Bread, Salt, Wine, Food, Flavor, Joy

by Nancy E. Head @NancyEHead

 “Bread, so that this house may never know hunger. Salt, that life may always have flavor. . . Wine that joy and prosperity may reign forever.”

In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, George and Mary Bailey offer the housewarming gifts of bread, salt, and wine to the Martini family. A large family, the Martinis purchase their home only because of George Bailey’s friendly business dealings.

George heads a wobbly savings and loan, spending his days in a shabby little office believing his life has no value. Recipients of George’s generosity know better. In the end, George realizes the magnitude of his Wonderful Life.

As a single mother of five, I frequently received “bread” from the generous hands of others. Some days were lean, some, dreadful. But many memories from those days reflect the well-flavored life.

One Thanksgiving, a Sunday school class provided our feast. Another year, a fellow churchgoer signed our family up for her company’s Christmas outreach. Sometimes, we would find a box of food on our front porch. But it wasn’t just food and goods. People gave us the opportunity to sit together and enjoy bounty. There was joy in knowing others cared, joy in celebrating our blessings.

After I remarried, life became more financially secure. Now we can be George Baileys to others, offering bread to enhance their lives. But giving never goes in one direction. Giving adds flavor to our lives too.

With ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, we decided a few years ago that our dining room table was too small. We yearned for extra room for side dishes and elbows. So we found a carpenter to build a new table with removable leaves to expand or contract as needed.

But in order to use furniture, you first must get it into the house.

Even in its smallest state, the table was too wide for our front door. We would have to hoist the table over the back rail deck. And that seemed impossible unless we could get someone to help.

The best candidate seemed to be the young man who had just moved in next door. He was strong, and he was home. Upon asking for his help, we learned that he is a mover by trade. How perfect! The old table went out the back door and the new one came in.

We had planned to put the old one on the sidewalk with a “Free” sign on it. But we learned this neighbor and his wife had no table. Now they do.

He blessed us by helping. We blessed him by filling a need we hadn’t realized existed. Now his family can break bread as they sit together. Blessing comes in receiving and giving.

We know from Scripture we’re to love our neighbors. Matthew, Mark, Luke, Romans, Galatians, and James all tell us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s hard today for many of us to know our neighbors, let alone love them. Maybe a quick conversation as we come and go will reveal a need we hadn’t been aware of. And perhaps the need is just that bit of time we give to show we care enough to ask how someone is doing and wait for an answer.

We can make a difference in our neighborhoods, in our communities. Christ has made us the salt to bring flavor and life to our world. In our giving, He gives back a flavored life.

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.                                                Hebrews 13:16, NIV   

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Bread, Salt, Wine, Food, Flavor, Joy – insight from @NancyEHead on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)                                                                         

nancy headAbout the author: Nancy E. Head is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. Once a single mother with five children under the age of 14, she now teaches middle school through college classesRestoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ's Love Through the Church in One Accord and works in her community to lift those in need toward independence. Nancy is also a speaker at Christian Women Speakers.

LIFE

by Tammy Whitehurst @TammyWhitehurst

 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.                                                                           Psalm 34:18 NIV 

Everything was going fine, then it suddenly feels as if we’ve stepped in front of an oncoming train or just walked face forward into a brick wall. We never saw it coming. It stopped us cold in our tracks.

LIFE: a hit of some kind to the home and heart. Most of us have felt deserted either emotionally or spiritually at some point. The pain can either derail us or propel us into the arms of Jesus.

A few years ago, I found myself in a dance with depression. Without Scripture guiding me out of the dark and back into the light, I would still be in the pit. Even as I clawed myself up and out, I knew Jesus had me in the palm of His hand.

During those dark days, I always believed the dark cloud would one day give way to sunshine. It is true when God tells us weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:1-5).

The key is to keep digging through the darkness until it bleeds light. It will….. because God says it will.

As Christians, we keep moving forward even if we have to drag ourselves. Even if we must claw our way into the next day….. and the next. God sees, hears, and cares. Because of that we have hope. God is good even when life is bad.

I can’t answer why we must walk through a crisis or how long we have to stay.

I can’t tell you when it all will change.

BUT…..

I CAN tell you where our help comes from. His name is Jesus and He won’t bend nor will he break. Even when our future is uncertain, he walks ahead of us to show the way.

When fear is overwhelming and questions have no answers, rely on the peace that surpasses all understanding. He is strong enough to rescue, to save….expect the unexpected when it comes to unleashing and bombarding Heaven with our prayers.

When it comes to life, the older we get the more we realize that “sometimes” is a real word that requires real faith.

Sometimes we get answers quickly.
Sometimes we don’t.
Sometimes people are healed.
Sometimes they aren’t.
Sometimes marriages last 50 plus years.
Sometimes not.
Sometimes relationships are mended and forgiveness comes full circle.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes people realize true peace is found when we cross the line in the sand and step out on faith.
Sometimes the line is never crossed.

But even in uncertainty, as believers we can stand with our heads held high. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can march forward, not backward, eventually regaining the hope we might have lost.

Rough waters make smooth stones. Smooth stones bring down giants. Armor up. It’s time to report for duty!

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LIFE – insight and encouragement from @TammyWhitehurst on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

tammy whitehurstAbout the author: Tammy was a middle school teacher before graduating from New Orleans Theological Seminary in 2010. Now speaking full-time, she has been interviewed on radio stations including Moody Christian Broadcasting and has authored three devotionals. She is also the co-director of Christian Communicators Conference, training speakers across the country. She has been described as a hoot with a capital “H” and she struggles like the rest of us with dust, dishes, cellulite, junk drawers, and wrinkles. Find out more about her at TammyWhitehurst.com

Join the conversation: When is the last time life knocked you off the tracks? What gave you hope?

The Truth from 20 Seconds of Hand Washing

by Amber Weigand-Buckley @BareFacedGirl

… “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “from his innermost being will follow rives of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive… John 7:37-39 NASB

In the early hours of the morning, my mouth was dry, so I turned to the side table, as usual, to take a drink from my water bottle. I took a long sip, then, naturally, headed to the bathroom. There I immediately proceeded with the up-to-the-elbows-20-seconds-of-Doxology hand sanitation. (Hopefully, we all have gotten that part down.)

However, this time, instead of focusing on the words of the Doxology, I was thinking about the water.

I was focused on the significance of our body’s makeup of 80 percent water. It’s the 80 percent that runs through the 20 percent of these skin and bones.

In fact, in Genesis 1, the Spirit of God moving across the water was the first stirring of life from the earth in Creation.

Think about it. It’s the movement of the water that sustains the 20% of skin and bones that are ripe for sickness and the breaking. But as much as we need fresh, pure water, we like to try to replace the 80 percent with inadequate substitutes: things that actually make us more dehydrated than if we would simply drink the water we need.

John 7:38 NIV says: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Jesus was using the Old Testament metaphor of water that pictured the Spirit of God. He was promising new life to those that chose to believe in Him.

He described the Spirit to the woman at the well as “living water” which would forever satisfy her thirst (John 4:7-14). He told Nicodemus that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5 NASB).

So when you are washing your hands for 20 seconds to keep sickness from affecting your bones, remember the life-sustaining 80 percent of you that is water. And the Spirit of God that moves within you as physical water does, bringing spiritual life. It is in the eternal filling by Him that breathes life even when this 20 percent of flesh fails.

Jesus told His disciples to “thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6 NIV). Let’s not confuse that with the thirst for doing the “right things.” It’s the desire to seek after the fullness of life that the Spirit of God can bring.

So even when the rain falls in this life, let it cause us to focus on being moved in the eternal things. Let us show others it is the Spirit of God that gives us eternal life. It’s a good thing to think about while taking that extra care and attention to  washing those hands.

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The Truth from 20 Seconds of Hand Washing – encouragement from @BareFacedGirl on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amber weigandAbout the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley is editor and art director for the award-winning Leading Hearts magazine. Text LEADINGHEARTS to 64600 to get your free issue and go to leadinghearts.com to sign up for weekly Leading Hearts Magazine - Issuuinspiration and freebies.

Join the conversation: What has God shown you during this time of quarantine?

Are you Dead or Alive?

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

A few years ago, my car battery died and left me stranded in a doctor’s office parking lot. I didn’t get a warning. I had no trouble starting the car to drive to the appointment, but when I came out to go home, the motor didn’t even try to start.

I intercepted a cowboy headed out to his pickup truck and asked for his help. He agreed to do what he could and managed to finagle his vehicle into a position to connect our batteries. But still my car wouldn’t start.

I decided it must be something other than the battery. Maybe the starter. So I called Triple A and my father-in-law. The tow truck took my car to the dealership and my father-in-law took me home.

Later that day the service department called with the diagnosis. It was the battery. What? I asked why the “jump” didn’t get it going? According to the man who understands cars far more than I do, a battery has to have at least some life left in it to respond to a jump. My battery, on the other hand, didn’t have a single spark of life remaining. The only hope left for my car was a brand new battery. One that contained life. So, dead battery out and live battery in. Car started. Amazing.

Before Christ saves us, we’re like my car sitting in the doctor’s parking lot. We might look fine from the outside, but because we’re all sinners, we are all dead in our sin.

All have sinned (Romans 3:23); The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23); Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins (Ephesians 2:1 NIV).

Sin brings spiritual death, cutting us off completely from the Source of spiritual life. We have no power to save ourselves, and no access to the One who does. Sounds like a hopeless state, doesn’t it? Oh, but the grace of God…

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV

I am so overwhelmed by what God has done for us in Christ! Because of His love, and mercy, and grace, God replaces our death with His Life. And His Life is Jesus Himself. Eternal life is The Life in us.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).

Are you dead or alive? Has there ever been a time in your life when you received God’s unbounded grace and crossed over from death to life? If so, then rejoice over that life today. If not, then why not receive His life today?   How to know Jesus

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Are you Dead or Alive? insight 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 Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing by [Howard, Kathy]apostle Paul 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: Are you dead or alive? Tell us your story.