Badgers And Bullies

by Sheri Schofield

It was the first time I had seen the badger in the fourteen years we had lived on the mountain. It was trotting up the field parallel to the road. I slowed down. It looked over at me and kept trotting. I stayed with him all the way to the corner, where the road turned up the hill. Surely, he would cross that road! I stopped the car, pulled out my cell phone and began to focus the camera on him.

Ring! Ring! A call was coming in on my cell phone. Aaaaaaagh!

I glanced down. It was my sweet husband. I had to answer it. When I looked up, the badger was gone and so was the photo moment. The badger had dived into the culvert, crossed under the road, and disappeared into the grass. Badgers have a reputation for violence. But I think this one was laughing gleefully, “Ha! Ha! You missed me!”

Haman the Agagite, a great friend of King Ahasuerus, had one of those moments. He hated the Jews, because they were ancient enemies of his own people. Centuries before, God told King Saul of Israel to wipe out the Amalekites, including their king, Agag. But Saul did not. Now Haman, a descendant of Agag, going up against the Jews once again.

Did he think, “Ha! Ha! You missed me!”? Haman was a bully. He tricked the king into sending out an edict to destroy the Jewish people. But what Haman did not know was that Queen Esther, whom King Ahasuerus loved, was a Jew.

Mordecai urged Esther to go to the king, but she was afraid. Mordecai said, “Don’t think for a moment that you will escape there in the palace when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, NLT)

Esther and her attendants fasted and prayed, then she went to the king. She exposed Haman’s evil plot and saved her people.

We face a similar danger today. The devil may have been defeated at Calvary, but he is still active. He looks back, sees how Jesus has not yet destroyed him, and gleefully laughs, “Ha! Ha! You missed me!” Like a roaring lion, he continues to roam the earth looking for people to devour.

The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history.”[1] Do not think that America will forever hold back the tide of evil while our brothers and sisters around the world die for their faith.

I believe that God is calling the church in America to pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution. As the Lord gives us opportunity to help them, we must. For who knows, maybe God has blessed us with power, influence and wealth for such a time as this.

In the end, Jesus will deliver us all from the schemes of Satan. But until then, let us remember that we are one with the Christians of Africa, the Middle East, China, Indonesia, Mexico and all other places where the church of Jesus is suffering. Let us defend them through prayer and aid, for Jesus’ sake and glory.

 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:18-20 NIV

[1]https://www.newsweek.com/christian-persecution-genocide-worse-ever-770462

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Badgers and Bullies – thoughts from Scheri Scholfield 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 stay armed against the enemy?

When the Dragon is at the Door

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV

Life is full of hard times. Some trials are the natural course of years on a fallen planet. But there are other tribulations – times that feel specific, targeted, relentless, and cruel.

It’s the moment you hear the news and life goes on spin cycle. The moment the waiting room becomes a war room. The moment that every minute on your knees feels like a version of boot camp – preparation for this specific battle.

It comes out of nowhere, but when you exhale and reflect, it makes sense why now, why you, why your loved one has come under fire. And you feel very still, calling on training you had no idea was for this; but now, you know.

Someone dares say it aloud. “Could it be?” they ask, worried you’ll think they’re one of those weird, mystical believers.

“Warfare, you mean?” you answer, as confident now as a soldier on his third tour of duty. Oh, yeah, you nod, it’s warfare.

But with this soul-sight you suddenly realize you have, those words seem like a simple observation – not insight, not a mysterious message, just an obvious acknowledgement that this is an enemy assault, a smart bomb with your name on it. Naming it spiritual warfare doesn’t end it, but it does empower you to wage a defensive assault.

First, you call for a shield wall. Everyone you know who has ever bent their knee, called to bend it now on your behalf. And there is no shame in wanting a large force of well-trained warriors at your side.

Then, you take stock. Confess. Repent. Re-commitment. James 4 all the way. Resist the evil one. Draw near to God. Call on the name of Jesus. And suddenly you know how Joshua felt standing with his toes on the border to the Promised Land, staring down giants.

Like him, you slide your helmet onto your head, slip the King’s breastplate over your breakable sternum – barely covering your racing heart. You encircle yourself with the belt of truth – knowing you want nothing to do with lies – knowing deception is the mustard gas of the enemy.

And you step into shoes fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace, hoping that anyone watching from the sidelines will see you fight and know you serve the Most High King, worthy of any sacrifice you may make on this field.

Curling your fingers round the hilt of the sword of the Word of the Spirit of God, you pray your shield of faith has been modernized, so it resembles the coverage power of the Starship Enterprise. So, it can encircle all those you love to withstand the fiery, hot breath of an ancient dragon refitted now with chemicals and laser beams.

You look the enemy in the eye and everything else goes strangely silent except the sound of your own breathing, barely breathing, and the pounding of your heart like a raging waterfall, fueled by the melting snows in the mountains of your worst imaginations, as you await the voice of your Commanding Officer.

Disaster has come to your tent, but you are not a victim. You are a warrior. And while all is fair in love and war; war will have its end. Love will stretch into eternity and take you home on eagles’ wings.

The dragon is already defeated, and you are already a conqueror, safe in the heart of your Father- King. You are His favored child, and Joshua sits beside Him, calling you out onto the field.

Advance. Advance. Advance.

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When the Dragon is at the Door – insight on #FollowingGod from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Have you been in a battle with the dragon recently? Please share your experience!

Grandma’s Girdle

by Christina Rose

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:13-17 NIV

My grandma grew up in rural Pennsylvania near Amish country. She was raised by a strict Methodist family who were farmers and tobacco merchants.  Grandma had big dreams to travel the world while her parents had hoped she would marry a local boy and stay on the farm.

Grandma won.  She got her nursing degree and landed a job at the US Army Hospital in Panama. On a vacation to Costa Rica, she met my grandfather whom she married, but after having two kids, he fell ill and died.  Grandma and my mother and her brother returned to the United States.  She became the Captain of Nurses at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC.

Years later, I was about to leave for college in upstate New York, which typically experienced very cold winters. Grandma wanted to buy me a winter coat. We went from store to store, and I finally settled on a beautiful wool tan coat.

“Follow me,” she said. We went to a corner of the store, and she asked me to hold up the coat in front of her so no one would see her.  I peeked around the coat to see her red-faced, snorting and struggling with her underclothes. “Grandma, what are you doing?” I asked.

She responded, “Just hold up that coat until I get my money out of my girdle.”

Being widowed at a young age and the sole provider, Grandma understood the necessity of protecting her valuables and loved ones.  She knew she had to be extra vigilant as she was the only one guarding her family and their possessions.

Peter warned that we need to have that kind of spiritual diligence as well. There is an enemy who would like nothing better than to rob us of our trust in and joy of the Lord. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).

Grandma wore more than a physical girdle. Every day she wore the spiritual gear that kept her ready when those attacks occurred. She donned the girdle of truth, which Satan despises and does everything in his power to distort. Her unfailing source of truth was the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Her spiritual bonnet was a helmet of salvation, which deterred any doubtful thoughts about her security with God. There was no need to earn His love. She was confident in the Lord.

 Grandma’s life-lessons were like the warm winter coat she had bought for me many years earlier; her consistent example made me feel safe, protected, and loved. Her confidence and strength came from God alone.

“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 NIV

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Grandma’s Girdle – thoughts on the armor of God 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: Who in your life is an example to you? What have they taught you?

The Skirmishes Go On

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

“O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?… Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:55, 57

Once only inhabited by a small Japanese civilian community of sulfur miners and sugar farmers, the island of Iwo Jima became a stronghold of pivotal importance in World War II. As the war progressed, Japan evacuated its citizens from the island and prepared for the inevitable Allied forces invasion. A huge number of bunkers, hidden artillery, and an amazing eleven miles of tunnels were in place by 1944. Twenty-one thousand soldiers were at the ready when Allied forces began firing on Iwo Jima.

On the fourth day of the battle, the first objective was captured: Mount Suribachi. Five marines and a Navy corpsman were photographed raising the American flag at its summit. That moment is now immortalized in the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, VA.

Once the high ground was secure, the invasion slowly moved northward. Very heavy fighting continued. The Japanese fighters considered surrender dishonorable and most tenaciously fought to the death. But the Allied forces eventually took the airfields and remainder of the island. A month into the invasion, the island was officially declared secured.

Even so, over 3,000 Japanese troops remained in the island’s maze of caves and tunnels. For many days afterward, still more American lives were lost as they worked their way through the tunnel system routing those that refused to surrender. The battle may have been won, but the enemy continued to fight, determined to take in their death as many with them as possible.

While the Allied victory was a great triumph, Jesus Christ won the greatest victory the world has ever witnessed. The Son of God, after three days in the grave, rose from the dead. No longer are we under condemnation for our sin. It was dealt with, paid for, and cast from us as far as the east is from the west. The victory is already ours because Christ has already won.

The enemy has been soundly defeated. Satan’s future final demise is already recorded in the Bible, when he is cast into the lake of fire to suffer torment for eternity (Revelation 20:10). It is just a matter of time before God finally ends his reign on earth.

Yet while victory has been recorded with indelible ink, the skirmishes still go on. While we were given new life at our salvation, we still struggle against our old sinful nature which relentlessly demands satisfaction, and we fight the enemy ever-tempting us to sin. Paul described him as “the prince of the power of the air…the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2 NASB). Peter warns “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NASB).

The war may be over, but the fighting continues on.

These skirmishes are a part of the life we live until Jesus returns. In fact, God has carefully equipped His soldiers to fight the good fight (Ephesians 6:10-18). Satan may have lost the war, but he is deadly serious about taking as many down with him as he can before his reign of destruction comes to an end.

We may even lose some of these skirmishes, especially when we attempt to fight in our own strength. But it is important to remember in those moments of depressing defeat: the war’s victor has already been determined. The Good Guy won. Our hope is not in the circumstances of this world. It is in the future God has prepared for us, “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4 NASB)

Nothing that happens to us on earth will impact the surety of our salvation. The victory belongs to the Lord.

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The Skirmishes Go On – insight on walking with God from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie 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 walking her neurotic dog. 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 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: Have you been involved in a skirmish lately? Please share!

Hands War. Fingers Battle.

by Jean Holland @brideguide77

Why do I write?

God has laid it on my heart to sound the alarm: Get ready for Jesus’ return.

One of my favorite past times is chasing rabbits, not fur bunnies, but rabbit trails laid out in Scripture. The Scriptures are full of reasons to obey His call to write.

“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT).

Y’all, we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. The enemy of our souls hates us with a passion. Satan’s job description is to kill, steal, and destroy. He has had plenty of practice since the Garden of Eden. He is diligent to fulfill his purpose. We must know the weapons of our warfare to battle him effectively. Our textbook is the Bible and our training ground is the world in which we live.

“Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle” (Psalm 144:1 NLT).

When I sit down to write my earnest prayer is, Lord, train my hands to war and my fingers to fight. Send forth Your Word and let there be light, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I am not a typist. I trust auto-correct and spell check to catch my typos. But more importantly as I write, I trust God to be true to His Word. It will not return void. It will accomplish what He sends it out to do. My job is to write the best I can and leave the results to Him. My motivation to continue on is much like Jeremiah’s:

But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in His name, His word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it! Jeremiah 20:9 NLT

Whatever God has called us to do, may it burn like a fire in our bones so we can’t hold it in.

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Hands War. Fingers Battle. Thoughts on #FollowingGod from Jean Holland, @BrideGuide77 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jean HollandAbout the author: Jean Holland has written and taught local and international Bible studies for children, youth, and adults to encourage the Bride of Christ to triumph through turbulent times. She has one book in the hands of a content editor awaiting publication, The Rising Bride: A Wake-up call for Christians Living in the Last Days.

Jean enjoys family camping trips across the USA and Canada in a vintage motor home. Her Beloved blog is devoted to heralding the call of our soon coming King.

Join the conversation: Is God’s calling a fire burning in your bones? What is it?

A Predetermined Victory

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When surveyed about the 20th century’s most memorable sports moment, Americans most often cited the 1980 Olympic hockey game between the United States and the USSR. Steve and I watched the game with friends by the fire that February evening. The match had actually taken place earlier in the afternoon, but ABC made the decision to delay its airing and announcement of the score until the evening, so fans could enjoy it during viewing hours.

The USSR came into the Olympics favored to win the gold.  They were a force with which to be reckoned. No one expected any team to pose a threat to them on their way to the top.  Yet as the game wore on, it quickly became apparent that the U.S. was going to give the Russians a run for their money. It was a hard-fought contest. Finally, in the third period, for the first time in the game the Americans pulled out ahead with a shot into the goal, making the score 4-3. Ten minutes remained left to play.

When the TV station cut to a commercial, I left to get a drink. While I was absent, the local news channel did a promo clip of the news show which would immediately follow the game. Someone made a big mistake.  To thousands of viewers on the edge of their seats, waiting impatiently to see the final ten minutes, the newscaster announced: “More on the exciting USA 4-3 victory over the USSR at eleven!”

I heard the room erupt in anger from where I was in the kitchen. The suspense and thrill of victory had been eclipsed by the premature announcement. The game was ruined for those who now knew the end. Of course, the TV station apologized profusely after realizing their mistake when the news aired at 11. But the damage had been done. So while I continued to be blissfully ignorant and on the edge of my seat until the end, my fellow-viewers remained passive. Knowing the outcome made all the difference.

The anxiety evaporates if we already know the ending. I know someone who always reads the last page of a new book first. She says she enjoys the book more when she doesn’t have to deal with the suspense.

As Christians, we are in a contest of sorts. Scripture tells us we fight a war on two fronts: against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6) and against our own sinful flesh (Romans 7).  We discourage easily and give in more often than we should. It is easy to do in light of what we see around us. Just channel surf through what’s available on TV; the shocking lack of moral standards is evident within minutes of watching. Truth is now relative and no more a black and white absolute. Human life has become cheap, as we see murders on a daily basis in the news.

Satan gives all appearances of winning the war. We often don’t seem to fare any better on a personal front, either, as time and time again our lusts and ungodly desires lead us by the nose and we sin and sin again. It can seem hopeless. We seem to be fighting a battle we can never win.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NASB)

We too easily forget that the outcome is already written in indelible ink. The victory is already ours because Christ has already won. “When you were dead in your transgressions,” Paul wrote the Colossians, “He made you alive together with Him . . . having canceled out the certificate of debt . . . having nailed it to the cross, having disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:13-15 NASB)

Author Chip Ingram put it this way his book, The Invisible War: “When we fight, we’re not trying to win. We’re enforcing the victory that Jesus has already secured. In His power, we are invincible.”

Knowing the end score should make all the difference in how we live. Jesus conquered sin and death with His resurrection! Victory has already been determined. The Good Guy won. Knowing this, we can face the enemy without and within with confidence. The battle belongs to the Lord.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                                         1 Corinthians 15:57 NASB

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A Predetermined Victory – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie 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 walking her neurotic dog. 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 look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What does Jesus’ victory mean to you?

Don’t Be Fooled

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.                                                                                                                                  Psalm 31:3 NASB

In early 1970, comedian Flip Wilson became a household word when his sketch “The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress” aired on the Ed Sullivan Show. Wilson played a minister’s wife who is trying to justify recently buying another new dress. She was walking downtown, minding her own business, she explains. The devil started whispering things in her ear. She saw the dress in the window, resisted, but then he shoved her in the door. He made her try it on. Then he held a gun to her head until she signed the check.

The minister asks his wife: how come when the devil is at work, she is the one who always benefits, and he is the only one who pays a price?

“I asked him that,” the wife assures him. “He said you owe him. He told me that if it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t have a job.”

In reality, we really are largely guided by our thoughts. But who guides what we think?

Of course, it could be ourselves. Our beliefs and ideas do provide a framework for our actions. What we desire can be a strong influence on choices we make—either for good or bad.

Then, there is the Holy Spirit. In the evening of His impending arrest, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit following His departure. He described Him as the “Spirit of Truth.” The world would not see Him or know Him. But Jesus’ followers would. The Holy Spirit would come and live within each of them. He would teach them all things and guide them into all truth. His presence would be a driving force; and when yielded to Him, believers would be inspired to speak and act (John 14).

Paul assures us that every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them as a guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). Many of our thoughts are directly from Him.

But there is a third influence on us. That person is Satan. He tries to function like the Holy Spirit by suggesting thoughts and attempting to guide. But his guidance is not based in the truth. He whispers lies into our ears, twisting truth just enough to throw us off the path and into the dark. Exactly where he wants us to head.

How can we tell which of these three is the originator of a thought that occurs to us?

I struggled with this when I was trying to decide if I should leave a rewarding ministry (teaching elementary school) to pursue writing and speaking full time. The idea of going to seminary nagged at my thoughts frequently. But I worried: where did all this passion come from? How could I know for sure it was God who had planted the desire in my heart?

I shared my struggle with my friend Beth. “Why would you think it was anyone but God who wants you to do this?” she asked.

I confessed it was because I wanted it so badly. It was so exciting and new and would fulfill a dream that had been mine for a very long time. But it would require abandoning an ongoing ministry that God had provided. Would He really direct me away from that now?

Then Beth asked a question that would settle the matter for me. “Will God be glorified if you do this?”

Of course He would. I wanted to teach His Word and teach it well. I wanted people to understand His love and grace and mercy. All I wanted was to bring glory to His name.

“Then do it,” she commanded. I knew she was right. I resigned from twenty years of teaching and enrolled in seminary. And have never looked back.

We have a lot of thoughts. We have strong desires. But before we act on them, we need to compare that idea with the truth of God’s Word. It is consistent with its wisdom? Would it enable us to reflect the character of Jesus? Would it bring glory to His name?

Don’t be fooled. God would not direct us to do anything in opposition to His Word. As Jesus told His accusers, a house divided against itself will not stand (Mark 3:25). Scrutinize your thoughts and desires against His truth. And you won’t be led astray.

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Don’t Be Fooled – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie 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 walking her neurotic dog. 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 look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Have you struggled with knowing from where a thought or idea has come?

 

 

March Madness

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.                                                                              Ephesians 6:12 NIV

Confession time. I’m a Texan, but basketball is my favorite sport. College basketball specifically, and that means March Madness as the NCAA Tournament takes center stage at our house (after God, of course).

My kids played basketball in school, and one thing that always amazed me was how passionate the fans could get. I don’t mean passionate as in “Go Team!” I mean outright nasty about the opposing team, players, and especially the referees.

These were often the same parents who didn’t have a clue about what was on the video games their kids played, or the music they listened to, or the content that came at their kids like water from a fire hydrant through the cell phones that were never far from their reach.

Eager to yell at the referees over a bad call, the players for a bad pass, or the coach for a bad play, but what about the real enemy in their kids’ lives? Where was the passion and righteous indignation then?

Satan is playing an even more important game with our children than anything that will ever take place on a court or field. One where a lot more than bragging rights or a possible scholarship are on the line. It’s a game for their very lives. He won’t play fair. To kill, steal, and destroy—that is his victory—and he plays to win.

The enemy prowls around seeking to devour our kids, and we give him a set of keys—social media accounts, cell phones, the internet—to their hearts and minds, turning a blind eye because…well, what can we do about it anyway. We don’t come out of seats, shaking our fist at the enemy, with veins popping from our foreheads, yelling at the top of our lungs for justice.

But let a referee make a bad call and we’re on our feet yelling every kind of derogatory statement we can think of.

Of course, Satan isn’t fazed by our ranting, yelling, and name calling. We aren’t going to hurt his feelings or shame him into leaving our kids alone. What he is fazed by, though, is the power of the name of Jesus Christ. And by our actions as Christians when we call on that power on behalf of our children. That is the first thing we need to do.

We yell at the players on our team to “D-up” meaning go into defensive position against their opponent. But are we teaching them how to D-up in their everyday life? Do we tell them to D-up on their way out the door to school or to watch a movie with their friends? Teaching them how to D-up for themselves is the second thing we need to do.

Then we need to constantly watch for wolves. In the basketball league our kids played in, a “wolf” was an opponent sneaking up in a player’s blind spot to steal the ball. In the game of life, Satan is a wolf lurking everywhere, eager to attack and cunning in the way he gets close.

When we yell at a referee over a call we don’t agree with, but look the other way at the lies the world is selling our kids…well, it feels a little like suiting up for the enemy’s team.

Instead of giving the game more importance than it should have, I think it may be time we get out of the stands and start channeling our anger at the real enemy who has the power and the desire to steal, kill, and destroy our children.

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March Madness and Preparing Our Kids to Face Life from @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: How do you help your children to D-up against the enemy?

How to Recognize the Thief in Your Mind

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“How might Satan be using your health challenges to stop you from reaching your purpose?

My friend’s question caught me by surprise—and turned on a light.

“Oh my,” I gasped. “That book I’d put on hold dealt with that very thing: little strength!”

I’d chosen that focus because the theme tied together the biblical characters I was studying. Now, was the one with little strength.

My friend’s question made me realize I’d taken my health issues as a reason to put the book aside. I believed if this assignment was important to God then He wouldn’t allow me to feel so poorly. Obviously, this book must not matter to Him.

I’d allowed these thoughts to steal my motivation to finish.

Robber Versus Thief

The dictionary shows an important distinction between a robber and a thief. I’ve underlined a key difference.

  • robber takes “something from (someone) by unlawful force or threat of violence.”[1]
    .
  • thief steals, “especially secretly or without open force.” [2]

In John 10:10, Jesus called Satan a thief. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (NIV).

If someone stuck a gun in your back and asked for your wallet, you’d know you were being robbed. But a thief may con you into believing surrendering the same cash is noble—even God’s will.

My friend’s question pulled back the curtain and exposed the thief behind the lies trying to steal my purpose. I realized God wasn’t stopping my project. He was empowering me to write from experience.

A Thief Among Us

John 12 tells the story of Mary anointing Jesus with an expensive perfume and Judas openly criticizing her. He basically called her action a waste and said the ointment, worth a year’s wages, could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Can you imagine how those harsh words, spoken in front of a house full of people, could have wounded Mary? If she’d believed Judas (who was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples) she could have felt ashamed that she hadn’t been “wiser” in how she showed her love for Jesus. She could have believed she’d disappointed God.

But the Bible says, “He [Judas] did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief” (John 12:6 NIV).

Jesus allowed Judas’s poisonous words to prick the ears of everyone in the room before stepping in to set the record straight. How many were agreeing with Judas?

If you’ve ever been assailed by accusations when you’ve tried to serve Jesus, listen to His words.

“‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. …She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’” (Mark 14:6-9 NIV). (The Ryrie Study Bible says Mark is describing the same scene as in John.)

The thief called Mary’s actions a waste. Jesus called her actions beautiful.

Mary had done “what she could.” She couldn’t stop poverty. She couldn’t protect Jesus from the cruelty He’d suffer on His way to the cross that very week. But she could anoint Him with her love. And Jesus called it beautiful!

Do you recognize the voice that plays in your mind? Jesus’ words infuse joy, life, love, and hope. But Satan’s steal and destroy. Which message do you believe? Don’t let the thief steal the good you can offer Jesus.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10 NIV

[1]https://www.dictionary.com/browse/rob

[2]https://www.dictionary.com/browse/thief?s=t

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How to Recognize the Thief in Your Mind – @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: What words, spoken either in your mind or by someone, have taunted or paralyzed you?

 

The Accusation

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

I once arrived at the scene of a tragic car accident to pick up my friend, one of the victim-survivors.  As I waited for my friend to take an onsite blood test, the traffic detective begin to make small talk.  “What were you doing when your friend called you?”

“I was at home.”

“And your husband, he was there?”

“He was out running errands.”

Suddenly the detective asked for my driver’s license.  When I handed it to him, he stared at it, then lifted his head and narrowed his eyes. “You were here,” he said.

“What?”

“You were the one driving your friend’s car.”

My mouth fell open, my voice rose an octave.  “No!  I only just got here.”

That’s when I realized that I’d suddenly become a suspect in the deadly crash, and I’d just given up my alibi, admitting I was home alone.

I don’t fault the detective for his accusation.  I’ve seen that episode on detective shows where the real driver that causes a deadly crash switches places with a friend to avoid a jail sentence.

Maybe the detective had seen those episodes too, or maybe he’d seen people try to play this switch in real life.  Regardless, it was the detective’s job to investigate all possibilities.

Because there was no evidence from witnesses or the camera in the intersection that I had been the driver, the accusation was dropped.  I wasn’t arrested or given a ticket.

This story reminds me of our enemy, Satan, who loves to accuse us before the throne of God.  Revelation 12:10 describes Satan as, “the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night” (NIV).

But we have a defender, also before the throne of God.  Romans 8:34 says, “Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (NLT).

So though Satan may accuse us, and though we may even be guilty of the sins Satan announces before the throne of God, we are in Christ.  This means we are covered by the righteousness of Christ.  Because God sees us through Christ, He sees us as sinless.

Think of it like this: suppose you were invited to walk with a great king, but you were wearing a jacket so filthy that it disqualified you from this privilege.  But when the king’s son gave you his own clean jacket in exchange for your dirty one, you became spotless enough to walk with the king.

If you’re ready to trade your sins for the righteousness of Christ, pray this simple prayer.

Lord, I am a sinner.  Your son Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life.  He died on the cross for my sins, paying my punishment for me.  I say ‘Yes’ to Jesus.  I say ‘Yes’ to his gift of righteousness.  Therefore Lord, I give you my whole life.  May your Holy Spirit live inside of me, may I always walk with you. In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Recognizing the source of the accusation – @LindaShepher on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 34 books including Praying God’s Promises and The God You Need to Know.  She is the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.  She’s the publisher
of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily.

Linda has been married over thirty years and has two grown kids.  She loves to travel and bring the word to groups and events across North America.  You can read more about Linda at Arise Speakers.

Join the conversation: Have you felt the accuser working to destroy your peace? What thoughts do you struggle to overcome?