Hope that Bubbles

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.                          Romans 15:13 CSB

I would’ve appreciated the comment. Except…Alka-Seltzer.

Every now and then, an extra-grace-filled person tells me I have a “bubbly personality.” Isn’t that sweet? It makes me think of happiness and fun and sparkling party punch in a splashy hot tub—and I take it as a compliment.

Unless I overanalyze it. That’s what I did not too long ago. As a matter of fact, I overanalyzed a lot of the happy-fun right out of it. Because I would think of bubbles and my mind would take me straight to…Alka-Seltzer.

I’ve tried. I really have. Just can’t drink it. I know that stuff can help a sick stomach. But I’ve always had trouble getting past the fact that it’s…churning. If I’m holding a glass of it, it has to mean my stomach is already churning, right? So this “glass of churn” is supposed to fix my stomach churn? I find that hard to swallow. In every way. Every. Way.

Especially since when I let my mind dwell on the churn too long, I start thinking about butter. Churning butter. It’s not a happy-fun thought for a person who really should swallow that Alka-Seltzer.

Analyzing from another direction, if I’m going to be bubbly, I want to bubble in the right way. Paul talks about how God fills us to the point of bubbling over in Romans 15:13. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (CSB). Know what’s better than happy-fun bubbles? Being so filled with joy and peace that we overflow with hope. It’s hope that effervesces!

Some days, life here on this earth seems like anything but a sparkly party. Our tendency—even our habit—can be to focus on the negatives. Every little bellyache looks bigger from that place of hopelessness. Getting stuck in a pattern of negative thinking will breed more negative thinking—and we can find ourselves drowning in gloom instead of overflowing with hope.

So where do we find hope that overflows? According to that verse in Romans 15, we find it from the God of hope—the one who does the hope-filling and who packages it with joy and peace—“by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The “as you believe” of the passage is from the Greek word pisteuein. It refers to a belief that’s wrapped in faith, trust and confidence. As we find our pisteuein in our God of hope, we see Him build even the smallest hope into the kind that radically revolutionizes a life.

There’s a bonus. Others love to be near a hope that overflows. They love it when some of that hope bubbles over and splashes onto them. You won’t find many who go out of their way to hang around a hopelessly negative person. But those joy, peace and hope bubbles? They attract people.

If you’re not overflowing in hope, maybe stuck in some of those negatives without much joy or peace, could I give you a little encouragement? Because there is hope available to you. The God of Hope wants you to have it. His Holy Spirit lives inside you, ready to power up that hope. Have faith in the God of Hope. Trust Him. Joy and peace is swimming in it, and there’s hope enough to splash around in.

And that makes better bubbles. Not butter bubbles. Nope, eternally better bubbles.

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Hope that Bubbles – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What is it about God that floods you with hope?

The Finest Garment

by Harriett Ford

 I will rejoice greatly in the LORD; my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.                                                                                                                                                         Isaiah 61: 10 NKJV

The tearful bride stifled a sob as she glanced down at the muddy spot soiling her beautiful wedding gown. Rivulets of rain on the shuttle’s windshield smeared the view of the church ahead where her groom waited.

What a heartbreak. After all the weeks of preparation, fittings, alterations, no bride wants to walk down the aisle in a soiled gown. I longed to put my arms around her.

I thought of my own wedding gown. My mom was a fantastic seamstress and sewed most of my school clothes, prom dresses, and even my beautiful wedding gown. She always looked for a certain fabric blend of two materials that remained wrinkle-free.

One of my favorite gowns had a red-velvet bodice and a white organza skirt. It is still hanging in my closet these many years since I first wore it as a teenage girl. The fabric has remained free of wrinkles, because it is blended with polyester. Amazingly, it is also free of spots. Why is that amazing? Because I also slipped and fell into a rain puddle the night I wore it. My undergarments and full-skirted petticoat were soaked, but the lovely skirt spread over top of them somehow shed the water droplets.

I still sometimes run my fingers over the skirt, enjoying the smooth feel of it and remembering the love with which it was stitched. Mom enjoyed dressing me in the finest she could design.

It’s very easy to lose peace when striving to make myself a garment without spot or wrinkle. I cannot imagine the shame of meeting Jesus with a soiled garment. Before I knew Him, there were spots on the fabric of my heart. I was very aware I could not erase those sins, no matter how hard I tried. But when I believed in Jesus, He dressed me in a garment of righteousness that had nothing to do with anything I had accomplished.

I have often puzzled on the meaning of two passages in the Mosaic Law which forbid the wearing of different types of fabric; that is, the wearing of blended fabrics—those woven from two different materials (Leviticus 19: 19).

In my own human logic, I would think the blending of fabrics would make them stronger. But the Law foreshadowed the new, princely garment of righteousness He would dress us in after Jesus paid for our sin. It would not be a blend of our work and His. Our righteousness comes from Christ alone. “May [I] be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God …” (Philippians 3:9 NASB).

I don’t have to earn God’s favor by struggling to remove my spots and wrinkles. Through faith, I now wear the righteousness of God. And I will be wearing that garment to the throne of Grace and the wedding supper of the Lamb.

If you have believed in Jesus, you can live in sweet peace, knowing that your Lord has already dressed you in the finest garment He could design.

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The Finest Garment – insight from Harriett Ford on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

harriet fordAbout the author: Harriett Ford is a Faith Writers’ award-winning author and contributor to the American Christian Voice Magazine. Her books can be found at https://Amazon.com/author/harriettford

Harriet’s book, Faith Says What God Saysis an intensive prayer and word medication for renewing the spirit of the mind, enabling you to receive healing from the Word.  

Join the conversation: Do you ever catch yourself going back to trying to earn God’s favor?

Sustaining Grace

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

 I woke in the middle of the night and the rawness of it all washed over me again. Our family faced a serious situation. I tried to fix it, but it seemed hopeless. I knew sleep would not come easily. I had no words left for prayer. I was prayed out.

Anxiety welled up and I reached for God. The Holy Spirit began to bring Scriptures to mind, so I began to “pray” them. Soon peace started to push out the anxiety until it was gone. Somewhere in the first chapter of 1 Peter I drifted off to sleep.

At the time, I was away from home staying with my oldest daughter. My grandson was just a few days old, and I was helping out. The next morning, Kelley reported on how Micah slept the night before. Then almost as an afterthought she added, “The second time I came back to bed, Jeremy asked me to pray with him. He felt strongly we should pray for you right then.”

“What time was that?” I asked.

“About 3:15, 3:20,” Kelley replied.

That was the same time I lay awake in bed with anxiety threatening to take over. I know because I had looked at my phone. God did not fix the situation like I’d hoped, but He was not idle. He saw my need and He cared. He poured out His grace through the heart of my son-in-law and gave me the peace and strength I needed to keep going.

Sometimes God intervenes in our trials in physical ways. He heals. He frees. He delivers. But not always. Often God works in far more miraculous ways. He pours out His grace to cover our soul needs.

The apostle Paul wrote about how he experienced God’s sustaining grace in the midst of his trials, after he had pleaded with God multiple times to remove his “thorn.”

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV

Like this instance in Paul’s life, God may not change our difficult circumstances. But He will strengthen and sustain us with His grace.

God also used my experience to teach me more about Himself and His ways. First, this experience changed the way I respond to prompts by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prompted my son-in-law to pray. Jeremy obeyed and God answered His prayer by filling me with peace. Now, when the Spirit prompts me to pray for someone or urges me to call someone or send a card or give something specific, it’s because He wants to use me as a tool for His grace. I want to be a part of that!

Also, anytime I am tempted to think God doesn’t see my need or doesn’t care, the Spirit brings this moment to mind. And I know, God does see me. He knows my need. He does care. And He will graciously provide what I need in the midst of the trial.

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Sustaining Grace – thoughts on walking through the trials of life from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

This post was adapted from Kathy’s book “Embraced by Holiness.” Do you long for a deeper, more intimate walk with God? Embraced by Holiness is a focused six-week Bible study that will take you on a guided, deep, and consistent look at biblical principles on holiness.

Join the conversation: When has someone’s obedience to the Holy Spirit blessed you?

Superman’s Cape

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

When growing up, I loved to watch Clark Kent turn into Superman. He entered a phone booth as a shy, unassuming, everyday guy until he put on that cape and Superman clothes. Then he’d step out of the telephone booth as a new man—bold, certain, and… well …Superman! The clothes gave him cover to become someone he could not be otherwise. He was proud and confident when clothed in garments that made him a new person.

We are like that, too. When you and I wear certain clothes, we behave differently. For instance, when I get dressed up I feel pretty and professional, but when I put on my comfy clothes all I want to do is curl up with a good book.

As God’s chosen people, we are holy (set apart) and loved. Because we are set apart from the world, we are to “clothe” ourselves differently than those around us. To put in another way, we should stand out of the crowd because of the clothes we wear.

Our new clothes have names—the garments of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Each morning I have a choice in what I will wear, both physically and spiritually. Some days I physically make wise choices and put on clothes that make me want to exercise or smile throughout the day. Spiritually, I can make a similar wise choice to wear patience or kindness.

The Scripture for today tells us the clothes we wear are our choice as we dress every morning.  This implies we don’t wake up with them already on. Honestly, if I am left to my own, I will wear judgment and impatience. So, each day when I reach into my closet, I am reminded of this Scripture, and as I get dressed, I am mentally putting on the garments of God.

Thankfully we won’t be asked to leap tall buildings in a single bound! However, it is good to know that just like with Superman’s cape, these clothes come with power to help us do mighty things. God’s power. He enables us to show patience when we’re unable to muster it on our own. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, our lives will display love, joy, peace (Galatians 5:22-23)…the best wardrobe we could possibly own. 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12b NIV

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Superman’s Cape – and thoughts on #FollowingGod from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace (Thomas Nelson). She can be found at www.CheriCowell.com.

Cheri CowellCheri Cowell is also a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite piece of “clothing”?

God’s Got This

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

He who gives attention to the word will find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.                                                                                                                               Proverbs 16:20 NASB

My friend, Allison, sent me a text message upon learning that her husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. I was surprised by her reaction.

“God’s got this,” she wrote.

Not a “Why him?” or “Why did God allow this?” Not even a “What if…?” She showed only an unswerving trust in the One who can handle all things.

I want that type of unquestioning faith in the face of uncertainty. Like Allison, I want to be able to think or say “God’s got this” when the unexpected or unthinkable comes my way. And I realize I have the ability to display that kind of trust in God because I’ve been given the same thing that Allison has been given: God’s trustworthy Word.

I’m encouraged that God is intimately aware of all my ways and His Word tells me that He knows my thoughts (and concerns) before I even think them (Psalm 139:1-4). That assures me He is already working on the matters that concern me most.

I’m also glad God knew that His creation would be prone to worry, and so He had the Apostle Paul address that habit of ours in Philippians 4:6-7:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

Any time we find ourselves in a situation we can’t do anything about (which is why we worry in the first place) we can trust that God is Who He says He is, and that He can work out that situation far better than we can.

Today, when I begin to worry that God hasn’t “done something yet,” I have to remind myself that He is God. He doesn’t need my help. He doesn’t need my stress. He desires my trust. When I acknowledge that He is God, and I am not, and that His plan is always better than mine, that is when He gives me peace that guards my heart and mind.

The next time we begin to worry, we can ask ourselves “What am I believing about God that isn’t true? Do I believe He is true to His Word? Do I really believe He can take care of this?”

And when we can answer those questions with the statement “God’s got this” we can experience His peace.

Lord, help me to trust You with every ounce of my being, every day of my life  so when the unexpected or the unthinkable comes my way, I am already assured that “God’s got this.”

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No matter what…”God’s got this.” Thoughts from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When You’re Running on Empty, When God Sees Your Tears, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: In the last time you struggled to trust God, what incorrect belief about Him could have been influencing your heart?

Where Joy is Found

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Some of my darkest periods have occurred when I’ve appeared to have every reason for joy. And I’ve experienced deep joy during difficult and painful situations.

About ten years ago, after a series of moves and job shifts, our family landed in a small town northeast of Kansas City, MO. I homeschooled at the time, and we weren’t wealthy by any means, but our finances were solid and our bills paid, our marriage strong, and our home-life largely tension free.

But I was miserable. Defeated and confused. In pursuing what I thought would bring me joy, I was robbing myself of it.

At the time, I was working toward a teaching degree, or perhaps geology or chemistry, I can’t remember which. I changed my mind regarding potential career plans each semester, it seemed—because I wasn’t called to any of them. I knew with the deep yet quiet certainty that can only come from the Holy Spirit within that God wanted me to write, something I had no problem doing—as a hobby and according to my terms.

Terms that involved ample self-protection, also known as no transparency, and guaranteed financial payoffs.

But God was calling me to surrender. Everything. My plans, desires, wisdom, and all those prospects certain to include a secure 401K and steady paycheck. For surely, aren’t those things, and all the material benefits included in them, what bring joy?

If that were true, I would’ve had it in abundance. Instead, my heart felt dulled and dark, a darkness that increased as, through disobedience, I continued to distance myself from God and His love.

Light—and joy—flooded in the moment I surrendered.

I experienced the converse of this in 2012 when a mysterious illness began stealing my energy and dignity. Though I later discovered the cause of my rapid weight loss and related symptoms, for almost a year I sat in the tension of not knowing. Of fretting and imagining and striving to control what felt like a revolting body. But in the middle of all my uncertainty and pain, I experienced peace.

And joy. A joy much greater and stronger and more abiding than my circumstances—a joy found in abundance as I sat, each day, in God’s presence. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (NIV).

In other words, joy comes not in the absence of difficulties, but instead in God’s presence. As we hit pause on our busyness and each day’s stressors, as we allow His gentle whisper to drown out our worries and fears, He births joy within us.

His joy, not ours, is a gift given, if we’ll receive it. A gift that doesn’t necessarily abate our sorrow. In fact, joy and sorrow, even intense sorrow, can quite naturally co-exist. It did for Jesus, as He wept in the Garden on the night before His death. I imagine it did for God the Father as well, when He sent His precious Son into our sin-tainted world.

Joy isn’t an emotion. Those come and go based on countless external circumstances. Rather, joy is a deep awareness and appreciation for God’s love and grace, which is always at work, even in our darkest moments.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2 NASB

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Where Joy is Found – wisdom from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryJennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live Dancing in the Rain by [Rife, Eileen, Slattery, Jennifer]out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Join the conversation: Where have you found joy?

Peace Like a Frog

by Linda Rooks @Linda_Rooks

One day while pulling weeds and overgrown vines in my large Florida backyard, I squeezed through the hedges to grab a vine and spied a small frog clinging to a leaf. Instead of jumping down and hopping off to find a calmer location where the plants were not being jostled and shaken, he didn’t budge.

For the next hour, I continued pushing past the frog as I pulled on vines and drug them back through the hedges to deposit them in the trash can. But despite the disturbance I was making, the frog didn’t move. Seemingly unfazed by any potential danger, he sat peacefully and unflustered on the side of the leaf.

I was surprised at his cool composure. Why was he so calm in the midst of so much chaos around him?

With my hands busy with the task of pulling out the vines, my mind was free to ponder things like how a frog could stay so peaceful, and I realized God’s provision of a suit of camouflage made him feel safe. His reaction to danger was to “hide” in God’s provision for him. The frog was able to be quiet and at peace in the midst of the mayhem going on around him, because he knew that while remaining still he’s invisible to predators. He’s camouflaged. He’s hidden.

The frog inspired me to think about my own reactions in life, for when uncertainties surround me and life seems chaotic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

But when life gets out of hand and we don’t know how to untangle ourselves from the chaos surrounding us, God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV) Like a frog that doesn’t move when danger lurks, God asks us to be still.

For when we are still, we can find that hiding place in the arms of our loving Father. When we quiet our minds and rest in His care, He can give us His peace that transcends understanding. (Philippians 4:7) In Psalm 32:7, David says, “You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (NIV) And Psalm 91:4 tells us, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart“ (NIV).

When we’re still and look to God in our troubles, we can recognize that God has the answers for us. He is our security, and He is our refuge.

When we look at nature, we see how God protects all His creatures, sometimes by giving a frog the protection of camouflage, sometimes by giving a porcupine prickly spines or a bird the ability to fly away. For each of his creatures, He is a loving creator.  But for us, His people, He is also a loving father. God’s amazing love is our protection. He is our hiding place and our refuge. When we’re scurrying around trying to find answers, He stands with His arms out to us, telling us to come to Him. He is faithful and has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He himself is our protection and refuge.

When you feel fear stalking you, when your mind swirls around with fears, imaginations, and unanswerable questions, when fear creeps up on you and is about to pull you under, remember you have a hiding place in a God who loves you with an everlasting love. His protective camouflage will hide you from the enemy’s snares. And under the shadow of his wings you can find refuge.

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Peace Like a Frog – insight 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 book Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation continues to bring strength and healing to those who need an encouraging friend in the midst of marital breakdown. Her new book, Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated, will release in February 2019, to offer practical guidance for those who desire 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 where their ministry to marriages in crisis has helped many couples reconcile their relationships.

Join the conversation: When has God been a refuge for you?

Life in a Snow Globe

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

The snow globes of Christmas are magical. The first thing I want to do when I see one is to give it a really good shake, and not because I’m a violent person who enjoys shaking things. It’s the after effect that I enjoy, watching the snow settle gently on the heart-warming display within the tiny glass dome.

There is something captivating about the way the little fake flakes swirl down on the peaceful little scene. It tugs at our longings to be a part of a scene so serene. Snow globes invite us in to something beautiful.

Snow globes are deceitful, though. We can pick them up, flip them upside down, shake them vigorously, and when we set them back down the same sweet, peaceful little scene remains intact. The gently falling snow is the only difference.

Not so with my life.

When I’m the one in a snow globe being flipped upside down and shaken, there is very little sweetness or peace to be found.

I had that kind of shake up recently, when my world was so jarred my eyes were rattling. Everything that could go wrong was doing so. I shared my feelings with a friend, and she reminded me: remember the snow always settles down eventually. True.

As I pondered this, I realized that the real beauty of the snow globe comes after it has been shaken. The scene is most captivating amidst the falling flakes.

What if my life is like that? What if the only way the real power and beauty of my existence can ever be fully realized is through the shaking?

No, I do not enjoy being shaken. It is scary. It is often painful. It is never fun.

But if the after effect is something beautiful, something captivating, something glorifying to the One who put me in this snow globe I call my life, I would do well to view the shaking with a proper perspective. This world may shake up my life, but it can never shake my hope.

The next time I feel my snow globe begin to shake, may I persevere in faith and joyful expectation that something beautiful is coming.

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Lessons learned from life in a snow globe – @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: Can you remember when a time of instability or change resulted in something beautiful?

When Relationships Fail

by Jennifer Slattery

No matter how hard we try, no matter how grace-filled our conversations and Christ-led our attempts, relationships sometimes implode. People remain hurt. Barriers are erected, and isolation, regret, and pain occur.

But the beauty’s in the obedience, not the result.

Some time ago, something I did deeply hurt a woman I cared for. I didn’t intend to wound her, and honestly, I didn’t fully understand her response or interpretation. In fact, initially I felt quite indignant. She was being over-reactive. I’d done nothing wrong!

And yet, she was hurt, and Jesus said, if I know someone is upset with me, regardless of the why, I’m to initiate conversation, and do what I can to make things right (Matthew 5:23-24). As far as it depends on [me], I should do everything possible to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).

In the Bible, the idea of peace goes much deeper than simple conflict avoidance. In fact, true biblical peace goes beyond the surface and can resolve much deeper issues—broken relationships, unresolved issues, and, often, harbored bitterness.

Biblical peace, eiréneuó in the Greek, points to wholeness.

Consider Ken Sande’s words, taken from his book, the Peace Maker: “Token efforts will not satisfy this command; God wants [us] to strive earnestly, diligently, and continually to maintain harmonious relationships with those around [us].”

This is a big deal. Not only does this help protect unity within the church, but Sande goes on to say, seeking peace can “turn conflict into an opportunity to strengthen relationships … and make [our] lives a testimony to the love and power of Christ.”

Perhaps this is why Jesus placed such emphasis on conflict resolution, so much so that He told us if we’re about to worship Him and remember an offended brother, we’re to immediately stop and seek reconciliation. Only after we’ve done that are we freed, emotionally and spiritually, to truly worship God.

But what if the other person is unresponsive?

In that case, we can walk away with clean hearts and hands knowing, “as far as it depended on us,” we attempted to live in peace.  Because resolution doesn’t just depend on us. We have no control over how another person will respond, but we do have full control over how faithfully we obey Christ and how well we reflect Him in our actions.

As I thought back to my situation with the offended woman, I remembered how Christ treated me. When I was living in complete rebellion against Him, He pursued me, diligently and patiently. When I sinned again and again, He forgave me. And when my sin created a barrier between us that I couldn’t cross, through His death, He tore it down.

Knowing this, regardless of how this young woman received or reacted to my efforts, I knew I needed to reach out anyway.

So I did. She responded exactly as I’d feared, but that didn’t mean my efforts had been pointless. Despite my fear of rejection and my desire to avoid the entire situation, I’d chosen to obey, and hopefully, in doing so, had provided a glimpse of Jesus … and reminded myself afresh of the beauty of grace.

“Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:12b-13 NASB

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author:  Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who 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.

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How do you typically react when someone hurts or abandons you? Why do you think it’s important God’s children learn to reconcile with one another?

Photo by Kseniya Petukhova on Unsplash

 

No Need to Be a Hero

by Kolleen Lucariello

I was a bit nervous when I arrived at the doctor’s office to have a suspicious spot removed from my left shoulder. I am definitely not a fan of needles or scalpels. The doctor came in, took a look at the site, and asked me to lie down on the table. He began to outline the area he would be removing. When he finished, he said, “A little poke as I give you some Novocain.”

I don’t think he waited quite long enough for the Novocain to work, for I felt that first slice of the knife. I gasped and he said, “Oh, did you feel that?” I assured him I did.  He didn’t say anything, but just continued working. Within a few minutes, he was ready to stitch me up.

There was a painful sensation with every prick of the needle.

Me: Ouch.

Me: Ouch.

Me: Wince.

Me: I don’t think the Novocain went down far enough.

Doctor: Is this hurting you, or does it feel like pulling?

Me: It HURTS. It feels like a severe pinch…like a needle is going through my skin.

Doctor: Oh. No need to be a hero. Let’s put some more Novocain in there.

“No need to be a hero?” I wasn’t trying to be. In fact, I was actually feeling pretty weak after enduring the pain during the procedure.

But as I thought about his comment, I realized how often I struggle with the Lord over pain, too. I prefer a life with no discomfort—no pain for me, thanks. I’d like life to be comfortable and easy – but it never is.

A knife cuts deep with a scary doctor’s report, a middle-of-the-night phone call, a police officer’s arrival, or a rebellious teenager’s actions. We wince as angry words pierce our hearts, or as we receive a wound from those whom we least expect it. Our first reaction can be to run for something to numb the pain; whatever might make us feel better. I headed straight for the ice cream when I came home from my procedure – and ate it right from the container, too.

We can also react by trying to be a hero in the midst of our pain, building a wall around our hearts by refusing to allow anyone to help us through the worst of our days.

But wouldn’t it be great if we first ran straight to Jesus? After all, He can enable us to overcome those bad times. He promised to leave us with His peace: “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge]” (John 14:27, AMP).

There’s no need to be a hero. We already have One; His name is Jesus. Only He can give the strength and peace we desperately need in times of trouble.

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.” The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.  Psalm 18: 1-3 NASB

Kolleen LucarielloAbout the authorKolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional bookThe ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen shares her struggle with identity authentically, bravely and yet, with compassion and humor as she seeks to help others change their identity – one letter at a time. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, make their home in Central New York. She’s mother of three married children and Mimi to five beautiful grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her at www.speakkolleen.com.

Join the conversation: What do you tend to do in reaction to a painful experience?

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