Cleaning Our Spiritual Filters

by Dyann Shepard

Recently, I was cleaning out the filter of my clothes dryer. Usually, I just pull the lint out, but I pulled the entire filter out and was shocked at all the packed-in lint. There was no doubt my dryer was being overworked, having to push air through extra lint.  It made me ponder, “What kind of spiritual lint or clutter am I accumulating, slowing down the work of the Holy Spirit in my life?” 

I have learned an indicator of spiritual clutter in my life is actual physical clutter. When I look around my office or home, and all I see are piles, I know I have pulled back control from the Holy Spirit. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know where to begin to put order into my spiritual and physical life. I need to stop, take a deep breath, pray, and allow God to reveal what needs to be dealt with, beyond the obvious: like needing to hang up my clothes, put things in the proper file, etc. It is time to ask what spiritual issues need to be addressed, more importantly, to listen. It is not a pleasant process, but it is a freeing process in the end. 

Both giving forgiveness and asking for forgiveness are probably my most vulnerable areas for accumulating spiritual lint. This saddens me, especially since forgiveness is at the center of Christ’s sacrifice for me.  But truth be told, I can be stingy with forgiveness. There is often an internal battle of excusing actions I deem insignificant. It can be a seemingly minor infraction, perhaps a snippy response to my dear husband when I am tired; “No big deal, I tell myself, I am tired.”

But it is a big deal.  Each time I fail to ask for forgiveness, there is a buildup of hardness. It is a type of spiritual plaque clogging the free flow of God’s spirit just as the buildup of bad cholesterol inhibits blood flow. Eventually, I risk not hearing God’s gentle prompting: That was unnecessary, apologize.”  Jesus reminds us in Luke 16:11 (NASB), “The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much.”

Every time I ignore the Lord’s conviction in a minor matter, I risk falling into sin in a significant matter, progressively searing my conscience (Ephesians 4:18-19).  

The beautiful truth is my Father knows my weakness. He has provided His son’s sacrifice and the means for the daily cleaning of my spiritual filters. It is confession: the acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Confession is not for God’s sake but for ours. The Lord knows as we acknowledge our offenses, we keep our relationship with Him and others healthy. 

As we practice confession, we build spiritual muscle memory, which makes confession easier and more automatic.  

I feel freer when I confess my sins. It is an intentional act of giving up my pride. There is a sense of refreshment and renewal. At the same time, I am allowing the fruits of the spirit to grow and thrive. 

I love what Louise Smith, a top level women NASCAR drivers, said: “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.”  It’s time for spring cleaning.  I encourage you to join me by letting go of any accumulated spiritual lint or clutter of old hurts, unforgiveness, disappointments, and pride. Make room for all that God has provided. He has given us the imperishable gifts of love, joy, peace, and forgiveness. 

 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”  James 5:16 Amplified Bible

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

About the author: Dyann Shepard is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, Bible teacher, former staff member of CRU, former Stephen’s Minister and retired CPA. Her passion is writing about God’s transforming power in our daily lives as we open our hearts to Him. Her Bible study Wisdom: Capturing the Power of our Words is scheduled for release in the summer of 2022. 

Join the conversation:  Are you holding on to spiritual clutter?

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The Backup Generators

by Zoe Hicks

My husband and I live in an area where storms cause frequent power outages, at times for days.  Because of this, we had a generator installed. When the power goes out, the generator’s motor start to hum, and within a few seconds, our backup power source has restored our lights, appliances, and heating or cooling system. When I look out and see dark houses on the street, I am so thankful for the generator, which runs as long as the power outage lasts, allowing us to continue our lives without interruption.

Sometimes we become disconnected from our spiritual power source because of trauma, illness, depression, anxiety, conflict, disobedience, or negative circumstances. When we experience that kind of power outage, intercessors can be our backup generators.

Isaiah prophesied to an entire nation that had become disconnected from its power source. They stumbled, walked in the dark, and groped like the blind. There was no justice in their society. The Lord saw it and wondered why there was no intercessor. Where was that man or woman who could cry out and reestablish the connection to power? (Isaiah 59:9-16). 

Moses, too, led a people who had turned from God and worshipped a golden calf. They had surrounded Moses’ brother, Aaron, while Moses was up on the mountain and entreated him: “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up form the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1 NASB). The Lord responded in righteous anger and said He would irradicate them. But Moses’ intercession saved them from God’s wrath and destruction (Exodus 32:11-14).

All of us, at some point, need intercessory prayer. When we become disconnected from our divine power source for any reason, we need our backup generators until we are able to reconnect. They lift us up in prayer when we cannot pray for ourselves using their connection to carry us through.

We, too, can be backup generators for others, remembering those times when we were unplugged and in need of prayer. Our prayers can flip the switch in those dark houses, bringing in light and power. It’s good to bring food, books, and gifts to those who are discouraged and disconnected, but nothing helps them more than connecting them to their Heavenly Father, the source of all power and light.

Dr. Terry Teykl, pastor and author of many books on prayer, says, “Prayer is like the hidden turbines at the base of the dam. Unseen and unheard but there to produce the power needed.”

“The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” James 5:16b MSG

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

About the author: Zoe Hicks is an attorney, author speaker and Bible teacher. After practicing tax and estate planning law for over thirty years, she turned to her true love – writing and speaking for God and has written five inspirational books. Zoe’s ministry focus is international and she has been involved in the nation of Liberia for thirteen years. Most recently she has witnessed the miracle working power of God as she has spearheaded a campaign to raise funds to build a compound for the street girls in Liberia where they can be housed and fed, trained vocationally, and receive medical treatment. This enables them to get off the streets and support themselves and their babies. In working with the women leaders in Liberia (who prayed fervently) and through the women’s groups of her denomination in Georgia, the dream of this center, costing several hundred thousand dollars, is fully funded and becoming a reality. 

Join the conversation: Has there been a time in your life when you were upheld or empowered by the prayers of others?

Because You Prayed

by Tammy Whitehurst

Hi There! Yes, I am talking to you. (Looking at you eyeball to eyeball.)

It’s not the time to slack off, be lazy, or wait till things get better. When those feet hit the ground this morning begin by doing something powerful. PRAY.

Make sure your eyes are alert and your ears listen close. Why? Because the enemy is waiting to attack.

Keep in mind he will put things in your way. Frustrate you. Use the people you love to upset you. You will be distracted. Perhaps cut off in traffic. Or hear a cutting remark by a co-worker aimed at you. A flat tire.

He will tempt. No one is exempt.

He is very good at serving up a sizzling plate of aggravation. However, He has no idea who he is messing with. He picked the wrong gal on the wrong day. The Creator is lighting your path and leading the way. The darkness has no power over you.

Not today. No way. Because YOU PRAYED.

In God’s Word He tells us in Philippians 4:6 not to worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. It’s an incredible weapon.

Grin ear to ear. Boldly declare you live your life to glorify God. Lift that chin up. Pull those shoulders back. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

No matter what.

Today, we are unstoppable because GREATER is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Let’s Roll!

 . . .A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much. James 5:16 NIV

About the author: As an author, blogger, and full time speaker, Tammy Whitehurst encourages and challenges audiences to live life kicked up a notch. She is the co-owner of the Christian Communicators Conference. She struggles like the rest of us with dust, dog hair, cellulite, junk drawers, and wrinkles.

Join the conversation: What do you pray when you first wake up in the morning?

The Prayer of Faith

by Sheri Schofield

There was snow on the ground when some big, husky men showed up with chain saws to cut trees for firewood. A long, cold winter was coming, and most of them had wood stoves for heating their homes. For an hour they worked steadily away, sawing the trees, sweat rolling off their foreheads. Finally one of the men said, “This is really hard work. I don’t know if I’ll get enough wood today to last through the winter.”

The men straightened up and stood looking at the small pile of logs they had cut. Then one man hesitantly said, “It might be easier if we turned on our chain saws.”

Hm. You don’t believe that? Okay. But how about this—You go to church every week and kind of listen to the sermon. You wish the lost people in town would get saved. Or maybe you have just finished teaching a Sunday school class, but the kids were rowdy and you couldn’t seem to get anywhere with them. You’re frustrated and distracted. You lose interest in the sermon and start making your grocery list.

(Warning: DO NOT LET YOUR PASTOR SEE THAT GROCERY LIST! He may be equally frustrated. He works long hours and sees few people come to the Lord or overcome their problems. The evidence of your inattention might be the last straw for him!)

There is no difference between what the woodcutters were doing and the behavior of most Christians in America today. Like the woodcutters, many Christians are attempting to serve God in some way, but they have forgotten to turn on the power. They don’t even know where the power switch is. Something is very wrong.

Time and again when Jesus performed miracles, he spoke of people’s faith healing them. He told us to pray—in faith—until God answers our prayers. He told us to pray and never, ever give up.

The prayer of faith is the power switch for reaching people for Jesus, for in fervent prayer we connect with God, the Source of all power. What is the prayer of faith? It begins with a heart of absolute trust in God.

One year, my husband was very ill. He could not work, and he could not be left alone. With a husband, two children and no income, the responsibility for support fell on my shoulders. I chose to pray. Three nights a week after my family was in bed, I drove over to the church and prayed for two or three hours. Mostly, my prayer was simply a cry for help, for healing for my husband. I poured out my heart to God, and he poured his presence into me, with peace and instructions. I held onto God like a child holds onto its mother’s hand, desperately refusing to let go.

This went on for eight months. During that time, I sometimes received letters from distant friends saying, “God told me to send this to you.” It would be a check that covered our expenses. God gradually put my husband back on his feet so he could work. That in itself was a miracle. Better still, our children grew in faith and became strong Christians as a result of my dependence upon God. My relationship with God has grown from there, and I have learned the secret of his presence in my life. He is the Power Source of all I do.

Have you been working hard and seeing few results? Could it be time for you to turn on the power switch and watch God roar into action?

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:16 NIV

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. 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: Has God infused you with power? Please share!

Running in Circles

by Sandra Julian Barker

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10 NKJV

Do you ever feel like you’re running around in circles in your prayer life?

I’m reminded of the time I watched my grandson Storm playing Duck, Duck, Goose with a group of kids at Vacation Bible School. The kids sat in a circle while Storm chased a boy around the outside of the circle, trying to catch him before he reached a safe opening to land. Storm ran on the slippery gym floor for all he was worth, but never caught the other boy. 

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I’m running around in circles on a slippery floor.

We have such an awesome God who offers us the privilege of prayer — the ability to actually talk with the One who created the entire universe and beyond, to express our feelings and needs to Him, and to have Him listen and respond. When you think about all that, it’s beyond amazing!

Yet, if you’re like me, you don’t really understand the whole process and how it works. When Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24 NKJV), what does that really mean? Does it mean that I can ask God for healing for my loved one with cancer and he’ll definitely be healed? Does it mean I can ask God for answers to various other needs and always expect a happy outcome?

Sometimes, God answers our prayers in the affirmative immediately, other times there is a need for extended prayer for the thing before He gives it to us. Then, there are times He answers with an entirely different outcome than what we asked or wished for. Those are the times we question and, in some cases, we might wonder if our prayers even matter at all!

One day I lamented to God, “I just don’t understand prayer!”

I felt Him lovingly answer my spirit, You don’t have to understand, you just have to obey and pray.

I actually felt relieved that I didn’t have to understand the process (because trying to understand always brings on a “circle moment”). I just needed to obey God’s directive to pray and trust Him to handle the outcome.

That old song, Trust and Obey, is so relevant here. We need to obey God’s directive to pray—which is plainly taught throughout His Word—and then trust His loving heart to know what is best for us on this sinful earth.

I believe the verse, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16 NKJV), reveals a lot to us about the power of prayer. Even so, we should never forget the verse in Isaiah 45:12-13 (NKJV) that reminds us of the sovereignty of God:  “I have made the earth, and created man on it…and I will direct all his ways…”

There will always be times we get caught in a circle while we remain in this world (which is itself a circle), but God has promised that He provides a safe landing place for us. I always come back to the wise verses in Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Thank you, Lord for the awesome privilege of prayer, and for your patience with us when we run around in circles. Help us to land in your arms of love and grace and peace. And help us to always trust and obey.

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

About the author: Sandra Julian Barker is the author of more than a dozen books, numerous magazine articles and a story in the best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.” She has a passion for sharing the love of Christ, encouraging hope and helping others seek God’s path of purpose in their lives.

Sandra’s latest book includes her own story of God’s grace in the face of great tragedy. She blogs at sandra-ramblingrose.blogspot.com/ and is in ministry with womenvictorious.com.

Join the conversation: For what is God asking you to trust Him?

The Power of Confession

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

“Well, honey,” I said to my husband, Larry, “I would really like our side yard to be all concrete so we can put the trash cans there.”

Larry stared at me as if I were from outer space. “Why would you think that? I’m not even going to put the trash cans there.”

I felt as if my spirit had deflated, like a balloon being poked with a knife. His voice sounded so gruff. Did he really think my opinion was worthless? I shrank back and decided, “Well, since everything I seem to say is worthless, I guess I just won’t say anything.”

The tension between us had been growing since he had retired, and we’d decided to move to a newly built home, requiring what seemed like thousands of decisions to be made. We often commented “We sure are under a lot of stress,” but somehow after almost 32 years of marriage, we really couldn’t think that it could truly affect our relationship. But it did, and I wasn’t happy. Larry and I rarely initially agreed on anything for the house; he was around 24/7 since retirement in January; and we had moved a distance from family and friends. Stress? What stress!

To make matters worse, I knew I was feeling super-sensitive to Larry’s comments because my hormones were raging. Oh, menopause, here I come! It seemed like nothing Larry did pleased me. Even when I expressed my wounded feelings, and he said he didn’t mean to hurt me, I couldn’t accept it. I viewed everything he did through a negative filter that considered him my foe, rather than my ally. I knew I was wrong, but I couldn’t seem to stop my mental review of his faults and “meanness.”

Then last week, I called Larry from a speaking engagement in a distant city. After he asked about my speaking, he said, “Kathy, the Lord has convicted me about something and I want to ask your forgiveness. I’ve been thinking that your super-sensitivity was your problem, and you needed to deal with it. But I haven’t been your spiritual leader by helping you. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me? I want us to work on this together and we’ll do anything we need to do to help us overcome this challenge.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. As he spoke, I felt like a burden fell off my shoulders. He really cared! He really was sensitive to the Lord. I was so pleased and expressed my appreciation.

But I didn’t realize the difference it would make in my perceptions. By the next day when I returned home, I felt completely different toward Larry. My negative filter was gone. I fell back in love with this wonderful guy, and when I expressed my surprise at what had happened, Larry replied, “I’m not surprised at all. I knew my confession would break the bondage holding you. I hadn’t been the spiritual leader in caring for you and the Lord assured me that taking that leadership would give you the freedom you needed.” He smiled, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

The power of a confession. Asking for forgiveness is a powerful healer, and it breaks bondages that can hold us and cause destruction. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

I’m grateful for a husband whose obedience to the Lord ultimately set me free. Is there someone who needs your confession today?

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The Power of Confession – thoughts from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to speak and write about how God’s children can trust Him more. She has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. She has over 50 published books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. Larry and Kathy live in At the Heart of Friendship by [Miller, Kathy Collard]Southern California and are the parents of two and grandparents of two. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller and www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor and @KathyCollardMiller (instagram)

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the power of confession in your life? Please share!

 

 

Your Team Needs You!

by Sheri Schofield

“I am having insulin rushes in the middle of the night,” my husband said. “The doctor said it is not diabetes and won’t do any more testing for two months. She doesn’t have time. But I need to get this under control!”

All week long I had been directing Vacation Bible School at our church. Tim’s symptoms had started just before VBS began. Now his entire body was shaking most of the time. Tim is usually very calm, but now he was afraid.

I suspected that his symptoms had come to a head simply because I was involved in teaching children about the plan of salvation that week, and the devil wanted to distract me. So he was attacking my husband. This had happened before.

I called Tim’s mom, my best friend. “Dollie, will you please pray for Tim to get help for this medical problem, and for the devil’s schemes to be thwarted while I tell these children about Jesus?”

Dollie began praying immediately. Tim planned to go to the emergency room the next morning. Things were getting out of hand. But the next day, all the symptoms were gone! And they have not returned.

Ephesians 6 teaches us about a spiritual world that may be invisible but is alive and active. Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV) We are mostly unaware of this reality until those deeds of darkness are aimed straight at us.

Over the years, I have learned that whenever I undertake a large outreach for Jesus, the devil attacks me where I am most vulnerable: my husband or my children have a crisis. So I am no longer surprised by the crisis when it comes. Instead, I call upon true prayer warriors to pray the crisis away. I keep my eyes on Jesus and He puts His peace in my heart while I continue on with the task. There’s no way I’m going to give Satan the victory!

Are there pastors or missionaries in your life, people who are serving God? Are there leaders who are always there for you in your time of need? They need your prayers! For everyone who ministers in the name of Jesus faces what I faced this past week. The devil is bent on distracting them from their work for Jesus.

Those who belong to Jesus are a team. Paul called those in supportive roles “partners in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5). We each have a part to play. Prayer warriors are valuable and essential assets to any leader. So join the spiritual battle these servants of Jesus face daily! Be part of their team by holding them up in prayer so that they may minister freely without personal crises to distract them. Your team needs you!

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, will be launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: In what ways have you supported those in full-time ministry?

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

Tapping into God’s Power

by Sheri Shofield

I had meant to pray. Every night that week I had tried to stay awake and pray for someone’s healing. But every night I had fallen asleep after just a few minutes. Now it was the fourth night. I opened my Bible and looked down. The words leaped off the page! “Could you … not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40 NIV).

These words were wrung from Jesus’ heart the night he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane as He awaited His arrest and crucifixion. But I felt that Jesus was asking me the same question that night.

God has chosen to pour his power out into our world through those of us who love him and who are willing to pray. One evening a few years ago, my husband and I were attending a prayer meeting at a near-by church. We did not know many people there but were friends with the pastor. Before giving a short, encouraging message, the pastor asked for prayer requests. A number of requests were given, and then a woman asked if we would pray that God would heal her shoulder. It had been injured years before and had never healed properly. The pain was difficult to bear.

In that moment, I sensed that the Lord wanted us to go to the woman, lay hands on her shoulder, and ask for healing. But the pastor simply listed the request and moved on. Afterward, I asked if he believed in laying hands on people and praying for healing. He did. I said, “That woman with the injured shoulder – I think we are supposed to do that for her.”

The pastor’s eyes twinkled and he said, “Okay, Sheri, go do it!” I felt hesitant. I told God that I had no authority! This was a job for the pastor! For the elders! But I would obey what God had asked. I went over to the lady and asked if I could pray for her. She agreed. I placed my hand on her shoulder and began to pray that God would heal her. Suddenly, a warm jolt that felt like electricity shot down my arm! I started to lift my hand up in surprise. What was this? Ah! It must be the Holy Spirit! I put my hand back and kept praying. Afterward, the woman looked at me strangely. I smiled and left. If that was indeed the Holy Spirit, and he had healed the woman, we would know by the next week.

The next Wednesday when we arrived at the meeting, the woman rushed to greet me. “God healed my shoulder when you prayed!” she exclaimed. “A warm jolt of power hit my shoulder as you prayed! I am completely free of pain!”

God does not reserve his power for the “professionals.” He pours out healing power through all who trust and obey him, whether we feel it or not. This is how God changes the world. Is it any wonder that Jesus cries out to us, “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?”

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil then continues her ministry with the children’s book The Prince And The Plan.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Sheri’s book, One Step Ahead of the Devil,  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: Have you ever seen God work through the prayers of someone?