Success Can Be Dangerous

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Success can be dangerous.

Elijah had just been used by God (in I Kings 18) to triumphantly bring fire down from heaven and put the priests of Baal not only to shame, but to death. But then, in response to the miracle, Queen Jezebel angrily threatened retaliation.

“So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of [those priests]. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (I Kings 19:2 NIV).

Elijah reacted as most of us would have. He fled. God supplied sustenance in Beersheba, and then, continuing in his escape, Elijah ended up “lodging in” (not just visiting) a desert cave one hundred miles away from where he started. Alone. Or so He thought.

God then asked Elijah a simple question: “Elijah, what are you doing here?

Elijah answered: “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel  have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10 NASB).

Then, because God is compassionate and caring, he revealed Himself to Elijah, showing him he was not alone. He first caused a thundering wind, but He was not in the wind. He then shook the earth in a violent quake, but He was not in the earthquake. Then a roaring fire passed by, but God was not in the fire. God was not in any of those violent, destructive things.

When God finally did come, it was with a gentle blowing whisper. It was enough to woo Elijah out of his dark cave.

And again, God asked the question, “What are you doing here?”

He wasn’t asking Elijah about his physical location, but where he was in his heart. God wanted Elijah to bare his soul to Him. Elijah did, revealing once again his disillusionment and fear.

And in response to Elijah’s honest struggle, God comforted him by showing him the relief and help He would provide.

Most of us can probably think of a time when we trusted God wholeheartedly, but found a massive spiritual fail wasn’t far behind. As we turned inward and away from God, it may even have triggered depression and hopelessness.

During times of sadness, or when you’ve just failed (or sinned) for the umpteenth time, how do you hear God’s response? Especially when you feel abandoned and feel no one understands?

Do you hear God’s words as a gentle inquiry: “What’s going on in your heart? I want to help.”? Or do you hear a condemning “I can’t believe you’re disappointing me … again!”?

How we perceive the tone of God’s inquiry indicates whether or not we believe that God is a compassionate God.

I love how God’s question was an invitation for Elijah to identify his feelings out loud. I love how He responded by revealing His own compassionate nature. Identifying our feelings often is not easy. Many of us as children were told not to feel or share our deepest emotions. We can feel guilt by expressing them.

But God doesn’t want us to hide anything from Him. His caring question invited Elijah’s honesty. His response to Elijah’s raw emotion was to give him purpose, sustenance, encouragement, and support.

God could have provided for Elijah without asking his soul-penetrating question, but he didn’t. Elijah’s heart awareness and verbal expression prepared him to receive what God had to say to him, to receive God’s compassionate provision.

He can do the same for you.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.   Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

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Success Can Be Dangerous – encouragement from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller lives in Southern California and is the author of over 55 books including the Daughters of the King Bible study series. One of the studies is At the Heart of Friendship. As a popular women’s conference speaker, she has spoken in 35 states and 8 foreign countries. Her passion is to communicate practical biblical ideas for trusting God more. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com 

Join the conversation: How do you describe God’s caring compassion?What does it mean for you today?

His Love

by Fran Caffey Sandin

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.                                                                                                                                                    Psalm 33: 22 NIV

Weary from staying two weeks in the hospital with Steve, my sick son, I craved a big glass of iced tea with lemon. The cafeteria food was served in a covered plastic container, convenient for take outs. I made my selection and poured tea from the cannister, but no lemons were available.

After finding a quiet place to sit, I opened the plastic lid, and there to my great surprise was a large slice of lemon! Tears filled my eyes as I realized that lemon was added, not appropriate for the entrée I ordered. It seemed such a trivial thing, maybe even a mistake by the server, but to me God was saying, “I love you.” With gratitude I bowed my head and thanked my Heavenly Father that He loved me, He knew where I was, what I wanted, and He cared. Years later I still remember the emotions of that day.

My daughter, Angie, had a similar experience when she came to the hospital the same week and realized she needed to spend the night with her brother, Steve. Normally she would be at home preparing the evening meal for her husband and three children, and she wondered, what should I do?

Within seconds, before she could even make a plan, her neighbor sent a text: “Angie, don’t worry, I am taking dinner to your family tonight.” God loved Angie by providing for her loved ones while she was away. Sometimes we are responding to God’s promptings in helping others, and at times we are the ones being helped.

My husband and I felt God’s love in our early years when we had placed some money in an investment account recommended by a reputable source. One day the Holy Spirit strongly urged my husband to transfer our funds to a different financial institution. He did. Later we learned that our money was the last transaction made by the company, before they declared bankruptcy.  God protected our modest savings.

The various ways God shows His love highlights His PRE-VISION and PRO-VISION. I am always encouraged to read verses that speak of God’s love. Here are a few: 

God is love (I John 4: 8 ESV). This is God’s character. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 136: 1 ESV). God’s character never changes.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar (Psalm 139: 1,2 ESV).  God knows all about us from before birth.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. He will always forgive.

Dear Father, thank you that You are God with us, and we can enjoy a personal relationship with You. What a blessing that while we were sinners, you came to earth to pay the penalty for our sin and guilt. It is more than we can comprehend, but You have shown true love. Help us recognize both large and small ways you demonstrate your love to us every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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His Love – encouragement and insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Fran SandinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What aspect of God’s love means the most to you?

 

 

Undos and Do-Overs

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

I love the “undo” button. You know the one on the computer—that little arrow that curves to the left. When you click it, the last thing you did magically reverses. Make a mistake? No problem. Click, it’s fixed! Accidentally deleted something? Not an issue. Click, it’s back!

But “undo” isn’t an option for everything. Like Christmas morning, when I got distracted and “overcooked” the cinnamon rolls. Sadly, it’s not possible to uncook something.

Wouldn’t it be great if life had an “undo” button? I could click it to magically erase the unkind words I blurted. Or wipe out my selfish behavior. Or eliminate the wrong decision that proved to be oh, so bad. I could “undo” all those things that brought unwanted consequences or now weigh heavy on my conscience.

“Do-overs” would be another great life tool. For instance, it would come in really handy when the trials and difficulties of life pile up around us until we’re overwhelmed. When every path forward is blocked we’d just call a do-over. We could simply start over like on one of those puzzle apps. No more moves? Okay, let’s just begin a new game.

Yep. I think undos and do-overs for life would be very popular. When everything is messed up, when nothing is right, we could get a clean slate. Then we could start fresh.

It might sound too good to be true, but for Christians, that’s exactly what we received when we entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. A clean slate.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV

Our “old” life seriously needed a do-over. It looked like the ungodly world around us. We were burdened with the weight and consequences of self-centered living, bad decisions, and poor choices. But our “new” life is radically different from the world, holy and set apart to God. A life of holiness brings glorious freedom and joy. Freedom from the weight and consequences of sin.  And joy in a deeper intimacy with our holy God.

Sometimes Christians living the new life of faith can still get off track. We may fall back into old habits or allow the things of the world to distract us from following Christ. But praise God, He continuously invites us to repent and return to Him.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

We will not be perfect in this sinful world. Even as we grow spiritually to be more like Jesus, we will sometimes fall into temptation. But our faithful God will continue to give us second chances, undos, and do-overs until Jesus returns. Then we won’t need them ever again.

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Undos and Do-Overs – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” will lead you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.

Join the conversation: How does the possibility of a do-over affect your walk with Jesus?

 

Manna Mania

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Have you ever wondered if the Israelites ever tried to get clever with their manna? God provided them with all that miraculous food each day to keep them alive. But I do remember reading that they got a little whiny about eating the same thing day in and day out. I can picture them moaning, “Oh, the hu-manna-ty”—even though the manna must’ve been pretty sweet and tasty. Exodus 16:31 says “it tasted like honey wafers” (NLT). Add a drizzle of chocolate and it sounds perfect to me.

I wonder if they ever tried to get creative. Maybe they tried new recipes. Mannawiches, maybe?

What if they got even more clever and made it into a loaf, then added berries? Wouldn’t that make “Berry Manna-loaf”?

Would eating too much of it cause them to sing mellow songs and consider music and passion always the fashion? Perhaps they could’ve kept the showman theme, added different fruits to make other tasty treats. You know, like “Copacabana-banana-manna.” Could’ve happened, couldn’t it?

Or maybe they were just too busy whining to get creative. I would make fun of them for it, but I’m afraid there are too many times I ask God to provide and then take it for granted when he does. Or worse, I complain about the way he does it. How embarrassing to still be so quick to be full of myself instead of being full of him.

I’m so thankful our God is a God of mercy. He demonstrated it again and again with the whining Israelites. Psalm 78: tells us, “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?’ Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved. In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities.” (verses 18-19, 23-25, 30, 32, 38a, NIV).

His mercy still shows up in our every whiny inadequacy today. Even after I’ve been too shallow and full of self to recognize him and thank him, he graciously shows me mercy. And he’s faithful to continue to remind me to recognize him and to thank him and to crave his presence more than anything else. What a mighty, merciful, loving God we serve!

I think my lunchtime prayer might be a little different today. It’s very likely to be fuller than usual of thanks and praise to the merciful God who provides. And I want to crave him more than I crave lunch.

Speaking of lunch cravings, does banana bread sound especially good to you right now too?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

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Manna Mania: Remembering to Be Thankful – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: For what are you most grateful to the Lord today?

Warming My Soul

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  Isaiah 60:1 NKJV

Winter in Texas is as dependable as a monkey on Mountain Dew. Thirty today, eighty tomorrow. Or worse, eighty in the morning and thirty by lunch. People in Texas do not plan out the weeks’ worth of outfits on Sunday night. Last week we had a string of days where the temperatures never got out of the upper twenties with precipitation and freezing rain. Miserably cold. In Texas these are the conditions that inspire panic, food hoarding, the updating of wills, and gas shortages.

But as quickly as it came, the cold left, and the sun shone through. Having spent several days writing in the climate-controlled comfort of my office, I was ready for some sunshine. I grabbed a light jacket and headed out to catch what sunlight I could. When I stepped from the trees surrounding our house into the open, the warmth of the winter sun wrapped around me like the embrace of a beloved friend.

I turned my face to the sun and let the rays soak into my skin. This was not the heat of the intense summer sun that hits like a furnace blast. No, the winter sun reached through the chilly air and settled against my skin like butter melting onto a piece of warm bread. Delicious. Slow. Soaking.

I am keenly aware of the warmth steadily reaching deeper into my body, feeding my soul. I feel as if I’m being filled with a golden glow.  The warmth makes me smile. The tension in my body releases, my arms open, hanging loose and ready to receive. I feel the radiance of the Lord washing over me.

Then I hear a commotion behind me—the dog and cat were having a disagreement about which one was more important, I think. It distracts me and I turn to look, my back now to the sun.  The warmth disappears in an instant, much faster than it came. I wrap my arms around my middle, holding myself tightly, trying to preserve the warmth and protect myself from the chill.

Then it hits me.

This is exactly what I do with God. I turn my face to Him and feel His love radiating through me. I relax my anxious worrying. I stand open to receive whatever He has for me. I glow.

Then something captures my attention. Distracted, I turn my face from Him. Perhaps it is an unexpected event—a diagnosis or job change. Or it could be a series of small things turning me slowly by degrees. An overcommitted schedule. A wounded heart I refuse to address. A television show I won’t stop watching or friends that pull me toward things that aren’t God’s best for me. Soon my arms no longer hang open to receive from God. I hug them tightly against me for protection. My body becomes tense, uncomfortable and aching.

I have two choices. I can grow accustomed to the cold and learn to live with the ache until I accept it as normal.

Or I can turn back to the Son.

Oh the unmistakable beauty found in the everyday rising of the sun!  Is it possible that God has established this as a picture for us? The writer of Lamentations thought so. “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every monring; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). The Son is always there. We have only to turn to Him and be warmed.

Turn your face to Him today and feel the warmth of His love.

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Turn your face to God and feel the warming of your soul – hope from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: What tends to distract you from soaking in God’s love?