mighty ways.

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

Get Yourself Up: Motivation and Inspiration To Keep Pressing Forward For the Next Generation (The Tallest Mountain Series Book 1) by [Alma Carr-Jones]

About the author: Alma L. Carr-Jones, wife of gospel minister Bro. Paul C. Jones and mother of two children, is a beloved educator, poet/author, and speaker. Alma lives in McKenzie, Tennessee. To date, she has published Chopping My Row, Get Yourself Up (Book 1 of The Tallest Mountain Series), and three volumes of poetry. Alma’s motto is, “Doing what I can while I can.”  She says of her writing; “Leaving a positive legacy each day, so that my words can help countless others, even after my voice is stilled.”

Join the conversation: Have you ever witnessed the transformative grace of God?

GRACE

by Susie Crosby

  noun: mercy, pardon, approval; special favor

Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. Isaiah 30:19 MSG

Grace is a hard concept for me. I need it so desperately. This undeserved favor, this washing away of my mistakes and failures, this loving welcome into the open arms of Jesus. This generous gift of God–pure and simple and free–is supposed to be anything but hard to receive, yet I can struggle with it.

I try to earn it. I try to understand it. I try to explain it. I ask why? Why does God give me this unconditional love when I don’t deserve it? And how? How can He possibly see me as innocent and clean despite my stains of selfishness and failure?

God teaches me over and over that I get his grace because of WHO HE IS… 

-not because of anything I do or don’t do

-not because of how loving or how critical my heart has felt

-not because of how well or how poorly I perform

-not because of how obedient or how self-serving my choices have been

And he reminds me that grace doesn’t have to be earned, understood, or explained by me.30:19

It is free, undeserved. A gift.

Ahhh. But I don’t do well with those. If someone gives me something, I have a hard time accepting it. I scramble. Something in return–quick! A gift for them, a note of thanks, a favor. I can barely handle it. But that isn’t why people give me gifts, is it? To make me run around and try to earn them?

It certainly isn’t the reason that God gives. The only thing God wants me to do with his precious grace is to humbly receive it. 

“When you come before me, whoever gave you the idea of acting like this, running here and there, doing this and that–All this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?” Isaiah 1:12 MSG

But I feel like I should do something. Run here and there, strive hard, criticize myself…maybe these might make me feel like I could possibly earn it a little bit?

Nope. He reminds me again. That isn’t how grace is given. It is an absolutely free and completely undeserved gift from his loving, forgiving, good, and generous heart.  

All I can do is thank him.

All I can do is be still and accept this gift that he is offering without trying to pay him back.

All I can do is cry to him for help.

As I open my heart and trust His, He will do all the work. Grace will flow in overwhelming abundance. More and more will pour over me, around me, into me. So much grace, that all I can do is laugh (or cry) in relief and rest in this waterfall of love and joy and freedom.  

This is all he wants in return.

My heart…open to His.

Open your heart to His greater-than-expected gift of grace. Cry to Him for help as you struggle to receive it, to believe it. He is pouring out his forgiveness, His love, His joy to wash over you and draw you close. And He will keep it coming. More and more for the rest of your life.

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

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with grace?

Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Do you have a friend that needs your grace? I remember one day a friend of mine made an unfavorable remark about my husband’s weight. It really hurt me, because even though he is overweight, his heart is pure as gold. I tried to forgive and forget what she had said, but every time I saw her, those mean-spirited words always came to my mind. I discovered that sometimes it is easier to forgive than to forget.

Praise God that we have the perfect example of what we need to do in what He has done for us. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV). While Jesus hung on the cross, He asked the Father to forgive those who were killing Him (Luke 23:34)! It is a wonderful picture of total forgiveness.

“The living God so forgives that he forgets!”[1]  If He can forgive and forget our many sins, surely, we can forgive and forget a sinful act of a friend or even a foe.

Grace is needed in order to forgive completely. Grace is the gift of mercy and love towards those who don’t deserve it. Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, found himself in a situation that should have cost him his life. It was common for the reigning king to kill the bloodline of the previous king to make sure the king’s position would not be jeopardized. King David’s love for Jonathan allowed him to extend grace to Mephibosheth, who voiced his gratification when he said, “All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table” (2 Sam 19:28, NIV). 

The Greek word for grace is charis. “It is significant that the most common cognates for joy (Chara, “inner joy,” and chairein, “to rejoice”) are derived from the same root— char—as in the Greek word for “grace.”[2] Grace may be the most important word in the Bible because grace is love in action!  We are to rejoice because of His loving grace and the hope we have in Christ. “We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 CSB).

I always extend grace to my friend, because a loyal friend is a treasure beyond comprehension. A friend who forgives and loves when we deserve nothing but condemnation is a treasure that can’t be measured.

When the world says we are to judge and punish the offense, God’s word says we are to lovingly extend grace. If you think your friend was loyal before, watch how your love and grace will transform them even more!

[1] Knight, G. A. F. Servant theology: a commentary on the book of Isaiah 40–55  (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publications), page 71.

[2]  Morrice, W. G. Joy. G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin, & D. G. Reid (Eds.), Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), p. 511–512.

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Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace? – insight 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: Do you need to forgive someone?


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?