Everything to Lose/Everything to Gain

by Rhonda Rhea

Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it. Matthew 10:39 CSB

I’m always so sincere when I say I’m only going to eat one of your fries. Like, I really do believe it. I think I believe it right up until I grab that next fry.

Most of the time, I don’t blame myself. Is it okay if I blame the fries? French fries are almost obnoxiously good. Cupcakes? Same thing. So it’s not my fault.

Saying no to fries and cupcakes is not my best thing. But yesterday I stepped on the scale and the scale hurt my feelings really badly. So I’m pondering the need to get better at it. At least a little more balanced. Or perhaps I should just cut off any dealings with the scales. Those mean, mean scales.

It’s probably not helping that my favorite diet routine is the one where I pin a couple of salads on Pinterest and then eat half a chocolate ice cream pie.

I don’t blame the chocolate ice cream pie either. I can’t think of any time it’s ever been anything but sweet.

As followers of Christ, we have the sweet life available to us. Sweet, sweeter, sweetest. Real life. We can grab it all. Life abundant, full, and satisfying. Ironically, we get in on that life as we willingly give up…everything. It’s the strangest balance. Or is it the absence of balance? I’m not sure. Because in giving up that…everything, we gain more than everything. We gain joy, purpose, hope, direction, peace, satisfaction, and love. More! There’s freedom. Freedom from emptiness, guilt, unrest, and discontentment.

As He was commissioning His disciples to proclaim the message of this abundant life, Jesus said to them, “Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 10:39 CSB).

Six chapters later, Jesus told His disciples again, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25 CSB).

Want to find life? Lose it. Want to have it? Give it away.

Real life is not found in possessions or fame or feelings or the most obnoxiously good earthly treat you can think of. We find spiritual life that transcends all that as we give all to Christ.

Give Him everything—when circumstances are great and you’re on top of the world, and give Him everything when it’s a mess and life is hard.

Those messy circumstances will not be able to touch the joy and satisfaction you’ll find in that place of surrender. And frankly, the glory you might experience when you’re on top of the world is not glory at all—not without The Glorious One.

So give it. All. You can do it as He empowers it. Sometimes surrender is about saying no to self. I don’t just mean the fries. I’m talking about saying no to anything in this life I might be tempted to hold onto tighter than I hold onto Jesus. Belongings, esteem, relationships, habits—He gives grace to let go of those things that hold us back and that keep us from experiencing the sweet, abundant life He has for each of us.

By the way, I’m still working on balancing the sweets on the physical side. Well, sort of working on it. I recently set a goal to lose 10 pounds in 60 days, and guess what! I only have 12 more pounds to go.


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

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What does the word surrender mean to you?

All We Need is Love

by Karen DeArmond Gardner

The moment revelation hits you. You didn’t see it coming, which makes the impact more powerful.

I’d been doing life with bits of whining and complaining, wondering why others were moving into some great destiny while I wasn’t. Then my pastor’s words stunned me: “Millions of people die every day without ever reaching their destiny.” How can that be? And, oh my word, that’s so true.

He continued, “We were designed to be satisfied in God’s love, not anything else.”

I knew he was right. Only God can give me lasting satisfaction. With Him I can be content where I am, even if my circumstances never change. As his words continued, I came to the realization that I’d made an idol of my hopes and dreams.

God created me to be satisfied in Him alone, not my calling or accomplishments. It’s not about things, circumstances, or age. Just because I am now 65 (did I just say that?) doesn’t mean I will realize every goal that I have.

Hard words. True words. Words to bring me to my knees.

The only thing that truly matters is that I am a beloved daughter. He loves me just as I am. And just where I am. He loves me naked, wrinkled and gray, even the gray hidden beneath the red. He likes and delights in me. I have no need to prove myself to Him. He has already forgiven all my past and future mistakes. He thinks I m completely adorable.

Just as I am.

Just as you are.

He doesn’t care that I’m not perfect. Why? He knows me inside and out. All the striving I’ve done in my life to present a perfect image was for naught.

Whoa.

A few weeks after this message I am purposefully dwelling in the presence of God before church begins. The Holy Spirit says, “Whatever Pastor Nancy asks you to do, do it. Without hesitation. Just do it.”

“Have you given your whole self to God?” I knew this was the question as soon as I heard it. And I knew the answer was no. I hadn’t. I’ve held back parts of myself from everyone around me, including God. The next question was obvious, “Will you give your whole self to Him now?”

Just as I am.

Naked, wrinkles, gray and all I think I’m not. Laid bare and open for all to see. Here you go. All of me.

Just as I am.

Maybe you have lived your life watching others get what you want? If only I could be like her. If only I was a better writer, speaker, or artist. If only I had thought of her idea.

Never enough.

Do you remember pulling the petals off a flower while chanting, “He loves me, He loves me not”? But God isn’t playing that game with us. Though I thought He did. I thought He was keeping score.

He loves us. He loves us. He loves. Us. You. Me.

No check marks. Just love. Let that sink in.

Paul reminds us: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Nothing. Absolutely nothing can separate us from His love. His love is our source of contentment.

Grasp the truth of His unrelenting love for you even if your circumstances aren’t what you’d hoped. And know you are completely loved and adored by your Heavenly Father.

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All We Need is Love – insight from Karen DeArmond Gardner on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

karen dearmond gardnerAbout the author: Karen DeArmond Gardner is a 30-year survivor of domestic violence. She has spent 15 years on her own healing journey and nearly that long helping others find freedom, restoration, and redemption.

Karen is a facilitator in Freedom Ministry/Sozo and directs the Women’s Ministry at Catch the Fire DFW Church. She also facilitates Mending the Soul, a group that leads women through the trauma of their past into healing and wholeness. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arukah House, a transitional home for women coming out of sex trafficking and abuse.

Karen blogs at Crack the Silence and can be found at her Crack the Silence Facebook page. She continues to be a helpful contact and resource for abused women in her church and community.

Join the conversation: What causes you to be discontent? How can God meet that need?

 

Can’t Buy Groceries without Money

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

 I had to make a last-minute flying trip to the grocery store. We were having unexpected, dinner guests from out of town – people we had never met. But that’s another story… I had roughly an hour and a half to shop, get the groceries home and put away, and then make it to the hair appointment I’d scheduled six weeks ago. (Cancelling that appointment was not an option.)

I flew down the aisles in record time, snatching things off shelves without even bringing the cart to a complete stop. I was doing great. I found the shortest line and unloaded all the items onto the little conveyor belt to check out. As the clerk began scanning my things I rummaged in my purse for my wallet. Not there. What? Then I remembered taking it to my desk earlier in the morning to pay for something online. My wallet was at home next to my laptop. No debit card or credit card. Not even my check book.

I relayed this disturbing information to the clerk, while I tried to reach my daughter on her cell. “Do you want me to stop? You can come back later after you get your wallet,” he suggested.

I didn’t have time to come back later. This was literally my only window of time in the day. “No, please finish. I’m trying to reach someone in my family.”

My request must have sounded pitiful. The lady in line behind me offered to pay for my groceries, which totaled 138 dollars and change. My daughter didn’t answer her phone. I seriously considered taking this kind stranger up on her offer. But then I reached my father-in-law who promised to come right away and bail me out.

The clerk called a manager and arranged for my “delay in payment.” I pushed my full cart over to the side and watched out the window for my father-in-law’s car. He arrived within ten minutes, paid my bill, and got me on my way.

Even though the people at the store were very nice about the whole thing, there was no way they would let me have groceries without money. In the car on the way home, God brought a Scripture passage came to mind.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.   Isaiah 55:1-2 NIV

The food I eventually bought at the grocery store filled our bellies, but we would get hungry again. Like many other things we pursue to fill our lives, it could not satisfy us completely or permanently. Many of us spend our time and money acquiring things, success, and relationships that at best bring temporary satisfaction. God offers us full and eternal, soul-deep satisfaction through a relationship with His Son. And it doesn’t cost us anything!

Why do we spend money on what does not satisfy? Come to Christ and let Him satisfy your very soul with the richest of fare. What are you “buying” today that still leaves you empty?

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Can’t Buy Groceries without Money – @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Kathy Howard encourages women to live an unshakable faith for life by standing firm on our rock-solid God no matter life’s circumstances. The author of 8 books and a former “cultural Christian,” Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. Kathy and her husband have 3 married children and 4 grandsons. Find out more and get free discipleship tools and leader helps at her website: www.kathyhoward.org.

Join the conversation: What do you need to bring to Him today?

A Message to Remember

by Rhonda Rhea

I’ve discovered something rather disturbing about myself:  I’m a salad dressing whiny-baby. It’s not like I’m even all that into salad. I think we all know I’d rather have chocolate. Or coffee. Or chocolate mixed with coffee. But the other day I found myself with a salad that needed something that neither coffee nor chocolate could fix (though it took me several minutes to come to grips with that). So there I sat trying all the salad dressings. All of them. I even mixed a few—like some sort of mad scientist. The first dressing was too tart. The next one, too sweet. Then the next one was just too…orange.

That’s when I figured out that I was not so much a mad scientist. No. I was Goldilocks.

When did I become so dressing-spoiled? It doesn’t even comfort me all that much that I’m not the only one. God’s chosen people had wandered in the desert for 40 years because they had chosen not to trust the Lord. When they finally stood poised to enter the land of promise, instead of the “now you can all relax” message they might’ve expected, they got more of a “don’t get too spoiled” warning.

“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command…When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, HCSB).

In the verses just prior to these, the people are reminded to be diligent in their obedience to God because “the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey,” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). Olive oil and honey? They were headed into the best salads with all the best dressings.

The entire chapter is full of “remembers” and “don’t forgets.” And it’s not just the Israelites. It’s so often in our times of greatest blessing even now that we forget our Lord God is the source of that blessing and that “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17, HCSB). Anytime we forget, the blessing loses its sweetness. Pride replaces recognition of His provision and our satisfaction in life sours.

When we catch ourselves going all Goldilocks-y, it should trigger our reminder to…well…“remember.” “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord you God gives you the power to gain wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18, HCSB).

Remembering that every good blessing is from Him helps keep our obnoxious pride in check and reminds us to lean on Him for everything. It reminds us to love, follow, trust and obey. And that adds blessing upon blessing—whatever we do, wherever we go—whatever is on the menu.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll excuse me. Salad is on the menu again here and I’ve decided to make my own dressing. So now it appears I have to travel to a thousand islands.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.  Psalm 103:1-2, ESV.

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 children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Rhonda’s book, Fix HER Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God-Renovated Life,  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: What are the blessings you want to remember as you start your new year with Him?