He’s Got Your Back

by Julie Zine Coleman

One evening, a few of us sat around swapping labor stories. I had to laugh—we are all well past childbearing age—but each labor experience was as fresh in our minds as if it were yesterday. There are some things you just don’t forget.

I sheepishly informed my friends: I wasn’t much on natural childbirth. In fact, I considered myself the president of the Epidural Club. I walked into labor and delivery each time and announced to all within earshot: My name is Julie Coleman. I want an epidural. Please have the anesthesiologist standing by. (This worked two out of four times for me. I had my twins naturally, but not by choice.)

Some of you childbearing-supermoms out there are probably offended. Please forgive me, for I’m no supermom. I hate pain. If you’ve never had an epidural, let me tell you, they are amazing. Once it is administered, you lay in your hospital bed, totally relaxed. Once in a while you notice the needle indicator on the monitor climbing. Wow, you calmly think. This is a strong contraction. Then you close your eyes and take a little nap.

Yes, I am a fan of epidurals. They render you totally numb below the waist. You see the contractions with your eyes, but that’s as far as the affect goes. Beautiful.

The writer of Psalm 91 had a similar kind of experience. “You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon…you will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.” The psalmist was no idiot. He was well-aware of the danger that lurked around every corner. But he was also aware of God’s protection.

Some danger we can see with our eyes. But there is a second kind of danger. Paul warns us of this unseen threat: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The bigger threat to our well-being exists in the spiritual realm.

We may not be able to see it, but it exists, alright. We get a rare glimpse into the world of the unseen from 2 Kings 6. The prophet Elisha had offended the King of Aram, who angrily sent horses and chariots to surround the city where Elisha and his servant were staying. When the servant rose in the morning, he saw the city was surrounded. “Alas, my master!” the servant gasped. “What shall we do?”

Elisha could see the threat as well as his servant, but he didn’t blink an eye. “Do not fear,” he encouraged the trembling man. “For those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha then prayed that the Lord would open the servant’s eyes so that he might see the reality of God’s protection. The writer of 2 Kings tells us: “The Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Like the writer of Psalm 91 or a woman in labor after an epidural, Elisha looked with his eyes and acknowledged the danger, but the sight did not bring fear to his heart. Why? He knew there was more to the story than what his physical eyes could see. And this knowledge made all the difference.

We have an enemy bent on our destruction. Peter tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour. He goes after our weaknesses, finding any place he can use to gain a foothold in our lives. He purposes to extend our anger into bitterness, temptation into disobedience, and pride into narcissism. We give him an inch; he turns it into a mile. He is a formidable foe. He is aided in no small part by our own sinful nature, that part of us that relentlessly drives us to act in ways that oppose the God we love.

We exist side-by-side with things bent on our destruction. So how can we live without fear? The psalmist answers that in the last stanza of his song, giving voice to God Himself: “Because he has loved Me, I will deliver him… He will call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see my salvation.”   

We can look dire circumstances in the eye with confidence. What we see with our eyes should not bring fear to our hearts. Why? God has our back.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

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: Of what are you afraid?

Angel in a Pickup

by Penelope Carlevato @TeaTimePen

Being a tour guide on my Taste of Britain Tea Tours is one of my greatest joys. I escort women on ten-day tours throughout England, experiencing the glory of England and afternoon teas in many different venues. The first day is always the toughest, getting everyone settled in their hotel rooms, converting their dollars to British pounds, and explaining English terms.

On one of my tours, we had the privilege of seeing Queen Elizabeth twice on our first day. The ladies were thrilled at the chance sightings, and I knew it was one of those “God things”. It was their first trip to England, and I wanted it to be perfect.

That evening, relaxing in the tub in my London hotel room, I decided it was a good time to catch up on my Bible reading.  A verse grabbed my attention…”Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

Why was it so important to me that this trip be perfect? Was it so everyone would have a good time, or was I trying to make myself look good? I wanted everyone to believe I had it all together. I didn’t want to be thought of as a failure when things didn’t go as planned. I realized I would be walking on eggshells during the tour if I didn’t trust God with these women and all the details of the journey. I turned it over to Him, as I had done my homework, and now I needed to rest in his goodness and provision.

At the end of our ten days in England, I was pleased that everything went so well.  No injuries, illness, or complaints. God was in control, and it had been the perfect trip – up until we traveled to the airport.  We were late.

As we left the motorway and entered the roundabout leading to Gatwick Airport, our van suddenly stopped dead…right in the middle of two exit lanes.  We were blocking traffic at rush hour. Drivers began to blast their horns and shake their fists at us. I immediately went into panic mode instead of trusting God to take care of the situation. But one of our sweet ladies in the group suggested we pray. What a brilliant idea! 

We prayed, “Lord, please send us an angel to help us in this situation.” 

As we concluded our prayer, a small pickup pulled in front of our van. A tall, good-looking man in a dark blue uniform jumped out of his truck and came to our driver’s window. “Oh no,” I thought, “a traffic warden (the English name for a policeman) is going to issue us a ticket. Just what we didn’t need! We’ll miss our flight home for sure.”

He came to the driver’s window, and instead of issuing us a ticket, asked if he could help pull our van off to the side of the road. He used a tow rope he had in the bed of his pickup and pulled us out of traffic.

Walking back to our van, he peeked his head inside and asked, “Which terminal and airline, ladies?”

All of us shouted over the head of the driver, “South Terminal – British Airways to Denver.”

“Great,” He replied, as he tipped his cap, “I’ll see you on board. I’m your pilot.”

God whispered in my heart, “See? I am in control. Trust me. I’ve got this.”

We all cheered like a bunch of teenagers. In a short while, the Automobile Club arrived to help us with our van. We had a broken gas gage. We had run out of gas!

I learned a great lesson on that trip.  God went before us, and He was in control. It wasn’t a coincidence that our British Airway’s pilot passed us on the roundabout at that exact time. We made our flight on time, and once onboard, the pilot gave us all an exclusive visit to the cockpit.

This Scripture is not just words on a page, but God’s promise to us:

So not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Penelope Carlevato -5About the author: Penelope Carlevato is a Christian author and speaker 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. You can find out more at PenelopeCarlevato.com

Penelope has written several books: Tea on the Titanic, First Class Etiquette, The Art of Afternoon Tea: From the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic, Tea Lover’s Journal, and Happy Family Tea Time. Whether planning a Birthday Tea, a Christmas Tea, a Christening Tea or even a themed DownThe Art of Afternoon Tea: From the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic by [Penelope Carlevato]ton Abbey Tea, the pleasures of sharing tea time come alive as Penelope shares her enthusiasm, knowledge, and inspiration. 

 

Join the conversation: Has God ever rescued you from a difficult situation? Please share!

An Icy Reminder of God’s Faithful Provision

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.                                                                                                                                                         Psalm 145:5-6 ESV

How often does God provide, but we miss it?

When our kids were still at home, our family enjoyed snow skiing together. But one winter we had a scary experience. It happened during the first of seven ski seasons we lived in Alberta, Canada. While our son spent the afternoon in ski school down near the ski lodge, my husband, two daughters, and I hopped on a quad lift to go to the top.

Where we got on the lift, the sun was shining and the wind was calm. But as we glided up the side of the mountain the weather began to change quickly. Snow began to fall and the wind picked up speed causing the lift chair to sway dramatically. When we finally got to the top of the lift, we stepped off into a blizzard. Icy snow painfully pelted any exposed skin. We could only see a few feet in front of us. It was a total white-out.

Since this was our first visit to this particular ski resort, we didn’t know the trails. We couldn’t see the trail signs or even the ground! We didn’t know how we would get down the mountain to the lodge. The weather was so extreme they had closed the lift behind us, so that wasn’t an option.

The girls were frantic. Panic began to rise up in me as well. While the four of us huddled together against the white, icy barbs, I shot up a prayer for divine intercession. We definitely needed help.

Just then a young man skied up to us. “My name is Luke. I used to be a ski instructor here and know this mountain well. Can I help you get down?” Oh, yes please!

Luke led the way with our older daughter right behind him. I came next, with our younger daughter between my skis. My husband took the rear to make sure no man was left behind. With our eyes on Luke’s back, we slowly made our way down.

After about 20 nerve-wracking minutes of blind descent, we skied out of the white. We thanked Luke profusely, and he quickly skied away. The four of us went straight to the lodge and warmed up in front of the fire with big mugs of hot chocolate.

We were so thankful for Luke’s help. Sadly, it wasn’t until much later – after telling this story a few times – that I realized just who our Rescuer really was. It was not that experienced Canadian skier, but our faithful God who sent him. Just when we needed help.

This experience taught me to not only ask for God’s provision in desperate times, but to also anticipate it. To look for God’s hand and provision in all our circumstances. Like a stranger on a mountain in a blizzard.

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An Icy Reminder of God’s Faithful Provision – encouragement & insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Have you ever missed seeing God’s provision in difficult circumstances?

Grace on the Golden Gate

by Christina Rose

“He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,  I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”  
(Psalm 91:15-16 NIV)

It was a blustery day in San Francisco, much to the delight of all sailors and windsurfers. I had gotten blown out of the water by gusty winds and could barely get my windsurfing rig to shore. (I had learned early on to take notice when the winds and tides shifted suddenly. One day in high winds, my mast had separated from my board with a tanker quickly approaching me as I was dead in the water. God heard my prayers and sent another windsurfer to rescue me, and I made it safely to shore.)

While I loved being at home with my kids, I was occasionally able to steal a few hours to myself to windsurf. After one such delightful sail, it was time to head home. I loaded my gear in the VW bus and made sure the camper latches were secure, so that the top wouldn’t pop up in the high winds.

I approached the Golden Gate Bridge and looked down to admire the beautiful San Francisco Bay full of colorful sails. About midway across the bridge, I heard a sudden big boom and the car shook. The top of the camper had popped up and filled with wind, making the vehicle shake wildly back and forth. I reduced my speed as much as I could and pulled into the right lane, struggling to keep the car steady. I was puzzled, as I knew I had securely tightened those latches.

This had never happened before.

Panic seized me. I envisioned the evening news, announcing “Gusty Winds Send Surfer Mom and Van Flying Across the Golden Gate.” I finally made it the length of the bridge and saw a small shoulder. As I pulled over, a distraught weeping woman came running towards me and fell on her knees. Fortunately, I understood Spanish. She told me she had been praying to God for over an hour. Her car had broken down, she had no phone, there was no walkway to get off the shoulder and she was stuck by the side of the road.

With how fast all the cars were speeding by, no one would have noticed her in time to stop, unless they were in the right lane and going 5 miles an hour like I was.

“God has heard you, I will help you,” I told her in Spanish. We put a note on her car, and I handed her my phone so she could call her husband. Then I gave her a ride home.

All I could do was smile the rest of the day and evening thinking, “God you are amazing.” Not only was I grateful to help this woman, but I got to witness how awesome God can be. He does hear our prayers and answers them in astounding ways. Of course I latched my camper that day; but God popped it open so I would stop and help the praying woman. He may have even made the gusts blow stronger when I was sailing, so that I would get off the water and get in my car to go help her.

“By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
    O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas;” (Psalm 65:5 ESV).

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Grace on the Golden Gate – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Have you ever experienced a dramatic answer to prayer?

Sunflower Love

by Sheri Schofield

Warm summer breezes sweep the ripened grass in the meadows, and all along the roads, sunflowers gently nod. The cheerful golden manes around the brown faces dot the landscape when most other wildflowers are done for the season. From first light until dusk, the sunflowers face the sun, following its orbit across the sky, never wavering in their devotion to its warmth.

King Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, reminds me of the sunflowers. He was at home in Jerusalem minding his own business when a messenger came to him with troubling news. The kings of Moab, Ammon and Edom were marching on Jehoshaphat’s kingdom of Judah. Three nations! How could Judah withstand such an onslaught?

Jehoshaphat was alarmed by this news, and his immediate response was to turn his face to God for guidance. He sent out orders to all his people that they should fast. When the people heard the news, they left their towns and rushed to Jerusalem to seek the Lord together. King Jehoshaphat, who met them in front of the Temple of the Lord, led them in prayer.

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you . . . If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague, or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us. . . We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:6, 9, 12, NIV).

The Lord answered Jehoshaphat immediately. The Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel, a man from the priestly tribe of Levi. He said, “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them . . . You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17 NIV).

The next morning, Jehoshaphat chose some good singers and told them to march in front of the army singing praises to God declaring his unfailing love. Now that is confidence!

As they neared the enemy encampment, the choir began to sing. At the first notes of  praise, the Lord caused the invaders to start attacking each other! By the time the choir, the army, and the king arrived, not one enemy could be found alive. God had saved all Judah in a spectacular manner.

Have the cares of this life surrounded you? Do you feel overwhelmed? Then look toward Jesus. Cry out to him, “Lord! I do not know what to do, but my eyes are on you!” Like the sunflower watches the sun above, keep your eyes on the Son of God. All deliverance and freedom is in him. He will come to your rescue!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked our for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1- 2 NIV).

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Sunflower Love – insight on #GodsLove 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!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: How do you keep your eyes focused on Him?