The Proverbs 31 Woman: Pipe Dream or Personal Challenge?

by Lee Ann Mancini

The beautiful description of a virtuous woman laid out in Proverbs 31:10-31 sounds totally unattainable. She is the perfect wife, has her own business, plants a vineyard, is busy day and night, gives to the poor, makes and sells clothing, has a great sense of humor, is wise and loving, never says anything ugly, her children adore her and grow up to be awesome.

Good grief!  I am exhausted just reading those verses. There are many times when I feel like a Marvel Comics superhero to just survive until bedtime. Forget about being winsome and industrious and wise and generous—on those days, sanity is my highest goal. 

When life feels messy even chaotic, when making a simple decision is nearly impossible, or remembering where you put your cell phone makes you want to cry, being a Proverbs 31 woman is more of a pipe dream than a realistic challenge. Yet our hearts yearn to be that virtuous, awe-inspiring woman who is adored by her children, loved and respected by her husband, and admired by those who know her. 

From where did this How-to-Be-a-Perfect-Woman list in the Bible come?  Not surprisingly, King Lemuel’s mother—like all of us mothers of sons—wanted him to choose a wife wisely. So, she provided him with her version of a modern-day “Godly Woman Infographic.”  When we look through that checklist of perfection, all of us can find things that we do well. And we certainly have no problem recognizing those things we wish we did better or more consistently—or even at all.  But how can we ever attain the lofty goal of becoming this Proverbs 31 virtuous woman? What is God telling us He wants from us in this Scripture passage?

We are loved and cherished by an amazing Heavenly Father. He wants us to cling to Him for everything we need. He wants us to trust Him to provide that. He wants us to believe He has our best interests at heart. God wants us to live in the knowledge that He has a specific plan and purpose for our lives and will walk with us every step of the way. When we do that, we can recognize that being a virtuous woman means being a woman who loves God and seeks to serve Him in all that we do. In ALL that we do: cooking, cleaning, working, playing, raising kids, caring, loving, forgiving, learning, resting, praying, and worshiping Him. When we live out Matthew 22:37, becoming a Proverbs 31 virtuous woman is no longer a pipe dream or a personal challenge, it is who we become through the perfect and faithful love and grace of Almighty God. 

“Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  Matthew 22:37 (NET)

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.

Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! Her podcast, Raising Christian Kids, is available on all major platforms. Her 10 -15- minute podcast will empower and equip all who are raising the next generation to have a strong foundation in Christ.

 Join the conversation: To what characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman do you relate?

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51w+Fz6h-vL._SY383_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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?

What is the Greatest Gift?

by Lee Ann Mancini

‘Tis the season of gift-giving – a time of joy. Receiving and giving presents between family and friends, brings surprises and love. Think back to all celebrations – Christmas, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries. What was the best gift you ever gave or received? You know, the one that words could not express how you felt. A gift that you could not adequality describe.

But what about “the Greatest Gift” ever? Some say it’s Jesus. Is that why we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who was born in the little town of Bethlehem? Read the most well-known Scripture in the Bible that answers that question: “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).

Take notice of the word “so”. Dr. Warren Gage, one of my professors from Knox Theological Seminary, stated, “The emphatic word spoken by the Savior, in thru, is the little word so! ‘For God so loved the world…’” [1]

The greatest gift is God’s Son Jesus Christ! Who can measure this ultimate gift of love? The dictionary meaning of the word so means to a great extent. However, I believe that even the word so doesn’t do justice describing the gift of the Messiah to our lost, sinful, world. 

That little word shows the intensity of God’s love. In fact, it’s so intense, we cannot fathom how God’s bequest of sending His Son to the world is the greatest gift of all time. God sent His Son into a lost and sinful world because that’s how much He loves us.

Think about it:

Because You loved the world, You willingly watched Your child leave Your perfect heavenly home to go into a world full of evil, pain, and suffering.

Knowing how sinful the world is, You allowed Your child, whose obedience was perfect, to suffer greatly because of other’s disobedience.

For the salvation of humankind, You sacrificed your one and only child to a world that ridiculed him, as they crucified him for a crime he did not commit.

This is how much God, so incredibly, beyond human comprehension, loved the world! Jesus also loved us so much that He not only gave up his life here on earth by dying for our sins, but He endured separation from his Father as He cried out to him saying, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (Hebrew for, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’)” (See Mark 15:34, NIV). 

The Father and the Son have been one since the beginning of all creation! What gift can compare to the great gift God gave the world? This Christmas season, as we unwrap the tokens of love we have received from our family and friends, let us remember the gift that was given twice: once upon the birth of our Lord and Savior, and once upon His death and resurrection. 


[1] Good New South Florida November 2020 www.goodnewsfl.org.

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51w+Fz6h-vL._SY383_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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: What does God’s love mean to you?

Being Extra Thankful This Year!

by Lee Ann Mancini

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11: NIV

My husband and I recently went on a road trip from Florida to Georgia and all the way up the East Coast to Boston, to visit our dear friends. Then we traveled to Ohio and Michigan to visit family.

It was such a beautiful trip. We left Florida’s ocean breezes, the swaying palm trees and the warm sandy beaches, and headed for the red clay of Georgia and onto the to the ever-breathtaking view of the fall colors that lined most of the highways we traveled. This fall treat to the eye made me recall Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV): “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  

As I listened to the music and viewed the scenery, I became aware of how much our great God has blessed my husband, me, and our family. We raised two children who chose to follow Christ. We survived and continue to survive the bumpy road called marriage (33 years this November). We overcame difficulties such as the death of loved ones and friends. We have celebrated weddings, birth of babies, anniversaries, birthdays and so much more.

With Thanksgiving on its way, memories of all the years we have celebrated this holiday with family and friends we love dearly, as well as all the traditional foods we have shared, I was reminded that we need to be thankful every day. But this year has made me aware that there are many who will not be able to celebrate because of great losses due to this extraordinary, unprecedented, catastrophic Covid 19.

As we were traveling, I thought of ways we could show our appreciation to the Lord for all he has done for us and all he continues to do. Every year we give to those who are less fortunate; however, this year, we want to give a little extra because many are suffering great personal and financial losses. Because of all the fear, less income, and uncertainty this year has brought, people need encouragement, hope, and truth. And it came to me that I could help. I would like to donate 200 of my Christian children’s books to children in need. And I have prayed, and will continue praying, that God would give me other opportunities to help others, to give a meaningful sacrifice for me and my family.

The widow who have all she had – sacrificially – has inspired me. Luke tells her story, “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4 NIV).

How will you show your gratitude for all God has given you? Don’t be afraid to give in any way that you are able, for after all, God has given you all you have and will surely give you all you need.

Thank you, Father, for all you have done, all you will ever do, and most of all thank you for sending your Son to die for our sins!

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51w+Fz6h-vL._SY383_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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: How will you show your gratitude to God?

Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Do you have a friend that needs your grace? I remember one day a friend of mine made an unfavorable remark about my husband’s weight. It really hurt me, because even though he is overweight, his heart is pure as gold. I tried to forgive and forget what she had said, but every time I saw her, those mean-spirited words always came to my mind. I discovered that sometimes it is easier to forgive than to forget.

Praise God that we have the perfect example of what we need to do in what He has done for us. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV). While Jesus hung on the cross, He asked the Father to forgive those who were killing Him (Luke 23:34)! It is a wonderful picture of total forgiveness.

“The living God so forgives that he forgets!”[1]  If He can forgive and forget our many sins, surely, we can forgive and forget a sinful act of a friend or even a foe.

Grace is needed in order to forgive completely. Grace is the gift of mercy and love towards those who don’t deserve it. Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, found himself in a situation that should have cost him his life. It was common for the reigning king to kill the bloodline of the previous king to make sure the king’s position would not be jeopardized. King David’s love for Jonathan allowed him to extend grace to Mephibosheth, who voiced his gratification when he said, “All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table” (2 Sam 19:28, NIV). 

The Greek word for grace is charis. “It is significant that the most common cognates for joy (Chara, “inner joy,” and chairein, “to rejoice”) are derived from the same root— char—as in the Greek word for “grace.”[2] Grace may be the most important word in the Bible because grace is love in action!  We are to rejoice because of His loving grace and the hope we have in Christ. “We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 CSB).

I always extend grace to my friend, because a loyal friend is a treasure beyond comprehension. A friend who forgives and loves when we deserve nothing but condemnation is a treasure that can’t be measured.

When the world says we are to judge and punish the offense, God’s word says we are to lovingly extend grace. If you think your friend was loyal before, watch how your love and grace will transform them even more!

[1] Knight, G. A. F. Servant theology: a commentary on the book of Isaiah 40–55  (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publications), page 71.

[2]  Morrice, W. G. Joy. G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin, & D. G. Reid (Eds.), Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), p. 511–512.

TWEETABLE
Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace? – insight from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51w+Fz6h-vL._SY383_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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: Do you need to forgive someone?


Is Love All We Really Need? Or is There Something Else Missing?

by Lee Ann Mancini

I love music! When I hear an old familiar song, it brings back memories of when I first heard it. But sometimes the words suddenly take on a new dynamic, even though I’ve heard them hundreds of times before. Like the other day, when after listening to one of the Beatles’ blockbuster hits, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. And it’s no wonder: at the very end of the song, “All you need is love” is repeated twenty-five times! As it continued to echo in my mind, I found myself wondering: is love all we really need?

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 lists the benefits of true biblical love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”  Colossians 3:14 states that love binds all the virtues together in perfect unity. God commanded us to love one another as He loves us (John 15:12). And remember, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

We all exhibit love in some capacity. Most people love their families, friends, and neighbors. But obviously, love has not been enough to keep us from family problems, political division, or racial conflict. On its own, love cannot bring peace. So what is the missing piece of the puzzle?

We need more grace.

Grace can bring peace to any relationship. Grace is practicing unconditional favor towards those who don’t deserve it. Grace is love in action. It chooses others over ourselves. We’ve been given abundant grace by God—Paul described the grace of God as lavish (Ephesians 1:7-8). It was grace that enabled us to receive salvation (Ephesians 2:8).

The thing is, grace and intended retribution cannot simultaneously exist in our hearts.

All we need is love and grace. John Newton, who wrote the song Amazing Grace, was once a slave trader. It was God’s grace that changed him. In gratitude, he wrote,

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found: was blind, but now I see.”

As racial tensions and anger unfold this spring, I’ve been examining my heart. Where am I blind to the needs of others? How can I reach out and bridge the gap that stubbornly continues in this country? Why can’t love be enough?

I would say that love is crucial to all of us understanding each other. But we need grace as well. Grace says I have done nothing to earn favor with God. Recipients of grace know: “I was lost but now I see. I was hopeless and now I have hope. I am unworthy but God has made me His daughter. I was helpless to fix my sin, but Jesus paid my debt.”

The important thing to remember is that spiritually, we are all coming from the exact same place. We are sinners in need of a Savior. None of us can be righteous on our own. We all need Jesus and owe everything to Him. We all need God’s unconditional love.

When we understand what we have been given, in spite of our failures and sin, we can let the abundant love and grace we have been given spill over into the lives of others. Forgiving those who have wronged us becomes the only reasonable option. God’s grace can set us free to love as He loves.

The two really do go hand in hand.

Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:32-33 NASB

TWEETABLE
Is Love All We Really Need? Or is There Something Else Missing? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51w+Fz6h-vL._SY383_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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: Of the two, which is more challenging for you–giving love or giving grace?

Aging and Sickness: How Can You Have Hope?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  1 John 3:2 NASB

Does the news scare you? It frequently scares me—especially what I read on the Corona virus pandemic or many other serious illnesses like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.

In 2021, I will turn 62. While I can no longer be considered young, neither will I be considered that old. After all, isn’t 60 the new 50? But if I can be completely honest, there are many ways in which I am beginning to feel my age. For one, I am starting to experience slight hearing loss along with other typical aches and pains. Sometimes I suffer from insomnia, waking up at 3:00 AM on the dot. Finally, I do not have the strength or endurance that I used to. Not to mention how hard it has become to lose weight!

How can I have hope when my life seems to be on a downward trajectory? Many women in my aging shoes can look to the faithfulness of God in their younger years for encouragement. Maybe He was your strength in bearing children or your wisdom as you raised them. Maybe He used the pain in your life to draw you closer to Him. Maybe He has taught you to forgive more easily and love more deeply, all because it brings glory to Him. If He was all that to us before, why would we not trust Him for what lays ahead?

As we’ve aged, we have also matured in how we set priorities. Outside appearance matters much less than it once did. We now value what is in the heart and mind of a person. Our earnest prayer is that we will continue to grow in our ability to be a living testimony of the love and greatness of our Lord and Savior. We are determined to continue in our faithfulness until our very last breath. This is our living testimony.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) declares, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” That promise is so much more relevant today than it was in our youth, back when we felt invincible. In our weaknesses, we now recognize our complete dependence on Him. He is enough to provide for our need and strengthen us in our older years.

Do you grieve your youth? Think about this: Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-17 NIV). 

Remember that every day we are getting closer to seeing Jesus face to face! That promise alone should give us all the hope we need to endure until the end.  

There’s something else we should always remember. John wrote that “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John3:2 NASB). Not only will the Lord one day give us a brand-new body that will never grow old, but one day we will become his beautiful, eternal bride! What greater hope can we have than that?

Will you praise him through your present pain for the future hope you have? How amazing that day will be when we see the Lord’s face! We can look forward to the day when He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It will be worth every hard thing we endured on this earth.

TWEETABLE
Aging and Sickness: How Can You Have Hope? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio Picture


About the author:
 Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: What keeps you going in suffering and pain?

What Hope Can We Have During This Pandemic?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.    Psalm 27:14 NIV

Every morning when I open my eyes, I say, “Thank you, Lord, for this day! Let me serve and honor you.” Once I have finished praying, I like to start my day with a cup of coffee and the morning news. I don’t know about you, but the news is getting harder and harder for me to watch. I feel like we are moving through this pandemic at a snail’s pace. I want my old life back! I want to go out to dinner with my family and friends. I want to go to the movies with my husband. I want to go shopping! And I want to do all of this without a face mask. I’m sure you feel the same way. Plus, if you have grandkids, I’m sure you want to hold them in your arms again as soon as possible.

Although I long for my life to return to normal, I recognize that I am very blessed. There are many people in our country who have suffered much more than a simple disruption of their daily schedule. Many have lost their jobs, their income—or worse, their loved ones. Meanwhile, others have developed severe physical complications or mental illnesses, such as anxiety and panic disorders, that will last them a lifetime.

Given the horrible consequences of this pandemic, I suspect that most of us have wondered, “Can any good come out of this situation?” The answer is a resounding yes! Every day, we see new heroes rise up who have gone unrecognized for too long: doctors, nurses, teachers, truck drivers, grocery clerks, mail delivery drivers, and many more. They are brightly shining lights that are truly living out the Lord’s command, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV). During this pandemic, we should follow the example of these unsung heroes in our society. Perhaps we are called to step out of our comfort zones to help an elderly neighbor, to volunteer at a food bank, or to sew masks. Whatever the case may be, our new lives should reflect the love of the Lord for others, now and always.

Where can we find hope in difficult times? Surely, all of us recognize that we can find hope in God’s Word. But specifically, we can find hope in the stories of the heroes of the faith who waited patiently on the Lord to rescue them in times of distress. Think of David, who was persecuted by King Saul to the point of death for many years. Throughout this fearful time of testing and trial, David was determined to obey God and trust in His provision and protection. When given the opportunity to kill King Saul, David refused to take matters into his own hands. Instead, David waited patiently on the Lord, and God blessed David greatly for his faithfulness.

In another example, consider the story of Joseph. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery in Egypt, and on top of all this, sent to prison under false accusations! Yet in spite of these terrible events, when given the opportunity, Joseph refused to take revenge against his brothers. Instead, Joseph forgave them! He trusted in the Lord’s providence and provision, and God rewarded Joseph for his faithfulness.

These are just two examples of how we can trust the Lord during difficult times. The Bible is filled with many such stories! We simply need to dig deep into the Word of God and trust that the Lord will take care of all our needs according to His perfect plan. We can endure the present negatives that surround us by focusing on the future positives that await us. Psalm 27:14 states, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (NIV).

Throughout this pandemic, I have had to remind myself to trust in God’s promise that He will take care of all my needs and desires. Some days are easier for me than others. But whatever the day brings, I will actively choose to trust the Lord and help others in any way I can. After all, I know that God loves me, and He will take care of me and reward me for my faithfulness. With this new perspective in mind, as I watch the news and drink my cup of coffee in the morning, I will not fear. God is in control!

TWEETABLE
What Hope Can We Have During This Pandemic? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: What other Bible stories inspire you to trust in God?

 

 

Can You Distinguish the Voice of God?

by Lee Ann Mancini

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV

“What do I do, Lord?” “Can you hear me, Lord?” “God, is that your voice?” “When will you answer me, Father?” I’ve asked these questions at many points during my Christian walk. Certainly, my desire is always to follow the will of God. But sometimes when I am faced with a major decision, I struggle to identify how the Lord is leading me. I ask Him for an audible command or a clear sign regarding which way to proceed, but instead, all I get is silence. Can you relate?

God isn’t always so hard to read. In the Old Testament, God led the Israelites through the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). He spoke directly to the heroes of our faith like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, giving them clear and audible instructions as to His perfect will. They did not have to wonder what God’s will for them was.

But even hearing from God directly, they did not always respond with obedience. God instructed Adam very clearly, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NIV). We all know what happened next! When God told Moses that He had chosen him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses was reluctant to follow God’s instructions, saying, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NIV). Even Abraham proved disobedient to the Lord.  He put the covenant seed in jeopardy when he lied to the king concerning Sarah, “She is my sister” (Genesis 20:2). The patriarchs’ behavior demonstrates that even an audible command from God is not enough to ensure the obedience of His people.

God still communicates with those He loves. He reveals Himself to us through the revelation of the natural world around us and through the special revelation of His Holy Word. He comes to us in dreams and visions. He speaks to us in times of joy and in times of sadness, such as the birth of a newborn baby or the death of a loved one. He impresses thoughts on us as we pray in His presence.

Jesus spent a great deal of time in the presence of His Father to hear from Him. This was imperative to His mission here on earth: “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30 NASB). His humble obedience led to His death on the cross (Philippians 2:8) and resulted in salvation for all humankind.

Part of communication with God is taking the time to listen. If you believe in Jesus, His Spirit dwells within you. He is in your heart, mind, and soul. He is there to guide, teach, and convict. Paul tells us to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). He is already present. We just need to remain sensitive to His leading. To be filled is to be fully submitted to His voice.

Pray daily that you will be yielded to the Holy Spirit. I like to say the following prayer every day: “Thank you, Holy Spirit, for dwelling within me. Let every thought I have, every word I speak, and every decision I make be according to your will and not my own.”

In the busyness of this world, we need to be proactive about asking the Lord for guidance. Sometimes we aren’t given the time to wait for as clear an answer from the Lord as we’d like to have. Nevertheless, we must trust that God will be faithful to show us His will in our lives—if we seek Him daily and choose to listen closely.

As God told Isaiah and the people: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV).

TWEETABLE
Can You Distinguish the Voice of God? – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio PictureAbout the author: Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: Have you heard from God lately?