Living in Grace Will Guide Our Words

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

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

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

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

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

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

I came up with this list of reminders and steps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 ESV

Around the fifth century, as the story is told, Irish raiders stole an adolescent named Patrick from his family and enslaved him for six years until he escaped back to his family in Britain. After entering the church, Patrick returned to Ireland – to the people who had held him in slavery – serving them as a missionary and spreading the truth of Jesus Christ.

Patrick is quoted as saying, “Before I was humiliated, I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.”

In his studies, Patrick must have read the story of a boy named Joseph, favored by his father above all his brothers. One day, out of jealousy for their father’s attentions, the brothers conspired to kill Joseph, but instead sold him to passing slave traders.

Joseph was enslaved in Egypt but found favor with the man he served. Once again, though, despite Joseph’s innocence, he was falsely accused and imprisoned. Any one of us would have been tempted to sink into self-pity, bitterness, and anger. Joseph’s faithfulness had been once again repaid with injustice and humiliation. During his imprisonment, Joseph, again, distinguished himself for his faithful work.

Finally, Joseph was freed and rose to be second only to Pharaoh. God used him to serve and deliver not only the nation where he served as a slave, but also his family, the very brothers who betrayed him. By the time he saved them, he, like St. Patrick, had found a greater purpose to his trials than they could ever know.

To celebrate St. Patrick is to celebrate the power of the One True God who continues to work in those of us stones that lie in modern mud, in those of us betrayed or victims of injustice, in those of us who suffer despite our faithfulness and love.

Today, before you don the green, cook up the corned beef, or raise a pint, consider those who have committed wrongs against you – those who perhaps held your spirit captive  – and choose, like St. Patrick and Joseph, to forgive them, maybe reach out to them, to serve in the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

People harmed many of us in our youth. Like St. Patrick who was taken captive, or Joseph, the dreamer, sold by his brothers into slavery, we experienced harm and a certain type of bondage that interrupted our direct track to growing as we thought we should. St. Patrick and Joseph both found the power of God to be stronger than the power of those who had done them wrong.

They overcame through the spirit of Jesus Christ and not only broke free but forgave those who wronged them. Rather than being crippled by their captors, they translated their experiences into the language of God’s love and wove it into a greater story.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to celebrate a kind of freedom that many still have not experienced. The freedom to forgive those who have harmed us and to live our lives defined – not by them – but by our devotion to the truth and to Jesus Christ.

It isn’t an easy path. But it is a possible path. Jesus. Jesus is the Way.

Ask Patrick. He found the road. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. It is a celebration of those, freed by Christ, who spent their freedom serving others.

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The Best Way to Celebrate St. Patrick – insight from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been given a rock? What deeper issues did it lead you to question?

Join the conversation: When did you receive the correct diagnosis on you spiritual ailment?

 

I Confess, I am a Hoarder

 by Lori Wildenberg @LoriWildenberg

I showed no mercy. This year, as I was preparing to decorate for Christmas, I got brave enough to finally ditch the ornaments I no longer display. My collection was significantly reduced. It feels good to scale back. As my purged pile of give-aways grew, God impressed upon me that I hang onto lots of things– and not just material ones.

It’s true: I am a spiritual hoarder.  I cling to poor habits and negative characteristics. YIKES.

During this Christmas season, with God’s prompting, I have challenged myself to ditch the qualities that look more like me and less like the babe in the manger.

I have 10 goals that I know will help my spiritual hoarding tendencies.

  1. I need to freely forgive. When I’ve hurt someone, I want to be forgiven. Why would I not be willing to give it when another has wronged me? Lord, replace my unforgiving heart with a forgiving heart. I want to be quick to forgive. (Matthew 18:21)
  2. I need humility. Pride divides. It gets in the way of any relationship and family closeness. Lord, one of the six things You hate is haughty eyes. Please replace my stubbornness with humility. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
  3. My love for people needs to be unconditional. Love is a gift. It isn’t meant to be parceled out, divided, or earned. Lord, give me the supernatural capacity to love when it is hard. (Matthew 5:43-48)
  4. Generosity needs to be my first response. The All About Me syndrome –my time, my resources, my feelings, my perspective has been ruling me too long! To cure this malady, I will be a servant and try to see things from God’s point of view. Lord, remove my selfishness, give me eyes to see what you see and create a servant attitude in my heart. (Mark 9:35)
  5. Contentment should define my attitude. I need to remember all that God has given me in His goodness and generosity. Lord, take away my dissatisfaction and replace it with contentment in the abundant blessings You have given me, so a thankful and grateful heart can blossom. (Philippians 4:11)
  6. I must make people my priority. The present of presence is the most meaningful gift of all. Lord, I am easily distracted by my list of to-dos. Remind me daily that people are more important than what I think I should be accomplishing. (Mark 10:13-16)
  7. Kindness must mark my interactions. Compassion and understanding is the glue that holds families together. Lord, replace my critical spirit with kindness. Nudge me to speak life by being positive and encouraging. (Ephesians 4:29)
  8. I need to think before I react. Rather than allowing strong emotions to rule me, I want to manage difficult situations with wisdom, love, and peace. Lord, help me to respond to difficult moments in a way that honors You. Teach me to address disagreements agreeably. (Proverbs 12:16)
  9. I want my home to be one that emphasizes participation and pitching in. A place where people care so much about each other that they want to do life together. I want us to function like a family instead of roommates and boarders, fostering relationships that will last a lifetime. Lord, wipe away my spirit of independence and exchange it for a dependence on You and interdependence with my family members. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
  10. Most of all, I want to become more like Jesus. I want to put myself aside and keep my eyes focused on Him. Lord, I want to reflect you in all I do. (Matthew 11:29)

Of course there’s no hope of accomplishing any of this on my own. A true change will require supernatural intervention by the One who shows us a better way. Praying for His help is the most effective weapon to fight my negative tendencies. And of course, learning more about Jesus is the way to become more like him…and less like me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.                                                                                               Galatians 5:22-26

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I Confess, I am a Hoarder – insight from @LoriWildenberg on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori WildenbergAbout the author: Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. She’s a national speaker, parent coach, and author of 5 books, including The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections. 

How do we create an atmosphere for connection while living in the messy moments of parenting? The Messy Life of Parenting shows you small changes you can make now to build lasting family relationships, even when the going gets tough.

You can subscribe to Lori’s blog or invite her to speak at your event by heading to her website: www.loriwildenberg.com. You can also find her hanging out on IG and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What qualities do you want to ditch so you can look more like the King in the cradle?

 

It All Starts in the Mind

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

You’d never know it to look at me, but I am an expert at dieting. I’m on a first name basis with the ladies at Weight Watchers. Sugar-free Jell-O jumps off the shelf into my grocery cart as I walk by. I can recite the points value of most foods on demand. My overweight status is not a reflection of dieting ignorance, believe me.

So far I am down 17 pounds since April. For some reason, I am sticking with it this time around. I think it has a lot to do with discovering that dieting is really a two-step process. The first step is to gain the proper mindset. Vegetables are our friends. Exercise is a good thing. Hunger means fat is burning. Once the brain is in gear, now the dieter is ready to begin taking actual measures to lose weight. Exercising portion control, reducing fats and carbs, and planning ahead are all actions that will move the dieter toward her goal.

What started in the mind must become a lifestyle.

This two-step process rings true for our spiritual lives as well. Jesus demonstrated this for us. Philippians 2:5-6 (NASB) shows us how Christ’s mindset played a key role in His coming: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped…” Before descending to earth, Jesus completely gave up His privilege, rank, and honor. All that He had and deserved He set aside for the sake of His mission: redeeming those He loved.

Step One: Get the right mindset. As we follow Christ’s example, we, too, must give up our claim to rights and privileges. Like Jesus, the desire for things like proper recognition and standing, all those things that make us special in man’s eyes, must be voluntarily set aside. As Americans, this is almost foreign to us! We prize our rights highly. When they are ignored, we feel victimized. Yet when we follow Christ, the right mindset—complete humility with no thought to ourselves—is crucial.

Paul did not stop there. For Jesus, thought led to action. “[He] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Christ’s actions were a reflection of His attitude. He did not come as a king or a member of any privileged class. When the magi came from the east to find the king, they went straight to the palace. Where else would a king be born? Certainly not in some dirty stable.

But Christ left privilege and rank completely behind. He was born to common folks from a town of no consequence. He lived out His ministry with “no place to lay His head.” Paul calls Him a bond-servant (Philippians 2:10), the lowest of ranks. When it happened, the climax of Christ’s ministry was what you would least expect from the King of Kings. It was not when He rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It was when He hung on a cross several days later, like a common criminal, bearing the crushing load of the world’s sin. Crucifixion was considered a shameful death, and an embarrassment to family and all who knew Him.

Christ’s every action was governed by His complete submission and obedience to the Father. In our imitation of Him, our actions must flow out of that same attitude. What will following Christ’s example look like in our lives? How will an attitude of surrender be fleshed out as we live?

It will be seen in the small, every day decisions we make to put others ahead of ourselves. We will serve, not to get acknowledgement, but simply in response to what God has done for us. Our own agenda will be put aside in the interests of God’s purposes. We will voluntarily submit our will to His.

It all starts with a mind-set of submission and humility. Challenging, to be sure. We are much more prone to look out for number one. But it can be done. Jesus showed the way with His perfect example of obedience to the Father’s will. He is not asking anything of us that He has not already done Himself.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 NASB

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It All Starts in the Mind – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About 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. 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.

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

Join the conversation: What other facets of Jesus’ example mean the most to you?

Knowing Who We Are Not

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @lorisroeleveld

He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” John 1:20-21 ESV

As vital as knowing who we are is knowing who we are not – and accepting that.

To my mother’s despair, I’ve always been a sensible shoe girl. I grew up studious, bookish, and serious about God and didn’t see the allure of shiny shoes. I was happy with a brown pair for every day, one black pair for Sundays, and sneakers.

My mother had an entire closet devoted to shoes. It sported every color imaginable, heels of varying heights, and, of course, purses to match. She always looks polished and lovely, but it seems exhausting to me to switch purses all the time and shop for the perfect shoes for each outfit.

When I began speaking to women’s groups, I fretted about my shoe situation. I imagined rooms full of women like my mother quietly assessing my boring, sensible shoes. Suddenly, speaking didn’t feel as much about my message as it did about what was on my feet.

It’s not that I wanted to change myself for them as much as I wanted the women to know I respected them enough to work at my appearance. I didn’t want my footwear to distract them from what God had given me to share.

So, I shopped for heels with lovely colors and practiced walking in them. I developed a modest collection, weathering blisters and sore ankles in preparation for events. But as much as I tried, I couldn’t feel at home in pretty shoes.

To my dismay, while no audience member may have been distracted by my footwear, I certainly was! The complaints from my feet began to register by the middle of my talks, growing into undeniable screams long before the end. Afterward, I could only half-listen to earnest women trying to share their concerns before rushing to my car for the relief of my sensible shoes.

Providentially, during a home renovation project, several hundred pounds of sheet rock crushed my left foot, leaving me in a boot for months. The orthopedist informed me that my days of wearing heels were over.

I could almost hear God’s sigh of relief.  I was never meant to be a pretty shoe kind of girl. He designed me for sensible shoes. I’ve worn them ever since. And you know what? None of the women to whom I speak have even noticed. How I underestimated the depth of my pretty shoe-wearing friends! I can now give them my full attention without the agony of screaming feet.

John the Baptist not only knew who he was, but also who he wasn’t. This grounded his ministry and prepared him to serve in the way God designed. He came on the scene with such incredible power. And as the crowds flocked to hear him preach, it might have been tempting to consider taking a greater role. But in humility, he accepted that as Christ increased, he must decrease.

Knowing who we are provides us courage in Christ; accepting who we aren’t increases our humility and helps us to see ourselves within the context of a body of believers. This ultimately gives us freedom in Christ to appreciate the varying gifts of others.

And as long as our feet are fitted with the gospel, we can serve in heels, flats, or flip-flops, but in the end we serve together as a body in the name of Christ!

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Knowing Who We Are Not – insight from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

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

Join the conversation: Have you ever tried to be someone you weren’t?

Always Welcome

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

My sturdy little old Ukrainian grandmother was quite a character. In her old age, she came to despise anyone in the medical profession, especially nurses. During a brief stay in the nursing home, she once mistook my mother for a nurse when Mom entered my grandmother’s room. Grandma grabbed my mom and threw her across the floor; “Get out of here!” she snarled.

Shaken, my mom retreated. Standing outside in the hall, she began to wonder if maybe my grandmother hadn’t recognized her. So she attempted to enter again, this time announcing her arrival. “Mama, it’s me, Roberta,” she hesitantly called.

My grandmother greeted her with a big smile, arms opened wide. “Roberta!” she cried. We began to understand why the nurses were not crazy about Grandma.

While Grandma wasn’t fond of nurses, she was always warmly enthusiastic when a family member came to call. I never once doubted my welcome with her. Even the night that my grandfather died, as I arrived at midnight to spend the night with her, she welcomed me enthusiastically and with open arms. “You look hungry,” she told me. And got working right away to make me a poached egg.

I never doubted a warm reception from Grandma because I knew she loved me, unconditionally. Yet there have been times in my life I have doubted my reception with God. Usually it was after I had put my relationship with Him on the back burner and hadn’t talked to Him in days. Now I needed Him, and barely knew how to approach Him without embarrassment. Surely He would see right past any apologies I might offer as to my neglect—and look right into my selfish motives in approaching Him now.

Maybe this time he has had enough of this self-centered, unfaithful daughter of His.

That may be how a fallible human might receive me. But it is not how God, as revealed in the pages of Scripture, will interact with one He loves. James tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NASB).

Did you catch that? Without reproach.

I might have been neglecting God, but He will not neglect me, nor will He ever. Like the father of the prodigal son, He patiently waits for us to turn to Him, ready to receive us back into open arms after we ignore or disobey Him. Later in his letter, James wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4: 8, 10 NASB).

Not once in Scripture, when someone approaches God in humility, are they ever rejected. Even the worst of sinners are freely forgiven and welcomed back into the fold. Every time.

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness… the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3:19-23, 25 NASB

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With God, I’m Always Welcome – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About 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. 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.

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

Join the conversation: What makes you hesitant to approach God?

Humility’s Shining Joy

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

“Humility.” The word was seared on my brain.

At the Florida Christian Writers Conference two years ago, I was dazzled by beautiful Lake Yale. Every morning the lake greeted us with its serenity and offered the perfect retreat for writers. Anne of Green Gables would have called it “the lake of shining waters.”

The sun shining on the lake, however, was blinding. One morning I was hypnotized by the glistening ripples, and I studied them too long. The image of the sun on the water was seared across my vision, and I said a fervent prayer that I wouldn’t lose my sight.

I concentrated on the image with my eyes shut, and I saw a word forming. I blinked once for the word to become sharper and shut my eyes again. The image most resembled the word “humility,” and it was appropriate.

Humility keeps us locked into God and His purposes. When we have success in ministry, it’s easy to get focused on ourselves and our accomplishments. I had a temptation to do that at different points in my writing career, like when I actually won something in a contest at my second writers’ conference. Success can shine like beautiful waters, but it can also blind us to from Whom it came.

What has kept me on my knees in prayer throughout my ministry is knowing the Source of the blessings, and sharing ministry adventures with Him. That brings joy. God faithfully helps us in our ministries, and when we stay dependent on and connected to Him, it’s His love, grace, and truth that impact people’s hearts. Humility is recognizing His work in our lives, and turns into a grateful joy over what He has done.

If anyone could have had pride over success in ministry, it would have been Jesus. But the mindset He chose for Himself was humility. He chose to be born to a humble couple in a humble setting, greeted by humble shepherds. Yet, there was joy present. Angels heralded His birth and the people heard about God’s great gift to us.

His birth displayed humility, and so did His death. Jesus chose to humble Himself “and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV). Yet joy wasn’t missing from His heart even in such a mission. “For the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV). He knew what God would accomplish through His death, and He said yes.

When God calls us to serve Him, humility keeps our hearts tethered to Him and to joy. He is the One who provides wonderful opportunities to help people, and our part is to faithfully follow Him and work hard, and He helps us even with that. Joy comes from sharing the adventure with Him and with the people He has given us to work with.

So when good things happen as a result of hard work, we can rejoice in the One who made them possible. He is the One guiding us on the journey, and the joy of life with Him shines ever so brightly.

He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.  Deuteronomy 10:21 NKJV

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Concentrating on Humility’s Shining Joy – insight from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Join the conversation: How has humility been important in your life?

Persona Non Au Gratin

by Rhonda Rhea

Do you know how glorious it is to speak at an event that’s directed by a thoughtful and gracious event coordinator? Those are the trips that are somewhere near heaven. Ah, to be chauffeured about, fed the best meals from the finest restaurants, then transported to a posh hotel, only to find a gorgeous gift basket already delivered to the room. Bubble bath waiting. Bed turned down. Mint on the pillow. It’s good to be queen.

Okay, no one knows as well as I do that I don’t deserve to be treated like a queen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it, does it?

You know when I truly realize I’ve been unduly treated like royalty? When I get home. It’s like a whiplash back into reality. One second I’m signing books and greeting the complimentary crowds, the next I’m walking in the door to kids who barely manage a deadpan, “Oh Mom, it’s you. I’m glad you’re home–‘cuz we’re out of bread. And somebody must’ve spilled a bunch of milk inside the fridge ‘cuz it smells really nasty in there.”

It’s then I’m suddenly “persona non au gratin”—no longer the big cheese. It’s so funny that I can go straight from the applause of a gracious audience to cleaning the cat box.

While I admit I love my short reigns as queen, I have to tell you that there’s something quite comfortable about coming home to bread-fetching, milk-mopping and cat-box-cleaning servitude. Living with an entire brigade of pride police really isn’t a bad thing.

Humility can be so tricky. Once you realize you have it, it’s probably a point of pride—and then it’s gone! The best way to stay humble is to stay focused on Christ, our example. We’re told in Philippians 2:5-8 to have His attitude. “Let this same attitude and purpose band humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus:  Let Him be your example in humility. Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God, possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God, did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself of all privileges and rightful dignity, so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself still further and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!” (AMP)

Jesus was true royalty, not the temporary, speaking-event kind. He is rightly called the King of all kings. Yet this passage tells us that He didn’t hang on to those rights as royalty. He pushed them aside on our behalf and took on servant status. Imagine leaving the splendor of Heaven (beyond any five-star hotel we can picture) to serve and unselfishly give His life.

I really do want to be like Him. I want to humbly serve before any crowd. And I want to humbly serve as I load my shopping cart with four gallons of milk. The Message phrases Proverbs 15:33b this way: “First you learn humility, then you experience glory.” By His grace, there’s glory before the crowds. I truly believe that in humble surrender, by His grace, there’s glory in the cat box too.

“. . .Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

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 children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What keeps you humble?

Photo by Annie Theby on Unsplash

Broken or Brokenness?

by Ava Pennington

I’m a broken person. I’m also someone who desires to live in a state of brokenness. These may sound the same—and maybe they are to some people—but the difference in my life is huge.

During a recent lunch with a friend, she mentioned a book she was reading on brokenness. Our conversation challenged me to consider brokenness in my own life.

Our world and its inhabitants are broken. Hurting. Seeking something better, even if they don’t know what that “something better” is.

Most would agree this broken world is not a good thing. Our culture has decided we can live a better life apart from a relationship with our Creator. But we were never meant to live apart from God. And the results of this willful independence can be seen everywhere we look. In people. In values and relationships. Even in the natural world around us.

When something is broken, it no longer functions as it should. In our disposable culture, broken things end up in the trash. But in God’s economy, He takes broken people and doesn’t just fix them, He makes them brand new through faith in Jesus Christ.

So as a Christian, I’m no longer broken in the sense that my only future is the junk heap. I’m now able to accomplish the purpose for which I was created. But the only way I can move forward is in a state of brokenness.

Brokenness is a continuing posture of humility and dependence on the One who created and saved me. It’s an accurate view of myself in the light of who God is. One of the best descriptions of brokenness I’ve found is in the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   ~ Matthew 5:3-12 ESV

Or consider these verses:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20 ESV

Total dependence on the Holy Spirit of God. Trusting His leading. Obeying His Word. The result is not just a repair of my broken self to be usable again. The result is that I become more valuable than I was before.

God redeems and increases the value of each person who relies on Him. In our brokenness, the cracks are still visible, but now they are made beautiful by His touch.

I am broken no longer. But I embrace the brokenness that allows His grace to work in and through me for His glory.

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  Isaiah 57:15 ESV

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: How do you cultivate a sense of brokenness?