My Valentine to God

by Lee Ann Mancini

Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 NASB

Today we celebrate love. Love for our significant other, love for our children, and love for extended family members and friends. Hallmark even has a card for you to express your love to your dog. Imagine that? I chuckled thinking a person would actually purchase that card.

I would love to have a Valentine Day card to send to Jesus and the opportunity to do so. I know you are thinking that sounds crazy, but I love Jesus so very much that I not only want to tell Him, I want to show Him. So, if I can’t send a card, what can I do?

This year, I have decided to take every thought captive. I mean every thought. It’s a new year, and Ephesians 4:23 says to “be made new in the attitude of your minds; ….”

After that decision, I was on the phone for over a half-hour waiting to speak with someone about my internet problem. It was hard for me to understand the person as English was not his native language. After we hung up, a negative thought squeezed into my mind: “Wow, that person really needs to go to school and learn how to talk or get another job.” Now, I know that wasn’t a horrible thought, but I immediately asked God to forgive me immediately and to bless that person.

I had always felt that I entertained nice thoughts. After all, I am a nice person, 95 % of the time. However, I am in shock at how many negative thoughts I have. “I wish this lady would hurry up; she’s taking too long… How dumb can you be?… If he asks me one more time, I’m going to lose my mind.” Can you relate?

If I want to show my love for Christ, I have to remember that we are all created in His image (see Genesis 1:27). And if the person is saved, the Spirit of God lives in them. I need to respect them as a child of God, therefore, which will honor the Father. 

Honoring others is the way we exhibit love in action. This month, I am going to make sure I express my love for others, and by doing so, I will be expressing my love for the Father and all He has created. While I am at it, I will also show my love for the Lord by hating sin, praying more, being more fearful as not to offend Him, and aggressively look for opportunities to tell others about Him.

We are wise to memorize this verse, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV). And for those hearts I have hurt with my words or actions, I pray they will remember this verse and extend grace to me.

The greatest love of all is the love of God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16 NIV ), and there is no greater love than “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NIV ).

How will you express your love on this day? Candy, cards, or poems? Candy is tasty, cards and poems are sweet, but the message of salvation or helping others to grow in their faith will last for all eternity.

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

About the author:  Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.

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Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! In I’m Not Afraid!, Susie and her friend go to the Undersea Amusement Park. After  saying a prayer to Jesus, she rides the roller coaster and her fear turns into faith! She learns that praying to Jesus during difficult times and having faith are all she needs to overcome her fears!

Join the conversation: If you wrote a Valentine for God, what would it say?

Looking at the Sacrifice in Christmas

by Edie Melson

I’ve always celebrated Christmas as the time of Jesus’ birth. It’s a joyful time—after all, when is the birth of a baby not a reason to celebrate? It’s marked with angel choruses, gifts of the magi, and celebration to end all celebrations.

In contrast, I’ve always approached Easter as a more somber time—certainly a time of ultimate triumph. But one that was preceded by the agony of Jesus on a cross. To me, Easter was when Christ laid down His life for us.

Now I’ve begun to look at things a little differently.

Recently, I was challenged by a friend to view Christmas in a new light. She pointed out that His birth on earth was when Jesus left His Heavenly glory. The more I considered this, the more sharply I saw the contrast of His life in Heaven. I had always looked at Christmas as a gift—which it is—instead of seeing past the present to the sacrifice it must have been. Jesus’ birth truly was the time when He laid down His life for us.

These are my thoughts on what Jesus really sacrificed by coming into this world:

  • He exchanged Heavenly robes for swaddling garments of ragged cloth.
  • He exchanged the chorus of angels praising him day and night with the voices of cattle in a lowly manger.
  • He exchanged the power and authority of being God in Heaven with that of living as a helpless—fully human—baby.
  • He exchanged the protection of angels with the dubious protection of human parents.
  • He exchanged immortality with a life that would end in physical death. (Yes, He was fully resurrected, but He had to go through the process of living to dying to reconcile us with God).
  • He exchanged perfect—intimate—fellowship with God for a relationship with us.

I will never see Christmas the same way again. How about you?

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13 NIV

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8 NIV

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

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About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on http://www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: What thought brings meaning to your Christmas season this year?

He’s Always Been There

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Do you know what it’s like to have the perfect friend?

Chances are, you would say your best friend is someone who has shared your past, shared a meaningful experience with you, or just someone who has “been there” for you.

Jesus is One who has always “been there” for me throughout my life.

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Jesus as a young child. So, I remember Him being there—as my best friend—on the first day of kindergarten when I would’ve otherwise felt lost and alone. I remember Him giving me courage when I started to be afraid after accidentally locking myself in my grandmother’s bathroom at the age of seven. I remember His powerful presence by my bed, where I lay for three weeks with scarlet fever at the age of nine.

My Best Friend was still by my side to comfort me when I, as a teenager, learned of my grandmother’s death in a car accident and helped my mother deal with the loss.

During my adult years, Jesus ministered to me every morning when I was on my knees praying for my brother’s safety as a soldier on the front lines of a ground war in the Middle East. When no one else knew what to say to give me strength and faith during that time, God’s words (in His Word) were there every morning, every evening, holding me up, keeping me strong and hopeful.

And Jesus stayed with me – when I would have otherwise been alone – for three days in the cancer ward of a children’s hospital as I watched my 18-month-old daughter undergo a series of tests to determine if she had cancer or leukemia. He listened to my questions, understood my anxiety, filled me with His peace, embraced me in His arms, and held my hand during the night when I couldn’t sleep.

From fearful days as a child to uncertain times as a parent, I’ve never seen the Lord let me down. He was always there to comfort me when no one else was. He rushed to my side when no one else could. He knew what to say when no one else did. That is a true friend.

Proverbs 18:24 (HCSB) says, “A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 HCSB). That’s the kind of friend Jesus has been. He has proved Himself to me over and over again.

Lord, thank You for being the Perfect Friend who sticks closer to me than anyone else, and who has always been there for me and always will.

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He’s Always Been There – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

What Readers are Saying about Drama Free: It was a book I didn’t want to put down. It was packed with Scripture, biblical truth, and helpful resources on how to diffuse drama that we all face in life.

Join the conversation: How has Jesus proved Himself to be a faithful friend to you in the past?

Love One Another

by Christina Rose 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 NIV

This passage has had me in awe since I was a little girl.  I would think, “How could a parent give up their son?”   I couldn’t imagine, nor did I want to image my parents ever giving me up, let alone having me suffer for hours, being beaten and hung on a cross.  Yet that priceless sacrifice changed and continues to change billions of lives around the world.

Yesterday was the funeral service for Kendrick Castillo, the hero of the Colorado STEM School shooting that occurred on May 7, 2019.  Kendrick, a high school senior due to graduate in 3 days, threw himself upon a fellow student armed with a handgun who threatened the school.  He and two others rushed the armed student, giving other students the opportunity to flee.  In the process, Kendrick was shot and did not survive.

The service was held at my church, Cherry Hills Community Church, and thousands attended. Kendrick’s parents, John and Maria, had looked forward to seeing their only son Kendrick graduate in a few days, but instead they had to plan his funeral. His parents were heartbroken, yet revealed that Kendrick had shared earlier that if he ever found himself in the midst of a school shooting, he would not hesitate to attack the shooter to spare his friends.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay  down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV

Watching the thousands of cars arrive by procession, the throngs filling the church, Kendrick’s casket being wheeled in, his parents walking in with their small dog, and the pictures of Kendrick’s smiling, warm face touched the hearts of many and tears flowed freely. Each person who spoke shared memories of a compassionate, devoted, faith-filled young man who loved to help everyone he could.

John Castillo was the last to speak. I thought, “How could this man be so brave to address and comfort thousands when his only son was killed just one week ago?” It then became more clear to me how God allowed his only son Jesus to die on the cross for us. While the suffering seemed unbearable, in the end that example of unselfish love would inspire and elevate people to be their best.

John shared that we should all walk like Kendrick, who walked in faith and love just as Jesus taught us to do. He then encouraged, “When you see people struggling and moving into darkness, sit with them and help them figure it out.  Our world needs help; what you choose to do with your gifts is up to you.”

I wondered, “What if all of us reached out to everyone who is struggling to pull them out of darkness? What if we made everyone feel loved and valuable to prevent further acts of desperation and destruction?”

While our community continues to heal, we will never forget our selfless hero Kendrick, who was a gift, a blessing, and an inspiration of boldly walking in faith and loving the world.  Kendrick’s love and sacrifice has changed thousands of lives forever.

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Love One Another – thoughts on walking in #Faith and loving the world – Christian 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: In what practical ways can we “give up our lives” in our own communities?

 

The Fog in Our Lives

by Ginger Sanders

Sitting out on our back porch, early before daybreak, coffee in hand, I watched as the silent fog crept across the waters. It started out on the main river, at the base of the mountain, then crawled into the lagoon by our home.   As I watched, the docks across the way quietly disappeared. It was almost smoky at first, then cloudy, then became a heavy mist and finally a total whiteout.

As I looked around, the lightness of the fog encircled the very place I was sitting. The screens on the porch dripped rivulets of water. The stillness of the moment was overwhelming. I was so reluctant to somehow break the beauty, I barely breathed.

I am not sure how much time passed as I sat, watching and waiting. It was then I noticed the dock across the lagoon was slowly reappearing. The fog’s lifting was just as subtle as it had descended, slow and quiet. Finally, the sun broke through the trees as the birds started to chirp.

The day had awakened, offering a new start, a new beginning for everyone.

I was reminded, as I sat in the stillness, of things that can gradually surround our being and soul, things like sin or depression. The takeover begins quietly, but eventually isolates us and makes clear vision nearly impossible.

The only sure remedy for things of that nature start creeping into our lives, is to give it to God. Jesus called Himself the Light of the World. He brings light to our spiritual darkness. When we bring Him what is overwhelming us, He will guide us through it. He is more than just a friend, He died for you and would do it again. He loves you that much. Be still, listen, let Him be the SON that comes upon your life and push away the fog of sin or depression.

Do you feel the call of God to give it all to Him? Don’t waste another minute sitting in the fog! It is time to let Him shine into your life and let your heart start singing to Him. He is waiting on you and has a plan for your life. Respond to His call today!

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 ESV

Step out of your own fog and find Jesus. If you need help doing this, please contact me at gingersanders0@gmail.com. If you have a praise or make a decision, please comment or let me hear from you so I can pray for you. In the meantime, I am already praying for YOU!! 

Ginger SandersAbout the author: Ginger Sanders has been a Chaplain Coordinator with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team since 2008. Ginger and her husband, Denny, have responded to many disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and storms, as well as the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings. She has authored He Goes Before Us, which features chaplains’ stories of God at work in disaster, and two children’s books: Round Eyes: An Adopted Child’s View of Love, and the award-winning Fireflies, which explains death to children with hope and love. Ginger also co-hosts a Christian television show and has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows. She and her husband of 50 years have four children and eleven beautiful grandchildren.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a51DSWZH5AcL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Ginger’s book, He Goes Before Us,  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 things that are “fogging up” your life?