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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The Mysterious Gift of Being Grateful – @AftonRorvik on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

God’s Little Surprises

by Judith Couchman

Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.  Psalm 90:4  MSG

I’ve never understood people who don’t like surprises. I’m not referring to the unexpected difficulties that badger and perplex. I mean things like friends yelling “surprise” on your birthday as you enter your door. Or roses unexpectedly arriving for you at the office. Surprises like these remind us that we are loved. They affirm you with splendor.

We receive “big” surprises only now and then. Still, the “little” surprises can impact you more profoundly than grand gestures. A stranger on the elevator whose off-handed words encourage you. A borrowed book that influences your spiritual direction. A hot, home-delivered meal when you are unable to provide it yourself. They demonstrate that not only people care for you, but show God’s care as well. For all good things originate from Him (James 1:17).

Recently I entered a three-month period with no teaching income. I prepared for that season by stocking up food ahead of time. If I couldn’t pay all my bills, I could at least eat. Toward the end of a grocery-shopping trip, I went to the seafood counter to purchase the salmon I had been craving. I picked up a package, read the price, and regretfully dropped it back into the refrigerated case. Too expensive, I thought.

My craving did not diminish over the next few days. Then unexpectedly, my friend Anita, who knew nothing about my unfulfilled desire, wrote to me. “Hey, I’m wondering if you’d like some salmon,” she said. “I bought too much and would like to share it with you.” When she arrived at my apartment, she handed me a bag brimming with produce and, you guessed it, a piece of that coveted fish.

Surprised? More like stunned! That and the fruits and vegetables she brought fed me for two weeks.

Another time, I visited a new friend’s home. A huge arrangement of orchids graced her dining-room table. Their dramatic beauty defined the room. Astonishing, I thought. I wish I could afford to purchase something that dramatic. But extras like that were not in my very limited budget.

A few weeks later, I found myself back in my friend’s home enjoying dinner. The orchid arrangement sat in a corner. After dinner, she asked, “Would anybody like these orchids? I travel too much to keep it in good shape.” Impulsively, I shot booth arms up in the air and cried, “Me! Me! Me!” Now the orchids sit in my living room, basking in the filtered sun it needs.

Did I deserve those gifts? Not really. My thoughts were more along the lines of self-pity rather than contentment. But God surprised me through lovely friends anyway. While living with a reduced income and unanswered prayers, He reassured me of His love. God cares about the little things.

Scripture says God will supply our needs. Paul reminds us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). We often assume that means our absolute needs, like water, food, and clothing. But He sometimes bestows the small desires of our hearts as well. Even the seemingly insignificant matters to Him, because He delights in His people (Psalm 149:4).

God’s surprises abound. Even when He hasn’t moved mightily in a certain area in your life—at least not yet— don’t miss recognizing the “small” gifts while you’re waiting. He will astonish you.

Judith Couchman

About the author: Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, and art history professor. She’s traditionally published more than 40 works, including books, Bible studies, and compilations. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Learn more about her at www.judithcouchman.com.

Join the conversation: What has God surprised you with lately?

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Holding onto Our Unchanging God

by Kristine Brown

Change and I don’t get along well.

We battle. We fight. We throw words back and forth like siblings arguing over a favorite toy. But as much as I challenge change, it always comes back for more.

Change drives me into list-making mode. I weigh out the pros and cons of important decisions, trying to make the best choice for everyone involved. I agonize over it. I lose sleep because of it. I take the situation to God in prayer, but don’t often trust Him with the results.

Fortunately, we can look to God’s Word for guidance when facing change in our lives. One of my favorite women in Scripture knew how to handle change with steadfast wisdom and humble grace.

From her actions, we can learn to do the same. Her prayer recorded in 1 Samuel speaks volumes about her faith-filled heart and willingness to trust God.

“And Hannah prayed and said:

‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord.
I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.

No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.’” 1 Samuel 2:1-2 NKJV

What bold faith! Reading these words Hannah prayed, we might assume all was right in her world. Without knowing what she was going through, we may think everything was just perfect. Because when things are good, it’s easy to trust.

But Hannah’s life wasn’t perfect. In fact, Hannah offered this prayer of praise to God as she said goodbye to her only child. Her long-awaited blessing. She was leaving her young son Samuel at the temple to be raised by Eli the priest. God had big plans for Samuel, and it involved a huge sacrifice for Hannah.

Yet in the midst of that heart-breaking moment, she pressed through the doubt. She let go of the what-ifs and uncertainty about the future. She placed herself in an attitude of rejoicing, thanksgiving, and praise.

She chose to hold onto God, her Rock and her Salvation. From Hannah’s example, we can take away this powerful truth:

As we learn to handle the changes that come, let’s remember to hold onto our unchanging God.

Even though I may not like change, I can face it with steadfast courage. I can even make peace with it. 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.” NIV

Today, let’s commit to handling uncertainty like Hannah did. Let’s stop challenging the change that comes and remember we have a God who is unchanging. We can praise Him for being our Rock and Salvation, even in times of change.

 

kristine brownAbout the author: A communicator at heart, Kristine Brown teaches about God’s powerful, relatable Word. She is the author of Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. You’ll find Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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

 Join the conversation: What changes have most challenged you?

 

 

A Message to Remember

by Rhonda Rhea

I’ve discovered something rather disturbing about myself:  I’m a salad dressing whiny-baby. It’s not like I’m even all that into salad. I think we all know I’d rather have chocolate. Or coffee. Or chocolate mixed with coffee. But the other day I found myself with a salad that needed something that neither coffee nor chocolate could fix (though it took me several minutes to come to grips with that). So there I sat trying all the salad dressings. All of them. I even mixed a few—like some sort of mad scientist. The first dressing was too tart. The next one, too sweet. Then the next one was just too…orange.

That’s when I figured out that I was not so much a mad scientist. No. I was Goldilocks.

When did I become so dressing-spoiled? It doesn’t even comfort me all that much that I’m not the only one. God’s chosen people had wandered in the desert for 40 years because they had chosen not to trust the Lord. When they finally stood poised to enter the land of promise, instead of the “now you can all relax” message they might’ve expected, they got more of a “don’t get too spoiled” warning.

“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command…When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, HCSB).

In the verses just prior to these, the people are reminded to be diligent in their obedience to God because “the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey,” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). Olive oil and honey? They were headed into the best salads with all the best dressings.

The entire chapter is full of “remembers” and “don’t forgets.” And it’s not just the Israelites. It’s so often in our times of greatest blessing even now that we forget our Lord God is the source of that blessing and that “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17, HCSB). Anytime we forget, the blessing loses its sweetness. Pride replaces recognition of His provision and our satisfaction in life sours.

When we catch ourselves going all Goldilocks-y, it should trigger our reminder to…well…“remember.” “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord you God gives you the power to gain wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18, HCSB).

Remembering that every good blessing is from Him helps keep our obnoxious pride in check and reminds us to lean on Him for everything. It reminds us to love, follow, trust and obey. And that adds blessing upon blessing—whatever we do, wherever we go—whatever is on the menu.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll excuse me. Salad is on the menu again here and I’ve decided to make my own dressing. So now it appears I have to travel to a thousand islands.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.  Psalm 103:1-2, ESV.

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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Rhonda’s book, Fix HER Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God-Renovated Life,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What are the blessings you want to remember as you start your new year with Him?