Creation Worships

by Joanne Hagemyer

 For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them He has set the world. 1 Samuel 2:8 NIV

I spent a lot of time outside as a little girl, and specially loved the woods and fields of Rochester, New York, where I went to camp. I learned how to catch salamanders in a rippling brook using only a blade of grass. I caught frogs in the lake, mirrored buttercup flowers under my chin, and watched Queen Anne’s Lace flowers turn brilliant colors in cups of water and food dye. I loved the soft pussy willows and the cheerful smiles on all the pansies. I learned that morning glories only bloom in the morning, and honey suckle really does taste sweet.

Every week we would take an overnight backpacking trip, gather wood to build our own fire, and sleep under the stars. I loved to watch the sun rise on those early dawns, sitting in my warm sleeping bag, on the cool, dewy grass.

On Fridays, we made taffy and spent a half hour or more pulling the warm, gooey molasses mixture back and forth to give it texture before we ate it. Then we would all jump in the lake and swim with the minnows and ducks.

Sunday mornings we walked over to the chapel next to our camp house to sing hymns and hear a sermon. My favorite hymn was “Fairest Lord Jesus,” because it made me think of Jesus being with us outside.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robed in the blooming garb of spring; Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, and all the twinkling starry hosts: Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer, than all the angels heav’n can boast.

At the end of Revelation, Jesus said to John, “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16 NIV). This name for Jesus reminds me of how I loved watching the rays of earth’s bright morning star, our sun, tint the dawn’s skies with rich purples, pinks, golds, and blues. How much more, especially in a dark day can Jesus, God’s Son, fill our inner person with the richness and freshness of his glorious light.

David wrote: “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of world” (Psalm 19:1-4 NASB). They say a picture is worth a thousand words. One sunrise, one delicate flower, or one star-filled night can increase our understanding with no words at all as to how beautiful and great He is.

O Lord, all creation loves You and worships You, for You are the fairest of all there is. You shine brighter and purer even than all the angels in the sky, who announced your birth. May you make our sorrowing spirits sing, even during our own dark days.

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

About the author: Joanne Guarnieri Hagemeyer, retired Teaching Leader and Area Advisor with Bible Study Fellowship, now teaches at Grace and Peace, Joanne, and serves on the pulpit teaching team of New Hope Chapel, Arnold, Maryland. She is a member of the Board of Directors for Lay Counselor Institute and the Biblical Archaeology Forum and has participated in two archaeological excavations, at Tel Kabri and Tel Akko, Israel. She is currently a Masters in Theological Studies student at Portland Seminary and author of Love Feast (January 2020) and Broken, Searching, Trusted, Powerful (July 2020). To learn more about Joanne, please visit GraceandPeaceJoanne.com, watch a lecture on YouTube, or visit her on Facebook.

Join the conversation: What have you found in nature that reveals God to you?

Night and Day of the Zombies

by Patti Richter

We sat on the floor hugging our knees to our chest for protection, wide-eyed at the scene before us. Several people with the same ghastly appearance stumbled forward— not in living color but in half-dead black and white.

That was my first encounter with zombies, when Mom allowed my sister and me to stay up late one Friday night to watch a scary movie. It may have been the only time I forgot to eat my popcorn.

Zombies have maintained a steady following for decades, which may have something to do with people facing their fear of disease, or death, or life after death. But it’s a gruesome type of therapy to entertain yourself with the walking dead—rotting flesh, infected and infecting.

I recently observed some modern-day, civilized zombies (although they might refer to themselves in another way since their particular form of mindlessness begins with exercise). I’d seated myself at the only empty picnic table under a shade tree for an hour of reading while my husband and son hiked.

The group of young women sat cross-legged in a circle on a blanket with several babies stowed in a playpen beside them. I assumed they gathered for social and health benefits, but after some low humming they rose and surrounded my shade tree. As they caressed the tree with long strokes, they chanted unintelligible words. When the women’s voices grew shrill with laughter, the babies began centering on their own self-actualization—wailing for their mothers’ attention.

I felt sorry for those women and children. They’re soaking in the world’s counterfeit light in place of “the light of the world” (John 8:12 NIV). Tim Keller says, “Christ gives us true things to think about that overcome the darkness of this life, while others say ‘just hum loudly and look away.’”

However, I do not condemn those who seek to fill a spiritual void since I, too, was once a zombie. According to the Apostle Paul, I was dead in my sins while I “followed the ways of this world” (Ephesians 2:2 NIV).

Paul, sent by the Lord to minister to Gentile nations that did not know God, explained that, without Christ, we are the walking dead. “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Eph. 2:3 NIV). He observed the futility of those “separated from the life of God,” who have “lost all sensitivity” (Ephesians 4:18 – 19 NIV).

The nations currently hope for a return to normal through an effective vaccine against the deadly virus that plagues us. But our normal world features untold suffering from the problem of sin. Greed, strife, deceit and all kinds of depravity will continue to plague our world. And troubled souls will still seek relief through escape mechanisms and mind-altering substances.

However, “a new and living way opened for us” that allows us to “draw near to God” (Hebrews 10:20, 22 NIV). We don’t have to stumble through life infected with sin.

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) foretold of the transformation the Messiah would bring: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” This Old Testament promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save the spiritually lost and confused, even those who were demon-possessed.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 NIV  

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Night and Day of the Zombies – encouragement from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Have you been transformed into the land of the living?

The Card with a Cross

by Louise Tucker Jones

 “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand…” Isaiah 51:16 (NIV)

 It was my first time to speak at a Christian Women’s Club and I was a little nervous. I had never shared my testimony in such a format—telling about the difficulties in my life and how God brought me through them. Nor had I ever given a public message of salvation or offered a prayer to pray and become a Christian. I was a novice and it was a little scary.

I wondered how the story of how I coped with my middle son’s death, my youngest son’s disability and heart disease, and my own experience with clinical depression could touch someone’s heart. I thought they would walk out and say, “Whoa, glad that wasn’t me!” But it didn’t happen that way.

At the end of my testimony, I held up a card that each woman had been given when she arrived. As instructed, I asked them to fill out the card then hand it to me on their way out the door. I also asked if they would draw a cross in the corner if they asked Jesus to come into their heart that very day.

Many women stopped on their way out to chat, compliment, or even sympathize as I smiled bravely, thankful the talk was over. Then it happened. A lady placed a card in my hand with a small cross sketched in the upper corner. I couldn’t believe it! God had actually used my words to draw someone to Himself. I had never felt such an awesome experience.

I have spoken at many public venues since that day. But it still amazes me when I find that my message at a retreat or conference or my words on paper have been used by God to draw someone to Him. Each decision is like a love message from God, telling me over and over that He can use any happening in my life to help others.

Though I would never compare myself to the apostle, Paul, his life is a perfect example of this. He was shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and more, yet he kept preaching and speaking for the Lord, even writing letters to Christians from a prison cell. He never quit proclaiming Christ’s love or telling about the difficult things in his life that God used for others’ good.

Some of us have heart-breaking stories to share, yet we are often tempted to tell only the good things, being fearful that we will make God appear unfaithful through turbulent trials. But in truth, everyone is going through something difficult, and they need to know there is a God who will trudge through that deep valley with them. That He will bring them through the pain, the heartache, and even tragic events in life.

I am honored that God chose me to shine a light for someone walking through a dark tunnel that I once traveled. And in spite of the loneliness or pain that comes my way, I can know that God will bring good from it. Not that the incident was good. But God can and will use it for His glory.

Then, like Paul, we can proclaim: “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NIV).

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The Card with a Cross – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Louise Tucker JonesLouise Tucker Jones is an author, speaker and columnist. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise coauthored the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Extraordinary Kids: Nurturing and Championing Your Child with Special Needs, provides parents with vital information to help celebrate, nurture, and prayerfully champion their special-needs children.

Join the conversation: How has God used you to shine light into the lives of others?

 

 

Yet in Thy Dark Streets Shineth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I get it. Sometimes we have difficulty letting go of the season. I was thinking that this year we should try something different. We could try doing Christmas—and then when it’s over, we could wait until next year to do Christmas again. My good friends—who also happen to be my neighbors—kept their Christmas lights up, and even the tree up, until June last year. June! It was so cute. They still turned the lights on every night. When summer rolled around, we were trying to decide if it was a late Christmas celebration or an early one for the next year.

When they came over for Bible study one evening, I teased them, “Tonight you will be visited by the Ghost of CHRISTMAS IS OVER, PEOPLE!”

Then again, I’ve heard a lot of people judge when it’s time to take down the Christmas tree by how dry it is and/or whether or not it’s currently on fire. Counting my blessings. Since my neighbor’s tree is fake.

I do understand how tough it can be to get motivated to take the decorations down and put them all away. Decorating? So exciting. But taking them down is rather a bummer. Last year I tried, “Okay, Google: Take down my Christmas lights,” but…nothing. There really should be an app for that.

Still, you know what? My neighbors might just have it right. Their twinkling tree and all the shiny lights on their house lit up our neighborhood most of the year. Maybe I’m the one who needs to adjust my thinking about what’s seasonal and what’s not. The truth is, my neighbors don’t leave their Christmas decorations up because they’re lazy about taking them down. They leave them up because they love Christmas. They really, really love Christmas.

The pre-Christmas celebrations started long before there was a first Christmas. Seven-hundred years before Christ, Isaiah wrote, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness,” (Isaiah 9:2). Then in verse 6 he wrote, “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (CSB)

This? Oh my, this is something to shine about. Jesus confirmed it when He said, “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven,” (Matthew 5:14, 16 CSB).

Light up the neighborhood. Light up the world.

We sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” every year. It’s a song sung to the city where our Jesus was born and it includes the phrase:

“Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.”

The everlasting Light that shone in Bethlehem is still shining. Our Father doesn’t want us to pack away our thoughts of our Savior’s coming like so many Christmas decorations. We’re to shine Gospel-light-living through our streets and through our world.

So let’s do it. Let’s light it up in every season.

And if you’d specifically like to see it lit up come summer, head on over to my neighborhood. We’ll leave the lights on.

No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.  Luke 11:33 NASB

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Yet in Thy Dark Streets Shineth – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for the Messy to Meaningful series, with My Purse Runneth Over coming soon. Edie Melson and Rhonda have a new book as well, Unruffled—Thriving in Chaos.

Rhonda 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.

Join the conversation: What are ways you can light up your neighborhood and world?

The Testimony of Faithfulness

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When my husband and I were dating, we often took advantage of the many free things to do in nearby Washington, D.C. One night he brought me to the Lincoln Memorial, which is impressive during the daylight hours, but truly awesome by night. After viewing the statue and writings of Lincoln, we stood at the top of the steps and admired the images of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building reflected in the long rectangular pool below.

Steve then took me around the back of the monument and pointed out the dark hillside which was Arlington National Cemetery, located just past the Memorial Bridge. We could see a light flickering on the hill in the distance very clearly. I asked Steve what it was, and he told me it was the eternal flame at President Kennedy’s grave. The next day we walked through that cemetery and came to the site of the eternal flame. To my surprise, the light we had seen from a mile or so away was just a small gas flame about eight inches high.

That small light could be seen from a great distance when surrounded by darkness.

We live around people who are living in darkness. God has called us to be light. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 5:16 NASB). We are tempted to believe that the opportunity to shine comes only in infrequent great moments, like when getting a chance to share the gospel with someone or speaking before a large crowd.

Yet a light that flares only briefly in the darkness before flickering out is much less useful than the kind of light that burns with a steady glow.

We are to be light in every moment of our lives. Paul wrote the Colossians: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…it is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24 NASB). Our testimony’s effectiveness to the world around us is determined by ordinary moments: the small decisions we make, the words we choose, or the attitudes we hold.

We can have a huge impact on neighbors and friends by simply being faithful in what God has given us to do, choosing contentment in where God has us. People will quickly spot peace in our attitudes and joy in our hearts. For those living with nagging thirst, our lives will look like a cool refreshing glass of water. They will begin to think: I want what they have. Our very lifestyle will make them thirsty for the Living Water we can offer.

J. Gregory Mantle, a British preacher who lived in the late 1800’s, wrote: “It is far harder to live for Christ moment by moment than it is to die once for Him; and if we wait for great occasions in which to display our fidelity, we shall find that our life has slipped away, and with it the opportunities that each hour has brought of proving our love to the Lord, by being faithful in that which is least.”

When my kids each began their first job, I shared what I had learned in my own career: Just do your job and do it well. You will stand out from the crowd if you do.

We don’t have to be Billy Graham to inspire others to seek God. Just by being faithful to what God has called us to do, whether it is customer service, teaching school, or mothering small children, God can use our simple desire to serve to glorify him as a beacon of light.

And you can be sure our faithful obedience will be seen and noticed by those still living in darkness.

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give and account for the hope that is in you…with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:16 NASB

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The Testimony of Faithfulness – wisdom from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been approached by someone who wants to know why you are so different than the world around you?

Dancing in His Light

by Janet Perez Eckles

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption , the forgiveness of sins.                                                                                                                                                             Colossians 1:13-14 NASB

“Sit down,” my Mom said patting the sofa beside her. “Listen to this invitation that just came in the mail: The Foundation Fighting Blindness is sponsoring a dinner dance in the dark.”

I wrinkled my nose. “What in the world is that?”

“It’s kind of clever,” she said, “It’s a fund-raiser for research. And also to give folks a chance to experience what it’s like to be blind. The whole event will be held in the dark.”

“Crazy,” I said. “You can be sure hands will be in the mash potatoes. And who knows how many glasses of water will be spilled. And, with no lights, wait till they have to visit the bathroom.  Lots of fun there, for sure.”

Living for thirty years in physical darkness, I’ve grown accustomed to it. In fact, I often forget I’m blind. Okay, you can laugh. It’s kind of silly, but I do forget. In fact, that dinner dance in the dark is way too familiar to me.

But to be fair, I had time to adjust and it’s no big deal now. But for sighted folks to be thrown into a dark room, what a bizarre thing!

But…sigh… not as bizarre as living where spiritual darkness is not an event, a fund-raising dance, or even a temporary episode, but a life-long choice.

I’ve been there. While physically sighted but spiritually blind, I sunk into secret disobedience. In the darkness, I slammed into obstacles while I groped, vainly searching for happiness. Barriers like relentless pride, shameful stubbornness, and disgusting cynicism all blocked my path, resulting in emotional bruises, cuts, and wounds.

But thank you, thank you, Lord. The day He turned on the light for me, the light of His Word, the splendor of His ways and the clarity of His path, new life began for me. Like a flower blooming, my heart opened up to joy and His reminder ever echoes in me: “… for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible” (Ephesians 5:8-13 NIV  ).

…and for me, now visible is the dance floor where Jesus leads the dance, step by step, day by day, to the melody of His promises and the harmony of His grace.

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Dancing in His Light – insight on accepting God’s Light from Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez ecklesAbout the author: Blindness tried to darken her life, but Janet Perez Eckles became an international speaker, best-selling author, personal success coach, radio host and best playmate to her grandchildren. Her books include Contagious Courage: a Thirty Day Journey to Overcoming Stress and Anxiety and Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta. You can learn more about Janet at www.janetperezeckles.com.

Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: How does light make a difference in your life today?

British Beasties

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

I loved my pet rabbit with every bit of my teenage angst emotions. He was the very large listening ear to whom I whispered my problems, and the one who paid attention to me without judgment. He never questioned my choices, and always listened when I complained.

Honey (named for his golden fur and sweet personality) lived in a once discarded, now refurbished wooden playhouse. My Dad was a whiz with tools, and he’d created this palatial bunny kingdom. It would have been perfect, had it been adjacent to our house. However, my parents saw fit to put Honey’s dwelling far, far from my house, in the dark. You see, the dark was a big problem for me.

I grew up in rural Southern England where darkness falls around 5 p.m. in the winter. Most often I didn’t get in from school much before that. Every night I had to make the trip to the bottom of the yard alone. I was always terrified. Of course I put it off, which never helped, because each minute I procrastinated, the darkness grew deeper.

I would carry the biggest flashlight I could find and hum, cough, or make other noises to announce my arrival to any other creatures who might be skulking about. I had no desire to meet up with wild animals on my nighttime foray. I was pretty sure they were just outside the beam of my flashlight, ready to pounce on me at any second. (Let’s be honest, the only creatures around would have been wild rabbits, rats, or maybe a small fox. But in my imagination there were wolves, hyenas, and lions on the prowl!)

Why does the dark cause us so much consternation? What is it, still to this day, that can make this grown woman’s stomach flip when putting the rubbish out in the dark and hearing a rustle in the bushes?

Darkness veils and conceals. Darkness hides truth. The obscurity of the shadowy gloom seems to be where the unknown shelters itself. Darkness causes fear.

God is Light. He is bright, clear, present, illuminating and warm.

“God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5b NIV)

 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 NIV)

When I live in the pure light of Jesus, He will kindly show me where the hidden messes of my heart dwell. With gentle intentionality He will shine His light on them, so their hold over me is beaten.

When we allow the light of Jesus to radiate within us, we have no need to fear. I can walk the path of this life with every confidence that Jesus is with me; I am never alone. No eternal harm can come to me, and with Jesus I cannot be overcome. There are no unexpected events for Jesus. He sees it all.

I will choose to walk in the light by Jesus’ side, as I trust Him to lead me. I have nothing to be afraid of. Not even the British beasties!

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British Beasties and Using the Light to Face Our Fears – from Sharon Tedford, @61Things on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action.  Her book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Join the conversation: What is it about the dark that scares you?

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!

Light the Way

by Julie Zine Coleman

He hadn’t even noticed his wallet was missing. Not until he answered a knock on his door. There stood a group of teenagers, holding it out in front of them. They’d found it at a nearby mall and used his driver’s license to locate him. Knowing it contained a newly cashed paycheck’s worth of bills, he could hardly believe such integrity. Not one dollar was missing. Grateful, he offered them a reward. They politely refused. They were just happy they had successfully reunited the wallet with its owner.

He had to know more. Why were they so honest? Who were they? The kids smiled shyly and told him they were Christians from a local church. Their integrity was a mere reflection of the One they followed.

The following Sunday, he came to church. He didn’t know much about God, but he knew whatever those teens had was something he wanted. It wasn’t long before he had given his life to the Savior as well.

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NASB). God uses our acts of love to make himself known.

God is all about revealing himself to the world. It’s always been his purpose. “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” God promised (Habakkuk 2:14 NASB). Paul tells us in Romans 1 that God first revealed his eternal power and divine nature with His creation. Next, He chose the family of Israel to reveal Him to the nations. Then the ultimate revelation came: Jesus Christ, “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3, NASB).

And now, Paul tells us that “the manifold wisdom of God… [is now made] known through the church…” (Ephesians 3:10, NASB).

He has chosen US, the Church, to be the vessels through which He is revealing himself today! This serious responsibility has big implications for how we live.

I was recently confronted by an angry neighbor. He accused my sweet dog of something that was absolutely untrue. As I cringed under his bitter words, my instinct was to shoot right back with a hefty dose of reality. But before I could open my mouth, the Lord reminded me that I was there at that moment to represent Him.  A careful, loving response had the potential to show my neighbor Jesus in me.

What better way is there to reveal Christ in us than love? After all, it is just a reflection of the love God has already lavished on us. And there’s plenty of that to spread around.

Paul wrote: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10 NASB). The world’s brand of love is often self-seeking and self-righteous. The kind of love we can offer (agape love) chooses the good of another over ourselves. It is as different from the world as light is from darkness.

My angry neighbor? After a quick prayer for the Lord’s strength, I bit my indignant tongue and responded to his anger with humility and grace. I hope that someday this unhappy man will put His trust in Christ. Maybe God will even use my decision to treat him with love to draw him in.

The world is stumbling around in darkness. God has called us to light the way for them.

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: In what ways have you seen people respond to love?

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash