Silver Ribbon in the Sky

by Sheri Schofield

It was a beautiful, clear day. Summer breezes blew up from the valley below and murmured in the pine trees around our log home on the side of the mountain. My husband’s parents were visiting us, and Mom and I walked out onto the deck to enjoy the view.

As we stood there, we noticed a strange sight. It looked like a shimmering, silver ribbon was floating in the sky over the lake. “What is that?” Mom pointed.

We watched, intensely curious about that long, beautiful ribbon. It seemed to be coming toward us! As the ribbon drew closer, it broke up into individual parts and we saw that it was not a ribbon at all. It was a long line of white pelicans teaching their young to fly! They were white but the tips of their wings were black. As their wings beat up and down, the sun caught the flickers of black against their white feathers and created the illusion of a silver ribbon glistening in the sky.

Individually, the pelicans were insignificant. But working together under the bright sun, they presented something very beautiful to our watching eyes.

Calvary love is like that. When we love those around us, and stretch out our hands to our world, people see something unusual and are drawn to us. When we band together with other believers and reach out in love to the people in our neighborhoods, our world takes note. We become like that silver ribbon in the sky, a marvel that draws others to Jesus.

All around us is a dying world. People are trapped in addictions, anger, pain and hopelessness, separated from God. Do you know anyone like that? How beautiful and effective we can be when we reach out to them in love!

There’s nothing easy about Calvary love. Calvary love cost Jesus great anguish and pain. Not only did he suffer from the torture of the cross, but he also suffered the grief of becoming sin for us, and being separated from his Father. When we choose to love others, it doesn’t mean we love them only when they behave well and treat us right! It’s a battle sometimes. It means praying for those who are unkind to us. It means reaching out to them with a smile and a warm heart when we do not feel like it.

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you….” Jesus said in Luke 6:27 & 28 (NIV).

I don’t know about you, but I find that impossible to do in my own strength! My own nature says, “Avoid that person who is causing me pain or hurting someone I love.” But Jesus does not avoid me when I say or do things that offend him. He loves me anyway and challenges me to learn to love others in his strength.

Love is a risk. I have to risk being misunderstood and hurt by others in order to serve Jesus effectively. But I do know this: Everything I do out of love for Christ and others is establishing a foothold for the Holy Spirit’s miraculous work in the lives of those around me.

So once again, Lord, let me pick up the mantle of love – – for Jesus’ sake. Let me be like that silver ribbon in the sky today!

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.                                                                                                                                                   John 13:35, NIV

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How a silver ribbon in the sky reminded one author of God’s perfect love – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the Conversation: Have you seen love in action make a difference in your life or in the lives of others? Please share.

Off the Shelf and By the Book

by Rhonda Rhea

My favorite part of dusting the bookshelves in my office is the part where I never really do it. At all. And actually, it’s my personal belief that if there’s dust on a bookshelf, that means there aren’t enough books on it.

Incidentally, I’m always on the lookout for more books. And for more reasons to buy more books. Okay yes, I may have a bit of a book problem. Some may think me “shelf-ish” (I know, I can’t believe I said it either). I think I’d rather call it a dust problem, but whatever.

My favorite way to dust the bookshelves? Turn on the ceiling fan. After a few swirls of the fan I figure the dusting is done and I can sit down and read a book.

I won’t deny that I do have a lot of shelves—with a lot of books protecting all those shelves from dust. I was standing in the doorway staring into my office the other day and suddenly found myself thinking it’s a little embarrassing that though I have so many shelves and so many books, there’s not a book in there anywhere that I can pull to open up a secret passage. What an unfortunate oversight.

Neglected secret passages aside though, there are oversights along this life journey that are so much more unfortunate. I wish I could tell you that I’ve never overlooked a person. I would love to tell you I’ve never neglected giving needed attention to the people I’m called to love. But I have.

Does it ever happen to you? You see someone across the room and avoid eye contact so the person doesn’t mistakenly feel welcomed into a conversation. Or you’re at the grocery store and quickly jerk your cart onto an aisle you don’t need to visit, all to dodge getting trapped into a dialogue with that guy from down the street.

I so regularly need to dust off my compassion and grace and to become intentional in the way I love. Active love doesn’t avoid. As a matter of fact, it purposefully searches out opportunities to love—even to love the unlovely. To love the annoying. The foolish. The depressing. The smelly. The inconvenient people. An active love, dusted off and in use, is a love that goes yet beyond that. A God kind of love runs to meet those people.

It’s no secret that we can love like that as we allow the God of love to do it in us. “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 John 4:7-8, HCSB).

To love unselfishly is to allow the God who is love to work in us. Anytime we’re not loving others, we’re testifying to the world that the Gospel hasn’t changed us on the inside as we claim. It’s like shelving our Gospel effectiveness.

Our love for others is our testimony. We’re the book others read, as it were. “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35, HCSB).

O Lord, may we be quick to love the unloveliest. As you work your love in and through our lives, may we ever love like You.

Here’s hoping we’re on the same page. Me? I’m mostly an open book.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.    Mark 12:30-31 HCSB

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What has helped you to maintain a loving attitude?

 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

 

 

Bagel Blessings

by Peggy Cunningham

A new bakery opened in our Bolivian city, and they have bagels. The aroma in the bakery is divine; and the little shop is quaint––with chairs and tables in the open air. These delicious mounds of dough are an unexpected treat for us in Cochabamba, a delightful reminder of our home in the USA. Imagine, bagels for breakfast in Bolivia.

It had been a long time since we had seen a bagel. I made them once. After a full day’s work of making the dough, waiting for them to rise, boiling them, letting them cool and then baking them, we finally enjoyed the fruits of my labor. That’s a lot of work for a bagel breakfast; I was pretty sure we would not do bagels again. Our new bakery ensures I will never have to slave over a boiling pot to make bagels again, not that I ever would have thought to do that!

At a first glance, the new bakery’s bagels looked nothing like what I remembered from home. But when I tasted them, sure enough, they were every bit as scrumptious as what I remembered bagels to be.

When I later searched for a photo of a bagel on the internet, I was surprised to discover our Bolivian bagels looked exactly like stateside bagels do! I hadn’t seen one for at least a few years. Maybe it was just a senior moment, but I had actually forgotten what a bagel was supposed to look like.

I sometimes wonder if the world is forgetting what a Christian should look like. Just how should people be able to identify us? We come in many varieties; God made each of us unique. Some are elegant, some highly intelligent or beautiful, some wonderfully talented, but most of us are fairly ordinary. Even so, we can accomplish extraordinary things through God by simply showing His love.

Jesus clearly stated this fact in John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV We exhibit love because we are truly loved by God. Our love is an overflow of our relationship with Him.

How are we showing that kind of love so others can see God in us? We may be just “ordinary bagels”, but when we show the love of God through our lives, the world will see our extraordinary secret ingredient, Jesus, and want Him too.

Sharing God’s love isn’t an onerous effort, it’s a heavenly privilege. When we share and care, we look like Christians are meant to look, and we won’t seem ordinary to anyone who feels God’s love through us.

The world needs to taste and see real love, the love of God. That may look like us giving a listening ear to someone that needs to be heard. Or being a loving friend who truly cares.

How will you share the love of God today?

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing… I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13: 2, 1b

Peggy CunninghamAbout the author: Peggy Cunningham‘s new book Shape Your Soul: 31 Exercises of Faith that Move Mountains, (a women’s devotional) releases TODAY!! She and her husband have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Rumi Rancho is their ministry base and home outside the city of Cochabamba where they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy’s children’s books and devotionals are available on Amazon.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Shape Your Soulfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Peggy’s book, Shape Your Soul: 31 Exercises of Faith that Move Mountainsplease 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 experienced the love of God through another person?

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash