The Grinch That Stole Spring

by Sheri Schofield

“Where did all those dandelions go?” I asked myself, as I walked through the mountain meadow near my home. There had been at least six cheerful flowers blooming on the bank the day before, some of the first flowers of spring after the long, barren winter months. I had been looking forward to seeing them! To me, they represented joy and new life.

Later that day as I was driving into town, I saw an animal head pop up from a culvert not far from the missing dandelions. It saw me and quickly ducked back into the tunnel. I stopped and waited to see what it was. The head looked kind of like a prairie dog, but it was much bigger. I thought, “If the prairie dogs are getting that big these days, I’m moving into town!”

Soon the animal’s head popped up again. I sat very still, my camera phone ready. Slowly, the creature moved a little higher, and finally climbed up on the bank where I could see it. I snapped a few pictures then drove down the mountain to a wide spot in the road to try and figure out what the animal was.

It was a yellow-bellied marmot. It turns out that marmots just love to eat dandelions! He’s been nibbling away at the cheerfulness of our mountain’s colors. I’ve named him Grinch.

Our current world health crisis is doing the same thing as that marmot: stealing the new life and joy of springtime. So what can we do to combat this Grinch?

Habakkuk faced a Grinch, too. He had been complaining to God about all the evil in Israel and asking God to do something about it. God told him that Babylon was going to invade Israel. God was allowing this in order to turn his people back to himself. God had had enough of Israel’s disobedience. Habakkuk describes what would happen:

God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble . . . (Habakkuk 3:3-6 NIV).

We are living in a time when God is, figuratively, shaking the earth, trying to get its attention and draw earth’s people back to himself. It is scary, even for believers! But Habakkuk’s response gives us great insight about how to overcome this time of trouble, this Grinch – this plague – that God is using to get earth’s attention. Habakkuk said:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV).

Do not be afraid of what God is doing! For he is calling earth’s people to himself. In the face of this great trial, rejoice in the goodness of God – goodness that will get people’s attention before it is too late, and will draw all who listen back to his loving heart.

Lord, let there be revival!

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God .  Psalm 42:1-2 NIV

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The Grinch That Stole Spring – insight from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout 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: How has God gotten your attention in these troubled times?

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Deepening Your Prayer Life

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?                                               Psalm 42:1-2 NLT

There are times when shouting out a prayer is all one can manage. Like when I was raising an infant … on three hours of sleep. Or when, upon hearing my daughter talking about doing oversea missions in India’s slums or communist countries. Or the day I was stuck in Atlanta with no money, credit cards, or ID (which was necessary to fly back home).

Shout out prayers, those, “Oh, Lord help me,” cries, uttered countless times throughout the day, are valid. Necessary. And at times, a woman’s only avenue to sanity. But if our prayer life continually resembles an elevator pitch, before long, our spiritual life will suffer.

Divine intimacy, the kind that fills up all the empty and broken places within and melds our heart to our Father’s, requires regular, unhurried communication. This is what I long for. What I hope for, and at times, what I intentionally move toward. But then life gets busy, I get distracted, and I slip into shout out prayers once again.

If I want to grow as a believer wife, mother, and friend; if I want to experience the deep joy and peace Christ promised His believers, I’ll make prayer a top priority—a habit.

Luke tells us about the events leading up to the birth of John the Baptist. He began by describing John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, stating they were known for their faithful obedience (Luke 1:6).

In other words, that was their main defining factor.

As a priest, Zechariah was chosen by lot to “enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense” (Luke 1:9 NLT). This would have been a sacred, intimate time between him and God.

But he wasn’t the only one who met with God that day. According to Scripture, while he was burning incense inside the temple, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

Prayer had become a way of life for these people, a habit that had been established over a thousand years previously. Before the exile, since the time of Aaron, the first Jewish priest, incense was burned twice each day, and whenever the people smelled its holy aroma and saw it rising heavenward, they prayed. Now, over fourteen hundred years later, the people continued that custom.

That kind of dedication and consistency often eludes me, because I get “too busy,” distracted, or sometimes discouraged, especially if it feels like God isn’t answering. Yet by the time Elizabeth and Zechariah came on the scene, God had been silent for 400 years! And I often find a few years of unanswered prayers difficult. This happens especially when I’m approaching prayer in a self-centered way, focusing on what I might get, rather than Who I can get to know.

Yes, God is faithful, generous, and attentive. And yes, He answers prayer and gives good gifts to His children. But the best gift He’s ever provided is that of Immanuel: Jesus Christ, God with us. Let’s not get so caught up in what we don’t have that we miss out on the beautiful gift of divine presence God makes available to us today.

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Deepening Your #Prayer Life – 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.

Drawing Near is a 90-day compilation by Wholly Loved Ministries. Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.

Join the conversation: What are some ways you refocus yourself on Christ? How have you made prayer time a priority? Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

Lasting Fruit

by Pam Farrel

I had two new books published over the past year. When you release a new book, your publisher wants you to send a complimentary copies of the book to the women of influence who believe in you and in the ministry God has given to you.

Doing these mailings always takes me down memory lane, remembering the many amazing mentors God has given me. So many have poured wisdom, truth, strength, and common sense into me, and built up and blessed me. I would not be who I am had God not brought each of them across my path at just the right moment.

All I had to do was keep my heart hungry receptive to all He meant for me to learn.  A few of the Psalms in my new Bible study further define the kind of heart God values.

God is looking for thirsty hearts.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God.  Psalm 42:1-2 ESV

This word picture is of a deer searching, longing, desperate for living water to quench her driving thirst. Jesus spoke of this quality in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6 ESV). Being mentored necessitates cultivating a receptiveness to the wisdom of others.

God is looking for contrite hearts.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 ESV

Broken in this verse means to “be shattered into tiny pieces”; contrite is “to be crushed.” Tiny pieces of stained glass in the hands of an artist can become a magnificent work of art, more beautiful and even more valuable after being broken. In the same way, many of my mentors have been used by God as artisans, helping me put my broken life back together.

God is looking for grateful hearts

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100:4- 5 NIV

People with grateful hearts seek out others who want to thank and praise God for His goodness.  I have learned how important it is to appreciate every moment of time someone has spent on me in helping me to know God better.

So, this fall, I looked for opportunities to go in person to thank many of my mentors:

  • Tina, the Campus Crusade staffer, who mentored me in the basics of the Christian walk
  • Nora, who mentored me in my role as a mother
  • Bev, who mentored me in my role as a Pastor’s wife
  • Pat, my mentor in my role as a Women’s Director
  • Jill, my mentor in my speaking ministry.

There are many more, and in the coming months, I plan to go and give each a copy of my book to express my gratitude for each minute they spent pouring wisdom into me. The seeds these faithful women planted over the years have produced lasting fruit around the world. I’m confident that one day in eternity, they will all meet women who began a relationship with God and grew into reproducing leaders as well—all because they once cared and shared as mentors.

When we are open to serving God in that way, desiring a chance to pour into the lives of others, God will be faithful to reveal those who are thirsty, contrite, and grateful, waiting with ready hearts to hear what He has to say though His obedient servants.

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker,  Co-Director (with her husband, Bill Farrel) of  Love-Wise, and the author of  45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti . Her newest release, co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher, is Discovering Hope in the Psalms.

Join the conversation: Have you been on the receiving end of mentoring? Or have you mentored others? Please share something you gained from that relationship.

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash