Live Free…Your Best Life is Yet to Be

by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13 ESV

Life may seem a little off right now. In Fix Her Upper language, it’s been a bit of a demo time.

But that’s the good news. There will be a day we can look back and marvel at all God’s done. Today even. We can pray together, because we know prayer changes everything.

Jesus knew this. In Scripture we see Him step away from the crowds. Walk off quietly to pray. He takes walks with His Father and declares, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11 ESV). No matter what happened to him on this earth, He remained in perfect peace. It’s prayer and the presence of God that fixes this anxious life.

Now that I’ve had 8000 moments to catch my breath, I can see how frequently I forget to pray when life is moving quickly and noisily.  

The enemy would love us to stay overwhelmed with crisis and underwhelmed with Jesus. But while the world tells us one thing—God tells us something different: “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness” (Galatians 5:16 The MSG). I love this verse and the future it holds for us. God encourages us to live our best life freely, dynamically, and sensitive to the nudging of the helpful hand of the Spirit.

Apparently, I wasn’t living my freest life, though. Not at all. Because when the pandemic arrived, I was reassigned to work in our hospital Emergency Room with many of my coworkers. My dynamic was gone. My fear? The same as everyone else’s with the forecast of what the virus might do to our world, my family, and…me. I started to self-preserve and hold back; I noticed my preoccupation with the ability of my N95 to save me from all things germy.

But I’ve realized there’s no freedom in fear. None. Fear is selfish. It causes our spirits to retreat in an effort to ensure our own survival, protect ourselves. All this time, I’ve tried to play it safe.

A safe life is not our best life—because faith makes us live for something more.

This assurance came as I sat with a patient who was dying—my N95 pooling with snot and tears—my heart so full of prayer for the other person that I couldn’t safeguard my soul. Suddenly, I felt fierce and full of hope. Apparently, we don’t feed the compulsions of self-preservation or worry when we’re in all-out prayer for someone else. Galatians 5:16 reminds us “the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.” Prayer is the freedom that overrides fear, selfishness, and self-preservation. Prayer is the dynamic that protects the ones we love, and those we don’t know but love anyway. Prayer places the future in the best hands.

Seriously, we don’t have to be consumed with the thought of staying safe in order for God’s loving intent to protect us. He just does. In fact, the very definition of Sovereignty means to be free from external control—God’s perfect purpose protects even when we can’t shield ourselves. You deserve the freedom in this thought. I do too.

We can live free. 

It’s okay to be afraid. It really is. It’s smart to be cautious. It really is. But Romans 15:13 (above) tells us that it’s by the Holy Spirit we have power and hope. It’s my guess that this power makes us more alive today than ever before.

Remember: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1 ESV).

In Christ, our flesh is released from sin. In prayer we’re energized with LIFE. Friends, this is good news! Because in the beginning the world was great, and then it wasn’t. And maybe today is good, and then it’s not. There is freedom when we live in the Spirit and have conversations with the Father. In this new day we can pray.

Lord, we want to live our best life with You. Stripped down, sanded of all the things we once felt important, we can feel full and undeserving of Your joy. We can only look back and marvel at what You’ve done and praise You for what You are about to do. May we settle into Your hope and stay totally dissatisfied with self or fear. For freedom You have set us free. Amen.

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Live Free…Your Best Life is Yet to Be – encouragement from @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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fix her upper reclaim your happy space

About the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their new book,  Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy Space.

Join the conversation: What have you found to help manage your fear in these uncertain times?

Hope that Bubbles

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.                          Romans 15:13 CSB

I would’ve appreciated the comment. Except…Alka-Seltzer.

Every now and then, an extra-grace-filled person tells me I have a “bubbly personality.” Isn’t that sweet? It makes me think of happiness and fun and sparkling party punch in a splashy hot tub—and I take it as a compliment.

Unless I overanalyze it. That’s what I did not too long ago. As a matter of fact, I overanalyzed a lot of the happy-fun right out of it. Because I would think of bubbles and my mind would take me straight to…Alka-Seltzer.

I’ve tried. I really have. Just can’t drink it. I know that stuff can help a sick stomach. But I’ve always had trouble getting past the fact that it’s…churning. If I’m holding a glass of it, it has to mean my stomach is already churning, right? So this “glass of churn” is supposed to fix my stomach churn? I find that hard to swallow. In every way. Every. Way.

Especially since when I let my mind dwell on the churn too long, I start thinking about butter. Churning butter. It’s not a happy-fun thought for a person who really should swallow that Alka-Seltzer.

Analyzing from another direction, if I’m going to be bubbly, I want to bubble in the right way. Paul talks about how God fills us to the point of bubbling over in Romans 15:13. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” (CSB). Know what’s better than happy-fun bubbles? Being so filled with joy and peace that we overflow with hope. It’s hope that effervesces!

Some days, life here on this earth seems like anything but a sparkly party. Our tendency—even our habit—can be to focus on the negatives. Every little bellyache looks bigger from that place of hopelessness. Getting stuck in a pattern of negative thinking will breed more negative thinking—and we can find ourselves drowning in gloom instead of overflowing with hope.

So where do we find hope that overflows? According to that verse in Romans 15, we find it from the God of hope—the one who does the hope-filling and who packages it with joy and peace—“by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The “as you believe” of the passage is from the Greek word pisteuein. It refers to a belief that’s wrapped in faith, trust and confidence. As we find our pisteuein in our God of hope, we see Him build even the smallest hope into the kind that radically revolutionizes a life.

There’s a bonus. Others love to be near a hope that overflows. They love it when some of that hope bubbles over and splashes onto them. You won’t find many who go out of their way to hang around a hopelessly negative person. But those joy, peace and hope bubbles? They attract people.

If you’re not overflowing in hope, maybe stuck in some of those negatives without much joy or peace, could I give you a little encouragement? Because there is hope available to you. The God of Hope wants you to have it. His Holy Spirit lives inside you, ready to power up that hope. Have faith in the God of Hope. Trust Him. Joy and peace is swimming in it, and there’s hope enough to splash around in.

And that makes better bubbles. Not butter bubbles. Nope, eternally better bubbles.

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Hope that Bubbles – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What is it about God that floods you with hope?

He Found Joy Standing in Line?

by Melissa Henderson @mimionlife

On Saturday, hubby and I visited the new neighborhood grocery store.  The opening day has long been anticipated in our area. For months, coupons and advertisements (one even  an invitation to an ice cream social) have filled our mailboxes. We all excitedly watched finishing touches of the construction completed with the installation of new traffic lights and landscaping.

Everyone was a-buzz. “When is the store opening? What is different about this store? Has anyone ever heard of this chain? Wonder what will happen to the other two grocery stores?”

Even though we love our other local markets, we looked forward to seeing what this new place would offer. When opening day arrived, we jumped in the car and headed over—along with the rest of the community.

The parking lot was full when we arrived. Store “hosts” were gathering carts to take back inside. A booth was set up outside as a place to sign up for the store rewards card. Alan and I took our place at the back of the line and waited for our turn.

Then amidst all the excitement and crowd, I saw him.

A car had just parked, and a woman exited the driver side. The passenger door opened and an elderly gentleman waited for her assistance. She placed a walker in front of him, and he grabbed both sides for balance and stood. They proceeded slowly across the parking lot and joined the rewards card line. Right behind us.

“What a beautiful day!” the man said to us. “Have you been here before? This is our first time.” He had the biggest grin on his face.

Turning to face him, I answered. “No, we haven’t been here. This is our first time, too.”

The kind gentleman continued speaking with a glowing smile. “Isn’t today beautiful? The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I sat on my back porch this morning and listened to the sounds of nature. What a glorious day!”

We continued chatting, until we both had our turn to fill out the forms. As we walked into the store, he ended our conversation with, “Have a wonderful day!” All the while continuing to smile.

Our interaction touched my heart. I may never see him again. On a day when anyone could have understandably been grouchy about the crowd or standing in line, this man showed me God’s love with his big smile and friendly conversation.

I wish I could say thank you to that elderly gentleman. He found joy while standing in line! With a walker! And he generously passed that joy along to me.

The Apostle Paul talked about how we should use our gifts. “There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:6-7 NASB). Our spiritual gifts are not for us. They are given for the benefit of those around us. And when we employ them toward that end, we parcel out hope.

Have you found unexpected joy today? Share a smile with someone. And make their day.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 NIV 

TWEETABLE
He Found Joy Standing in Line? thoughts on waiting from Melissa Henderson, @mimionlife,  on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

MHendersonWRF4About the author: Melissa Henderson and her husband Alan live in coastal South Carolina. She was taught a love for reading and writing at an early age by her parents. Melissa continues writes Christian stories, articles, and devotionals. She also enjoys sharing inspirational messages on her blog at melissaghenderson.com.

Her first children’s book, Licky the Lizard, offers parents, grandparents, and educators a tale that teaches children a simple, yet important message: there is no need to fear any of God’s creatures because we are all created by Him—and He loves us all.

Join the conversation: Have you ever had an encounter that changed your day?

How God Delivered Comfort When I Was Afraid

by Debbie Wilson

My doctor’s office called to tell me I needed an MRI on my stomach. A previous sonogram had revealed a large mass. Having lost both my parents to cancer, this news alarmed me. While I waited for my appointment, God comforted me in three specific ways.

1st Comfort

After receiving my doctor’s report, I emailed some praying friends. My sister immediately called and prayed for me over the phone. Peace washed over me. The prayers of God’s people wrapped me in a blanket of supernatural calm.

2nd Comfort

Our 85-pound poodle suffers with Addison’s disease and other chronic health challenges. Even though he was only four at this time, some days he lacked the energy to climb out of bed before mid-afternoon. My heart hurt when he wagged his tail at me but couldn’t get up. But this week he played with the exuberance of healthy dogs his age.

I told a friend, who was laughing with me at my two dogs’ antics, “When Max feels well our whole family smiles. Max has helped me appreciate 3 John 2.”

The next morning, as I raised the kitchen shades to welcome the morning light, God gave me an unexpected hug. “Debbie, that verse is for you,” I sensed Him say.

I grabbed my Bible and read: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2 NIV).

No matter what the MRI said, God had spoken. He wanted my best.

3rd Comfort

I’d agreed to speak at a Sunday school class at a neighboring church that Sunday. I’d picked the subject I planned to address. But, in my sleep during the wee hours of that Sunday, I sensed God nudging me to a different topic. In my semiconscious state I replied, if you want me to talk on that then wake me up in time to prepare and help me find my notes.

It had been well over a year since I’d spoken on that topic. The ink for our printer hadn’t arrived, so I needed my hard copy notes. At six thirty I awoke. I started to go back to sleep but remembered my promise. Okay, I’ll get up. But what about the notes?

The first file I opened contained handouts for the talk. Wow! I had forgotten I’d even created them. And there were enough for the group. Now I was awake! In less than a minute, I found my notes. Since I wasn’t sure I’d even kept a hard copy of the talk, I knew God was guiding me.

I scanned my notes. The opening story stunned me. I’d completely forgotten about discovering a suspicious lump at the age of 36 and my failed human efforts to secure peace. I marveled to think how peaceful I was feeling this time.

The point of my talk was Good News + Faith = Rest. God had given me good news in 3 John 2. But without faith it would not bring me rest. By God’s grace I believed His Word, and He gave me rest. His leading me to that talk reminded me His hand is on my life.

My MRI revealed I needed surgery. Thankfully, the surgeon was able to remove the mass, and it was benign.

What problem is threatening to steal your peace? Ask God what He has to say about it. Then put your faith in His Word—and find rest.

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NIV).

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Join the conversation: What problem threatens your peace?

Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

Prisoner of Hope

by Ava Pennington

A few years ago, I began the practice of choosing One Word for the year. But when the word hope kept coming to my attention in December 2016, I dismissed it. Our health and finances were in fairly good shape. Why would I need to focus on hope as a daily activity for the next twelve months?

I didn’t have to wait long to learn why hope was not only my word for 2017, it was for my husband as well. The first week in January, Russ entered the hospital with sharp abdominal pain. Tests confirmed pancreatic cancer.

While we waited in the ER for the admission paperwork to be completed, a nurse placed something in my hand and closed my fingers around it. “Here,” he said. “Hold on to this.” I opened my hand to reveal a glass stone with the word hope etched across it in gold letters.

If ever a diagnosis called for hope, it’s pancreatic cancer. In ten months, Russ experienced two surgeries, a multitude of doctor appointments, tests, chemotherapy, radiation, and more chemotherapy. Through it all, we trusted our Savior and hoped in Him.

The subject of hope came up again during a recent lunch with a friend. She asked me how to become a “prisoner of hope,” (Zechariah 9:12). How is it some people live in hope, while others—no matter how hard they fight against it—sink under waves of despair?

My experience showed me that my ability to live in hope rests in the object of my hope. All too often, I hear people say things such as:

I hope I get a raise.
I hope the weather clears.
I hope my friend is healed.

Problem is, in each of these (and similar) situations, the object of their hope is the desire they seek. And a string of unfulfilled desires can cause us to wallow in hopelessness. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of hoping in the gift instead of the Giver.

But consider what happens when our hope is placed in God, Himself. The more we understand what He has revealed about Himself, the more we realize He is always at work for His glory and our good. Regardless of the outcome—whether we receive what we want or not—it will always be for the best, even if we can’t see it now.

So the answer to the question of why some people are “prisoners of hope” while others are mired in hopelessness might be simpler than we think. If we hope in the thing we want, we’re bound to be disappointed on a regular basis. But if we hope in the Giver—the One who is our heavenly Father and Savior, we will always be satisfied.

Perhaps that’s a simplistic approach to hope. Or perhaps we try too hard to complicate the word.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13 ESV) 

© 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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winnerDaily Reflections on the Names of God - lo-res from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Ava’s devotional book,  Daily Reflections on the Names of God, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Have unfulfilled desires ever caused you to wallow in hopelessness?