Hope for a Broken Mess

by Nancy Kay Grace

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 NIV

I ordered a gift for a family member, expecting it to be delivered in time for Christmas, so I could wrap it in bright paper. I imagined it was the perfect gift for the person.

When it arrived, I shook the box and heard pieces rattle on the inside. Something was wrong; the corner of the box was crushed. Upon opening it, small pieces of porcelain fell to the floor. The special gift was a broken mess; my hope of giving it crumbled.

Often we find ourselves in the broken mess of life, sifting through pieces of shattered dreams. We expect things to be perfect, but they end up a disaster. Expectations fall apart.

The world is a broken mess on a large scale, as we’ve seen this year with the many challenges that have made us weary. Individuals are broken mess on a smaller scale with physical or mental health problems, financial troubles, or relationship difficulties. The result is the same, no matter how large or small the scale—pain, disillusionment, and hurt. discouragement and loss of hope abound.

The good news is, that in the middle of our mess, God brings hope.

At just the right time in history, God intervened with a redemption plan for all eternity through the birth of a baby who would be the Messiah. His plan brought a different kind of hope, an eternal hope.

God became like one of us. Jesus came to bring hope to the broken mess of sin in the world. Jesus left the majesty and splendor of heaven to enter our sinful world, for us—to breathe our air and walk on our soil. To redeem our hurting lives from pain and bring us hope in our mess.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus Christ coming into the broken world.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1 NIV).

Jesus read these words from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah at the beginning of his ministry and stated they were fulfilled (Luke 4:18-21 NIV).

What does the prophecy and purpose mean for you and me? When I am poor in spirit or lacking provisions, I can turn to the Savior for hope.

I can rest in the Messiah’s love when I am brokenhearted. God’s word offers comfort. When I need recovery from spiritual blindness, the Lord opens my eyes to see his truth. Jesus offers freedom and forgiveness from the chains of past mistakes and hurts. The love of God reaches us, right where we are, bringing hope to our broken mess.

Whatever you’re facing, may you look to Lord to find hope. It’s one of perfect gifts from the heavenly Father.

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is thankful for the gift of hope in the broken mess of life. She is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives.  

Please visit https://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for the monthly Grace Notes devotional newsletter. https://www.facebook.com/nancykaygrace https://www.instagram.com/nancykaygrace/

Join the conversation: How has the Lord directed you in the past?

The Miracle Gift

by Sheri Schofield

The Apostle Paul, missionary to the Gentiles, had a vision one night. A man from a country across the sea stood before him begging, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (Acts 16:9 NIV).

Paul went. There in Macedonia, he preached the message of salvation and raised up a church for Jesus where hungry hearts longed to hear the message!

Many years ago, the Lord started me on a journey that would lead to my own Macedonia. It all began with a simple request that I made to my pastor one day.

“Pastor Jim, could I please paint a mural on my children’s church wall? I want to paint a picture of Jesus by the Sea of Galilee surrounded by children with the faces of kids in my class. I think it will help them understand how much Jesus loves them.”

“But, Sheri, that’s our fellowship room! We use it for so many other purposes! I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Pastor shook his head.

I couldn’t say that I blamed him. I hadn’t painted in over sixteen years, and I’d done mostly landscapes. But portraits? And after sixteen years? I sighed. I’d felt so sure that this was what God wanted me to do!

The desire did not go away. Instead, it grew. Every now and then, I’d bring it up to my pastor. Finally, after a year and a half, he said, “Okay, Sheri. But don’t get too into it. We may want to paint over it!” Then he left on his summer vacation.

Yes! I had three weeks! It wouldn’t be enough time to cover the space the way I wanted, but I’d get a good start. The wall was textured and in many places almost like stucco. It would mean I’d have to push the paint onto the surface instead of brushing it. The wall was nineteen feet long by seven feet high. What a challenge!

Then the miracle happened. God took my small ability and greatly multiplied it! By the time Pastor Jim returned from vacation, I had painted the background of the Sea of Galilee, a Cyprus tree hanging over the water on one side, and Jesus with three children – each child easily recognizable!

Pastor Jim was speechless. He stood looking at it for a few minutes with wide-open eyes. “How are you doing that?” He finally asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t know, Pastor. I just asked God to help me!”

Eventually, every child in my class was on the wall. When their pictures went up, the children would say, “I’m on the wall with Jesus!” They’d scoot their chairs over to the wall and pat it while I told the lesson. One toddler would break out singing, “Jesus Loves Me” every time she wandered through the room. Every child in that class asked Jesus into his or her heart that year.

And nobody painted over that mural!

I asked God, “What am I supposed to do with this gift?” But He told me to just have fun with it. So I did. I practiced painting, always on the alert for further instructions.

Once I had mastered the craft, the Lord told me to write and illustrate a children’s picture book on the plan of salvation and give it away to the poor! There are now over 3,000 copies of that book circulating in Montana. It has also been translated into Spanish; 2,000 of those are being printed, to be distributed on our southern U.S. border to the immigrants and poverty-stricken towns of Mexico’s Sierra Madres.

This is my Macedonia. I embrace it gladly!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 NIV

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The Miracle Gift – encouragement about God’s call from 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 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!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: How has God gifted you to the benefit of others?

 

Set Free

by Tammy Kennington

I didn’t know her, but the vulnerable thoughts she’d written pierced my heart: “I realized where I was stuck. I was stuck in jealousy–wanting the childhood she had. Wanting. Wishing. But, not having.”

She spoke of jealousy, but I heard something different in her words. Grief. Yearning. Broken-hearted longing. If I had to guess? This woman, like so many, grew up in dysfunction.

She may have been raised in a home with an empty pantry and only harsh, angry words to nourish a girl’s hungry soul. Hers may have been the home other children politely refused to visit because they’d heard the shouting and cursing seeping from the walls in the dark of the night. Or, she might have been the child shivering beneath the covers because the heating bill had been neglected in favor of another bottle of her stepfather’s favorite whiskey.

If that is part of your story? I. Am. Sorry. Something is terribly broken in a world where children grow up with hungry stomachs and hungrier hearts.

You can do something different, dear one.

And if we are honest, we all might admit the truth… even the best families are dysfunctional in one way or another. While not everyone experienced a childhood without a father or cleaned up after an addicted parent, we all know this one thing.

Our. Parents. Were. Not. Perfect.

And, of course, neither are we.

So how can dysfunctional, messed-up people break the chains of familial bondage? Is it even possible to rid ourselves of unwanted habits that have hitched a ride from one generation to the next?

Yes, but not our own power. Instead, we can turn to the one who is All-Powerful.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1 NIV)

But to begin moving in that direction? We need to recognize the hurts and habits that have moved into our marriages and families uninvited. Call them out. Denounce their destructiveness and invite the Holy Spirit into the walls of our homes and hearts.

Unabated sarcasm? Angry outbursts? Shutting down? Shutting out? Whatever the sin. Name it, friend, and He will begin to unfasten the chains.

Invite His correction. Accept His instruction. Trust His direction.

There isn’t a stronghold that can stand when we invite the Helper into our sin-created, self-mandated cage. The walls of resistance are shaken, doors burst open and we step into the light of freedom the moment we acknowledge our weakness.

There may be times we wander back into the dark den that once held us captive, but we don’t belong there. Remember, the day we trusted Jesus we were set free from bondage. The door stands open. Let’s trust Him enough to step across the threshold.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.   Galatians 5:1 NASB

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 hopes to lead 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 also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications. When she isn’t writing, Tammy is likely discovering unmatched socks and candy wrappers tucked beneath the cushions of the couch or drinking a cup of Calming Chamomile tea as her children configure a boxing ring in the front yard with traffic cones and twine.

Join the conversation: From what strongholds has God released you?

Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

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