More Than Conquerors

by Sheri Schofield

“Hey, Jim, want to go on a rattlesnake hunt?”

“I’d love to!”

So our friend, Jim, and his buddy went out and had a blast hunting rattlesnakes and shooting their heads off. Afterward, Jim put his catch of headless rattlers into a plastic shopping bag, tossed it under the front seat of his truck and headed for home. (For some reason, guys like to take all their trophies home to show their wives. Eeeew!) The problem was that he forgot that rattlesnakes have reflexes. The headless snakes began crawling and rattling around in that bag under his seat!

Now, Jim knew the snakes could not harm him: they had no heads – no fangs with which to bite him. But it still unnerved him!

In the Garden of Eden, after the serpent – the S-N-A-K-E – talked Adam and Eve into disobeying God, bringing mankind under slavery to Satan and sin, God cursed it. In his first prophetic clue about how he would save mankind, God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 NIV).

Satan did not know what that meant. When God sent Jesus into the world to save mankind, Satan tried many times to get Jesus killed. He finally succeeded at Calvary. He gloated! He cheered! The forces of hell rose up in a roar of applause! What Satan did not understand was that he had merely struck the heel of Messiah. . . and signed his own death warrant.

When Jesus died on that cross and rose from the dead three days later, he crushed Satan’s power over mankind. The snake was now powerless – its head was crushed – its fangs were powerless against all who believe in Jesus and have committed their lives to him. Satan no longer has the power to drag us down into hell for eternity. We are free because of Calvary!

But Satan, like the snake he is, still crawls around making noise, scaring people, and creating havoc on earth. His reflexes are not dead yet. Only his fatal bite is gone. He can still wriggle into the hearts of mankind and drag them down. He can still wrap his coils around their emotions and squeeze. He gets people to live according to their fallen natures, the flesh.

Paul wrote about this in Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV): “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

When we choose to follow Jesus, he helps us to overcome these things. He frees us from the coils of the headless snake, Satan. He gives us the Holy Spirit to wash our hearts clean from Satan’s poison.

Paul goes on in verses 22 and 23 (NIV): “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

This is the kind of life Jesus wants for us – a life free from the power of Satan’s still active reflexes. The devil is a headless foe – but watch out for that tail! We can live free of Satan’s power. Just don’t hold onto that snake! Hold onto Jesus instead.

…in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.    Romans 8:37-39 NIV

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More Than Conquerors – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. 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: Is there a sin you have become comfortable with?

 

Tornado Prayers

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.                                                     John 14:33 ESV

One summer evening, five years ago, the sky turned black as the tornado sirens blared. I looked out the window at the fast-moving sky and saw the stinger of a tornado rolling sideways over our house.

 Were there more twisters to come?

I stood over the bed of my medically fragile daughter. Together we were about to face a day I’d hoped would never come. It wasn’t supposed to. The word on the street was, “We’re safe from tornadoes, because the Colorado foothills protect us.”

But the trouble was that the fast-moving storm was blowing the wrong way: west towards the mountains instead of east towards Kansas.

As the storm pressed itself against the mountains, the entire sky began to rotate. While quarter-size hail threatened to rain shards of glass from the skylight overhead, the air crackled with electricity.

How I longed to take my daughter into the basement, but her wheelchair wouldn’t make the trip. She was too heavy to carry and too fragile to drag. So there we were, stuck in harm’s way, with only a mattress and the name of Jesus to protect us.

With only the name of Jesus?

I faced the blackness outside our window as I stood my ground, commanding the tornado to “go up,” in the name of Jesus.

The sky turned orange and the heavens roared like a freight train while I tucked Laura beneath her bed and continued to pelt heaven with my prayers. But the problem was the storm was stuck against the mountain and stayed there, rebuilding on itself for almost six hours. Just when I thought the terror would never stop, the storm finally ended with a boom of a lightening strike.

Soon the news-at-10 revealed that an E 3 tornado had passed only a mile away, destroying homes as it thundered toward the foothills.

The next day, not sure which neighborhood the monster had entered, I felt the urge to call a friend, a friend who wasn’t quite ready to believe in God. “Did you see the tornado?” I asked when she picked up the phone.

“Did I?  I heard a noise outside and stepped onto my porch and looked up, directly into the wall of the tornado just over my house.  That’s when I saw my neighbor’s roof sail by.”

“Did you get hit?”

“No, and the odd thing was the tornado jumped over my house before it exploded the rest of the neighborhood.”

“Do you know what I was praying while that tornado was on the ground?” I asked.

“What?”

“Go up, tornado, go up in the name of Jesus!”

My friend sucked in her breath.  “Well, I have to admit, that was a really good prayer.”

When you face a sudden storm, don’t discount the name of Jesus, even if it’s the only weapon you have available. For the name of Jesus is more precious and more powerful than anything else you could choose to rely on. In fact, Jesus Himself said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:33 ESV).

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Tornado Prayers – encouragement from @LindaShepherd on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda evans shepherd

About the author: Linda Shepherd Evans is the president of Right to the Heart Ministries and the CEO of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), which ministers to Christian women authors and speakers. She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily. Linda is an award-winning author who has written numerous books. Her prayer books have sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies. She is an internationally recognized speaker.

Linda’s latest release, When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power, is a practical and encouraging book that explains what intercessory prayer is, how to pray as an intercessor, and how to experience victory. You’ll quickly find the specific help you need to pray for the needs close to your heart. You’ll also learn how to develop your own intercessory prayer battle strategy and to celebrate each victory with thanksgiving.

Join the conversation: What power have you witnessed when calling upon the name of Jesus?

God’s Gift of Power

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10, ESV

This morning I found myself focusing on what I don’t have.

I hate it when I do that.

I have been given so much. A roof over my head. A family that I adore. A job that I love. Yet it is in my human (sinful) nature to focus on what I don’t have, rather than to count my blessings.

Do you ever do that? Do you ever start thinking about an opportunity that hasn’t come your way, places you haven’t visited because you don’t have the money, a certain measure of success you haven’t yet attained, or a relationship or position in life you don’t yet have?

Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV).

You and I do have life in abundance when we focus on what God has given us – gifts in the spiritual realm that can help us through the physical realm. One of those gifts is His incredible power.

Scripture says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV). That means we have His Spirit to help us be bold when we would otherwise be fearful or timid, to help us love unconditionally when we otherwise could not, and to help us exert self-control.

And on days you and I feel especially weak, 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that Christ’s power is perfected in weakness.

Do you know why you and I tend to worry and stress? We forget God’s power. Do you know why we give up when we could otherwise succeed? We forget He is capable. Do you know why we shrink back when we could be moving forward?  We forget He can do all things.

Why else would we start in with our “what ifs?”

What if I can’t get this done?

What if this bill is not something I can pay?

What if we can’t work through this situation?

Approach this day remembering you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Tackle any project that comes your way knowing God is able to do through you what is beyond you. And remember all that you do have today because you have His power. It is there for the asking.

Lord, thank You for giving me the power that resides in You. Thank You, too, that I am never left to my own devices, but I can call upon You at any time.

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God’s Gift of Power – insight 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 several books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, 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: Have you experienced the power of God when facing a challenge?

 

Pursuit of Perfection

by Jennifer Smith Lane

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.                                                                       2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

As a recovering perfectionist, I asked myself, why do I get so caught up in being perfect? While I know full well that perfection is impossible, there is still something deep inside me fueling my desire to achieve it. I began to wonder where this notion came from.

Surely it is a godly pursuit, right? I recalled one of Jesus commands from the Sermon on the Mount, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NIV) and reassured myself that while perfection was a tall order, I was on the right track in pursuing it.

However, further study of this verse brought new understanding.

First, I looked up the dictionary definition of perfect. Webster’s defined it as “free from any flaw, fault or defect in condition or quality and complete.” Then I looked up the Greek word for perfect, which literally means the condition something is in: its completeness or maturity. A cross reference to that verse is Leviticus 19:2, which commands Israel to “be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (NIV). I realized that the idea of perfect is more about holiness than  being flawless or acceptable.

This changes everything.

I had perfection as the goal, and I was failing miserably. But perfection isn’t the goal, God is. The pursuit is about holiness and growing in maturity in my walk with God, not about whether I did everything perfectly. You see, God doesn’t call us to pursue perfection, He calls us to pursue Him.

While pursuing perfection is one thing, striving for it is another. When we take the pursuit of perfection and place it on the throne of our heart rather than God, we stray off course and perfectionism becomes our ideology. Webster’s defines perfectionism as “a refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. A doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable.” Obviously not Scriptural! If we adhere to the way the world defines perfection, pursing it becomes the object of our worship, not God.

Life isn’t perfect, and it never will be. It’s messy. It’s chaotic. It’s unpredictable. Living focused on an unattainable goal is not a recipe for success. Instead, it highlights our weaknesses, intensifies our failures, and leaves us unfulfilled. But Jesus said, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). Did you catch that? Christ’s power works best in our imperfections.

Friend, what are you pursuing? Ask God to shine His light to expose your desire for perfection, so that you can correctly see your imperfection for what it is: an opportunity for Christ to shine through you. It will transform your pursuit of perfection into a pursuit of Him.

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Pursuit of Perfection – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with the need for perfectionism?

More Than Called…

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” Jude 1:1-2 ESV

Are you feeling drained? Has serving God become a burden rather than a privilege?

Each of us has been called to serve our mighty God in a unique way. But we can become so busy fulfilling our call that we focus on the “doing.” We want to do better—to write well, to teach effectively, to do whatever we’ve been called to do to the best of our ability.

Yet our ability can be limited. Then we struggle with our inadequacy as we represent the King of Kings. That inadequacy drives to seek His empowering to accomplish His purposes.

To be conscious of our calling is to serve with an awareness of the privilege of being used by God to advance His kingdom. But that’s only a partial picture of what it means to be called. In the New Testament, Jude wrote, “To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:1-2 ESV).

Jude made a point of addressing his epistle to those who are called, loved, and kept.

How often have I been so busy ministering the love of God to everyone else that I’ve forgotten I’m also a recipient of that same love? We are loved by the God of love, not because we serve, but because He lavishly pours out His love on us through Jesus Christ’s atoning work.

Not only are we loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), we are also kept. Our Heavenly Father sustains us and protects us. He holds us in the palm of His hand. Regardless of our circumstances, there is no safer place to be.

He saves us by the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, and He seals us by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We have everything we need to do all He has called us to do. More importantly, we have everything we need to be all He has called us to be—chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, and sealed.

When we understand who we are—and to whom who we belong—God releases His power in us and through us to serve Him. The order is important. Identity comes before service. Being comes before doing. Reveling in His mercy, peace, and love comes before ministry in His name.

Before you write your next chapter, teach your next class, answer the twenty new emails sitting in your Inbox, or even change that next diaper, take a moment to consider this reminder:

“I am loved with a lavish, everlasting love. This love is unrelated to what I do, but it has everything to do with who I belong to. I am a beloved child of the King kept by His almighty hand.”   

Once we understand God’s love and His keeping, we are free to serve Him without fear, equipped in every way to fulfill the purpose to which we are called.

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More Than Called… -insight from @AvaPennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What has made you question the goodness of God?

Power On

by Nan Corbitt Allen

I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven.  Ephesians 1:19-20 NASB

Last fall, most of my extended family, who live in the Florida Panhandle, were unwelcoming hosts to a despicable guy named Michael.

Hurricane Michael.

I watched on TV the path of this huge storm and started praying (and worrying) about them as soon as I discovered that their town was being targeted by this Category 5 storm, packing 160 mph force winds. Though they are inland 60 miles, the eye and the outer bands of the storm were aiming right at them, threatening to devour them.

They were hit hard. Roofs went flying, and gaping holes were left by falling trees allowing in the torrents that all but destroyed drywall, carpet, and flooring. The water left behind mold, muck, and mud. It was not only frightening, but the aftermath was disgusting.

Of course, the electricity went out—and stayed out for weeks. My family can tell you exactly not only how many weeks, but hours, seconds, and milliseconds they were powerless. Some had generators which got its power from gasoline, which eventually became scarce, but even those generators provided a very limited amount of power at best.

This event made me, and them, aware that we are entirely dependent on someone else for our power. And not just the kind that turns on our lights and keeps our refrigerators running. As believers we have the privilege of drawing our daily power from the Lord. In Philippians 3:10, Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.” (NASB)

The Scripture at the top of this page says that the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is available to us, and not just when we die. What could be better than that!

Henry and Melvin Blackaby wrote in their book Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter that Changes Your Life “Your hope of the resurrection isn’t just for the future when you physically die and go to heaven; it’s also for now, while you’re living on earth …”[1]

Yes, the same power that breathed new life into the dead body of God’s Son is available to us. But realize that God won’t necessarily force this power upon us. Sometimes He allows us to be in vulnerable, powerless situations, but it’s up to us whether we’re going to accept it or not. The first step to accessing God’s power is recognizing that we’re powerless. Often it’s the difference between commitment (imposing our own power into a situation) and surrender (admitting that we are powerless and calling on Him to be our strength).

The Apostle Paul refers to a “thorn in his flesh” that he endured “…to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!” There is conjecture about what the metaphorical thorn was, but Paul saw it as a hindrance and he asked God on several occasions to remove it.

But God told him, “My grace 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 12:9, NASB)

Draw power everyday by surrendering to the resurrected One who can switch it on for you.

[1] Blackaby, Henry, Melvin ©  Random House, 2007

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Power On – Thoughts on #FollowingGod from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the resurrection power available to you?

 

Captured by His Holiness

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?   Exodus 15:11, NIV

The power of the ocean surprised me. I had heard stories of rogue waves, dangerous currents, and destructive tsunamis, but I had never experienced them. That was before the Pacific caught me in its pull.

Our family was vacationing on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. We rented boogie boards earlier in the day and I eagerly wanted to try mine out. When we hit the beach, I didn’t hesitate. I jumped right in and paddled out to catch the waves. Unfortunately, by the time I realized they were breaking too far out for boogie boarding, I was in over my head. So with my upper body on the small board, I began to kick my way back to the beach.

Despite my efforts I couldn’t make any progress. In fact, after several minutes of trying I was farther away from the beach and farther down the shoreline. The board was strapped to my wrist so I let it trail behind me and began to swim. I swam until I was exhausted and swallowing water, but I was even farther from shore.

Powerless against the riptide, all I could do was cling to the board and holler for help. My dear husband, who came quickly to my side atop his own boogie board, talked me through riding out the current. Soon we were safely on the beach.

That experience gave me new respect for the ocean. I had heard of its power, but without first-hand knowledge, I treated the water too casually. My new attitude does not prevent me from enjoying the ocean, but I approach it differently than I did before. The personal encounter with its power changed everything.

Likewise, intellectual assent to the holiness of God is not the same as personal experience. We can mentally agree to the truth that God is holy, but when we come face to face with His holiness we are forced to respond.

You can experience our holy God in a real way. For instance, God can reveal His holiness to you when you are enjoying a magnificent sunset or reading His Word and praying. Sometimes we simply don’t wait before Him long enough. We see His glory in nature or we read of His majesty in Scripture, pause long enough to say, “Wow,” then we’re off and running again. I’m guilty of that.

Let’s take time today to contemplate the glory and holiness of God. Ask Jesus to overwhelm you with His divinity, power, and holiness. Let His majesty envelop you like a bright cloud. Now sit, be still, and know. He alone is worthy of all our worship and praise!

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come… You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:8, 11 NIV

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Captured by His Holiness – insight 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 books, Kathy 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 FacebookInstagram, or 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: Have you ever personally experienced the power of God?