Godly Disagreement

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Years ago, my teenage son fell asleep at the wheel and sideswiped our neighbor’s parked car. Not huge damage, but an inconvenience to be sure. Since it was the middle of the night, he left a note. I saw my neighbors outside the next morning and walked over to apologize and assure them my son would come over after work to get the insurance details straight. Another neighbor was there, actually far angrier than the neighbor with the damaged car. Incensed at my son’s blunder, he blamed my lack of parenting skills for the incident. “When my boys are teenagers,” he stormed, “I will never allow them to be so careless and cause this kind of trouble.”

Good luck with that one. Obviously, he had not yet experienced the challenge of raising teenagers. Everyone is an expert on parenting… until they actually become parents. It is so easy to judge when you have never walked in someone else’s shoes.

Passing judgment without regard to your limited understanding of someone’s situation has become pretty common these days. On social media, a culture has developed in which judgment on others has become the norm—even within the Church. It’s so easy to leave a snide or angry comment, then move on. But words like that are not from the Lord.

Jesus called us to unity. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:5 NASB). When debate over issues accelerates into mud-slinging, we can inflict serious damage, on more than the other person. God intends to reveal himself to the world through the way his Church interacts. When we judge and condemn our brothers and sisters in Christ, our effectiveness as God-reflectors is seriously compromised.

It’s one thing to disagree with a doctrinal position. It’s another to assassinate character.

Is there a godly way to disagree within the body of Christ? Yes. But it involves a purposeful mindset.

1. Keep in mind how much you have in common with the one with whom you disagree. You were equally guilty and saved by the unmerited favor of God (Romans 2:4). You are both adopted children of the King with the Holy Spirit residing in you as a guarantee of your shared inheritance.

2. The Holy Spirit is at work in both of you to perfect what was started on the day of your salvation. Neither one has reached that perfection yet! (Philippians 1:6) But we can trust that the He will continue His work in us. Paul recognized this when he wrote the Philippians: “…If in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you” (Philippians 3:15 NASB). It is not up to us to convict people–state your position but then trust the Holy Spirit to lead them to His truth.

3. Just as you hope they will do for you, choose to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Jesus told His disciples, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you…” (Matthew 7:12 NASB). You don’t want to be written off because of incorrectly assumed bad intentions or motivation. So extend that courtesy to them first.

Understand, like my angry neighbor, you have not walked in their shoes. We all carry baggage from the events in our lives. This person’s position or actions may well have been influenced by trauma or negative experiences you have never experienced. As Hillel, a rabbi who lived several decades before Jesus, wisely said, “Judge not your fellow man until you yourself come into his place.”

4. Stick to the issue at hand and resist the mud-slinging. We are on the same team! Our spiritual gifts were given to build up others in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7).When we go for the jugular, we don’t build up, but tear down. It is easy in the heat of the moment to forget the all-important goal of contributing to our brother’s growth.

5. Recognize the possibility you are (gasp!) in error. I’m embarrassed to admit just how many issues I have hotly debated over the years for which I now hold a different conviction. Humility is never a bad thing.

It’s OK to disagree. Iron sharpens iron. But make it a clean “fight”. When we purpose to interact in a godly way, we reflect an important characteristic of our heavenly Father: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36 NASB). And leave it to the Lord to do the judging.

“Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB

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Godly Disagreement – insight and encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About 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 revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What have you learned about handling disagreement in a godly way?

Rest First

by Michele McCarthy @MicheleRMcC

Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 NASB

God’s call to rest isn’t crawling into bed with a good book (though who couldn’t use a day or two of that now and then)? It’s a much greater call—to live from the place of rest every day. It can take the form of relaxing tense, scrunched up shoulders, choosing to breathe easy in the slow lane of the store or freeway, or trusting Him to promote the call on our life as we keep our focus on our Father.

I have been learning that for me, rest is choosing to be still and listen for daily direction.

While attending a short ministry school, one of the staff members asked me if I wrote. Sure, I thought, grocery lists, to do lists, and the occasional prayer journal. I shrugged and told her, “I kind of write.”

“You should write about your journey to help other people,” she suggested. As outlandish as the suggestion was, and as insignificant as my story was, her words stirred my heart. So I began to write.

I completed my amateurish, boring, sad story of my journey within a few months (book writer skills not included). Pounding computer keys, I put on paper what I thought I was supposed to write. The End. Then I voiced, “God, I’ve written the story, it’s up to You now. I’ve no idea what to do next.”

God’s next beat anything I could have done on my own

I met Linda Evans Shepherd in California, both of us from different states. I misunderstood her to say she was a publisher, since she’d “published” several books (no snickering, I’m new at this). Because of her comment, I knew she’d know how to publish my book, right? So of course, I had to introduce myself. She graciously invited me to the AWSA conference the next month as a protégé.

Attending AWSA felt like I found home. These ladies loved books and loved the Lord even more. I began to wake up with children’s book ideas. The Lord led me to begin working with a writing coach. I felt Him nudging me to attend two different writers’ conferences. My appointments there encouraged me in my projects. I even met a publisher who expressed interest in my book.

All of this was the result of simply obeying what I believed the Lord had called me to do. He’s done the rest. Which brings me to my point.

Rest.

God calls all of us to enter into His rest. First is the rest of salvation: trusting in the work Jesus did on the cross to cover every one of our sins; accepting His gift of grace, understanding we are saved through no efforts of our own. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10 NASB).

But there is a second kind of rest. We need never strive while following Him in obedience. As Greg Winfield wrote on faithmessenger.com: “Entering into God’s rest takes place after we have done the will of God in any given situation and are waiting to receive the promise.” We can rest in His power and in His wisdom, trusting that He will be faithful to complete what He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

Our work is to rest in Him.

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Rest First – wisdom from @MicheleRMcC on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

michele mccarthyAbout the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

Michele’s book Daddy and Me, is the story of the unconditional love of the Father. Every child is free to picture their own daddy and most importantly their heavenly Father; the Father who loves them perfectly, without reserve, no matter what, while gently holding each child in His hand.

Join the conversation: What does God’s rest mean to you?

Impatient with the Process

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The year my husband spent abroad after graduating college, he taught for several months at a Bible school in the Fiji Islands. There was a missionary there who was much-revered for his wisdom and excellent teaching. After one particularly inspiring class, the students surrounded the godly man and asked: how long did it take him to prepare for such a profound lesson?

The old missionary smiled at the eager students. “Oh, about 45 years and a half-hour,” he told them.

Some things take time. A long time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a godly Christian. Yet often, we struggle with impatience at our lack of maturity. Why can’t we be wiser with our words? When will we ever feel confident in our Bible knowledge? Will there come a time when our foolishness is at an end?

When are we finally going to get it all together?

A look at scriptural examples of God’s time frame in transformation to maturity can also be discouraging. Moses spent the first forty years of his life in the Pharaoh’s palace. Then, after murdering an Egyptian guard, Moses fled into the wilderness. There he remained for forty more years. It wasn’t until Moses was the ripe old age of 80 that God called him to lead his people out of Egypt.

Then there is the story of David. The prophet Samuel anointed him to be the next king when he was quite young, still tending the family sheep out in the fields. While David knew what the future held for him, few others did. Life did not change quickly for David after the anointing. But eventually King Saul saw him as a threat, forcing David to flee into the wilderness. There he remained in exile for many years, continually pursued by Saul and his army. It was a long wait before God would finally fulfill His promise.

Even Jesus spent time in the wilderness in preparation for His public ministry. For forty days, He fasted and endured temptations flung at Him by Satan.

Clearly, preparation takes time. And it is in the wilderness that God often does His most important work in preparing people for their purpose.

Why the long wait in the wilderness for each of these future leaders? The writer of Hebrews gives us a clue (in reference to Jesus): “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB).

Jesus perfected His obedience through experiencing suffering in the wilderness, as did Moses and David.

Being in the wilderness, with its isolation and difficulties, can have a valuable outcome. Through our experience there, we see the reality of just how much we need Him. When we do, it is only then that we are best equipped to do His work: our hearts fully open to His leading and ready to choose His will over our own.

Time in the wilderness grows us into much more effective servants. Paul learned this when dealing what he considered to be a thorn in his flesh. “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me,” he wrote. “And He has said to me, ‘My power is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NASB). Paul learned the power of Christ through his “wilderness” experience.

Are you suffering in the wilderness today? Hang in there. God is doing a work in you as you wait on Him. Someday you will be able to look back and see what He accomplished in you during that time. And you will count it worth the cost.

I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.                                                                                     Philippians 1:6 NASB

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Impatient with the Process – insight 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 encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God used a wilderness experience to transform you?

Mended With Gold

by Amy Williams @free2Bfearless

I broke my favorite mug the other day. I’d finished my morning coffee and set my mug on the precarious stack of paper next to my desk. I had to set it there because my desk was covered in projects and folders and protein bar wrappers. And before I knew what was happening, my beloved mug slid off and shattered on the wood floor.

The mug had been a gift from my best friend. She had one just like it. Handmade. Ceramic. Dark blue. And when she left for England, where she lived for three years, we would send each other pictures of our matching mugs whenever we were lonely. No matter where I go, no matter where I lived, I always took that mug with me. And just like that—because of my own actions no less—the mug was in pieces. What once had a use was now useless. What once had value was now worthless.

As I gathered up the fragmented pieces of my favorite mug, I couldn’t help but compare it to my life. Many times, I’ve felt like my life has been broken into pieces, mostly due to my own poor choices. Some of the consequences of those choices rise up and taunt me on a daily basis. I’ve disappointed people who were counting on me. I’ve hurt people I love. I haven’t been there for the people who needed me when they needed me. If it were up to me, my life would be jagged pieces on the floor—shattered and scattered by my own hand.

But it’s not up to me.

When I was seven years old, I decided to believe what Jesus said about Himself and about me, and from that point on, I’ve been one of His many works in progress. Since that day, I have been on a journey with Him where He is keeping His promise from 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I hadn’t heard about Kintsugi until a handful of years ago in a random Pinterest post during a pinning binge (you know, you’ve done it too). Kintsugi, which is roughly translated “mended with gold,” is a Japanese pottery technique where the pieces of broken cups or pots are rejoined using gold lacquer. It’s gorgeous work. Instead of an old broken pot, now you have something beautiful. Something new. Kintsugi takes a broken vessel that had lost its inherent worth and makes it more valuable than it had been before—not because it was broken but because of how it was pieced back together.

Sound familiar?

We all have broken pieces. We all have scars and wounds, whether we let the world see them or not. But you can’t hide your broken pieces from Jesus. He knows each one, and He offers redemption for each scar. Only He is big enough to take the broken pieces of your life and turn them into something beautiful that can be used to help others. That is the true worth of your scars and broken pieces. Not that you have them—but how God can redeem them for His glory.

What broken pieces are you hiding today? What scars are you afraid to reveal? Don’t let the enemy convince you that your brokenness has made you worthless. Listen to Jesus, the Master Potter, who is able to take your broken life and make it new and whole again.

As for me and my favorite mug, I’m going to go find some gold lacquer. Because that old piece of handmade pottery still has lots of new stories to tell.

…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6 NIV

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Mended With Gold – encouragement from A.C.Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williamsAbout the author: A.C. Williams is an author-preneur who weaves fantastic tales about #AmericanSamurai and #SpaceCowboys, and she’s passionate about helping writers master the art of storytelling. A quirky, coffee-drinking, cat-loving thirty-something, she’s on Finding Firefliesa mission to help authors overcome fear and live victorious. Join her adventures on social media (@free2bfearless) and visit her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: How has brokenness been a part of your spiritual journey?

Creating a Culture of Grace

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 NASB

Our response to other people’s failures and mistakes matter. A lot.

Our daughter has always been the type who longs to please. She hungers to know her father and I are proud of her, and at times, this heightens into an unhealthy fear of displeasing us. When she was younger, I often told her, “I almost want you to fail in this, so that you can see failure isn’t the end of the world.”

Mostly, I wanted her to experience grace and learn to live in it.

Grace isn’t overlooking sin or acting as if it’s acceptable, nor is it diminishing its effects. Grace says: I know you messed up here, and that stinks. But your actions won’t push me away. Instead, they motivate me to draw closer. Because I know you can do better. I believe you will do better, and I’ll be walking beside you each step of the way.”

Fear paralyzes, but Scripture says perfect love casts out fear.

Let me play on those words a bit. We all fear that we’ll be cast out. That others will reject us when we fail. But love draws near. If I instill nothing else into our daughter’s heart, I want it to be this: my love will always remain. No matter what.

Imagine our relationships, our churches and Bible study groups, if we learned to communicate grace-based love, not just with our words, but more importantly, with our actions and reactions. How can we create a culture of grace in our churches?

Understand failure will occur. We’re all in a process of growing. We know this intellectually, but it’s easy to forget when someone behaves badly.

Often, when I disciplined our daughter when she was growing up, I’d say, “You’re supposed to mess up. You’re a kid. That’s why God gave you parents.” That didn’t mean I condoned or ignored her behavior. It meant I saw it through a grace-and-growth-based lens. Paul put it this way to the relatively new believers in Philippi: “[I am] confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

Prioritize relationships above behavior, mistakes, and incidents. We need to keep the end goal in mind: working toward the kind of relationships that go beyond the superficial. One bad incident does not a relationship make. The challenges that inevitably come can actually be relationship builders, if we work through them together with an attitude of grace.

Jesus offered Himself. Completely. When He met a tax collector who’d swindled money from others, He didn’t list all the man’s sins. Instead, He drew the man close, saying, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5, NIV).

We forgive because of what Jesus has forgiven in us. When healthy and filled with grace, relationships give others a safe place to land, an opportunity to come clean with themselves and others, and grow from the experience.

Deal with things as they come then move on. When our daughter was a teenager, she and I went through a “passive-aggressive” phase where we routinely threw snarky comments at one another. Whenever we took the effort to unpack these interactions, we learned one of us had spoken out of hurt or fear. Watch others, or even better, analyze yourself, and I suspect you’ll discover the same.

Usually, passive-aggressive behavior stems from aversion to conflict, yet that is precisely where it leads—to ongoing, unresolved conflict. We discovered how important, how healing and powerful it can be to simply state our feelings and concerns. This allowed us to get to the real issue, which so often wasn’t what originally presented. It gave us the ability to move on, grudge and hostility-free.

I’ll never love others as Christ loves me. But I want to grow in this area. I want to create a culture of grace, where relationships are prioritized over mistakes and poor behavior and growth is valued above perfection.

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Creating a Culture of Grace – insight from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Hometown HealingShe’s home again, but not for long…
unless this cowboy recaptures her heart…

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Join the conversation: When has someone extended grace to you? How did it affect the outcome of your failure?

 

Continual Change

by Doris Hoover

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.                                                                                                                           1 John 3:2 NIV

I love to watch clouds. As air currents glide through them, cottony wisps morph into dream pictures. Mountains change into oceans which transform into deserts with horses galloping across them. Continuously clustering and stretching, the clouds form new pictures by the minute.

Clouds remind me that I’m also in a process of change. God has a perfect design for me. It evolves in increments. As the Holy Spirit glides through my spirit, causing subtle transformations in my attitude, values and priorities, I begin to morph into a different person. I may not know what I will become, but the Lord has a vision for me. He has a vision for each one of us. Little by little, He reshapes us to conform to His beautiful design.

Change has been a constant since the beginning of creation. The Lord began with a dark void which He transformed into light, sky, water, and land. His vision evolved until the world was complete. Then the Lord admired His masterpiece. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV).

The Heavenly Father works a master plan in us, too. Like chalk blown across a sketchpad, the Lord breathes across our lives, gradually moving us toward His vision. As we yield to the Spirit’s influence, we’re transformed.

David asked the Lord to make changes in him. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV). By asking God to change his heart and attitude, David became as malleable as a cloud in the wind.

Circumstances are also in the process of change. They’re not permanent, even though, at times, it seems that way. We may wonder how long we have to endure the responsibility, the stress, the hurt, or even the mundane drudgery of each day. But our situations aren’t static. God works in them as powerfully as He works in us. Our “lot” in life isn’t permanent. We may think we’re stuck in a situation that will never improve; however, the Lord moves through our circumstances in imperceptible ways, making alterations according to His perfect plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I read through my journal entries, I see the cloud pictures of my life. The unfolding of my story amazes me. Through the Lord’s intervention, situations which seemed hopeless became victories.

Invisibly, the Lord moves through our circumstances and our hearts as He creates His masterpiece. We usually don’t notice the revisions until we look back over the years. Each breath of divine air moves the filaments of our lives closer to a heavenly design. Even when we smudge our pictures, the Lord is able to blow over the chalk to turn our smudges into something good. Such modifications take a lifetime, but the Lord works in us until His work is finished. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

We may not know what we will become or how our circumstances will evolve, but each day the clouds remind us that changes are happening. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

TWEETABLE
Continual Change – thoughts on walking with God from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Looking back over the years, can you see the progress God has accomplished in you? Please share a before-and-after example!

Free to Bloom

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

I bought them on faith. In mid-spring two years ago, beautiful tulips called to me as I approached the self-checkout at Kroger. Whenever I see flowers at grocery stores, I have to smell them and pet them. (Yes, pet them. I used to have a cat.) If I can smell a sweet scent, I have to restrain myself not to buy them. I had to see if these tulips smelled good. They did.

I noticed that some had already bloomed, and they were a gorgeous hot pink with white edges. Other bunches had partly opened blooms, so I went for one of those sets. Although the “sell by” date on the sticker told me that maybe I shouldn’t spend three dollars to take them home, I hoped that they would bloom eventually and live longer than the other flowers. I believed in what these flowers could become.

When I got home, my faith waned. Will they really open? I thought. Maybe the sell-by sticker was right, and I should have bought the other set. I trimmed the stems and put them in water. I set the vase next to a window and let twilight beckon them to open. A few minutes later, all five flowers had opened, some smiling more brightly than others. They smelled the sweetest of any flowers I had found for years.

I smiled and thanked God. He doesn’t give up on us, His “flowers.” Too many times I’ve gone through a struggle and wondered if this was it. Was I going to become unusable to God? Would He still give me opportunities to serve Him even though I had messed up again? Would I ever bloom into a lovely display of grace, strength, or wholeness like I needed to be and be able to sustain that victory?

There are some days when we may look like we’re not going to bloom and we’re past our prime—past the best chance of growth or usefulness. Maybe we’ve struggled too long with a particular burden, or worry has chased away our joy and along with it, our sweet “scent.” Our “sticker” may tell others to pass us by and not hope that something good will come from us.

But God knows how to make us flourish. A little sunlight, some fresh water, and some warmth. His love and power can flow into our souls and revive us. Then we start to bloom—and smell good. Love is key to having a sweet scent.

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2 NKJV).

God tends the gardens of our hearts, helping us to bloom. He patiently and faithfully teaches us to walk in His love. As we love others, we reflect His beauty for the world to see and draw them closer to His heart. In God’s garden, we’re free to bloom, we’re able to flourish, and we have Someone who cares for us and knows what we can become.

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.                                                                                                                                        Philippians 1:6 NKJV

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Free to bloom in God’s perfect timing – insight from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage and Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character

Join the conversation: What is the Great Gardner cultivating in your life right now?

A Diamond in the Rough

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

I stared in horror at the empty setting on my engagement ring. My diamond was gone.

This called for immediate action. I turned to my classroom full of second graders. “I will give five dollars to the person who finds my diamond,” I promised. Twenty-five children scrambled across the carpeted floor, determined to locate the prize. It wasn’t three minutes before one of the boys shouted, “I found it!”

I handed the reward over gratefully. Getting my stone back was well worth the incentive price. Of course, its value to me was sentimental, but replacing it would have been beyond what we could have afforded at the time. Diamonds are not cheap.

There’s a reason that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. They are the hardest natural substance found on the earth. They can only be scratched by other diamonds and hold a polish indefinitely. Their ability to reflect light has always made them highly desirable gemstones.

Diamonds were originally carbon-bearing material which was chemically changed by heat and pressure one hundred miles beneath the surface of the earth. This means the atoms which formed the original substance formed new chemical bonds within each molecule. The change is permanent. Many diamonds have imperfections, which are actually pieces of carbon which remain unaltered from their original state.

Scripture tells us that at the moment of our salvation, a tremendous change takes place in us as well. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). We have been permanently altered from our old state. We used to walk according to the flesh, but now we walk according to the Spirit, because He dwells within us. We went from slaves to sin to adopted sons of the Living God (Romans 8).

But God is not yet finished with us. The point at which we became a new creation was only the beginning. Just like with a diamond, there are imperfections, left-over parts of us that He is transforming into the image of Jesus Christ. Paul told the Philippians, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).  Like a skilled diamond cutter, God is continually chipping off our rough edges, cutting facets in His precious “stones” to allow His glory to be reflected in ever-increasing volume.

Sometimes those cuts can be painful. We don’t like the process. But eventually we can look back to the circumstances which contributed to our sanctification and marvel at how God worked to change us. “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:10-11 NASB).

And the beauty of what He is creating far surpasses even the most brilliant of diamonds, because the result will be the ability to perfectly reflect the brilliance of His glory.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.                                                                                                    2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB

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A Diamond in the Rough – @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. 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: What changes have you seen in yourself that are a result of God at work in you?

Why Can’t I Be Perfect NOW?

by Kathy Collard Miller

Some time ago, I rejoiced in the Lord’s work in my life because an area of personal struggle seemed to finally be conquered. I felt victorious and knew the Lord had worked mightily. Praise the Lord!

As that wonderful realization dawned upon me, a thought quickly popped into my mind: “Could it be I’ve reached … perfection?” That realization energized me! Could it be that I’d actually reached what I’d been seeking all my life?

But within moments, I sensed the Holy Spirit gently tapping on my spirit’s shoulder. He smiled and said, “Kathy, you have done well in my power. Now here’s the next area I want to work on in you.”

“No! Don’t say that! I want to be perfect!” I cried out in my heart. “I don’t want something else to be a challenge. I just want life wrapped in a pristine white gift box with a pristine perfect white bow on top!”

But I knew that couldn’t be. I needed to be needy so that I would need God.

How do you feel when you read verses like Philippians 1:6?

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (NASB).

It’s saying we won’t be completed and perfect until we reach heaven. That can be frustrating. And maybe even confusing, because if the Holy Spirit is in us, we should be perfectly empowered all the time, right?

We want that verse to say: “He who began a good work in you will perfect it…yesterday!” Unfortunately, when our hearts think that’s what God really meant to say, we can easily envision God impatiently tapping His foot while His arms are folded across His chest. “When are you finally going to be perfect?” He would cry.

But that’s not the truth. The Apostle Paul wrote that we wouldn’t be perfect until the day of Christ Jesus–when each of us dies or Jesus returns. Until then, God will always be working on something in our lives. Yes, we will gain victory over areas of struggle…and then He’ll move on to the next thing He’s working on.

Does the thought of always having something to work on seem comforting or overwhelming? I hope it can be comforting, knowing God doesn’t expect you to become perfect on this earth. He knows He’ll always be working on something in your life.

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

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller lives in Indio, CA, where she blogs, writes, and schedules speaking engagements. She is the author of over 50 books and has spoken in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Her latest book is No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with any feelings of wanting to be perfect on this earth?

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Getting Out of God’s Way

by Kathy Howard

Our great God never wastes anything. No struggle is fruitless. No pain futile. No challenge in vain. God can work in and through every situation He allows into our lives – even the worst of circumstances – to bring about our good and His glory.

My caregiving journey was still fairly new when I realized God wanted to use the experience to do something in me. If I would cooperate, my relationship with my father-in-law would be a tool in His hand to shape my character and refine my faith.

When Wayne’s dad first moved in with us, he was fairly independent. But as time passed, he needed us more and more. With Wayne commuting a long distance to work, much of the responsibility logically fell to me. But Pappaw’s growing dependence exposed the rough places in my character and areas of spiritual immaturity.

So many things bubbled to the surface – like selfishness, impatience, and shallowness. Every day seemed to reveal another layer of my sinful flesh. Irritation quickly rose up when a last-minute doctor’s appointment meant I had to cancel a lunch date. And instead of responding to his occasional harsh words with gentleness and grace, I sometimes uttered sharp words of frustration.

The demands and pressures of parenting my father-in-law did not cause these sinful attitudes and actions. The relationship merely jostled my heart, causing what was already there to spill out (Matthew 12:34).

In our human weakness, we ache for our struggles to end. We long for the hardness of life to ease. Yet God wants much more for us than an easy life in this world. He wants to make us like His Son (Romans 8:28-30). He wants our lives to bring Him glory and point others to Jesus.

God will use every possible means to rid our lives of sin and shape us into the likeness of Christ. One of His primary shaping tools is trials (1 Peter 1:6-7). In God’s skillful hands, life’s difficulties and challenges perform like a chisel on our hearts and souls, shaving off sinful rough spots, cutting notches, creating gentle curves, and forming smooth bevels.

Yet, sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. Rather than submitting myself to the Master Craftsman and trusting His refining process, I fight God’s purposeful work. I doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness. I complain that He isn’t working. That He doesn’t care. That surely, He doesn’t see our plight.

Do you ever feel the same way? Too often, God’s children walk through our days near-sighted. We only see the struggles, challenges, and trials at hand, forgetting that the eternal glory awaiting us far outshines these light and momentary troubles (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Be assured, God knows your every physical need and struggle. He sees your sleepless nights, your tired muscles, and your frayed emotions. He hears your groans, your sighs, and your prayers. He is keenly aware that you are often overworked, overstressed, and overlooked. He not only knows it all, He cares. He cares that you hurt and grieve for yourself and your parents.

This temporary struggle – no matter how difficult – cannot compare to God’s eternal purposes for you and your loved ones. Keep your eyes on the prize of God’s glorious salvation (1 Peter 1:9). Rest in the assurance that God will not waste a single tear. And embrace the joy of Christ. It’s yours today.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

 Kathy HowardAbout the author: Kathy Howard‘s new book, 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents releases TODAY!! Struggling to navigate the parent/child role reversal? This new devotional book explores God’s Word to find hope and encouragement for the wide range of physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges the adult child caregiver may experience. Each of the 30 devotions – which can also serve as a guide for a daily quiet time – includes a Scripture passage, a real-life illustration, biblical commentary/application, and questions30DaysHope_AgingParentsCover 300RGB for reflection.

You can find a sample of 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents here.

 Join the conversation: Can you see God working in the midst of your trials? In what ways have you fought God’s refining process?

Photo by Richard Jaimes on Unsplash