What Hope Can We Have During This Pandemic?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.    Psalm 27:14 NIV

Every morning when I open my eyes, I say, “Thank you, Lord, for this day! Let me serve and honor you.” Once I have finished praying, I like to start my day with a cup of coffee and the morning news. I don’t know about you, but the news is getting harder and harder for me to watch. I feel like we are moving through this pandemic at a snail’s pace. I want my old life back! I want to go out to dinner with my family and friends. I want to go to the movies with my husband. I want to go shopping! And I want to do all of this without a face mask. I’m sure you feel the same way. Plus, if you have grandkids, I’m sure you want to hold them in your arms again as soon as possible.

Although I long for my life to return to normal, I recognize that I am very blessed. There are many people in our country who have suffered much more than a simple disruption of their daily schedule. Many have lost their jobs, their income—or worse, their loved ones. Meanwhile, others have developed severe physical complications or mental illnesses, such as anxiety and panic disorders, that will last them a lifetime.

Given the horrible consequences of this pandemic, I suspect that most of us have wondered, “Can any good come out of this situation?” The answer is a resounding yes! Every day, we see new heroes rise up who have gone unrecognized for too long: doctors, nurses, teachers, truck drivers, grocery clerks, mail delivery drivers, and many more. They are brightly shining lights that are truly living out the Lord’s command, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV). During this pandemic, we should follow the example of these unsung heroes in our society. Perhaps we are called to step out of our comfort zones to help an elderly neighbor, to volunteer at a food bank, or to sew masks. Whatever the case may be, our new lives should reflect the love of the Lord for others, now and always.

Where can we find hope in difficult times? Surely, all of us recognize that we can find hope in God’s Word. But specifically, we can find hope in the stories of the heroes of the faith who waited patiently on the Lord to rescue them in times of distress. Think of David, who was persecuted by King Saul to the point of death for many years. Throughout this fearful time of testing and trial, David was determined to obey God and trust in His provision and protection. When given the opportunity to kill King Saul, David refused to take matters into his own hands. Instead, David waited patiently on the Lord, and God blessed David greatly for his faithfulness.

In another example, consider the story of Joseph. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery in Egypt, and on top of all this, sent to prison under false accusations! Yet in spite of these terrible events, when given the opportunity, Joseph refused to take revenge against his brothers. Instead, Joseph forgave them! He trusted in the Lord’s providence and provision, and God rewarded Joseph for his faithfulness.

These are just two examples of how we can trust the Lord during difficult times. The Bible is filled with many such stories! We simply need to dig deep into the Word of God and trust that the Lord will take care of all our needs according to His perfect plan. We can endure the present negatives that surround us by focusing on the future positives that await us. Psalm 27:14 states, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (NIV).

Throughout this pandemic, I have had to remind myself to trust in God’s promise that He will take care of all my needs and desires. Some days are easier for me than others. But whatever the day brings, I will actively choose to trust the Lord and help others in any way I can. After all, I know that God loves me, and He will take care of me and reward me for my faithfulness. With this new perspective in mind, as I watch the news and drink my cup of coffee in the morning, I will not fear. God is in control!

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What Hope Can We Have During This Pandemic? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: What other Bible stories inspire you to trust in God?

 

 

Choose Hope!

by Stacy Sanchez

Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.”                                                                                                      Jeremiah 17:7 NLT

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.                                                                                                                                                         ~Helen Keller

“Hope Ashley will be her name!” I decided right then and there, lying on the table as the sonogram tech wiped the gel off of my pregnant belly. She had just revealed that I was having a girl. The tech was so certain of the babies’ gender that she bet me a trip to Hawaii on it. (I should have taken that bet.)

At nineteen, I was not ready to be a mother. I was living at home with my parents without a way to support a baby. The father of my child – who had just pledged his undying love to me the week before – decided he didn’t want any part of this and left me to figure it out on my own.

“I choose hope,” I repeated over and over to myself. Probably to make sure that I believed it. “Please, God, bring hope from these ashes.”

Four months before the sonogram appointment, I sat in a doctor’s office waiting to hear the results of my pregnancy test. As the doctor walked into the room, I could tell by the look on his face the answer. Emotionless, he announced, “You’re pregnant. Don’t make this into a bigger problem. Get an abortion and get on with your life. Schedule it at the front desk.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t. Silently, I hung my head in shame. Across my chart the doctor wrote in large letters: ABORTION, and exited the room, leaving me alone to dress.

There was no sleep to be had that night. I didn’t want to have an abortion. I believed abortion to be wrong. But I didn’t know what else to do. As I tossed and turned under the embellished sheets that expressed my youth, my mind raced with what people would think of me. I was a “good girl”. It would be shocking to learn that I was pregnant. (Thirty-three years ago, there was a stigma placed on a teenage, unwed mother – especially among Christians.) And, now, I had an abortion scheduled?

Although I may have been too young to be a mother, I made up my mind that I was going to have my baby. Thankfully, I had a supportive mother and church that rallied around me. They became “Jesus with skin on” for me. They loved me through this and helped me learn to love myself again.

“It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me” (Philippians 3:12-14 CEB).

God uses our mistakes and hard times to grab hold of us and not let go. He wants us to grow up into Him for his glorious purposes. I held on tight and chose to hope. Everyday? No. Was it easy? Heck no! It was crazy hard. But, I chose, very purposefully, to be hopeful. Not a Pollyanna type of hope, but one that balanced realism with optimism. A hope that recognized my present difficulty and believed that somehow, someway, God would bring good from this. And, he did!

Just like the many redemption stories in the Bible, God resurrected the ashes of my life for his glory. I not only gave birth to a precious baby BOY!—yes, boy!—but when I was eight months pregnant, God brought my husband into my life. Together, we went on to become a family of seven.

I wish that I could say that I learned all that needed to know about God’s faithfulness in those hard days. Instead, I have given God more opportunities to prove himself faithful than I want to admit. But, in turn, He has given me many more reasons to be hopeful and to pursue it.

Lord God, when we are experiencing hard times, please help us to choose hope, even when everything seems bleak and utterly hopeless. Only you can take our mistakes and turn them into something beautiful. You bring hope from ashes and turn sadness into exceeding joy. Father, you have proven yourself faithful over and over. Thank you! Help us to put our trust in you – again. Amen.

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Choose Hope! – #Encouragement from Stacy Sanchez on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

stacy sanchezAbout the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog, writetotheheart.org, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: How has God proved Himself faithful to you?

God’s Got This

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.                                                               1 Samuel 30:6b ESV

I’d been praying about my situation for weeks. Friends as well as our pastors were praying for me, yet I still wasn’t at peace. This particular Sunday when I walked into church, the pastor must’ve sensed my discouragement or seen it by the look on my face.

During the worship service, he walked up to me and said, “God’s got this. You know that, right?”

I nodded in agreement. I knew God had it all under control, but the pastor’s question kept echoing in my brain. I mulled it over all afternoon. Did I really trust God with my situation? And if so, why was I still feeling down?

When we offer our most desperate prayers to God, we trust Him to work on our behalf with His love, mercy, and peace. We know we can rely on Him in our daily decisions and toughest challenges. But honestly, when I’m facing those challenges, it’s hard to stay positive, even when I’ve given it to God in prayer.

David knew this. In today’s key verse, David felt alone because of his circumstances. He had no one to turn to for prayer support. In fact, all his men were so distressed, they talked about taking it out on David. When he had nowhere else to turn, he knew where to find encouragement. He “strengthened himself in the Lord.”

“Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, ‘Bring me the ephod’” (1 Samuel 30:7 NIV). (The ephod was a decorated priestly garment that Abithar had brought to David in 1 Samuel 23:6.)

Holding the ephod, David sought the Lord and His will in their situation. Even though surrounded by men weeping in despair, David turned to God and discovered hope: the promise for certain victory over the enemy.

Sometimes in life, we will be surrounded by the faithful prayers of family and friends. Our hearts will be uplifted as we know others are holding us up in our trial. Then there will be other times when we feel alone and unsure where to turn. We’ve prayed, but we still feel discouraged. In those moments, we cannot give in to despair. Instead, we must encourage ourselves with the Truth.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Are you in a place of discouragement, even after crying out to God in prayer? Are you struggling to feel the peace that passes understanding? Let’s take our example from David today. We will have moments when we feel down, but that doesn’t have to stop us from seeking the One who never fails us. God promises to provide for our needs, and we can trust Him. Let’s remember His promises as we say these words together:

I will encourage myself today in what I know to be true. God’s got this.

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God’s Got This – encouragement from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brown

About the author: Kristine Brown is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan. Discover more encouragement from Kristine to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at her website,  kristinebrown.net.

In her new book, Over It. Devotional for Teen Girls, Kristine uncovers the truth about comparison. Teens will discover that they are not alone in the struggle and will find contentment in their God-given identity. Through personal stories and easy-to -understand biblical thinking, Over It offers help and hope. Come along for the journey, beautiful girl. This book is for you.

Join the conversation: What do you know about God that encourages you to trust Him?

 

Hope through a Little Baby

bLucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.                                                                                 Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

Our greatest Christmas 2019 gift is the birth of a new baby this fall — my new grandson in New York.

But as I witness the news of suffering, homeless war-torn and starving families struggling to survive the upcoming winter, I cannot help but think of so many through the years who were brought hope—through the birth of a baby.

The year 1809 was a bleak and dismal time for giving birth. With the ruthless dictator Napoleon determined to conquer the world, there was little hope left in anyone’s heart. Yet in that one year alone, babies who were destined to change the world were born – Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, William Gladstone, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edgar Allan Poe, Cyrus McCormick and Felix Mendelssohn.

While no one noticed.

Millennia before, very few noticed a young couple arriving in Bethlehem, who were forced to spend the night in a stable and give birth to their baby there. But God knew. He orchestrated this humble birth as the beginning for the child who would literally change the course of history – Jesus Christ.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7 NRSV

Do you ever wonder what this birth was really like?

Allow me to borrow the description of favorite storyteller Max Lucado: “A more lowly place of birth could not exist. Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is… The mystery of the event still puzzles him. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty.

“At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel, ‘His kingdom will never end.’ He looks anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being. This newborn baby is majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.” (Max Lucado, His Name is Jesus: Promise of God’s Love Fulfilled).

I picture that scene surrounded by the music of a fifth century carol, “O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race; And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore! (“Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” Aurelius Prudentius)

Babies. Birth. Hope.

May you and yours treasure the quiet and peaceful moments that are waiting for you during this holy and yes, hope-filled, Christmas week.

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Hope through a Little Baby – encouragement from @LucindaSMcDowel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

LucindaSMcDowell.19 (2)About the author: Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while helping people to choose a life of serenity and strength. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the award-winning author of 15 books. Whether co-directing the ReNew Retreat, pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages.

Lucinda’s latest book, Life-Giving Choices: 60 Days to What Matters Most, is a devotional book designed to help you discover what brings life, joy, and meaning. While there are myriad ways in which we can choose to spend our lives, only a few essentials truly matter. “Don’t settle for the good when you can choose the best.”

Join the Conversation: What are you waiting for?

The Telltale Tail (No, I’m not stuttering!)

by Sheri Schofield

It is autumn here in Montana. The air is crisp and we have had our first snow. It’s that time of year when bucks fight each other, competing for does. So it did not surprise me when I saw two bulls locking horns the other day in their corral. There were no cows around to notice, so they were being very careful with those long, sharp horns. But I knew they were having fun fighting because they were wagging their tails!

Sometimes I think it is a huge disadvantage that people don’t have tails. Have you ever wondered how another person was responding to you? If he or she had a tail, you would know! Serious face and straight out tail: “I don’t like you! I may attack!” Tucked tail: “I’m nervous and a little bit afraid.” Smiles accompanied by small wags: “I am willing to get close and see how we get along”.  Happy smiles and joyfully wagging tail: “I am soooooo glad to see you!” Then there’s the ever-popular male greeting of serious face and wagging tail: “Let’s fight!”

But then, animals don’t lie. Except for cats.

If the world had a tail, I think it would have a straight face and wag its tail, just like dogs circling each other preparing to attack. The world is engaged in battles at every level. Nations attack nations. People attack people. Even children fight each other over toys. It is our nature, just as it is the nature of animals, to fight or to run away in fear.

But someday, the Prince of Peace will return to this earth. The lion will lay down with the lamb. Men will hammer down their weapons and turn them into plows, and there will be peace.

The Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and to fill our hearts with peace. He brings us a foretaste of heaven. Those who surrender their lives to the control of the Holy Spirit will exude love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23, NLT).

Imagine a world filled with those qualities. What a world it would be! Imagine a church filled with those qualities. That is what Jesus intends. But even the early apostles struggled with their human nature, a nature that goes against God’s peace. Remember Paul and the conflict he had with Barnabas over John Mark, who couldn’t take the struggle of missionary work and went home? That’s just one example. And these struggles continue in Jesus’ church today.

We cannot change our world. We can only influence it. We cannot change our churches. But we can surrender our own hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit and allow the peace and love of Jesus to flow toward those around us, both inside and outside the church. The more Christians surrender to the Holy Spirit, the more we will see lost souls turn to Jesus, for love is a magnet to those who are searching for hope. Where there is love, there is hope. This hope blossoms into faith in Jesus and blooms into eternal life.

So today, I’m going to smile. If I had a tail, I’d wag it at you. Pass it on!

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.   Isaiah 54:10 NIV

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The Telltale Tail (No, I’m not stuttering!) – Sheri Scholfield on @AriseDailyDevo  (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: What has been your more recent experience in hearing from the Holy Spirit?

Where to Find Hope When You Fear the Future

by Tammy Kennington @TammyKennington

I can’t sleep. Anxiety has wrapped its vice-grip around my stomach and presses hard on my chest. My turbulent thoughts spin and quicken my pulse. Bile rises in the back of my throat as one silent, dooming message after another ticks across the screen of my mind. Help me, Lord! I don’t utter the words aloud, but they pour from my soul, thick with worry and fear.

I know I’m supposed to pray for the dear ones on my heart. But I can’t even imagine a good outcome. How could anything worthy or beautiful come from an ugly, sin-ridden situation like this one? How can God possibly bring something beautiful from the rubble?

I persist in whispering prayers to the heart of my Father as the day moves on. The situation continues to be on my mind, still preoccupying me at times. But eventually the anxiety begins to fade as He reminds me about His faithful provision to His children, repeated in history time and time again.

When Naomi lost hope, God gave her Ruth.

When Mary heard of Christ’s impending birth, God sent her to Elizabeth.

When David faced the sword of the king, God offered protection through Jonathan.

When Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendego walked through the fire, the Lord stood with them.

When the waves washed over Peter, Jesus pulled him from the depths.

When the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome, Christ rose from the grave.

We all experience both ends of each spectrum: joy and sorrow, celebration and grief, delight and despair. Because we live in a world designed by God but polluted by the enemy, our experiences will oscillate between glimpses of heaven and encounters with hell.

For. A. Time.

Then Christ will scoop each of His children up into the arms of eternity. The sorrow? Destroyed. The grief? Overcome. The despair? Decimated. Instead, we will only know and remember the love, mercy, and grace of the God who brought us through it all.

I long for the timelessness of all that is good and beautiful, don’t you? In the meantime, though, our wrestling with worry, anxiety and fear can take a back seat to the faithfulness of God.

If He extended grace before the cross, what will He do for you now? Oh, Friend, you are safe beneath His wings.

Perhaps you’re struggling this week in the same way I have. Why not recite these words of hope as a proclamation of God’s love for you? Complete the blanks with your name as a reminder that you are beloved by Him:

When _______________ was without hope, God gave her new life in Jesus.

When ________________ faced impending trials or accusations, God was her shield.

When ________________ walked through the fire, the Lord stood with her.

When the waves washed over _________________, Jesus pulled her from the depths.

While the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome __________________, Christ had already won her victory.

Print off this list of verses to pray over and recite when the enemy comes at you with fear and anxiety. And fight Satan’s lies with the truth.

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Where to Find Hope When You Fear the Future – insight from @TammyKennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy leads women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them. The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy has Moving From Pain to Peace: A Journey Toward Hope by [Kennington, Tammy]also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications.

Does emotional pain and suffering hold you back from experiencing joy? Moving from Pain to Peace provides hope and healing through hands-on study of Biblical truths, journaling and prayer. Why not take the first step toward recovery from your wounds today?

Join the conversation: What helps you the most when you are consumed by anxiety or fear?

Hope that Bubbles

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.                          Romans 15:13 CSB

I would’ve appreciated the comment. Except…Alka-Seltzer.

Every now and then, an extra-grace-filled person tells me I have a “bubbly personality.” Isn’t that sweet? It makes me think of happiness and fun and sparkling party punch in a splashy hot tub—and I take it as a compliment.

Unless I overanalyze it. That’s what I did not too long ago. As a matter of fact, I overanalyzed a lot of the happy-fun right out of it. Because I would think of bubbles and my mind would take me straight to…Alka-Seltzer.

I’ve tried. I really have. Just can’t drink it. I know that stuff can help a sick stomach. But I’ve always had trouble getting past the fact that it’s…churning. If I’m holding a glass of it, it has to mean my stomach is already churning, right? So this “glass of churn” is supposed to fix my stomach churn? I find that hard to swallow. In every way. Every. Way.

Especially since when I let my mind dwell on the churn too long, I start thinking about butter. Churning butter. It’s not a happy-fun thought for a person who really should swallow that Alka-Seltzer.

Analyzing from another direction, if I’m going to be bubbly, I want to bubble in the right way. Paul talks about how God fills us to the point of bubbling over in Romans 15:13. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (CSB). Know what’s better than happy-fun bubbles? Being so filled with joy and peace that we overflow with hope. It’s hope that effervesces!

Some days, life here on this earth seems like anything but a sparkly party. Our tendency—even our habit—can be to focus on the negatives. Every little bellyache looks bigger from that place of hopelessness. Getting stuck in a pattern of negative thinking will breed more negative thinking—and we can find ourselves drowning in gloom instead of overflowing with hope.

So where do we find hope that overflows? According to that verse in Romans 15, we find it from the God of hope—the one who does the hope-filling and who packages it with joy and peace—“by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The “as you believe” of the passage is from the Greek word pisteuein. It refers to a belief that’s wrapped in faith, trust and confidence. As we find our pisteuein in our God of hope, we see Him build even the smallest hope into the kind that radically revolutionizes a life.

There’s a bonus. Others love to be near a hope that overflows. They love it when some of that hope bubbles over and splashes onto them. You won’t find many who go out of their way to hang around a hopelessly negative person. But those joy, peace and hope bubbles? They attract people.

If you’re not overflowing in hope, maybe stuck in some of those negatives without much joy or peace, could I give you a little encouragement? Because there is hope available to you. The God of Hope wants you to have it. His Holy Spirit lives inside you, ready to power up that hope. Have faith in the God of Hope. Trust Him. Joy and peace is swimming in it, and there’s hope enough to splash around in.

And that makes better bubbles. Not butter bubbles. Nope, eternally better bubbles.

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Hope that Bubbles – insight from @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 is it about God that floods you with hope?

Winter Won’t Last Forever

by Sheri Schofield

Winter is over. The birds have started coming back. The snow is slowly melting and I can see patches of green starting to show here and there. Soon yellow bells, shooting stars and paschal lilies will start blooming. The land is awakening after a long, cold winter, and soon I’ll be able to trek through the mountain meadows again looking for signs of new life.

Israel went through a long, cold winter once. For over four hundred years, God had been silent. No prophecies of hope. No encouragement from above.

Then one night, an angel appeared in the night sky outside Bethlehem! He did not appear to the town leaders, but rather, to humble shepherds. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” . . .  Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:9-14, NLT)

Out of nowhere – in a time of hopelessness – God sent his one and only Son to redeem the world from sin and the power of the devil.

We find ourselves once again in a time of spiritual hopelessness. So many in our nation have turned their backs on Jesus. Oh, yes, there was a time of excitement when some of the Christian leaders began talking about the signs of his return to earth. They got everyone’s hopes up. One leader declared that Jesus would be here by 1980. Then the year 2000 was supposed to be the big year. But now we find ourselves in 2019, and few are talking about the return of Jesus anymore. The years of anticipation seem to be gone, except for a few who are still looking for signs of his coming.

How do we keep that hope alive after so much hyped up enthusiasm and disappointment?

The people of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day thought that the kingdom of God was going to come at once. But when Jesus approached the city, he told them a parable:

“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back’” (Luke 19:12,13 NLT).

When the king returned, only two of the servants had invested the money that had been entrusted to them. They were rewarded with the great responsibility of presiding over cities in the kingdom. But the servants who had failed to follow his instruction were reprimanded, and the money he had given them was taken away.

It has now been over 2,000 years since Jesus told that parable. Remember, the servants were to wisely invest “until I come back.” He is coming. But while that coming is imminent, He does not ask us to live on the edge of excitement, trying to predict when he will return. No. He wants us to serve him, to use the gifts he has given us to build the kingdom. . .  until he returns.

God does not count time the way we do. His priority is giving each soul a chance to come to him. But some ordinary day when nobody is expecting him, Jesus will burst into the scene and every eye shall see him come! Let’s use our time and gifts wisely to bring Him glory until He does.

Out of winter will burst full spring, and winter will be over forever!

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ “ Revelation 21:2-4 NIV

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Winter Won’t Last Forever – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years,  Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: How are you using your time and gifts for the kingdom?

Don’t Just Survive – Thrive!

by Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner @SGiesbrecht

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.                                                                                                                                                   Psalm 145:14 NIV

I’m intrigued by stories of personal injury survivors. Is it possible to survive a free-fall from the Sears Tower in Chicago? The answer is yes. Or what if you fulfill a lifelong dream of skydiving, and your parachute fails, could you survive the fall? The answer is still yes. The wikiHow site says, “Hundreds maybe thousands of people have fallen from such heights and lived to tell the tale.”

You and I can increase our chances of physical survival by putting their helpful hints to use. We may not fall from a plane, but accidental falls happen when we least expect them. It’s just a part of life.

Beyond the literal, physical ways we trip, teeter, or collapse, life can bring spiritual or emotional challenges that can move us out of our comfort zones. Facing those things can plunge us into aimless descent. Ever feel like you’ve been tripped up by an addiction? Tormented by shame? Slipped up by doubt? Fallen headlong into depression?

God is near and waits for us to ask Him for help to get back up when the circumstances of life knock us into a downward spiral.

I’ve found it helps for me to reach out to Him in times of difficulty: like doubt, despair, depression, disappointment, disease, destruction, divorce, discouragement, domestic violence or grief. Even when I don’t really feel like asking for help, God’s hand is already extended to me. His will for us when we are down and out is for us to turn to Him and ask for a hand-up, lacing our fingers with His. God’s will for us is completeness and wholeness. He wants us to more than survive. He wants us to thrive! Psalm 145:14 says, “God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (MSG).

Dear Lord, thank you for reaching out to help me get back up. I choose to hold on to you. Thank you for giving me a hand, for giving me a fresh start and for allowing me a second chance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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Don’t Just Survive – Thrive! @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheryl giesbrechtAbout the author: Exchanging hurt for hope is Sheryl Giesbrecht’s focus—a message she shares with audiences as a radio and television personality, author and speaker. She served as Focus on the Family’s columnist for Pastor’s Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family Magazine and many others.

Sheryl is the author of It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth (Redemption Press, March 2018). When we don’t get answers or see God’s guiding hand, it’s hard to keep moving forward in faith. Does God see me? Does he hear me? Does he care? Many Christians confuse doubt with unbelief and are afraid to admit those fears, but God is not threatened by our questions, and doubt does not negate our faith. Find a deeper understanding of the role doubt plays in your spiritual growth–and how learning to doubt your doubts enables faith to prevail.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced God’s saving power when you were down and out? Please share!

Grief, Daffodils, and the Resurrection

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

The daffodils blooming in my front yard have a sweet history, a special significance. Before being transplanted to my Texas home, these bulbs spent a quarter of a century buried in the earth in my parents’ backyard about 250 miles away in Louisiana. Then two years ago, my parents’ failing health necessitated a move. We had to sell the house that had been their home for almost 50 years.

Although it wasn’t the right time of year to transplant bulbs, I couldn’t leave them behind – at least not all of them. I dug up a few dozen daffodil and iris bulbs, tucked them into a brown paper bag, and stored them in a cool, dry place. That fall, I planted them in the ground in my own flower beds and waited. They didn’t bloom the first spring, but the green leaves pushed out of the ground and grew tall, showing signs of life, and promising more to come.

This spring, the sunny spring flowers that adorned my mother’s garden for so long now brighten my own front walk. And God is using the daffodils’ presence to comfort me in my grief. My father passed away a few months ago and my mother suffers from the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. Although Mom’s body is living out her last days in a memory care facility, we really lost her a while ago.

I miss them both. But my parents loved the Lord and had placed their faith in Christ for eternal salvation. I know my father is with Jesus now and I know my mother’s eternal future is secure. And because I also have placed my faith and truth in Jesus, I will see them again. Like the burial of the bulbs was the prelude to new life, my parents’ death will also yield to life.

Jesus made this eternal life possible through His own death, burial, and resurrection. In fact, any of us who put our trust in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross will receive forgiveness for our sins and new spiritual life in place of spiritual death, eternal separation from God.

The yellow daffodils in my yard also remind me that Easter is near. Easter celebrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These precious truths comprise the Gospel – the eternal, life-giving good news for all people of all time. The apostle Paul summarized the good news of the Gospel this way:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved… that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross paid the debt our sin deserves, providing our forgiveness (1 Corinthians 5:12). The miraculous resurrection of Jesus makes resurrection possible for all who belong to Him (Romans 8:11).

The next time you see a daffodil remember God’s eternal provision. Burial bursts forth in resurrection. Eternal life overcomes the temporary sting of death.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep…For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ will all be made alive.   1 Corinthians 15:20, 22 NASB

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Grief, Daffodils, and the Resurrection – insight from @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.

Join the conversation: How has the certainty of life after death impacted your life?