New Every Morning

by Sheri Schofield

Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools. Joshua 8:31 NLT

“Tim! Drew said his first sentence today!” I exclaimed, as I welcomed my husband home from work.

“What did he say?”

“He said, ‘I wub you, Mommy!’” For a first sentence, that was delightful.

Have you noticed how enthusiastic new Christians can be? God must enjoy them immensely. They are so full of excitement and eager to obey him. It warms my heart and fills me with joy to see this new life taking shape in them, too! Just as I treasured every step my children too, every new word they learned, every hug and every smile, so I enjoy those first steps new believers take.

I have some friends who came to Jesus as a young married couple. They read the New Testament like they were on their first safari, noticing every new thing, delighting in each of the Lord’s commands. They came across the story of John baptizing Jesus. At first, John didn’t want to do it because he felt Jesus should be baptizing him instead. But Jesus told him, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires,” (Matthew 3:15 NLT).

“Oh! We need to be baptized!” my friends concluded. They didn’t know how baptisms were done by churches. All they knew was that John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. So, they filled their bathtub with water and baptized each other.

Spiritually, they sprouted like seeds in the springtime, flourishing and obeying all they read in the Bible. They read that they were supposed to become part of a group of believers, so they joined our church. What a joy it was to get to know them! They were unshaped by the church culture, willing to let God teach them, eager to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading; willing to be conformed to the life Jesus presented in the Bible.

They were like the stones of the memorial Israel built after crossing the Jordan River—unshaped by the tools of man. Their hearts were sculpted by the Holy Spirit. They were new creations. Paul wrote, “He (Jesus) died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view…This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17 NLT).

Our new lives in Jesus must be built on one thing: God’s love. We love God. We love each other. We reach out in love to those who do not know God. Yes, God told the Israelites what His love looks like in Exodus 20. There God spelled out how to show our love for him and for each other.

But the Israelites didn’t get it. They became judgmental of each other’s behavior instead of loving. Knowing this, Jesus made it clear. He simplified the instructions. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-36 NLT).

Do not let the world—the hands of others—shape us. Like fresh, new believers, let us allow the Holy Spirit to shape us. Let our love for Him be new every morning.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22,23 NLT

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

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Her first book on salvation, The Prince and the Plan, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, God? Where Are You?, tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: Are there things in you that have resulted from the world’s influence? Attitudes or actions, that are not from the Holy Spirit? How can you tell?

Really? Boundaries?

by Terri Gillespie

Now this I pray, that your love might overflow still more and more in knowledge and depth of discernment, in order to approve what is excellent—so that in the Day of Messiah you may be sincere and blameless . . . Philippians 1:9-10, TLV

If you hear the sound of knocking and you can’t identify its source, then it’s probably me, banging my head against the wall. Because it happened again.

I meant well. She needed help and no one else seemed to want to help. Little did I know, there was a reason for that.

So, I jumped in and helped. Then I helped again. And again. And again. The more I helped, the more the need seemed to flourish. Was I actually feeding the need?

Wait. Was I being taken advantage of?

As I sat at my mentor’s kitchen table, head in my hands, that revelation was confirmed. Why hadn’t anyone warned me? Perhaps, she said, because I did not ask.

I write a lot of blogs on the importance of love. As children of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. I refer to this passage a lot. This is a balanced and wise approach to love.

For the past few months, I have focused on the importance of love. How we are to respond in love when others behave badly, especially these days where division and chaos have separated family and friends and communities—and well, let’s face it—our nation.

But I have also discussed boundaries. If the apostle Paul were here today, he might use the term boundary to the Philippians. Qualifying only the love that came with the understanding of thousands of years’ worth of understanding and living wisdom.

When we employ the tools of wisdom, which include discernment and knowledge to our expressions of love, we do not accept sin. We understand that we must forgive, as our Father forgives us.

Our pursuit of reconciliation may mean pulling away from someone because continued contact is harmful to us or our loved ones — maybe even to them.

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has demanded to sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22: 31-32 TLV

Sometimes God must sift a soul. As difficult as it is to watch, we must allow them to experience the full weight of their sinful heart for them to be set free. Interfering with God’s process with an uninformed expression of love, is not only detrimental to that person’s process, but also prideful. You know what it is like? It is like saying, “Okay God, I’ll take care of this situation now. Clearly You don’t know what You’re doing.”

Like Peter’s betrayal and Paul’s persecution of the believers, we may need to love from afar via forgiveness and prayer. Love with knowledge and discernment so that we aren’t guilty of interfering with God’s purpose for that soul. And should the day arrive that reconciliation is possible, we will be ready to offer the love that ministers healing.

If you find you have been knocking your head against a wall in frustration over helping others, seek the Lord. Perhaps a little wisdom needs to be applied with that love.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

Join the conversation: Do you struggle to set boundaries in relationships?

Positives, Peoples, and Purses

by Rhonda Rhea

Let’s just get it out there. Most guys don’t understand purses. I’m not being ugly about it. We’re different. And that’s okay. So before starting one more dialogue about my purse, let me go ahead and answer the standard purse questions I get from my husband: Yes, I need it. Yes, I need it at this event, whatever “this” event is. And yes, I need all the things that are in it. All of them. Yes, I do know it’s heavy. Yes, it has pretty much dislocated my right shoulder, that’s why I’m now hauling it on my left one.

Even after that first round of questions, there’s still almost always one more: “How do you ever find anything in there?” The answer is, I don’t. That’s why I put in two of everything. Except for pens. In the case of pens, I put in 4,000.

Before anyone even asks, I should probably also point out that “purse chocolate” is a thing. My husband now understands this: All purses should have chocolate. Don’t touch it.

They are wildly bizarre and eclectic and sometimes beautiful and often difficult to maneuver through. Purses.

Also people.

As intense as my need is for every item in my purse, so much greater is my need for people. Not just because I’m a people-person. It’s true, I’m an extrovert. But there isn’t a one of us who doesn’t need people. God made it so.

The fact that we need people doesn’t negate another fact: people can be messier than a winter purse. I’m not trying to be ugly here either. We’re different. And that’s ultimately okay. It often brings to light our inability to love others well. That’s also okay. We have an indwelling God who will take care of it for us. Every time we’ll allow it, He will love others through us. Even the messiest, most negative person you can think of. Love. It’s positively delightful what can happen in and through a person who surrenders all.

Paul said, “And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11, CSB).

Any growing love or knowledge or discernment happens through Him. Any superior, fruitful, and righteous behavior that happens in any relationship—and in any aspect of our lives—“comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.”

Never mind their messiness or their shoulder-slumping baggage. Let me love them. Love them through me, Lord Jesus.

With every wildly bizarre and beautiful and difficult person I encounter, I’m asking the Lord to sort out their negatives and make me a positive. Not just because I need to connect with them, though I do. But because there’s glory and praise to God when those connections are Holy Spirit-empowered. And it simply doesn’t get more positive than that.

On the lighter side of the positives and negatives, I feel I should point out that there is also pepper spray in my purse. I’m not saying I keep it in there in case someone tries to take my purse chocolate. But I’m also not, NOT saying that.


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

rhonda rhea

About 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 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.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: Has love and grace made a difference in your relationships?

Life’s Muddles and Puddles

by Shirley Brosius

When there are many words, wrongdoing is unavoidable, but one who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19 NASB

I had no idea which button I accidentally pressed when a snowstorm blew across my television screen. Input, perhaps? Nope. Clicking on it changed nothing. After 15 minutes of trying to restore the picture, I called technical support. A very nice man assured me he would help. He even asked how my day was going up until I found myself in this predicament. I assured him it had been going just fine. Until. Now.

The man suggested I try this/try that. Turn off/turn on. Disconnect this/reconnect that. Nothing worked. I shed the robe I wore over my pajamas. We continued to work on the problem—him, giving directions in a soothing, patient voice. Me, following his prompts, more agitated by the moment and finally calling my husband to connect/disconnect, do this/do that.

Back and forth. We chatted for 15 minutes or so. I then did something that lighted the modem box, and I knew we were onto something good. This kind, gentle man finally led me through steps that restored my television picture—just in time for a movie I wanted to watch.

Isn’t that how it is with life? One split-second misstep may take ages to correct. One misspoken word may take long conversations to undo. A spouse irritates you, so you snap back. A child tries your patience, so you yell. A coworker offends you or you offend a coworker. And like my television experience, sometimes we’re not even sure what caused the storm.

Just as I need to be mindful of the buttons I press on the remote, I need to be mindful of what I say. It’s easy to spill words all over myself and others. But the cost of cleanup in time and hurt feelings can be as costly as the cleanup following Hurricane Laura. Better to proceed with caution.

“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3 NIV). David wrote these words in his desire to do right. He knew his words could encourage or poison. After describing what he hoped to avoid, David continued: “For my eyes are toward You, O God, the Lord; in You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless” (Psalm 141:8 NASB ). David knew his only hope of guarding his tongue was in keeping his sights on God, who is totally good.

Here’s my advice du jour:

Approach life with prayer: Prepare yourself for the day by praying for God’s direction and His Hand on your life. If an awkward situation looms, ask for wisdom. If you expect challenges from children, spouses or coworkers, ask for a heart filled with love and discernment. Call for God’s help on the spot as needed.

Accept responsibility: Develop a mindset that refuses to allow irritation to rob you of kind responses. If you’ve already said or done the wrong thing, ‘fess up. You meant well, but it didn’t turn out that way. Apologize. Say you’re sorry. Push comes to shove when we fail to accept responsibility for our words and actions. If you meant well, let your good intentions be known and they will be appreciated.

Apply loving concern: Keep your cool. Calmly express concern. Harsh language only muddies the waters. Like the soothing, friendly technical support guy, offer assistance and suggest ways issues might be resolved. While you may not see eye to eye, the other may hear your heart and accept your basic motivation as sincere. If customer service people can be trained to respond to all voices with patience, so can we as moms and dads, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues.

Life’s muddles and puddles will do us and others good if we use them as invitations to draw closer to God and to each other.

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

About the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events throughout the East as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she appreciates the help of two married sons and five grandchildren when she calls them for help in a muddle. You can find out more about Shirley at www.shirleybrosius.com or www.shirleybrosius.blogspot.com.

Join the conversation: Have you created a mess with your words? How did you resolve the problem?

Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference by [Shirley Brosius]

It’s Time To Be The Church

by Sheri Schofield

People from all over the city have been hiking our mountain trails, having paintball parties, and hunting meat for their freezers this year. With the pandemic in full swing, there has been little else to do except recreate in the mountains, maintaining social distancing when approaching others on the trails. With the increase in human presence, the deer and the elk have disappeared from our mountainside. They have fled to safety elsewhere.

But in the meadow below, the field mice, ground squirrels, and the bunnies have remained, undeterred by the tromp of boots or the sound of rifles. They shelter together in their dens and nests. They have endured. They are peacefully abiding in what is a time of great stress for the other wildlife.

People around the planet are struggling. COVID, intertribal fighting, famines caused by drought and locusts, loss of jobs, and the disruption of the food supply, has brought many people to the point of desperation. The World Food Program alone reports that 270-million people are going hungry in countries where they are serving. They are able to help only 130-million with their program. Rebel groups are recruiting people with the promise of food in exchange for fighting.[1] Christians around the world are suffering.

In times like these, it would be easy to panic or flee to safety. The problem is, the whole world is affected. There is nowhere to go. What can we do to endure this crisis on planet earth?

The past holds the key. When we look back to the World Wars, when over 65 million husbands, sons and fathers marched off to war, we read of communities coming together for prayer meetings. They sang songs like, “O God, Our Help In Ages Past” to keep up their courage. They helped each other.

With social distancing, it is hard to get together for prayer meetings or singing. Unless … remember Zoom? Remember Face Time? We can still meet, pray, and sing together, with help from our social media tools.

In these difficult times, we need each other! We need to interact and remind each other of our great God, who keeps our souls safe during the stormy blast. God has provided us the tools to meet, whether by phone or by computer. If ever we needed to abide together in our safe place with God, it is now.

During the early days of the church, when persecution drove the believers underground for safety, the writer of Hebrews wrote: “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:25, NLT).

Let 2021 be a time when the church abides together in God, making use of whatever means we have been given, to communicate, love, lift, and support. Is anyone sick, unable to work, or has had their business closed down? Those of us who have enough must reach out in love and help them. Is someone alone? Discouraged? Imagine what a phone call could do to lift them up! And of course, there’s email. Or how about the old-fashioned, written note of encouragement, sent by snail mail?

If ever the church needed to be the church, it is now. Let us turn the Holy Spirit loose among us and see what God can do through us! This could be the greatest time of revival in decades … if we reach out to each other… and to the lost … with words of hope and love, with deeds of kindness and support.

Church, it is time: BE the light of Jesus to your world.

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. Titus 3:14 NLT


[1] https://www.time.com ‘2021 Is Going To Be Catastrophic’, by Joseph Hincks, December 9, 2020

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: How have you responded to God’s call in this pandemic crisis?

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.

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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 the World Needs Now

by Christina Rose

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness
.” Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

Our world needs everlasting love and unfailing kindness more than ever as we face the fear of the global pandemic. Having faith during this time is a protective shield against the waves of panic that threaten to steal our peace. We take comfort in knowing that God will never leave us or forsake us.  When we trust that He loves us with an everlasting love, it cancels out all fear.  How can we fear when we believe that God is sovereign and rules above it all? By walking in God’s love, we can help everyone around us to choose faith over fear.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love  (1 John 14:18 NIV).

My journey to find peace was long and tumultuous, yet I am grateful to share my testimony. My parents married young and came from broken homes. They had the best intentions to create the healthy, loving family that they never knew, but our lives were marred by the damage of their unresolved childhood wounds. Abuse, addiction and abandonment were constant themes in our family. I learned that hurting people hurt other people, yet God is the restorer of the broken. Nothing is impossible for Him; not only can he restore anyone and anything, He will bring you out better than before. As I learned to turn to God for guidance during my trials, I found peace in nature where I felt enveloped in His love and greatness. Hiking, camping and surfing in God’s magnificent creation makes me feel free and safe. 

Now that I work at home, I have time to enjoy a daily two hour walk around the nearby lakes. In the last three months four geese couples have given birth to a total of 9 goslings. I marvel that both parents never stray from their babies as they continuously nurture and protect them. In the almost 200 times over the last few months that I have strolled around the lake, I have never seen either parent take a break to wander off on their own for a swim or to feed. Both parents work together as a devoted team to care for their babies.

When the geese enter the lake to swim, the moms lead the babies while the dads bring up the rear, always on the alert for a predator. The moms teach the babies to feed while the dads stand protectively by, standing guard. While each of the four geese couples gave birth to their goslings in different parts of the lake, recently the little families found one another and are now inseparable. They feed, nap and swim together in perfect harmony. I have never witnessed competition or quarreling among them, just perfect peace and serenity. They intuitively know that they were designed to live together in harmony and cooperation.

God shares beautiful stories like the geese family to show us how he intends love to be and how we are to take care of one another. Just like the geese families seek other geese families to create community, God created us to seek one another for community. He created us to live in peace with one another and to love each other the way he loves us. Demonstrations of God’s everlasting love and unfailing kindness are all around us in his perfect creation.  When we walk in the perfect love of God, we cast out fear wherever He may lead us.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

TWEETABLE
What the World Needs Now – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina rose

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino- loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Have you seen other examples in nature that demonstrate the love of God?

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

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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.

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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?

God Speaks from a Coffee Cup

by Linda W. Rooks @linda_rooks

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.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.                                               1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

I was not happy with my husband. The night before, when I started talking about wanting to get some insurance papers off in the mail, he was unresponsive. I continued to prod him, and when he finally replied, his answer seemed dismissive. I felt offended. The rest of the evening, I busied myself with cleaning up the kitchen and avoided spending time with him.

Now it was morning, and a new problem had surfaced in his work. My husband needed to resolve it, and I could tell he wanted to talk to me about it, but I still felt miffed. I took a sip of coffee and looked down at the 1 Corinthians 13 love cup in my hands. My eyes immediately rested on a phrase inscribed on the side, which read, “Love endures all things.”

Humph. I didn’t feel very loving . . .

But I knew what God was saying in this Scripture, and that God was not asking me how I felt. God was just asking me to love. And my coffee cup stated love “endures.”  In other words, love keeps loving even when it’s hard, even when we don’t feel like loving. So I listened to my husband and responded. I was polite.

After we spent some time talking about his work situation, I looked at my husband and sighed.  “I’m still not very happy with you, you know.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling well last night and had so much on my mind. I thought you were referring to the medical insurance forms I’d just received yesterday. I didn’t understand you were talking about the insurance for our trip.”

Oh my – miscommunication unmasked – a familiar marital theme!

Thankfully, however, God ripped away its destructive potential with a gentle reminder. Our misunderstanding could have gone on for quite awhile without resolution—but for my coffee cup reminding me about what it means to love.

I picked up my Bible and read 1 Corinthians 13 again, thinking about loving my husband God’s way—even when I feel offended.

By following God’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 13 on how to love, even when conflict arises we can work through the confusion that often threatens to divide a couple during confrontations and quarrels. When we are patient, we wait to hear what the other person has to say without judging. By being kind and gentle with our words, we show that we care and give the other person confidence that they are being heard. By rejoicing in truth, we work together as a team to find the best answer rather than merely insisting on our own way.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us what to avoid as well. If we are boastful, conceited, or selfish when disagreements arise, we will pull further apart rather than finding resolution. When we get angry or begin bringing up past offenses, we muddy the waters, cause tensions to rise, and thrust what may have begun as a simple misunderstanding into thorny and dangerous new areas of offense.

However, by protecting the hearts of one another, hoping to find resolution, trusting each other’s motives, and persevering until we come to an understanding, love can reign and hurts can mend.

God can steer us through many disagreements in the home when we follow the instructions He gives us in His Word. And sometimes it may help to start the day with the right kind of coffee cup.

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God Speaks from a Coffee Cup – encouragement from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her earlier book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: What have you found to be helpful in your relationship with your spouse?

What Do Our Kids See in Us?

by Janet Perez Eckles

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.             Philippians 4:6 NASB

I sat at the kitchen counter, wrinkled tissue in hand. I thought I had no more tears to cry. But still, they flowed. With no warning, an incurable retinal disease had robbed my eyesight. I had sunk into a dark pit of gloom and desperation. With no treatment surgery or medication available, my hope had vanished along with the motivation to continue with life.

At 31, everything had turned upside down. Tormenting thoughts about my inability to care for my three-, five-, and seven-year-old sons kept me awake at night.

I dabbed my tears with the edge of my pillow case, and asked God for answers. I begged Him to heal my blindness and for a hint of hope to return.

He answered. He granted what was important. And He did so in an unexpected and a beautiful way.

One morning, I ran my fingertips along the side of the bed to find my way out of my bedroom. I followed the wall toward my three-year-old’s room. His whimper echoed in the hallway. I can’t find my puppy,” he said.

Once in his room, I extended my arms toward him, and kissed his chubby cheek. “We’ll find him.” I lifted his blanket and my fingers found the soft stuffed animal.

But finding a simple item didn’t compare to the needs my sons would have as they grew up. They needed a Mom who could see.

Lord, help us, I prayed.

God heard my cry. The day after that incident, Mom came to visit. She sat beside me on the couch. “This is what we’ll do,” she said. “I’ll move in with you.” She squeezed my hand with her thin fingers. “I’ll be your eyes,”

Her words caressed my aching heart, filling it with gratitude.

She left her comfortable condo and moved in a room in our home. With her loving flexibility, we established a routine. Years swept by. Her hair is now snow white, and at 90 lbs. and 4’9”, her love is as big as the city in which we live.

More than taking on some chores for the family, she taught me the value of selfless love.

She recently turned 91 and hasn’t lost the spark in her voice that exudes confidence in the Lord. It’s even more evident now, as we face the current circumstances that have shaken our world. Her mind is sharp, and her faith is strong. Her trust, peace and joy remain.

And what remains in my heart is the desire to give that same gift to my own sons. In the midst of adversity, I want to imitate my Mom, living out Philippians 4:6 (NASB) before them: “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.”

My prayer has changed. Asking for a healing of my blindness isn’t my main priority anymore. I place these requests before the Lord instead:

Lord, grant me enough faith so my sons can see me praising God even when all falls apart. Help me to express gratitude for big and small things. Show me, Lord, how to erase fear and worry with my words that echo Your promises. Even when I cannot see tomorrow, will you show me how to embrace Your peace for today? And as my sons grow up and lead their own families, will You remind them life is not about seeing our surroundings, but about allowing others to see your love in us.

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What Do Our Kids See in Us? – encouragement from Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez ecklesAbout the author: Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker, author and founder of J.C. Empowerment Ministries. Through her books and conference messages, she empowers thousands to overcome fear, conquer worry and live triumphantly.

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: Is there someone in your life who has expressed love through their service?