One Expensive Christmas Gift

by Patti Richter

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. James 1:17 NIV

It’s my favorite holiday, though I don’t observe it well. And since Christmas comes only once a year, maybe I could be excused for still trying to get it right. But maybe not, since I’ve had so many years to practice.

One challenge for me is in gift-giving, because I’ve never enjoyed shopping. I’d rather be writing Christmas cards or making my annual cherry-cream pie. But an even bigger problem for me is gift-receiving, which likely goes back to my childhood. The Santa who visited my first home typically delivered a new pair of basic sneakers and a stocking filled with tangerines and walnuts.

You would think that ho-ho-hum history should make me appreciate more extravagant gifts. Instead, the nicer the gift, the harder it is for me to receive. A recent Christmas casualty was the gift of a red coat from my husband, Jim, who selected the most expensive item on my wish list. But I decided to return it for several reasons: not the fabric I expected; not a perfect fit; too high-priced.

Jim is actually a great gift-giver. Left to himself—without my wish-list—he can select a gift I really need before I even realize that need. I believe this quality has everything to do with Christmas. God gave his most extravagant gift to the world by sending a Savior—before we even realized we needed saving. Yet many potential recipients of God’s Gift have missed out by their right of refusal.

With my analytical outlook, I might have been numbered among those circa A.D. 30 folks who found a reason to reject the Son of God. Plenty of sincere people of faith had doubts about a man who grew up in the obscure town of Nazareth. “’Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked”(John 1:46 NIV).

Pharisees and other religious leaders might have had “enforcer of the Law” on their wish list. Instead, they got a preacher from Galilee, who disturbed their self-righteousness by reminding them of the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”(Matthew 22:37 – 38 NIV). Jesus was not cut from the cloth they expected.  

The zealots—political extremists of their day—wanted a new earthly king more than a heavenly one. They had hoped Jesus would stand on their platform, so they suffered disappointment over the humble man who entered Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. He was the wrong fit for their agenda.

The rich and powerful scrutinized Jesus and grew uncomfortable with some of his words, like, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36 NIV). Some of them decided that following Jesus would be too costly.

For believers, the challenge to get Christmas right can be a distraction from receiving the gift of Christ with greater appreciation. This better goal would include:

  • Accepting his words as good and perfect, when we wish he had said something else.
  • Fitting ourselves to his plans, instead of wanting him to approve ours.
  • Following him when it cost us something to do so.

Don’t miss the reason for all the December celebrating. Receive it as God intended. He is the greatest gift giver.

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation. Have you received Christ., the greatest gift of all?

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The Gifts

 by Dana Peters-Colley

Oh, don’t we love gifts? The surprise. The awe. Our hearts pound when someone cares and thinks of us. Yes, we have rocketed into the season of carols and trees. We’ve plunged into how much to buy and how much to do. Christmas, the tradition, the holiday created by us to celebrate our Savior’s birth. It’s coming and you can’t stop it, ready or not.

But when you think the holiday, do you consider the gifts? Do you consider what gifts God wants to give you? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NLT).

Oh, yeah, I get it. The reason for the season. But let’s unwrap this a bit further. When you consider eternity – it’s so long you have no idea how fabulous it’s going to be. This life, like a tiny dot on a pin for sewing. It’s so small in perspective to what’s ahead for us. God made a way. He loves us so much He wants us to be with Him. Just consider it. Yes, stop and take a big breath and say it out loud. Eternity.

Did it bring you a little calm?

You know, this season can be hectic. We can morph into Martha from the Bible. We power rush through our tasks and miss the point. Christmas cards. That purrrrfect gift. We can lose sight and fall head-first into a pit of productivity. Pressure to please. Big events. Oh, the thief attempts to crash our party and yes, that scary Martha attitude raises its ugly head.

Jesus wasn’t born for that. He wants you to find a rhythm where wholeness abides. Martha’s sister found it. She de-stressed and sat at Jesus’s feet. She encountered His presence. She engaged in what was eternally important rather than the cares of the world.

Remember, the Lord gave us the Comforter. We listen for what He wants us to do. We rest in His Presence. We abide in the Glory. That’s the encounter, the gift God wants you to have this season. He wants your undivided attention to marvel. Take in His beauty, His friendship.

I confess: some in my family don’t like how I do the season. Some years, I only buy stocking stuffers and gift cards. I want them to pick something they really want and often, I have no clue what that is. I enjoy the meal we make, and there are items each person especially likes to eat, so I prepare that. It has brought me balance. So, instead of people pleasing, I’m God pleasing, and that’s what works for me.

The little label I would put on your gift is for you to find what your holiday balance is. Don’t feel bad about some boundaries. Remember when Jesus came, He confronted what was wrong with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He made some waves to bring right balance to the scene. Forgive those who put their expectations on you but seek the Comforter Jesus left us, the Holy Spirit to guide you toward that balance.

Then, this season, enjoy yourself! Find joy. Encounter your heart. Reflect that Jesus gave His life to bring you into the place where He is. Jesus paid for all your gifts in this earth and a forever that extends beyond imaginations. Now that deserves a big bow, doesn’t it?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17 NIV

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

About the author: Dana Peters-Colley is a creative who loves Jesus. She has been tucked away developing a brand of Christian parable books, faith-based fiction, and inspirational books as well as screenplays. Dana holds a B.A. in journalism, studied screenwriting at U.C.L.A., and is a former long-time Disney creative leader and producer. When the Lord got ahold of Dana everything marvelously changed. She is developing a heavenly-inspired brand line that brings stories to build family, inspire discovery, and teach kingdom ways. See danapeterscolley.com to connect to her spiritual blog and gaze at her adventures.

Do you have a friend you want to receive Jesus into their lives? Do you want to receive how much God loves and values you? Do you want to be empowered to do the impossible? Then, you have to know who you are! Treasure will take you into the realization of God’s love for you as you discover you are His treasure.

Join the conversation: How will you keep Jesus as your center during the holidays?

God in the Ordinary

by Julie Zine Coleman

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NASB

Many of us have stories of God’s intervention in our lives. My husband and I sometimes recall the times God’s hand was obvious, like the unexpected twenty dollars left as a gift by my aunt when were just about out of baby formula, or a “chance” meeting that changed the direction of my career. These kind of things were blessings easily discerned and continue to serve as poignant reminders of God’s faithfulness and involvement.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day looked for God to do the extraordinary, proving His presence and involvement. They would not believe Jesus was the Messiah because he was so ordinary in many ways. They believed that the Messiah would somehow mysteriously “appear.” The fact that they knew Jesus’ family, his birthplace, and hometown in which he was raised was enough to keep them from acknowledging Him as the Son of God (see John 7:27).

We tend to look for the extraordinary. But we miss so much of God’s activity in our lives when we only look for the miraculous. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17 NASB) The privilege of working at a job which results in a paycheck, the love and laughter of normal family life, the tender concern expressed by a dear friend, the food we eat, or the roof over our heads all may be ordinary every-day occurrences. Yet each good thing is provision from the Lord. Proof of His care and involvement.

My friend Beth had a group of middle-school girls meet weekly in her home for several years. Included in their weekly activities was “I Spy God,” when Beth would encourage the girls to remember times they saw God’s hand in the previous week. No great miracles were reported. Just the growing awareness of His presence in their lives.

When we can find God in the common, the ordinary, we will better understand His constant presence and involvement. We do not live in a world in which God only occasionally invades. Rather, Scripture reminds us we will never experience His absence. As David wrote: “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139: 7-10 NASB).

The faithfulness of God should not only be measured in the miraculous. While those moments are important and obviously confirming, we lose so much if we ignore the everyday evidences of His presence and provision. It is why we bow our heads at each meal. It is just one moment in our day when we acknowledge His activity on our behalf.

“Morning by morning new mercies I see, all I have needed, thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” (from Great is Thy Faithfulness)

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

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

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose: Understanding God’s Freedom for Women through Scripture, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation. On Purpose was recently awarded the Golden Scrolls 2022 Book of the Year.

Join the conversation: Please share something from the ordinary that reassures you of God’s presence.

Gift Wrapped…for You

by Shirley Brosius

Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.                                                                                James 1:17 NKJV

My grandson Scott gave me two bugs. Oh, not real ones. They are ornamental bugs with a terracotta look. One is dark red; the other, orange. Both sport bulging eyes, multicolored spots, springy metal antenna, and hooks for feet.

One bug hangs on the handle of a mason jar filled with clear yellow balls with a solar lid that lights at night; the other sits by the jar.

The bugs warm my heart because Scott picked them out for me himself. He knows my love of nature and wanted to give me something that his little boy heart loved as well.

I love the gifts I get from grandchildren that reflect their knowledge of who I am.

Perhaps we might view the people, things, and situations in our lives as special gifts God has picked out just for us. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 NKJV). God loves us and is for us. He wants nothing less than His best for us. So we can look around with His eyes, from His perspective. We may not expect certain circumstances, but we can accept them as permitted by God, Who loves us and walks with us through them.

We may take people for granted. Our spouses will always be there to bring home the bread and milk, to take out the trash. Our children may annoy us with antics more often than delight us with cuteness. Our neighbors may be ordinary people whom we rarely see and make little effort to do so. After all, we don’t have that much in common.

Then there are the people with whom we work. Do we know anything about their families? Their cares and their concerns? Their joys and their pleasures?

People in our churches come and go Sunday after Sunday. We say “Hi” and “See you next week.” We may offer friendly greetings, but do we ever invite them into our homes?

But what if God brings people into our lives for specific purposes? What if He means for them to enrich our lives and for us to enrich theirs? We may be missing out by failing to appreciate or get to know them.

We might also look at situations in our lives as provided by a loving God. That burnt dinner. That challenge at work. That car that won’t start.

Challenges bless us with the gift of patience, one of the spiritual fruits listed in Scripture (Galatians 5:22). Challenges force us to rely on others, to work together to solve a problem. And as we do, we serve as God’s image-bearer to a watching world.

Take a second at the people and situations that touch your life. They are God’s gifts to you. How do you feel about them? Is there anything you might do to enhance that relationship?

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 NKJV). Perhaps that means we shall stop wanting what’s on the other side of the street and accept what’s in our own backyards as God’s gift.

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Gift Wrapped…for You – encouragement from Shirley Brosius on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Shirley BrosiusAbout the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she enjoys pass

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ing on her faith—and cookies—to two married sons and five grandchildren.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with accepting certain people or situations in your life as God’s gift to you?

 

Learning to Face Change

by Kristine Brown @KristineBrown43

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

I dislike change. Plain and simple.

Some people are better at handling change than others. My husband, for example, thrives during change. He approaches new situations with a positive attitude and looks at every opportunity as a welcome challenge. I curl into a ball and hide under the covers.

Change can also cause me to panic. I obsess over my options in trying to make the right decision. Do I move forward? Or do I resist the change and stay put? I agonize, praying over the potential challenges, but fail to really trust God to handle the situation.

Fortunately, God’s Word offers the guidance we need when we face change in our lives. So whether I’m a person who runs head-on into change or tucks my tail and runs the other way, I can learn from Scripture how to better handle the changes that come my way.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

When entering a new situation, it’s so easy to look back at how good things were before. I’ve been guilty of this in the past when job transfers took our family to new places. Dwelling on the things we left behind clouded my view of what wonderful things waited for us in our new home. Learning to keep my eyes forward will shift my attitude about change and help me look with excitement toward what lies ahead. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Change gives us the opportunity to experience all God has planned for us.

One of the hardest things about change is following through and allowing God to bring me to a new place of blessing. Once I make the decision to forge ahead, I need to trust God with whatever happens. So often we second-guess our decision when things don’t work out as we thought they would. We wonder if this change was ever God’s will. But staying firm through the change will bring us to a new level of trust in the One who is over all things. Change gives us the chance to exercise our trust muscles!

Even though changes in life are inevitable, God never changes. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV) He remains a constant through this unpredictable life. So as we learn to embrace the changes that will come, let’s focus on our God who is unchanging.

We may not like change, and that’s okay. We can face it with steadfast courage today because of our constant companion, Jesus Christ. And who knows? I just might choose to crawl out from under those covers once and for all and embrace it. Let’s make a choice right now to trust our Heavenly Father when we face change. I can’t wait to see what wonderful things He has in store for us!

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Learning to Face Change – encouragement from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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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: Have you recently struggled with a change? Please share your journey with us!

 

 

The Father of the Heavenly Lights

 by Christina Rose

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17 NIV

There are few things more dazzling than the splendor of the night skies illuminated by the stars, the moon and the vast mystery of the galaxies. I was born into a family of happy campers, and we had great adventures traveling in our Volkswagen bus. We loved to sit by the campfire at night, toasting marshmallows, drinking cocoa, and watching the shooting stars. Sitting together and gazing in awe at the heavenly night sky always felt like praise and worship to me. “Look up into the heavens. Who created the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing” (Isaiah 40:26 NLT).

Years later, I had my own family of happy campers. We purchased our own Volkswagen bus to travel the California coast. Our annual summer camping trips to Carmel and Big Sur were awaited with great anticipation. Each evening we sat by the campfire, gazing in wonder at the heavens, telling stories, toasting marshmallows, and drinking cocoa just as I did when I was a little girl. “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known” (Psalm 19:1-2 NLT).

After many wonderful camping trips, the bus started breaking down, and we needed a new car.  I was now a single mom with limited resources and knew it would take a miracle to get the car we wanted. One Sunday Ashley and I shopped for cars and she spotted a Honda Odyssey SUV with a DVD player that we could not afford. Her little legs barely reached over the passenger seat as she looked up at me with big blue eyes and said, “Mommy, we must have this car.” I looked at her precious, earnest face and wanted with all my heart to buy it for her. We took the brochure home to show her sister Remy who agreed that this was the perfect car for us. We placed it on the dinner table with hopeful hearts.

That evening, I was overwhelmed with despair that I would have to tell my daughters we could not afford this car. The thought of disappointing them was unbearable to me. Once they were asleep, I headed to the backyard to confer with the Father of heavenly lights. I spent many hours under the stars that night praying for His help to buy this car for my daughters. I knew that God delighted in giving His children good things. I chose to trust him on this request. “Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:10-12 NLT)

The next morning, I took the brochure to the office where I worked as a property manager.  I taped it to the wall next to my computer so I could pray over it while I worked. Just a few hours later, the owner of the building walked in. He said, “A friend of mine leases a car for his property manager, and I would like to do the same for you. Is there any car you have in mind that you would like to have?” I took the Honda brochure off the wall, handed to him and said, “This is exactly what we want, in starlight silver with leather seats and a DVD player.” “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:13-14 NLT)

Just a week later, we picked up our new starlight silver Honda with leather seats and a DVD player and headed for Disneyland. In the rearview mirror, I could see both girls deliriously beaming with joy as they decided which movies they would watch in the car on the trip. We have had so many wonderful adventures in our “movie car” for which I have the Father of heavenly lights to thank. Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father, who does not change like shifting shadows.

“Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—His faithful love endures forever. The sun to rule the day, His faithful love endures forever.  And the moon and stars to rule the night. His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:7-9 NLT)

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The Father of the Heavenly Lights – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever sent a priceless gift in answer to your prayer?

Are You Overlooking Your Best Gifts?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

One summer, our four-year-old son drove a friend’s battery-powered three-wheeler. Watching Brant’s joy planted an idea. This would make the perfect Christmas gift.

My husband and I located a red one that December on sale. We stretched our seminary student budget and bought it. I smiled every time I imagined Brant’s surprise on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve we set the gleaming three-wheeler beside the tree. I went to bed anticipating the excitement of the next morning.

But Brant didn’t like his gift. It wasn’t blue—like the one he’d ridden that summer. “But red’s your favorite color,” I reminded him. Didn’t matter, Brant wanted blue.

That year, his friends and sister scooted around on the three-wheeler. But Brant. Wouldn’t. Even. Touch. It.

The next summer we visited my friends again and Brant anticipated riding the blue three-wheeler. He was surprised at how much smaller and more worn it was than his three-wheeler. His attitude toward his vehicle changed. But by this time, because of Brant’s lack of interest and our coming move, Larry had already promised it to a man for his grandchildren.

Our good gift to our son never benefited him, because he rejected it.

I wonder how many times I’ve repeated my son’s story. I missed the joy of a good gift because it didn’t look like what I imagined or wasn’t the color of a friend’s. Worse, how many times have I’ve questioned my Father’s wisdom and love?

When God’s gifts don’t look like we imagined, we feel disappointed or rejected. We can’t imagine that His gift is better than what we asked for.

One year, I had a roommate who didn’t get anything I said. I felt frustrated trying to connect with her. One night in my journal I came across a prayer I’d written earlier to become a better communicator. I laughed to myself. God was answering my prayer, just not in the way I’d imagined. While I’d pictured an easy exchange of ideas, He was teaching me how to listen and express myself in ways that didn’t come naturally.

Do you have prayers that seem to be unanswered? Could you have overlooked the answer because it came wrapped in a blue bow when you expected pink?

It’s not too late to change our attitudes and enjoy God’s good gifts.

  • List the “gifts” you wish were different. Include experiences, personality traits, and people in your life. God already knows your thoughts, so be honest.
  • Ask Him to open your eyes to see them from His perspective.
  • Go down your list and, by faith, thank Him for His promise to work even the bad things together for your good and for the good of all who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

When our four-year old dismissed his Christmas gift, he wasn’t the only one who missed out. Our family missed the joy of him enjoying his gift. Remembering God gives good gifts helps us look for the good. The treasure may be hidden, but we know it is there.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  James 1:17 NIV

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Are You Overlooking Your Best Gifts? – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Has there been a time when you failed to recognize what God gave you as a desirable gift?

Rain from Heaven

by Melissa Henderson @mimionlife

The low country of South Carolina has been receiving “drought condition” alerts for a few weeks. Television and radio forecasters provide hourly, daily, and weekly predictions for weather. Each day, we watch and listen and check our phones with hopes of seeing a forecast of rain. Even a slight drizzle would be nice.

We are not watching for hurricanes this time. We are hoping for rain.

A few times during the day the blue skies have disappeared, and we thought maybe rain was on the way. Not yet. Just a few clouds passing by.

Palm trees which usually have green fronds now have brown tips. The grass is crunchy when we walk across the yard. The pond water is lower than usual. The flowers are thirsty. Water restrictions are in place in some areas.

Prayers are being said across the area, asking God to provide the needed moisture.

Today, my husband and I went to the grocery store. As we left our driveway, I noticed a drop of water on the windshield. I wondered and said out loud. “Is that rain? Could we be getting ready for a shower?”

The excitement of that possibility had us grinning. Maybe, just maybe, rain was coming.

But as we drove through the neighborhood and onto the main street, the rain drops stopped. Oh, well. Perhaps another day. Disappointment took away our smiles.

Rain would be a welcome sight. No floods or dangerous storms, of course. Just a nice slow, long-lasting day of rain would be welcome.

Arriving at the grocery store, my husband parked the car and went inside to make some purchases. I sat in the car and read a book.

Drop. Drop. Drop. Heavy drops of rain began to fall from the sky. I sat watching with eyes wide open, remembering my husband did not have the umbrella with him.

Other people were caught off guard by the rain, too. Men and women sprinted through the parking lot trying to find shelter. I watched as people tried to cover their heads with briefcases, empty grocery bags and their hands. Almost everyone was laughing at the surprise of rain. They were joyful even while being drenched in it.

My husband made his way back to our car. Yes, he was soaked by the rain. We laughed as he sat trying to dry off with one lonely napkin we found in the glove compartment. The rain poured down for another 15 minutes. What a glorious sight and sound!

That wonderful rainfall served as a reminder to us of God’s faithful presence and provision. James wrote that every good gift comes from the Father of Lights (James 1:17). Jeremiah the prophet understood the significance rain should have in his people’s understanding of God. “Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, for You are the one who has done all these things” (Jeremiah 14:22 NASB).

What a wonderful blessing to experience the rain shower that day and to be reminded of God’s power and faithfulness to us. There is no one like our God.

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Rain from Heaven – living in God’s abundance from Melissa Henderson, @MimiOnLife on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the author: Melissa Henderson and her husband Alan live in coastal South Carolina. She was taught a love for reading and writing at an early age. Melissa continues to write Christian stories, articles, and devotionals. She also enjoys sharing inspirational messages on her blog at melissaghenderson.com.

Her first children’s book, Licky the Lizard, offers parents, grandparents, and educators a tale that teaches children a simple, yet important message: there is no need to fear any of God’s creatures because we are all created by Him—and He loves us all.

Join the conversation: What experiences have reminded you of God’s faithfulness?

The Mysterious Gift of Being Grateful

by Afton Rorvik @AftonRorvik

The package on my doorstep surprised me. I hadn’t ordered anything. No one in my household had a birthday. No national holiday loomed on the near horizon. And I hadn’t heard the doorbell ring. My dog hadn’t even barked.

I ripped opened the squishy package and discovered a pillow with a large word written on it: GRATEFUL.

Who could have sent this? I hunted and hunted for a card, but clearly someone had ordered this from a company and had it shipped to me. Was it the friend I helped out last week? Or the guests we housed last month?

Although I wanted to send a thank you note, I sort of loved not knowing who sent the pillow because it caused me to evaluate my life over the past few weeks. Had I interacted with people in such a way as to make them grateful? Had I lived in a grateful state within my own heart—looking daily for God’s good gifts?

I love this word: Grateful.  I want it to stick to me like Velcro and follow me around like a love-me-please puppy.

BUT gratitude takes effort. I naturally tend toward more of a glass-half-empty view of life—an Eeyore mentality. I can wallow in worry about what-ifs, isolate myself, criticize people in process who don’t respond to me the way I think they should, keep a list of all that seems upside-down in my life. . .

I’ve working to retrain my brain and heart by starting my days with worship. I sit in a cozy chair, turn on my playlist of worship songs, and open my hands to God. I let go of what weighs on me (often naming them specifically) and celebrate God’s good gift to me of Father-love as I let the music wash over me.

And I find myself returning again and again to this verse in James 1:17 (NIV): “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

How could I NOT live in gratitude when I live in the truth of these words and in the presence of the Father who does NOT change?

After posting a photo of my mysterious gift on Facebook, I learned that it had come from a friend I first met when I was 13. We now live states away but have managed to stay connected all these years. What a delightful no-good-reason, just-for-the-fun-of-it gift! J  But even more fabulous—what a gift of enduring friendship!

This November my new pillow sits in our dining room window reminding me (and hopefully all who enter there) to remember the transforming power of this word: Grateful!

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.                                                                                                                                    1 Chronicles 16:34 NASB

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afton rorvik2About the author: Afton Rorvik savors words, flavored coffee, time outside, and living connected. Although an introvert, she has come to realize that what really matters in life is people and faith in Jesus, which gives her the strength and courage to live connected. Afton wrote Storm Sisters (Worthy), a story-filled book about learning to stick around when storms hit a friend’s life. She blogs monthly at  aftonrorvik.com and thoroughly enjoys Pinterest (Afton Rorvik).

Join the conversation: For what are you grateful this week of Thanksgiving?

 

Praying to Disneyland Jesus

by Cindi McMenamin

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 CSB

 My 3-year-old nephew, Escher, was praying for our breakfast just as we were about to go into Disneyland park. “Dear Disneyland Jesus, Thank you for our food and for family and for this day and for keeping us safe and healthy. Amen.”

Escher had been known to address God as “Dinosaur Jesus” after spending a day at the “Walking with Dinosaurs” exhibit after being enthralled with his new discovery. And on days when he learned his Cousin Dana and Auntie Cindi would be taking him to Disneyland again, his prayers were directed once again to “Disneyland Jesus.”

I couldn’t help but smile and think that little Escher was simply transferring the excitement of the blessing he was about to experience to the Blesser who was giving it. I commented to his mom shortly after, “Escher knows Jesus is Lord of the Dinosaurs and Lord over Disneyland, as well!!”

Little Escher’s prayer got me thinking. How easy it is for me, like a child, to pray to “Disneyland Jesus” – the giver of all good things. How wonderful, also, to pray to “Dinosaur Jesus” –who allows me the adventure of discovering new things. But could I just as easily – during the not-so-exciting times, and the downright painful times – pray “Dear Heartache Jesus” or “Dear Cancer Jesus” or “Dear Death-of-a-Loved One Jesus.” And yet, He is Lord over the disappointing days as well as the Disneyland days.

Scripture says ” Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 CSB). That verse doesn’t mean that only the “good and perfect gifts” in our eyes (like Disneyland trips and grand adventures) are from God. But everything He allows into my life (including disappointment and pain) is a good and perfect gift, coming from my Father of insight and understanding who knows what is ultimately best for me.

How I want a simple, childlike faith that honors God as Lord over every good and exciting experience and yet trusts Him during the hurtful experiences, too. Can you thank your “Dear All-Knowing, All-Loving Jesus” for whatever He brings into your life today? Trust that as you walk into it, He is right there walking into it before you.

Thank you, Lord, for the Disneyland trips, the dinosaur discoveries, and the disappointments in life, as well. Thank You that just as You hear the prayer of a delighted boy about to make new discoveries, You see the tears of a disappointed heart about to learn to trust You more.

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, Drama Free and When God Sees Your Tears. Cindi and her husband of 30 years live in Southern California, where their grown daughter enjoys her career job at Disneyland. For more on Cindi’s books and ministry, or to learn about her coaching services for writers, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What have you thanked God for lately?

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash