Grace with No Reservations

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

I’ve experienced it several times and you may have too – the miracle in the Starbucks’ drive-thru line. That thrilling experience when you order your drink, pull around to the window, and the barista announces that the person in front of you paid for your coffee.

My first reaction is always “Wow! How nice! That’s awesome!” Then almost as quickly I think, “Man, I should have ordered a venti!” (That means “extra large” in Starbuckese!)

My gratitude initially fosters a desire to buy the coffee for the person behind me. But before I pull out my wallet, I sneak a peek at the vehicle behind me to make sure it’s not a 12-passenger van carrying a high school basketball team. I mean, I want to pass along the blessing, but there are limits.

Sometimes I feel that way about sharing God’s grace. I want to actively love others and submit to them out of reverence for Christ. But some people don’t deserve it. And others can’t do anything for me. Then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me, that’s the point of grace.

By definition, “grace” means being kind to those who don’t deserve it. To give and do without any expectation that the other person will reciprocate. To show kindness to those who have hurt us and meet the needs of those who will never be able to help us in return.

Yet sometimes I still feel stingy or choosy with the kindness God has freely given me. As believers, we have an abundant supply of His grace. I love Paul’s description in Ephesians 1:7-8:

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on upon us, in all wisdom and understanding” (NASB).

God doesn’t just give us enough grace. He has lavished it on us with great abundance. Yet sometimes we hoard it, withholding it from those who desperately need it.

We may withhold kind words or actions from someone who has hurt us. Or we may take a meal to a sick friend hoping they will do the same for us in our time of need. While that expectation of reciprocation may not be our primary motivation, it is often still there, lurking in the back of our minds. We allow our sinful nature to qualify our grace.

Jesus constantly extended grace to those who could give Him nothing in return – the orphan, the prisoner, the widow, the homeless, the invalid, the dying, the sinner. He healed, He touched, He gave. The One “who came from the Father full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) extended grace with no expectations. And Jesus calls us, His followers, to do the same.

Who are the “needy” people right around you – neighbors, friends, family members, church members? In what ways are you extending grace with no expectation of return?

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Grace with No Reservations – wisdom from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s new Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle PaulLavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing by [Howard, Kathy] that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: When was the last time you experienced grace from someone else?

Secondhand Forgiveness

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

“Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’” Romans 12:19 MSG

My daughter Cricket came home from second grade in tears. Again. Her teacher had rebuked her in front of the class for asking another girl for help with a math problem. Cricket felt humiliated and stupid. And it wasn’t the first time.

Because of a learning disability, Cricket had difficulty with some subjects, particularly math. I’d already spoken to the teacher – new to the school and extremely harsh in her control tactics – about Cricket’s special needs.

Cricket began tearfully wrapping herself around my leg at school drop-off. I had to pry my sobbing child off my leg and force her into the classroom. My fury flared toward this insensitive teacher. I simply could not forgive what she’d done to my previously happy little girl.

I knew that secondhand forgiveness is important to Papa God, but my angry heart balked.

Like secondhand smoke afflicts innocent bystanders, secondhand forgiveness is necessary when somebody hurts someone you love. The injured person may forgive the offender, but you continue to harbor resentment indefinitely. And like cigarette smoke, unforgiveness pollutes and corrodes internally.

Secondhand forgiveness is especially hard for us mama bears when somebody messes with our cubs. Our protective instincts kick into overdrive. And we tend to hold grudges far too long.

We forget that that how we feel has nothing to do with forgiveness. We forgive as an act of the will, because Papa God asks us to, not because we feel forgiving. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV). 

But in the throes of furious indignation, how do we carry out this biblical mandate? Let’s unpack this verse:

  • Be kind to one another. Our kindness as Christ-followers isn’t dependent on anyone else’s behavior. We don’t wait for someone to be kind to us; we show them how it’s done. Kindness is similar to forgiveness in that we don’t necessarily have to like someone to be kind to them. Writer Samuel Johnson said, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” Likewise, we can forgive someone whether we like them or not. But we might end up feeling quite differently when we’re on our knees.
  • Be tenderhearted. Heart tenderness is the willingness to enter someone else’s world and share in their suffering; it’s the step beyond kindness, usually motivated by compassion.
  • Forgive one another. Forgiveness is the element essential to finding inner peace. Resentment is poisonous; the poison gradually spreads and chokes out the Son-light within you, leaving dark bitterness in its place. Forgiveness isn’t about changing someone else; you don’t have the power to do that. It’s about changing something within you. You don’t have the power to do that either, but Papa God does.
  • Even as God in Christ forgave you. To truly forgive others as the Lord forgives us, we must tap into our Savior’s vast supply of supernatural grace (undeserved favor). He specializes in grace – He proved that at Calvary, when Jesus willingly paid the price for our sins and died in our place. He forgives you for your wrongs and wants you to do the same for those who wrong you.

Through much prayer and Papa God’s grace, both Cricket and I forgave the insensitive teacher, although she left the school after three months due to extensive personal problems.

Forgiveness becomes a little easier when we realize there’s always something going on beneath the surface of other people’s lives that we can’t see.

Say, my friend, is there someone who needs your secondhand forgiveness today?

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Offering Secondhand Forgiveness When Someone We Love is Hurt – @DeboraCoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty with permission from Barbour Publishing.

deboracoty

About the author: Debora M. Coty lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Her newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Join the conversation: When have you had to offer second-hand forgiveness?

Six Ways You Can Change the World

 by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Sometimes it feels as if darkness has overpowered light, sorrow dominates joy, and confusion and fear have infiltrated peace. Watching the news play out before me, or perhaps even sitting with a hurting friend, can make me feel powerless. Ineffectual.

But Scripture tells me this is a lie. In Christ, I–we–have the power to transform our world. Each day, with every word and action we choose, every smile we offer, we can speak hope into despair, love into loneliness, and healing into the most broken and beaten down hearts.

We have the power of the risen, victorious, life-and-light-bringing Savior residing within.

Here are ways we can unleash that power:

Engage. In our hyper-interactive culture, where tweets, posts, and likes often replace face-to-face encounters. The result: Many feel unseen. Insignificant. Unvalued. Simply taking the time to engage others in conversation, even if but for a moment, can encourage a deflated heart. Because remember, we’re representatives and reflectors of El Roi, the God who sees. (Gen. 16:13) May we reflect Him well.

Choose grace. I mess up a hundred times each day. I respond with frustration instead of kindness. I behave selfishly instead of releasing my Father’s love. And many, many times I let my mouth (or keyboard) run when I should simply walk away. But though each non-Christlike reaction leads me to confession, I’m also very quick to offer myself grace. I was tired, stressed, overwhelmed … perhaps caught off guard. Yet do I offer the same grace to others? Do I make allowances for their faults or “make much” of every blunder? Whenever I choose grace, I reveal a bit of Jesus and point others to Him.

Stand up. To champion the beaten down, discarded, or marginalized is to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. He left heaven to rescue the oppressed—those burdened and enslaved by sin—and His Word tells us to speak out for those who don’t have a voice. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (NIV).

Enter into someone else’s darkness. Did you ever make flashlight shadows when you were a kid? Did you ever try to do this in a well-lit room? Not so effective, right? Most likely you closed yourself in a darkened bathroom where the beams from your flashlight radiated strong and bright. Whenever we seek out, reach out, and intentionally walk beside those shrouded in darkness, we flood their world with light.

Show kindness. Offer a smile, a hug, a word of encouragement, and an open door. Never underestimate the power of a simple yet intentional kind act done for another. It can soothe anger, counter distrust, and open hearts to the love of Christ. In everything we do and every word we speak, may we remember it is God’s kindness that leads people to repentance.

Pray. May we see every act of darkness, ugly display of hate, and destructive outburst of anger as a reminder to turn to our unchanging, unconquerable power source—Jesus Christ. Those moments spent on our knees may feel … anti-climactic. We may be tempted to think our time in doing—serving in ministry, feeding the poor, typing out oodles of words for books and blog posts—holds more value. But Scripture promises this is far from true. Prayer isn’t meant to be something we do in random, still moments before our real work begins. Prayer is our first and most important work, regardless the task, because ultimately, only Jesus can truly change a heart and a world. When we prioritize prayer, we’re acknowledging we believe this to be true.

Imagine if we each chose to do one of the above each day. Imagine how our families, relationships, neighborhoods—our world—might change.

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Six Ways You Can Change the World – @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who Dancing in the Rain by [Rife, Eileen, Slattery, Jennifer]they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte) or Instagram

Join the conversation: What is one way you plan to be a world-changer today? Share your “I’m gonna!” along with anything else you’d add to my list in the comments below. We can all learn from and encourage one another! And in Christ, we can change the world!

Kinda Kind

by Kaley Rhea

We try to teach our children to be kind—to share and to say gentle words and to play nice, right? But between you and me, fellow grownups, we can be some real sass-mouths to each other.

As a culture, we’re inclined to celebrate the zingers: the quick come-backs, the smart insults, the comic teasing. Something in us loves to shout, “Ohhhh! Apply cool water to that burn!” after a particularly glorious comeback. After all, it really is all in fun.

The problem is that cheeky comebacks can too easily become a habit. We look to “score points” in our verbal exchanges with hardly a conscious thought— and attempting to honestly encourage someone feels like trying to do calligraphy wrong-handed.

But Ephesians 4:32 does tell us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…” (NASB) As a parent, what could be sweeter than seeing your kiddos show kindness to each other? Growing up as the middle child of five, I was always rewarded by the looks on my parents’ faces when I made any effort to be kind to my sibs. When we were tenderhearted to each other, our parents glowed. It changed the entire atmosphere of our home.

Have you thought how you can bless your Heavenly Father lately? Be kind. Be tenderhearted. While there may be awkwardness or an odd feeling of vulnerability in replacing glibness with kindness, it is an opportunity to show sweetness toward Jesus Himself (Colossians 3:17).

I think sometimes a kind person can leave the impression of saccharine-sweetness or even weakness. But let’s be clear: kindness doesn’t lie or flatter or overlook sin. In fact, sometimes confrontation is the kindest thing to do. Psalm 141:5 (ESV) says, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” Replacing truth with feel-good-isms is no kind of kindness at all. It’s more like apathy, in fact. But kindness does require approaching someone in love with the understanding that I am not superior. That their struggle could just as easily be mine. Kindness dismisses the desire to put someone in their place and instead asks the Lord to use me however He wants in that moment, that I might encourage them to victory in Christ.

There is something a bit sinister in habitual teasing, in that it tends to keep things on a superficial level. It’s difficult to share personal struggles or meaningful victories with someone whose tendency is to laugh things off or call things out. So even if sharp but funny insults are the popular thing, they’re not generally the thing for which people are thirsting. We may celebrate the wit of the jokesters, but we’re drawn to the hearts of the kind.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that kindness is a lesson reserved for children. It’s massively important. It’s a command. And it’s impossible to do well without the help of our tirelessly kind and merciful Father. Kindness is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in us. If you find yourself defaulting to clever put-downs or brush-offs, ask Him to change your mind. Ask Him to enable you to bless Him by blessing others with your words and actions today.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Adapted from Messy to Meaningful.

Kaley Rhea

About the author: Kaley Rhea is a St. Louis-area author and one half of the mother/daughter writing team behind 2017 Christian romantic comedy Turtles in the Road (along with the hilarious Rhonda Rhea). She also makes up one third of the writing team for the just-released non-fiction book Messy to Meaningful: Lessons From the Junk Drawer (co-written with Rhonda Rhea and the fabulous Monica Schmelter). She’s unclear on how fractions work, but if Rhonda Rhea is the common denominator, Kaley is pretty sure that makes her like five-sixths of Monica Schmelter. Or something like that.

Join the conversation: Has someone’s kindness ever made a difference in your life?

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

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Growing a Culture, Feeding His Sheep

by Rhonda Rhea

I did battle with a goofy flu virus a few months ago. It was one of those bugs that seemed to circle the planet a couple of times. Those things are even worse when they hit the whole household. When all five of our kids were still at home, we had entire seasons when it felt like we were living in some sort of petri dish. What kind of culture even was that?

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if when a bug hits I could remember if I’m supposed to starve a cold or feed a fever. Or is the other way around? I usually decide to forget the whole thing and douse them both with lots of coffee. I also generally prescribe large doses of chocolate.

And while coffee and chocolate may have a side effect or two themselves, it’s not anywhere near as bad as some of those medicines. Have you read the warning labels on those things? Not that I had planned to operate any heavy machinery anyway. Seriously, who is this person who has to be continually warned not to get heavily medicated and then climb onto a forklift?

I’ve also wondered: instead of nausea, vomiting and varying intestinal distresses, why can’t they come up with a medication that has a warning label something more like, “may cause extreme kindheartedness and prolonged loving attitude”? You hardly ever see that.

I guess it’s mostly because a loving attitude is not one of those side effects that “just happens.” We have to cultivate it. We have to encourage it to grow. Sounds a little moldy but hey, that’s how we got penicillin. And it could change the culture—in our churches, outside our churches and all around them. There’s power in the love of God and in seeing His children love each other that’s world-altering.

We’re instructed all through the Word of God to love each other. To love each other with forgiveness. To love each other with sacrificial service. To love each other with generosity, caring for each other’s needs. We’re told to love each other the way Christ loved us. We’re told even further to love each other by coming alongside and helping carry the loads of others. “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2, HCSB).

Loving, feeding, helping each other—it’s not simply a good lifestyle plan. As followers of Christ, it’s our law. We have an obligation to love and to climb underneath the heavy load of a friend in trouble.

No one understands bearing another’s burdens like our Savior does. He climbed under the impossibly heavy weight of the sin of the world. He fulfilled the law to offer us grace. Jesus did that out of His great love. Then He told us to love with that same kind of love. In John 13:34, Jesus said, “A new command I give you:  Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

As we’re willing to step into the difficult, ugly, germy battles of another, we’ll find that He will feed us in every way we need to be fed. And He can starve our selfishness every place it needs to die. Cultivating love. It really will change our culture.

Meanwhile, back near the petri dish, I’m all better, thanks. I feel so good I’m half tempted to go out and operate some heavy machinery. Just because I can.

 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” John 15:12 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: How do you cultivate love and kindness in your life?