Eternally Impactful Prayers

by Jennifer Slattery

If our prayers reveal our hearts and desires, then mine demonstrate that I’ve become overly entangled in today. Or perhaps more accurately, that I frequently lose sight of eternity. I ask God to alleviate my friends’ and loved ones’ pain, to protect them from harm, and to pour His blessings upon them. And while there’s nothing wrong with those requests––God wants us to bring all our needs before Him––He invites us to go deeper.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the prayers of Paul, recorded in his letters to ancient believers. He was perhaps the most effective missionary and church planter in the history of Christendom. He was a man of action, but he was also a man of prayer: powerful, soul-stirring, life-changing prayer.

Here’s what I find significant. The people Paul prayed for were experiencing intense persecution. Deep pain. Most likely fierce fear. They were losing jobs, their homes, and some, their lives.

So, how did Paul pray for them? Did he ask God to keep them safe? To alleviate their suffering?

Perhaps, but those aren’t the requests that were recorded and preserved for all time. Instead, we see a man completely focused on Christ and His mission––His mission for the world, and for every person Paul encountered.

To the Colossians, he wrote, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because … of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people …” (Colossians 1:3-6 NIV).

He thanked God for their faith and the fruit it bore.

To the Thessalonians he wrote, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3).

Again, he thanked God for their faith and the fruit it bore, and the endurance Christ had given them.

To the Philippians he wrote, “… In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 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 1:3-6 NIV).

Do you see the pattern?

I’m sure Paul felt the same concern for his brothers and sister in Christ that you and I share for our loved ones. While I imagine he prayed for their welfare and provision, he remained focused on their growth in Christ.

He understood, in a way my mama’s heart easily forgets, that God had called each of those ancient believers to something glorious, something eternal. To become like Christ and live for Him.

I want to do the same.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop asking God to protect, bless, and provide for my friends and family. But it does inspire me to expand my view, so that I may begin to see them and their situation through His eyes, through the lens of eternity.

Yes, I want God to care for my loved ones today. But even more, I want Him to grow their faith, change and strengthen their hearts, and empower them to change their world.

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How often do you pray for your loved ones’ spiritual growth? Who might God be calling you to pray for today?

Time to Lay Down Your Burdens

by Julie Zine Coleman

He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23:2b-3a NASB

The longest river in the world, the Nile, flows 4,130 miles from its headwaters in Africa’s mountainous lakes region to the Mediterranean. Sediments from as far away as Rwanda are carried northward by the force of the water as it plummets over falls and sweeps through channels in relentless movement toward the sea. Near the mouth, the river meets the sea. Suddenly the water slows down, and at the loss of energy drops its sediment to the river bottom. Thousands of years’ worth of these deposits have resulted in the famous Nile Delta, an enormous landform easily seen from space.

Sometimes it takes slowing down before a burden can be deposited. David knew this fact well. He wrote about his Good Shepherd: “He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” Before David could be restored, he had to be brought to a place of rest.

I didn’t used to be much on slowing down. As I raced through each day, tyranny of the urgent ran my agenda. We were raising four children, and I was working full time, throwing my energy into my fifth graders. Even my service in the church held the same frantic urgency. The busyness eventually took its toll on me, and I began to experience physical problems related to stress. But even then, slowing down didn’t seem like a viable option.

Then I went to seminary. One of the classes I was required to take was on spiritual disciplines. I was a bit skeptical from the first time I walked in the door. I wanted to do biblical exegesis; I wasn’t big on topical study. I took it because I had to. But I wasn’t going to like it.

As the class dragged on, I began to count the sessions until it would be over. Then one morning, as the class neared its end, we were told to go find a quiet place in nature and sit there for one hour, just listening to what God had to say to us. An hour? Of listening? Seemed a bit ridiculous to me. I reluctantly collected a notebook and a pen to record all of those messages I would supposedly receive and headed out to find a tree.

“OK, here I am,” I begrudgingly informed God. “Fire away.” My mind was full of the papers I had to write, the books I had to read, the Greek I had to translate. I could use this hour so much more effectively. I could hardly sit still. My frame of mind was anything but conducive to listening.

But as the hour dragged on, I tried to relax and at least appreciate the peace and quiet. I began to perceive the Lord’s presence. Not that he hadn’t been there all along, mind you. I was just too preoccupied to notice.

I started to bask in the love and grace he has lavished on me. My thoughts went to his greatness and power and faithfulness, his mercies that were new every morning. I began to thank him for loving me and for the blessings he has put into my undeserving life. Suddenly, my former agenda seemed very shallow. I prayed again, this time with an open heart and mind. “Lord, show me what you desire,” I pleaded.

God began to invade my thoughts. He wanted my heart more than my efforts. I was carrying too many burdens. It was time to put them down. So I did. I gave him my worries about finishing my studies successfully. I gratefully handed over concerns about my fledgling adult children awkwardly spreading their wings. My fears and anxieties fell off my shoulders as he impressed on me his power and ability to handle it all. And when the hour was up, I walked away feeling freer than I had been for a very long time.

We Americans are busy people. In our drive for productivity, we pick up burdens we don’t have time to lay back down. The Covid crisis has temporarily knocked a lot of that out of us. If you haven’t already, embrace the reduction in activity.

Find a quiet corner in your house. Sit down unencumbered by routine distractions and open your heart to him. As we embark on a new year, make it a priority to give God the time he deserves. Don’t go to him with an agenda. Let him set the pace. And as he leads you beside quiet waters, you will be restored.

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Zine 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 crafting. 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: How do you create quiet time to spend with the Lord?

Jesus Isn’t a Genie

by A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13 NLT

What have you asked God for recently? What prayers have you laid at His throne? In a year like 2020, it could be anything. Maybe you’ve found yourself pleading for the barest essentials. I have. But Jesus isn’t a genie in the sky, no matter how often I treat Him that way.

How often do I jump into praying with my requests first? How often do I start by asking Him for something? Granted, He wants us to ask Him for what we need, but when was the last time I took time to thank Him for all the good He’s done in my life?

Because He has done good things. Even in this horrific year of upheaval and turmoil, God is at work in mighty, impossible ways in my life and in yours. Maybe He has showed up in our lives in ways that we didn’t expect (or ask for), but do we even understand how amazing it is that He would speak to us at all? That He would guide us? That He would provide for us?

He’s God.

He made the universe. He made everything. He made the air you’re breathing and the lungs you’re breathing with. He made the brain you’re using to read this article. He made the suns we can see and the ones we can’t.

Almighty. All-powerful. Everlasting. The Self-Sustaining One. God.

And yesterday I came at Him in despair because my utility bill was more than I expected it to be. Last week I threw myself at His feet in discouragement because I had to pay for new tires. Last month I felt alone and abandoned because I didn’t get my way in something.

Do I even know who I’m talking to? Do any of us?

The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is so much more than a lovely set of poetic verses that are pleasing to recite. That’s fine I suppose, but it’s not intended as liturgy. It’s a pattern. It’s a guide for how we should pray.

Read it that way, and you’ll see that asking for what we need doesn’t even show up until the prayer is almost over. It begins with praise. It starts with recognizing who God is, that He knows best, and expressing a desire to see the values and characteristics of His kingdom come to pass in our broken world.

How many of us pray like that? Maybe we should start.

The next time you pray, begin with telling God how wonderful He is. Begin by acknowledging His work in your life. Thank Him. Be specific. If you have to make a list of all that He has done for you, even better. Once you start making a list of blessings, you won’t be able to stop.

It will change your perspective. It will change your heart. And by the time you even get to where you’re asking for your daily bread, you won’t even be thinking about what you need. You’ll be overwhelmed with what you already have in Him.

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

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Jesus Isn’t a Genie – insight & encouragement from A.C. Williams, @Free2BFearless, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless or on her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: For what are you grateful for today?

A Foundation When the World Shifts

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. Psalm 119:136

Everywhere I turn, I see believers crying out, looking for answers. Many are looking for our governments to step in and save us. And while I do have personal opinions about the events of these days—what I’m truly mourning is the fact that we’re no longer looking to God for salvation, but to man.

I don’t believe it’s possible for legislation to save us. More than that, we cannot look to legislation to guide morality. Morality must spring from something more foundational, and I believe it does. 

Each of us carries a foundational idea of right and wrong. It’s something that God has instilled within us. 

You see, our conscience comes from God. It was created within us when we were formed in the womb. If we were just products of Darwin’s theory, then our conscience would be weighted with a foundation of kill or be killed—survival of the fittest. Instead, we have a different foundation.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at our laws. Take a look at our day-to-day interactions. We don’t reward bullies and those who look out only for themselves. Our belief system reflects something more than that. It reflects God. 

We can stifle our conscience by ignoring it and trying to re-educate it. But it’s still there, and when we once again turn our ear to that pure voice, it will spring back to life.

In these days, we each need to turn back—to look to God to dictate what is right and what is wrong. First as individuals, then as a country. When we make God our priority, all the other things will fall into place. We’ll interact with one another in love.

No, I’m not suggesting some type of hippy nirvana filled with a false sense of anything goes. Or a watered-down version of who God is and how He demonstrates His love for us.

His love is the real kind. The hard kind. 

The kind that calls for

  • Loving our enemies.
  • Forgiving those who wrong us.
  • Holding one another accountable.
  • Turning the other cheek.
  • Standing up for what is right, whether it’s the law or not.

When we look to God for the answers, we’ll find unity. 

Not uniformity, never that. God created each of us unique and special. But He gave us traits in common—with Him—and with each other.

So today, I’m praying for our country. And I’m not praying small. I’m not focusing on individual sins, although I’m beginning there. I know I’m not perfect. So I’m first praying about my own short comings and asking for forgiveness and a renewed sense of right and wrong. I want God to clean out the junk and put me back on a track to be more like Him. Then I’m asking God to reclaim this country as His—with His definition of right and wrong.

Can one person make a difference? 

Maybe not at first. 

But for a difference to be made, we must all begin alone, in a one-on-one conversation with God. Then, when all those individuals come together and return to God…absolutely. 

Will you join me?

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

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A Foundation When the World Shifts – encouragement from @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: How do you pray for our country and its leaders?

When Words Aren’t Enough

by Louise Tucker Jones

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself, intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26 (NIV) 

I was attending a weekend immersion trip to become more fluent in Spanish. We were given only one rule—absolutely no English! It seemed simple enough as we ordered hamburgers and Cokes for lunch at a fast food restaurant on the way to our destination. But once we arrived, things quickly changed.

Suddenly, we were on our own in an unfamiliar grocery store, shopping for our weekend menu. When we couldn’t find an item, we had to ask in Spanish. Store personnel would shake their heads and move on. At the hotel lobby I often had to use charades and gestures to help the desk clerk understand me. And in our cabin, when the chitchat with my roommates turned serious, I struggled to find the Spanish words to express my thoughts and feelings.

It was a marvelous learning experience. Not just because I became more fluent in Spanish, but I learned first hand what my son, Jay, goes through when he tries to communicate. Being developmentally disabled and having a severe speech articulation disorder, Jay struggles daily with communication, often resorting to sign language and gestures. People often just stare at him and walk away. Sometimes he becomes frustrated, but he never gives up. Yet even with his tenacity, Jay often needs me to translate what he cannot say for others.

As Christians, we sometimes find ourselves in this same situation. We try to do things in our own strength and wonder why it doesn’t work. It’s not that we leave God totally out of our plans, but we often forget to invite the Holy Spirit to do His part.

In much the same way that I intercede for my son, Jay, when he can’t express his needs in words, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. When we are in the depths of despair. When we can’t find direction. When our hearts and souls are crushed and we feel totally abandoned. When we don’t have the words to explain our grief or even our joy, the Holy Spirit breaks through and intercedes for us.

What a gracious heavenly Father, to accept our pitiful, prayer petitions, even our groaning, when our hearts are wrenched with pain, then cover us with His awesome, holy love!

Father, thank you for the constant intercession of the Holy Spirit; for hearing our requests when we don’t even have the words to describe our needs. Amen.

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When Words Aren’t Enough – encouragement from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones loves to touch hearts. Her poignant life stories have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands.

Join the conversation: How does knowing the Holy Spirit is interceding for you affect how you pray?

 

 

 

Peace Like an Inlet Creek

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!    Isaiah 26:3 TLB

A number of years ago, my cousin and her husband owned a second home on a coastal island. They purchased the house and surrounding property from an old sea captain and renovated it. The house was a sprawling ranch-style, with quarters on one end of the home for the captain’s crew. On the other side of the house were tattered ruins of slave quarters, remnants of the plantation that once dominated the island. Live oak trees dotted the yard. Spanish moss dripped from their branches and swayed like long, gray tresses in the ocean breezes.

The house backed up to the marsh and was situated on an inlet creek. At high tide, the water level rose sufficiently to allow shrimp boats to navigate up the creek to an ancient fish processing plant. Their net extensions bobbed like wide-open arms as the boats made their way past the house.

The way in by car was a sandy side street off the main paved road. Once on it, the outside world faded. On the right was the house of the lady with too many cats; cats who lounged on the porch and in the yard and on the roof. On the left, colorful cinder block houses and palmetto woods lined the drive. Finally, the house came into view, low and long, beside the creek and marsh. In the evenings, as the sun slipped down, the  swath of orange and pink on the horizon were a stark contrast to the gray-green marsh grass.

At a time in my life, when I was struggling with many concerns, my cousin asked if I would like to use the house for a week. I gratefully accepted. That week, early each morning, I took my Bible, prayer journal, and a mug of hot tea down to the picnic table at water’s edge to read, pray, and watch the marsh come to life.

One morning, as I poured out my concerns to God, I said aloud, “Please give me a sign that you hear me!” Moments later, a dolphin surfaced in the creek and exhaled so close to me the spray touched me. It was as if God breathed on me. I laughed, and then cried, thanking my Heavenly Father for the quickest answer to prayer I’d ever received. In that moment, I experienced a sense of peace that flooded my mind and heart like the ripples of incoming tide up the inlet creek.

Sometimes, the reason we don’t experience peace is because we really don’t trust God. We spend lots of time worrying, trying to work out problems on our own, or escape them, instead of praying and trusting God to provide answers. But Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) reminds us: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Perfect peace hinges on trust, and trust is a by-product of frequent encounters with the Lord.

Perhaps you are navigating a difficult season of life and need a flood of reassurance that God knows your circumstances and is near. Take time to pray, asking for wisdom and direction. Trust that God is aware and working on your behalf. Although you may not receive an immediate resolution to your situation, watch with peace-filled expectation for what happens next.

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Peace Like an Inlet Creek – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: Has God ever reminded you of His presence in an unmistakable, obvious way?

 

Unexpected Applause

by Nancy Kay Grace @NancyKayGrace

I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1:3 NIV

The noise in the crowded airport prevented much conversation as I waited by my gate. People dragging suitcases rushed past. Parents entertained antsy toddlers. Teenagers remained oblivious to those around as they listened to music or played electronic games. Business travelers worked on laptops.

Suddenly, in the midst of all that noise, the atmosphere changed.

One person started clapping slowly. Applause began with one person, and then spread to another and another. Startled, I looked around for the reason for this. Someone pointed in an upward direction. Through a walkway above the terminal, men and women entered in army fatigues and carrying duffel bags.

Soon everyone in the crowded gate area joined the applause. More and more soldiers entered the walkway. I was witnessing the return of heroes. The applause continued, growing louder and louder with cheers and whistles.

Hundreds of soldiers—heroes—had returned from deployment. My heart was stirred with a mix of gratitude, unity, and patriotism.

Now in line to give the ticket agent my boarding pass, the spontaneous applause continued. Soldiers streamed into the airport. Some waved to the crowd below. Outside, more deplaned. I wish I could have stayed to applaud for every last one, but I needed to board my plane. As I stepped into the jet bridge, I glanced over my shoulder for one last look at the returning defenders of freedom with gratitude in my heart.

The scene in the airport reminded me that we are the benefactors of the courage of many who defend our country. They deserve a heroes’ applause everyday.

The apostle Paul wrote “I thank God every time I remember you” in his letter to the Philippians (1:3 NIV). He’d opened his letter expressing gratitude for their participation in the spread of the gospel. They had welcomed him with open arms and financially assisted him throughout his ministry. Even though they’d never left their city, in light of their continual support, Paul considered them his partners.

This gratitude reminder came to my mind that day in the airport.

Not everyone may be able to serve as a soldier, but everyone can strengthen the spiritual fiber of our nation through grateful prayer. In this important way we can partner with those who serve on the frontlines.

For those who have served or are now serving the country, I thank God every time I remember you.

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Unexpected Applause – encouragement from @NancyKayGrace on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives. She has contributed to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, The Upper Room devotional, as well as online and print magazine articles. She loves sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and grace. To learn more about her ministry, please visit her website at http://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for her monthly GraceNotes devotional.

Join the conversation: For what causes have you dedicated yourself to prayer?

He Cares

by Penelope Carlevato @TeaTimePen

 Our pastor and his wife were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. The church presented them with a gift for a four-day cruise out of Los Angeles Harbor on a “party” ship.  I couldn’t help but wonder, “what are you thinking?”  It was called a party ship for a reason! Anyway, off they went to celebrate their anniversary.

On their return home, they were full of smiles and reported what a wonderful time they had. A few weeks later, we had lunch with them, and I decided to find out what “really” happened.

Well, they were shocked when they first boarded the ship and saw all the party-goers. They found their cabin and couldn’t decide if they should get off before they left port or stay on board and make the most of it. Maybe this was all part of God’s plan. After praying, they felt God had a reason for them to be on this particular ship.

A big concern was who would be sharing their dinner table for the next four nights. They prayed about the situation and trusted it would be good.  At dinner that evening, they were delighted to meet their dining partners, a young Christian couple on their honeymoon. The newlyweds were just as surprised about the atmosphere of the ship, and had been praying the exact prayer.

It turned out to be a fantastic four days. The young couple was delighted to have marriage advice for a few nights, and our pastor and his wife loved the joy and excitement of the newlyweds.

Our pastor’s wife shared, “Don’t ever doubt what God can do when we ask for his help.”

We had been asking God for help for several months. We found ourselves priced out of the housing market in Southern California in the mid-1980s because of the high-interest rates – almost 20 percent. We decided we would rent for a while, but rentals were very scarce because of the high prices. Every day I would study the for-rent columns in the newspapers, but as soon as a house was available, it rented.

I was very discouraged, and time was getting short, as our current home had sold, and we needed to move. For some reason, our friends’ situation regarding table mates on the cruise ship came to my mind.

I thought, “If God cares about who our pastor and his wife sat with for dinner on the cruise ship, surely He cares about where we live.”

That evening we all prayed and thanked him that he had just the right house for our family. We wanted a home in the same school district, three bedrooms, a fenced yard, and within our budget. My spirit lifted, and I thought again about our pastor and the cruise ship dining experience.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV

The next afternoon, I drove through a beautiful neighborhood to pick up the children from school. As I drove down a quiet, tree-lined street, a man placed a for rent sign on the front lawn of a very nice house. I stopped and inquired about the rental. It sounded perfect, and as I looked inside and out in the fenced back yard, it was perfect. But the owner told me several interested parties had already called, and he was interviewing them first. He would be happy to let me fill out a rental application. I prayed to stay calm and trust God. I repeated the scripture from Philippians and our pastor’s wife’s advice – “don’t ever doubt what God can do when we ask for his help.”.

Our family prayed that evening for that house. Early the next morning, the landlord called and said he had chosen us!  He told me, “The moment you stopped yesterday afternoon and talked with me, I knew you were the family God wanted in this house.”

We spent several years in that lovely three-bedroom home with the fenced yard. God does care where we live and with whom we dine. The extra blessing was the Christian landlord.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

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He Cares – a timely reminder about #GodsLove from Penelope Carlevato, @TeaTimePen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Penelope Carlevato -5

About the author: Penelope Carlevato is a Christian author and speaker, member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Bureau and Titanic Speakers Bureau, and a contributing author for numerous compilation books. She serves as a regular columnist for Leading Hearts, the award-winning magazine for Christian women, and also writes for Innovative Health and other medical and wellness magazines.

Penelope’s book Tea on the Titanic, First Class Etiquette is a collection of recipes, special menus, and interesting facts and stories of life in the Downton Abbey and Titanic era. Whether planning a Birthday Tea, a Christmas Tea, a Christening Tea or even a themed Downton Abbey Tea, the pleasures of sharing tea time come alive as Penelope shares her enthusiasm, knowledge, and inspiration.

Join the conversation: Do you have a story about when you brought your needs before God and he provided for you? Please share!

Precious Gifts

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1 NIV

I think I have bloody knees. No, I know I have bloody knees. It’s the second time I’ve boogered them up. I made a nice dive to catch a runaway cart when we helped our friends move. But the bloody knees I have now are scared and scrapped from praying. Things like my husband’s cancer diagnosis tend to force our prayer lives beyond the usual.

Even as I prayed for others, I found it trying since my first inclination was to pray for ourselves. We are human after all. Still, I did my best to continue to sort through my prayer bowl, talk out loud to God in the car, in the house, in the yard. I have found when I spend my time in prayer for others, then God has space in me, to work.

Then, of course, there’s timing. His time is certainly not the same as mine. I want a fast answer. Fix it. After all, You’re God. Snap your fingers and make him well! In my imagination, I can see his sweet hand go up, giving me the “wait” sign. Refocus. Regroup. Get back to real the servanthood of praying for others. Make that necessary room for God to be God.

I look at where we started this walk months ago. Several of those were spent simply waiting. That was practice for what was to come. God knows my weakness is waiting. We’ve learned…I’ve learned…that God places folks around us who want to help us while we wait. It might be through their prayers, a meal, a text, a call…there are tons of ways. The fact is clear, many want to wait with us through the storm.

I felt like I was a burden to accept the help and then I started looking through those folks and the things they’ve done and shared with us. Like my dear friends who, if I didn’t call immediately after a doctor’s appointment, were calling me. Guiding me. Praying for me. Another wonderful friend, who when I called to tell him about Tim’s cancer, sobbed out loud on the phone as he prayed in that instant for us. That is called sharing the burden.

Who am I to look God in the face and say, I don’t want the help you sent? I couldn’t do that so I swallowed what pride was left and received the blessing. God taught me it’s okay to accept the love and help of others and not feel like a burden. When I look at their help through God’s lenses, I see the support and help He sent were precious gifts.

Recently, we were on the phone with the Ostomy nurse at Vanderbilt. The phone kept beeping in my ear and I couldn’t see who was calling until the current call ended. When we finished talking to the nurse, Tim asked if the doctor had called.

“Not that I saw. Why?”

“His number is on the phone.” He said.

Rats! We were waiting for the final pathology report. We called the doctor’s office back, but the call back number went to voice mail. The office was closed. We’d missed talking to the doctor because he makes his calls after office hours. Here we were again…waiting.

God knows what is best for us and He guides us by that amazing love. He insisted we wait again. So we waited.

The next morning the nurse returned our call. “Dr. Payne is here and he wanted me to call you. He didn’t want you to wait any longer. Tim’s pathology report came back clear. There are no signs of cancer. No malignancy.”

We both burst into tears. The path to becoming cancer-free had involved a permanent, radical surgery that forever changed how Tim would live daily life, with no real guarantee.

God proves His love for us daily. We need only to accept it. The great Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one – a vital part of our relationship with Him we so easily forget. We, as the one, are just as important to God, as the rest.

Today we celebrate the waiting and provision that has not only refined us but cleansed us. The result was good and the waiting was over. Tim had beaten the odds. To say that we are blessed is an understatement but to recognize the precious love and care from the Father easily shows, He is our shepherd, and we lack for nothing.

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Precious Gifts – encouragement from @CindySproles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

CindySproles

About the author: Cindy K. Sproles is the co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries. She is a best-selling author and a speaker for writers and women’s conferences across the country. Visit Cindy at her website and check out her two latest books, Mercy’s Rain and Liar’s Winter.

Cindy’s newest book released this month! Worie Dressar is 17 years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind orphaned children with no way to care for themselves. Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers–one greedy and the other a drunkard–Worie fights to save her home and the orphaned children now in her care. Along the way, she will discover the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness.

Join the conversation: How has the Good Shepherd shown His loving care for you?

Mom’s Perfume

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

May my prayer be set before you like incense…  Psalm 141:2 NIV

Several years ago, after my mom passed away, I was given some of her things; clothes, jewelry, special personal items and a very nice, two-inch round locket on a long gold chain. It wasn’t the kind of locket that held a picture; instead, it contained solid perfume. My mom had a business that dealt with a lot of cash. Whenever she counted it, she made her fingers tacky with the solid perfume in the locket. She wore it every day for that reason. The locket wasn’t my style, and I didn’t care about the perfume, but it was a memory and piece of my mom. It went into my jewelry box and was forgotten.

One day, a few years later, while rooting around in my jewelry box, I came across my mom’s locket. Smiling at the memories, I opened it up and rubbed my finger on the solid perfume. The fragrance instantly rose to my senses, activating my memories. It was like my mom was standing right there. I’ll never forget that moment or how I could actually smell the memory of my mom.

The sense of smell is a powerful trigger for memories and emotions.

Just a few days before Passover and the crucifixion, Jesus  was having a meal in a friend’s home. As they reclined at the table, Mary of Bethany opened a very expensive box of perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet. The fragrance filled the room (John 12:1-8). It was such an extravagant expression of love, some of the disciples grumbled at the waste. But Jesus told them, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial.”

The scent of that perfume and Mary’s beautiful expression of love and worship for Jesus rose all the way to heaven. I wish I could have been there.

God speaks of Himself as having a metaphoric sense of smell, delighting in the fragrance of our love and worship. Whether our prayers are filled with concerns, needs or worship, it is all a sweet aroma to him. The Bible compares the prayers of the saints to golden bowls full of sweet-smelling incense (Revelation 5:8).

Think about this—If the sense of smell can trigger such emotion in us, as the moment I smelled my mother in her perfume, how much more love does it trigger in God when our prayers rise up to Him? When we worship Him? When we cry out to Him? It is like Mary’s extravagant gift being poured out all over again.

David understood this when he prayed, “May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2 NIV). In this psalm, David humbles himself before God, asking Him to put a guard on his tongue, and then goes on to pour out his heart and soul before God, comparing it to breaking a vessel of fragrant perfume.

Today, let’s take a moment to break open our most costly gift—spending some time in worship and prayer, letting it rise as a fragrant incense to God.

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Mom’s Perfume – thoughts on #prayer from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: What aromas trigger emotions or memories for you?