How Do I Love My Enemy?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”                                                    Matthew 5:44 NIV

How do two porcupines hug? Very Carefully.  How do we love our enemies? With divine empowerment.

What did Jesus mean when He told His disciples to love their enemies? What does it look like to love your adversary?

We associate love with objects that make us feel good. When I say I love chocolate chip cookies, sunsets at the beach, and the gal I just met, I mean I enjoy the taste of cookies, the beauty of sunsets, and my new acquaintance’s personality.

To love our enemy, we need a stronger love than that. We need a love that can’t be stopped by the erratic behavior of its recipient. We must become conduits of Christ’s love.

What Does Love for My Enemy Look Like?

When God tells us to love our enemies, He isn’t asking us to manufacture warm feelings. God’s love is practical. It does what’s right. It seeks the eternal best for all involved.

Two concrete ways to show love are to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44 NIV) and provide help when they experience trouble.

God told the Israelites to return their brother’s stray ox or donkey when they found it (Deuteronomy 22:1). If they found their enemy’s lost animal, they were to return it, too (Exodus 23:4). In other words, we do good for everyone.

What Loving My Enemy Is Not

Loving your enemies is not seeking a close relationship with them or tolerating evil. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you wouldn’t place your child or best friend in a situation, you should treat yourself with the same consideration. God calls us to be loving—and wise.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15 NIV).

Unsafe people put kind people in awkward positions. It’s uncomfortable to live guarded. But we must practice caution with those who manipulate, deceive, and back-stab. We don’t do anyone a favor when we protect wrong doers.

A young woman once told me she felt guilty because she told her principal about a young man who bullied her. “I should have been able to shrug it off. He got into trouble, and it’s my fault.” This woman had warned the man many times to stop. Yet she accepted the blame he put on her when he reaped the consequences of his wrongs.

The instruction to love our enemies does not mean to tolerate sin or abuse. Permitting sin is not good for us or them (Ephesians 5:11). Love and boundaries go together. Real love hates wrong.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NLT).

Where Do I Find the Power to Love My Enemy?

God is love. His Spirit produces love through us when we submit to Him (Galatians 5:22). As we obey the Romans 12:14 command to bless those who persecute us, power shifts from our enemy to us. They don’t control us; God does.

When Christ rules our hearts, we love, based not on who they are, but on who we are in Christ. Nobody can rock that.

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How Do I Love My Enemy? – practical insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout 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 God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. 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: How do you go about loving your enemy?

A New Song

by Doris Hoover

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”                                                                                                                                            John 8:11 NIV

Birds serenade from the treetops, singing joyful songs that make me smile. Each melody floats over me with happy notes. As I sit on the porch enjoying nature’s concert, I imagine God smiling also, delighting in His creation.

The birds cause me to wonder about my own melodies. What kind of music have I composed over the years? Have my life-songs brought a smile to God’s face?

The Lord definitely didn’t delight in many of my compositions—my music has often been filled with many discordant notes. Even so, He didn’t give up on me. He let me play out my song the way I chose to write it.

At one time, pure innocent notes flowed from my heart. But as sin crowded in, my life became totally out of tune. Then, when my song was nothing more than objectionable noise, I cried out with remorse. Jesus pulled me into Himself and kissed my head. He forgave my off-key choices and gave me a chance to rewrite my song. Then He promised that together we would create a beautiful duet.

Jesus gave me a chance to write a new song with my life.

Jesus gave that same chance to a woman one day in the temple. A mob of outraged men dragged her before Jesus and accused her of committing adultery. “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?” (John 8:5 NIV). John tells us they were using the scorned woman as a way to trap Jesus so they could accuse Him of not upholding the Law.

As the crowd jeered, ready to throw stones, Jesus knelt down and wrote in the sand. The men demanded He address the situation, so Jesus stood up and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7 NIV). Then He stooped back down, giving the crowd time to think about their motives and reflect upon their own lives.

One by one, the accusers dropped their stones and left. Jesus looked up at the woman, not with disgust or condemnation, but with a question. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:9-11 NIV).

In other words, go write a new song with your life.

I know exactly how that woman felt because I, too, was drenched with grace and enveloped in the soft cotton of God’s mercy. Covered with the balm of forgiveness, my soul sang out the only words possible: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

When we stand before Jesus with all of our shame exposed, He wraps us with a clean white sheet. Gently, He lifts our chin with the crook of His finger. As we look into His eyes, we don’t see disgust; we see eyes overflowing with immeasurable love.

Jesus offers gives each of us a chance to compose a new song that resounds with notes of mercy and grace. He will help us to write a new life-song that will make God smile.

O Lord, we’re undeserving of your grace; yet we’re desperate for it. Help us change our discordant lives into beautiful melodies that float up to you.

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A New Song – encouragement from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What new song has God written on your heart?

Am I Doing Enough for God?

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

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

A mother of three young children, who works part-time, recently told me: “I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not doing enough for God.”

Have you ever found yourself saying that?

We live in a world focused on doing to the point of making busyness our badge of success. Multi-tasking in the church is what appears to others—and ourselves—as ultra-spiritual. But while a relationship with the Living God produces a desire to obey and serve Him, that service results in joy and rest, not perpetual stress!

I shared with that precious mom that her ministry was her husband and the three little lives she shaped and influenced on a daily basis. I also shared that God wanted a relationship, not a work record from her.

I believe God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him. We can see that desire in Jesus’ response to a man who asked about the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus’ answer was “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).

God is focused on relationship. We tend to be focused on activity. He is the One who tells us to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) and to come to Him and rest (Matthew 11:28). We are the ones who are striving to do more.

Yet, as we spend time cultivating a love relationship with God, we will know how to serve others well. But it will never be at the expense of overlooking our primary responsibilities (our families and those God has placed in our care) or feeling over-extended.

If you are a mom with young children, or a woman who works full time, or someone who has her hands full (and who doesn’t these days?), rest in the truth that as you grow in your love for God, your labor will naturally follow. As you sit at His feet, He will eventually call you to get up and serve Him. And as you are growing in your love relationship with Him, you will learn how to discern the difference between His loving voice and the voice of your own guilt telling you to do more.

Lord, help me to remember that Your greatest requirement of me is to love You before anyone and anything else.

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Am I Doing Enough for God? insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When You’re Running on Empty, When Women Long for Rest, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources Cindi McMenamin Long for Rest book cover (1)to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with guilt about not doing enough for God?

Mistakes and All

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  Psalm 18:30, NIV

This morning I blew it.

I was selfishly thinking of my needs and not anyone else’s. And thus, my home became not such a nice place to be.

Why do I do that?

I can so relate to the who Apostle Paul who wrote “… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19 NIV).

I know we all feel like we’ve blown it at times — as moms, as wives, as daughters, as employees, as friends. We carry guilt on our shoulders in some area of life, feeling that we have failed to measure up to others’ standards – or our own.

I will be the first to admit that I’ve failed more times than I’d like to count. In fact, my books recount much more of my failures than my victories. That’s because we can learn through our mistakes. We can be shaped by our mistakes. And we can become more humble and extend more grace toward others when we are able to recognize the areas in which we have needed God’s grace, wisdom, and correction.

When I begin to feel I am not measuring up to the standards of others, I remember my God who is perfect and makes no mistakes (Psalm 18:30).  That means He doesn’t regret making me or putting me where He has. That means my mistake didn’t take Him by surprise. And that means He can still use me for His purposes, mistakes and all.

In spite of my mistakes, I’m encouraged by God’s promise in James 1:5 (NIV): If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

God gives generously (He’s not stingy in doling out the wisdom), He gives to all (even if  I don’t feel I deserve it), and He gives without criticizing or finding fault (meaning He won’t say “Uh no, I gave it to you before and you didn’t use it”).

The next time I feel that I’ve blown it, I’ll take it to the Generous One who knows all about it and is waiting for me to seek His comfort, His ear, and His wisdom.

Thank You, God, that You know all about my fears and failures. And You are waiting to pick me back up, make me stronger, and show me all that You can still do in and through my life.

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Mistakes and All – insight on #FollowingGod from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your marriage, parenting, or walk with God, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurtsexplores the kinds of hurt women experience and offers gracious, biblical counsel on how and where to find healing. Cindi replaces the faulty thinking that often accompanies life’s wounds with truths every woman needs to know about how God views her.

Join the conversation: Has there been a time when you learned a lot from a mistake? Please share!

Guilted by the Shoulds

by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty

The dental hygienist fixed her accusing stare on me after a not-so-stellar appointment. “You should floss more,” she leveled. “What are you doing to clean your teeth daily besides brushing?”

“Um …” I groped for something. Anything. “I use the doggie biscuit technique; I chew on extra crunchy chocolate chip cookies.”

She was right. I really should floss more. But sometimes should is a dangerous word. It’s a stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver. It ruthlessly inflates the bulk of a woman’s to-do list, often crowding out healthy sanity-essentials with guilt-induced clutter.

  • I should go to that meeting; they really need my help.
  • I should cook a big dinner every night like my mother did.
  • I should clean my house so the kids won’t write notes in the dust.

Seems there’s always something more we should be doing.

But as every woman struggling to squeeze into last year’s skinny jeans knows, more isn’t always better; sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. You know, my friend, we can be whelmed without being overwhelmed. Whelmed is livable; overwhelmed is strangling.

So how do we shush that should guilt threatening to overwhelm us? Here are four suggestions that work for me:

Be stress-smart. When you’re slammed into a stress mess, sit yourself down with a calming cup of your fave hot beverage. I’m talking five mere minutes here, not five hours. You can afford it. Close your eyes. Tune in to Papa God’s loving presence … His heartbeat … His peace. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NIV).

Avoid BOOP (Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon). BOOP is one of my Coty Near-Facts of Science (theories not yet proven by actual scientific studies but nevertheless known by women to be true). I postulate that women are like pots of oatmeal; at the beginning of the day we simmer – little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and harmlessly pop. But as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils everything around it with a nasty, ugly, sticky mess. The key to avoiding BOOP is to know when to remove the pot from the heat. And speaking of burners …

Promote yourself off the back burner. Don’t argue girl, just do it. You may sacrificially place yourself there routinely, but your Creator doesn’t. You’re a front-burner person to him. He wants you to enjoy this marvelous gift of life He’s given you, not sludge through it. So it’s time to add a little fun to your day.

Write yourself into your schedule for an hour of something you really enjoy a minimum of twice a week. Walk in the sunshine, bike a woodsy trail, sing opera, join a roller derby team, boogie your bad self down, get your nails done – hey, whatever tingles your toes. Put the beautiful smile back on your face. Your fam will be ever so grateful.

Be a dipstick. The Lord puts only enough fuel in your daily tank for you to arrive safely at the destination He’s routed out for you. All the detours you add will either run you out of gas or land you in a ditch. Check your tank, review your destination, and then engage in the Three Ps: Prioritize, Plan, and Pace yourself.

Achk, I know. So many things we must do. A few things we want to do. And countless things we should do. We just have to recognize that we have the power to choose which shoulds are potential coulds … and then unapologetically embrace the woman our choices make us.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.Isaiah 41:10 NASB

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty. Used with permission from Barbour Publishing.

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Guilted by the Shoulds – tips for coping from @deboracoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out? How do you give yourself a break?

The Accusation

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

I once arrived at the scene of a tragic car accident to pick up my friend, one of the victim-survivors.  As I waited for my friend to take an onsite blood test, the traffic detective begin to make small talk.  “What were you doing when your friend called you?”

“I was at home.”

“And your husband, he was there?”

“He was out running errands.”

Suddenly the detective asked for my driver’s license.  When I handed it to him, he stared at it, then lifted his head and narrowed his eyes. “You were here,” he said.

“What?”

“You were the one driving your friend’s car.”

My mouth fell open, my voice rose an octave.  “No!  I only just got here.”

That’s when I realized that I’d suddenly become a suspect in the deadly crash, and I’d just given up my alibi, admitting I was home alone.

I don’t fault the detective for his accusation.  I’ve seen that episode on detective shows where the real driver that causes a deadly crash switches places with a friend to avoid a jail sentence.

Maybe the detective had seen those episodes too, or maybe he’d seen people try to play this switch in real life.  Regardless, it was the detective’s job to investigate all possibilities.

Because there was no evidence from witnesses or the camera in the intersection that I had been the driver, the accusation was dropped.  I wasn’t arrested or given a ticket.

This story reminds me of our enemy, Satan, who loves to accuse us before the throne of God.  Revelation 12:10 describes Satan as, “the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night” (NIV).

But we have a defender, also before the throne of God.  Romans 8:34 says, “Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (NLT).

So though Satan may accuse us, and though we may even be guilty of the sins Satan announces before the throne of God, we are in Christ.  This means we are covered by the righteousness of Christ.  Because God sees us through Christ, He sees us as sinless.

Think of it like this: suppose you were invited to walk with a great king, but you were wearing a jacket so filthy that it disqualified you from this privilege.  But when the king’s son gave you his own clean jacket in exchange for your dirty one, you became spotless enough to walk with the king.

If you’re ready to trade your sins for the righteousness of Christ, pray this simple prayer.

Lord, I am a sinner.  Your son Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life.  He died on the cross for my sins, paying my punishment for me.  I say ‘Yes’ to Jesus.  I say ‘Yes’ to his gift of righteousness.  Therefore Lord, I give you my whole life.  May your Holy Spirit live inside of me, may I always walk with you. In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Recognizing the source of the accusation – @LindaShepher on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 34 books including Praying God’s Promises and The God You Need to Know.  She is the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.  She’s the publisher
of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily.

Linda has been married over thirty years and has two grown kids.  She loves to travel and bring the word to groups and events across North America.  You can read more about Linda at Arise Speakers.

Join the conversation: Have you felt the accuser working to destroy your peace? What thoughts do you struggle to overcome?

The Case of the Deep-fried Guilt

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I went to the food court at the mall the other day. Pretty sure I was found guilty.

It’s weird because at the food court, you can eat an entire meal before you even find a table. Those people feed it to you one toothpick at a time. Three thousand deep-fried sample calories later, you still have to order dinner. “Order in the food court”—it’s probably some sort of mall law. I tried to object once but then I overruled myself.

Last time, just before the guilt of overeating was about to kick in, I was polishing off the last curly fry (the curly fries I SO should’ve said no to), and I think I might’ve heard my left ventricle squeaking closed. I wonder if the toothpick people could eventually be charged with ventricular manslaughter.

On the spiritual side, our non-physical heart does better when we say no to guilt. Sin is a killer and we need to always confess and get rid of it quickly. But we need to be just as quick to get rid of any residual guilt.

When we dredge up old sin that’s already been forgiven, we clog up our hearts in an entirely different way. Unwarranted guilt hinders our walk with the Lord. Our enemy doesn’t want us operating in the powerful place of forgiveness. He doesn’t want us to experience a sweet, unhindered connection with the Father. If he can obstruct that connection by convincing us that our sin is unforgivable, he can choke out our fruitfulness. We’ll end up so distracted by guilt that we can’t clearly focus on the purposes He’s called us to.

Sometimes we try to get rid of the guilt ourselves. People who attempt to take care of their own guilt feelings usually realize the futility of it at some point. They end up trying to numb it with some sort of chemical or another item from a long list of destructive habits. Or some try to cover over the guilt by doing enough good deeds. Less destructive, sure, but still ineffective and completely frustrating.

There’s one way to get rid of every kind of guilt. Jesus. He took it for us on the cross. The sinful deed you find yourself continually dredging up? Jesus died for it. Is there a sin that haunts you, one that hangs onto your psyche like grease on fries? Do you ever find yourself thinking that yours is the one sin that God couldn’t possibly forgive? Let me encourage you to recognize that the sacrifice of Christ was enough.

At any point you can’t fathom a grace that will cover your sin, overrule yourself, because you’re not understanding His grace as it really is. It’s bigger than we can ever sin.

I love it that Jesus never dispenses His grace by the toothpick. He gives it in heaping helpings. He doesn’t give it out according to our success. He doesn’t take it back when we mess up. He gives that grace, desiring to be close to us. Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, because we have been made free from a guilty conscience” (NCV).

Freedom from a guilty conscience—that’s the way to live. And that’s the truth. And nothing but the truth.

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14

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The Case of the Deep-fried Guilt – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: What makes you feel guilty?

Perfect Parents—The Myth We Need to Release

by Edie Melson

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Psalm 27:17 NIV

For anyone who has a child, the thought of perfect parenting elicits a range of emotions, from hope to discouragement to outright terror. We all hope we’ll be good parents, but most of us realistically expect to fail in some ways. And every parent I’ve ever spoken with lives in fear of being such a bad parent that they will mess up their child permanently.

I’m writing this as I look back over my parenting journey. We have three grown sons, so the intense time of parenting is past. Sure, we still give advice—when asked—but for the most part we’re finished.

Looking back was scary at first. I was afraid of the regrets and remorse I’d feel, from all the shoulda, woulda, coulda scenarios. But the process of evaluation wasn’t nearly as terror-inducing as I expected. I’d like to encourage you with some of the insights I gained.

The most important part in my parenting review was that I was looking back from a secure vantage point: standing beside God. By that, I mean I prayed first and asked Him to share His perspective on my journey as a parent. He showed me several things I hadn’t noticed.

He reminded me that He wasn’t like the animated stork that I’d seen in the cartoons I watched on Saturday mornings growing up.

He NEVER delivered the wrong baby to the wrong parents.

He chose my husband and I as parents for our boys before the beginning of time. And He did it knowing the mistakes we’d make, as well as the parts we’d get right. He used us, good and bad, to help shape our kids as they grew. Until I began this process, I’d never considered that perspective before—that God chose us as much for our weaknesses as parents as for our strengths. I’d never thought of this verse in the context of parenting before.

Does that absolve us of guilt where we’ve been wrong? Absolutely not. But it gives me a hint that perhaps God is true to His word and can bring good out of bad.

The other thing He shared with me was the fact that perfect parents don’t guarantee perfect kids. I could have done every single thing right as a mother but because of free will, any of my sons could have chosen the wrong path.

How do I know this is true? Because God is perfect, and look how we turned out. He did everything right, but we still chose to go our own way.

So when you look back (or ahead) as a parent, remember that your child’s future isn’t in your hands. God’s got this, and He always has.

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: Can you think of a weakness you have that God has used in your parenting?

 

A Stone’s Throw From Grace

by Edie Melson

When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.  John 8:7 CSB

Imagine with me the scene that day. A woman has been caught in the act of adultery. In first century Israel, it’s a crime punishable by death—death by stoning. The men and women drag her into the public square. I can hear the voices of her accusers, raised in hatred and condemnation.

  • “You’re nothing but filth.”
  • “You knew what could happen when you made your choice.”
  • “Get rid of her. We can’t have someone like her contaminating our town.”

She’s thrown at the feet of a famous teacher, for him to pronounce the death sentence. Why did they bring her to him? Because he’s known for his compassion. By bringing her crime to his attention they can literally kill two birds with one stone. They can get rid of a sinner and either expose him as a liar, or a lawbreaker.

Instead, Jesus introduces them all to the concept of grace.

And He does it without compromising the law or the heart of compassion he’s known for.

Back in the viewpoint of our sinner, I can imagine her laying there at His feet, covering her head with her arms as she tries to make as small a target as possible. Every muscle is tensed, waiting for the first stone from the angry mob.

As the crowd begins to quiet, instead of the sound of stones whistling through the air, she hears the words of the teacher. His pronouncement takes them all by surprise—even her. And I can imagine that the next sounds she hears are the thumps all around her as the stones drop to the ground as the crowd disperses.

Those in the crowd learned a valuable lesson as did the woman. They learned that they have a choice when it comes to confronting sin. They can be stone-throwers or stone-droppers.

It’s a choice we still have today. Starting today I’m going to make a conscious effort to drop those stones and be an instrument of grace.

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Edie’s book, While My Child is Away,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What kinds of things tempt you to throw stones?

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

Are You Living in Guilt or Grace

by Edie Melson

I remember a time in my life when I was struggling. It came back to me in a rush after I’d met with a young woman I’d been mentoring. She was ready to give up, certain she’d never be good enough, no matter the fact that she’d accepted Jesus as Lord.

I shared with her a similar time in my life…

It had happened again. I’d sworn it wouldn’t happen, but it had. And I’d made the promise just last week. I’d cried out to God during my morning prayers, promising to do better, to be more careful. This wasn’t the first time I’d confessed this weakness. I’d wrestled with this temptation again and again.  

What kind of a person was I that I’d fall so easily back into the middle of temptation? My repeated lapses made me wonder if I was even a believer.

Those were dark days. But coming through them has given me confidence.

Not in myself…never in me. But in God.

No matter how many times I stumbled, He was always there to pick me up, always waiting to extend grace and give me another go. I was the one who struggled with shame and condemnation.

And that condemnation NEVER came from Him.

Oh don’t get me wrong. I know it hurt Him—still hurts Him—when I gave in to sin. But He didn’t return that hurt with punishment. He returned it with patience, grace, and love. During this painful process I discovered a life-changing truth that still sustains me.

It’s not possible to out-sin God’s mercy.

Do I still struggle? You better believe it. But I’m quicker to admit my failings, and less willing to listen to the false guilt that comes from my enemy.

Satan lashes my soul with guilt, but God extends infinite grace.

So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free from the law that brings sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 NCV

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Edie’s book, While My Child is Away,  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: Are you prone to self-condemnation? Find yourself living in guilt rather than grace? What ways have you found to battle those accusations?

Photo by Dan Bøțan on Unsplash