Manger Meditations

By Brenda Poinsett

The season meant to honor Jesus can have the ironic effect of crowding Him out. There is too much to do—shopping, baking, decorating, cleaning. There are too many gifts to buy. There are too many expectations to fulfill. There are too many events to attend. There is too much food. Too much money is spent.

To help me deal with it all, I sometimes place a crude wooden manger (what I’d call “authentic Bethlehem”!) filled with straw by the Christmas tree. It will serve as a tangent reminder of what the season is all about, keeping me centered on Jesus rather than the hustle and bustle.

When the pressures of gift selection (Will she like what I bought?) and gift buying (How will I ever find the money?) close in on me, I sit for a while beside the manger. I reach out and touch the rough wood, and I remember the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth, how He came to establish not a material but a spiritual kingdom. That prompts me to think about how I can spiritually give to others. Money doesn’t necessarily buy the best gifts, and I can give of myself in friendship and ministry long after Christmas is over.

When I feel rushed and agitated by Christmas expectations, I think about what everyone expected of Jesus. He was consistently Himself, maintaining that His kingdom was not the political one people wanted. I remember what He said in a vexing conversation with the religious authorities: “I am Who I Am” (John 8:24, 28). Recalling His words remind me that I am a Christ-follower, as well as a woman who can make choices. I can exercise some control over the kind of Christmas I have.

Sometimes when I move the manger to vacuum, I get a splinter in my hand, reminding me that the first Christmas was not perfect either. Mary and Joseph did not have a perfect place to lay their son. Jesus came into an imperfect world and accomplished His mission through imperfect people. This reminds me to not be surprised when my Christmas does not go perfectly.

I’m sometimes reluctant to entertain during the holidays because my furniture is shabby, the carpet is frayed, and the upholstery on the wingback chair has a big hole in it. (I’ve tried covering it with an afghan in hopes it won’t slip off, but invariably it does, giving me a real appreciation for Jesus’ words, “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed.”) I cringe at the thought of the detail-noticing gazes of the women who will come. When they step through the door, my house will be under their scrutiny.

I reason: I just can’t invite people here…and then I look at the manger. I rub my hand over the coarse wood, and I remember another invited guest. Jesus will be present!

So I breathe, “I am who I am,” pick up my pen, and start addressing invitations. A sense of expectancy begins to rise within me. I look forward to His presence and for a chance to share Him with my guests. I can’t predict what that will look like, but He will be there because I am who I am and He is who He is.

[Jesus] said to them, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, you will know that ‘I Am Who I Am…’ Many who heard Jesus say these things believed in him.  John 8:28a, 30 TEV

TWEETABLE
Manger Meditations – insight from Brenda Poinsett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

brenda poinsett (2)About the author: Brenda Poinsett works with women who want a new lease on life and with adults who want to know Jesus. She does this through writing, speaking and teaching. She’s the author of more than 20 books including Can Martha Have a Mary Christmas. She and some of her family will celebrate Jesus this Christmas at their home near Saint Louis.

The Christmas season can often be a time of great stress and pressure for women, who feel the weight of expectation for a “perfect” holiday. Can Martha have a Mary Christmas is a practical book of meditations that will help the “Martha” in each of us realize that she is entitled to the “Mary” time with Jesus that He desires.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out during this holiday season?

Is God Ever Not Good?

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

A friend recently had successful cancer surgery. When she joyfully announced the results on social media, the responses were both positive and predictable:

  • God is good!
  • God truly answers prayer!
  • God really loves you!
  • God is an awesome God!

We rejoiced in her prognosis because we understood the magnitude of what might have been. Still, our collective responses started me wondering. What if God had not extended His hand of mercy to her? What if the surgery had not been successful? What if the cancer had spread? Would we still say:

  • God is good!
  • God truly answers prayer!
  • God really loves you!
  • God is an awesome God!

…or would we doubt His goodness?

The prophet Habakkuk wrote: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).

Today, we might say: “Though the cancer is not healed and I can’t pay my mortgage, though my marriage has failed and the economy produces no jobs, though there are no book contracts in the offing and no agents who want to represent me,         yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

No matter what happens, God is good.

Whether we understand our circumstances or not, God is good.

Whether we can serve Him the way we want or not, God is good.

Whether our days are difficult or easy, God is good.

Do you believe this—truly believe this in the midst of your present circumstances? Believe it in your heart and speak it aloud, because it’s true: God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

I hope you’re not experiencing anything today causing you to doubt God’s goodness. But if you are, what will you do with your doubts?

O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!                                                                                                                                          Psalm 34:8 NASB

TWEETABLE
Is God Ever Not Good? Insight from @AvaPennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

© 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.

Join the conversation: What has made you question the goodness of God?

Strength in Rest

by Jeanne Gowen Dennis @HeritageTruthTV

 It seems for most of my adult life I’ve been trying to become the Proverbs 31 woman. Through her industriousness and creativity she took amazing care of her family, succeeded in business, and even helped the poor. Just think about the organization skills she needed to get everything done! What self-discipline she exercised every day! What confidence she must have had! All qualities I struggle to own.

As a creative person, I’ve had to face the fact that my natural tendencies fall on the opposite side of the spectrum from hers. It takes all the strength I can muster to stick to a daily schedule, keep everything in order, and disengage from creative activities early enough to get to bed on time.

Am I alone in this? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

When I become discouraged, I often quote Paul’s words to myself: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). But I have to remind myself that God will give me the promised strength providing I stay in His will.

How can I know God’s will? I’m not talking about the big question, “What is God’s will for my life?” I know the answer to that one. Jesus said God wants me to love Him with my whole heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love my neighbor as myself (Luke 10:27). That’s His will for all of us.

But how can I know God’s particular will for each day, each moment? That requires relationship, and relationship takes time to develop and grow.

I know what you’re thinking. If time management causes me so much grief, how will I find time to develop a deeper relationship with God? With the self-discipline I don’t have? No, I’ll do it with the strength He gives me.

I may seem to be talking in circles here, but that’s exactly how it works. When I spend time reading the Bible and praying, when I turn my thoughts toward God, I receive His power, His wisdom, and the desire to do His will (Philippians 2:13). It’s not a matter of doing more but of resting more in Him.

Resting in Him brings amazing results. For one thing, I find I can get more of the most important things done. When I start the day with God, my priorities shift. His desires become my desires.

I also experience less stress. He gives me the wisdom to see tasks, difficult circumstances, and other people’s requests through His eyes.

Most of all, He fills me with joy that carries me through tough circumstances, disappointments, and even tragedies.

Sure I still get upset, angry, or frustrated when things go wrong. I still cry and grieve when someone gets hurt or dies. I still wonder what He’s doing when I’m laid low with physical pain or illness when so many tasks remain undone. But deep inside, He holds me together because of the intimate love we share, and I have the inexplicable peace that comes from knowing I belong to Him.

So if you struggle as I do, take heart. It doesn’t take much self-discipline to read a few verses of Scripture and visit with God about your day. When you do, He’ll fill you with the desire for more of His Word and more time with Him. You’ll find your priorities shifting. And without even trying, you’ll become a little bit more like that Proverbs 31 woman. In Jesus’ strength, found by resting in Him, there’s hope for us all.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 NASB

TWEETABLE
Strength in Rest – insight on #FollowingGod from Jeanne Dennis, @HeritageTruthTV on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jeanne DennisAbout the author: An award-winning author of a dozen books, Jeanne Dennis hosts Heritage of Truth TV and is a commissioned Colson Fellow and Centurion. Through her writing and online ministry, she encourages Christian families to live biblically in our confused culture. She and her husband of over 40 years serve actively in their local church and enjoy spending time with their family, including three amazing grandchildren.

Have you ever wanted to witness the Red Sea opening or the walls of Jericho falling? Jeanne’s book, Bible KidVentures Stories of Danger and Courage takes you into the middle of the action of your favorite Bible stories. The lives of Moses, Rahab, Jehoshaphat, and early church leaders take on compelling excitement through up-close-and-personal accounts. In each of the four choose-your-own-ending stories, you decide how the story ends!

Join the conversation: What have you experienced when you have rested in God?

 

Woman Interrupted

by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty

Interruptions. We hate ‘em. Let’s be honest and call them what they really are: a pain in the royal rumpus.

That’s how we react to interruptions, isn’t it? With teeth gnashed and face grimaced. Because we don’t like unexpected, unpredictable, unwelcome surprises. We want to do things our way, no muss, no fuss; we want to follow our carefully laid plans to predetermined outcomes.

When our plans are thwarted, our attitude drifts toward that of a two-year-old whose lollipop was hijacked by the Rottweiler.

I’ll admit I’m not a happy girl when my plans are impeded. I praise Jesus and stomp my foot at the same time. Why, oh why, can’t I adapt to change with more grace? A scripture passage that’s helping me handle interruptions better is the story Jesus told in Luke 10:33-35, NASB (emphasis mine):

“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him [the traveler beaten by robbers]; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

And on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.

Okay, let’s look a little closer at the parts related to interruptions:

  • He saw him. Compassion usually begins with the eyes; you can’t care until you’re aware. You must see – and often personally experience – a problem before your heart is engaged. Papa God has a way of using unscheduled, divine appointments (we call ‘em interruptions) to divert our eyes from our relentless to-do list to what’s really important.
  • He came to him. It’s easier NOT to help someone when you keep your distance. But once you open your mind to possibilities you haven’t yet considered, you’ll begin to feel the Holy Spirit’s elbow jab of guidance. When He keeps poking, it’s time to step up to the plate, even if you left your best bat at another ballpark.
  • He took care of him. The odds are slim that this dude was a career health care professional galloping off to a medical convention; he very likely had no more emergency wound care training than you or me, but he did the best he could with what he had. He probably ripped up his own perfectly good clothing for bandages, used up his personal stash of wine for wound sterilization, drained his essential oils for healing, and trudged the dusty road on foot so that the wounded man could have the choice seat atop his donkey, the ancient version of EMS.
  • I will repay you. There’s always a cost for kindness – are we willing to pay it? Might be money, time, energy, or worse yet, falling hopelessly behind on our tyrannical to-dos. The ultimate sacrifice.

Although he was hastening down the road with his own pressing agenda, the Samaritan stopped. He saw. He felt. He allowed himself to be interrupted for a greater cause.

You know, despite our meticulous planning (Ha!), we never know when Papa God has scheduled a divine appointment. We must expect the unexpected. Don’t resent interruptions; they’re part of your Creator’s to-do list for your life. Try to view them as opportunities to serve others.

And believe it or not, Papa God is standing by to bless your mess.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9, NLT

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms with permission from Barbour Publishing.

TWEETABLE
Woman Interrupted – insight on how to cope with interruptions from author @deborahcoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: When has God interrupted you lately?

Guilted by the Shoulds

by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty

The dental hygienist fixed her accusing stare on me after a not-so-stellar appointment. “You should floss more,” she leveled. “What are you doing to clean your teeth daily besides brushing?”

“Um …” I groped for something. Anything. “I use the doggie biscuit technique; I chew on extra crunchy chocolate chip cookies.”

She was right. I really should floss more. But sometimes should is a dangerous word. It’s a stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver. It ruthlessly inflates the bulk of a woman’s to-do list, often crowding out healthy sanity-essentials with guilt-induced clutter.

  • I should go to that meeting; they really need my help.
  • I should cook a big dinner every night like my mother did.
  • I should clean my house so the kids won’t write notes in the dust.

Seems there’s always something more we should be doing.

But as every woman struggling to squeeze into last year’s skinny jeans knows, more isn’t always better; sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. You know, my friend, we can be whelmed without being overwhelmed. Whelmed is livable; overwhelmed is strangling.

So how do we shush that should guilt threatening to overwhelm us? Here are four suggestions that work for me:

Be stress-smart. When you’re slammed into a stress mess, sit yourself down with a calming cup of your fave hot beverage. I’m talking five mere minutes here, not five hours. You can afford it. Close your eyes. Tune in to Papa God’s loving presence … His heartbeat … His peace. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NIV).

Avoid BOOP (Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon). BOOP is one of my Coty Near-Facts of Science (theories not yet proven by actual scientific studies but nevertheless known by women to be true). I postulate that women are like pots of oatmeal; at the beginning of the day we simmer – little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and harmlessly pop. But as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils everything around it with a nasty, ugly, sticky mess. The key to avoiding BOOP is to know when to remove the pot from the heat. And speaking of burners …

Promote yourself off the back burner. Don’t argue girl, just do it. You may sacrificially place yourself there routinely, but your Creator doesn’t. You’re a front-burner person to him. He wants you to enjoy this marvelous gift of life He’s given you, not sludge through it. So it’s time to add a little fun to your day.

Write yourself into your schedule for an hour of something you really enjoy a minimum of twice a week. Walk in the sunshine, bike a woodsy trail, sing opera, join a roller derby team, boogie your bad self down, get your nails done – hey, whatever tingles your toes. Put the beautiful smile back on your face. Your fam will be ever so grateful.

Be a dipstick. The Lord puts only enough fuel in your daily tank for you to arrive safely at the destination He’s routed out for you. All the detours you add will either run you out of gas or land you in a ditch. Check your tank, review your destination, and then engage in the Three Ps: Prioritize, Plan, and Pace yourself.

Achk, I know. So many things we must do. A few things we want to do. And countless things we should do. We just have to recognize that we have the power to choose which shoulds are potential coulds … and then unapologetically embrace the woman our choices make us.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.Isaiah 41:10 NASB

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty. Used with permission from Barbour Publishing.

TWEETABLE
Guilted by the Shoulds – tips for coping from @deboracoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out? How do you give yourself a break?

Messy Christmas

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Christmas often comes with high expectations. We think everything has to be just so. Perfect decorations. Perfect family. Perfect gifts. Perfect meal.

Our culture perpetuates this fantasy. In the dozens of made-for-TV Christmas movies, the girl always finds her soul mate, the estranged father is always reunited with his family, the boy always gets the puppy, and the table is always laden with beautiful food (which must have been made by Christmas elves, because you don’t see anyone slaving away for hours in the kitchen).

But here’s the problem with high expectations: many of us will be disappointed. Life will never be perfect – not even at Christmas. Maybe especially at Christmas. The arrival of December 25th does not magically heal broken relationships or ease the pain of loss or pay the bills.

In fact, Christmas tends to intensify any grief, anxiety, and sadness we feel because we compare our imperfect, messy lives to that unrealistic perfect image. When our lives don’t measure up, we lose hope. Without hope, Christmas becomes a time we have to get through instead of a joyful celebration.

Here’s the good news: Real hope for Christmas is not in a golden turkey or a new Kindle or a happy family gathered around a gorgeous tree. Real hope is in a babe in a manger. God come to earth to be with us. Immanuel.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us… In Him was life and that life was the light of men… We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth… To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God.  John 1:4, 12, 14 NIV

This life is messy and will be messy until Jesus comes back for His children. In the meantime, we will encounter trials, pain, death, sickness, divorce, heartache – oh, just name it! However, in the middle of all our mess we can find strength, joy, and peace in the Savior. The birth of that one tiny baby long ago provides hope – for this life and eternity.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV

Does your life feel messy this Christmas? Lay it all at the manger. Find your Christmas joy and peace in the Child of Christmas. In your Savior.

TWEETABLE
Does your life feel messy this Christmas? @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: This post is adapted from Kathy Howard’s Bible study. Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: Are you struggling with a messy life this Christmas season? Share a thought about the hope, joy, and peace you can find in Christ!

I’m Drowning Here!

by Pam Farrel

Ever feel like you are drowning in bad news?  Are the tough times are coming at you one right after another like a torrential down pour?  Is all the negativity and stress making you feel like you can’t even get a breath? Me too.

While I was writing my new book, life felt like I had been caught under the great Niagara Falls, being forced down under the torrent…breathless…helpless. The stressors of that season felt much like when, many years before, I found myself caught in a rip tide while swimming in the Pacific Ocean. My options at that point were terrifying: one was to catch a wave that would carry me to shore, but the shore was a cliff with jagged rock and thrashing waves. The other option was to allow the rip tide to carry me far out to sea. Death by rocks or death by sharks?

But then I remembered a third life-saving possibility: to swim parallel to the shore far enough down the beach to where the riptide ended and the sandy beach began. So as the riptide continued to carry me away from shore, I prayed and began to calmly swim along the shoreline. Eventually, the rip tide’s grip broke. I swam in and walked out to safety, exhausted, relieved, and overjoyed.

One psalm writer was in the press of one hardship after another. He wrote: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” Psalm 42:7 NIV.

This verse captures how many of us might feel when life gets difficult. Some Bible scholars say “deep calls to deep” is a reference to powerful torrential flood waters—that God’s hand of mercy is holding back. “The roar of your waterfalls” references the power of water to keep us down and under the surface—at times feeling like the negative circumstance will drown us. The waves and breakers sweeping over him again pictures being caught in crushing, crashing, unceasing waves. These powerful images are each a vivid portrayal of what it is like to be caught in a flood of challenges.

So, what can we do when the stresses of the unwelcome, unwanted, unexpected, and unbelievably hard circumstances are gushing down like a waterfall? Verse 11 gives the psalmist’s source of hope in the flood: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (NIV).

We can go beyond surviving and actually thrive while living in this broken world. God, our lifeguard, tosses us a life-saving ring of hope and help. When we put our hope in Him, we find a firm rock on which to stand. We can trust in His goodness, and we can trust Him to be faithful. And as we wait for Him to move us through a challenging time, we should express our trust by praising Him. Because as we pray and sing His praises out loud, we remind ourselves of His character, enabling us to trust Him even more firmly than we did before. And we remind ourselves that He is working all things together for our ultimate good. (Rom. 8:28)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Psalm 62:1 NIV

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker and author of 45 books, including her newest, an innovative Bible study co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher:  Discovering Hope in the Psalms.   Pam and Her husband Bill are Co-Directors of Love-Wise, a ministry to enrich, educate and encourage people’s most vital relationships. When not traveling for speaking, the Farrells enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, walking the beach and hosting guests on their floating home on the ocean.

Join the conversation: What stresses in your life have made you feel as if you were drowning? How did God rescue you?

IMG_7617

Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

The Truth About Balance

by Edie Melson

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

I didn’t have to experience the stress of our Marine Corps son’s deployment to know it was going to be struggle. But it did take that experience for me to understand that finding balance during didn’t always look and feel like I expected.

I thought balance was synonymous with moderation. To have balance meant I had to control how I lived my life. If I kept a tight rein on my environment, my diet and my exercise, I believed I’d be insulted from the extremes of life.

But that deployment taught me I was not in control.

It forced me to re-evaluate my entire concept of balance. I didn’t find that much-prized balance until I finally realized I was looking in all the wrong places.

Balance—I discovered—wasn’t an exterior thing, it was an interior thing.

Times of chaos will come, exploding into our lives with ferocity. When this happens, it doesn’t matter how carefully we’ve orchestrated our schedules, environment, or diet, life crumbles. We know this is true by experience, but we also see it in Jesus’ life.

As we delve into the New Testament, we see how Jesus experienced demanding crowds who pushed in, insisting on attention. We watch as he dealt with disappointment when His followers fell short. We even see times when He was faced with the unexpected (in a human sense) death of Lazarus.

But through all this, we also see a perfect example of a balanced life. And it had nothing to do with what was going on around Him, much less diet, exercise, or environment. It had everything to do with allowing God to direct His steps.

So whether you’re facing a loved one’s deployment or something else, I encourage you with the certainty that balance is possible. When we look first to God, we can always find the balance, and the peace that comes with it.

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Edie’s book, While My Child is Away,  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: Where do you struggle with balance in your life?

 

 

A Different Kind of Rest

by Julie Zine Coleman

And [Jesus] said to them, “Come away with me to a secluded place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:33 NASB

It had been an exhilarating ride. Sent out as representatives of Jesus, the disciples had traveled in pairs from town to town, preaching repentance, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Now days later, they arrived back with stories to tell of amazing healings, exorcisms, and miraculous provision. It had been an experience like no other.

But as exciting as it had been, the men were now exhausted. The adrenaline rush had faded. The constant demand had left them drained. Jesus saw their weariness, and kindly offered a respite. “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile,” he said. They collectively breathed a sigh of relief and boarded a boat to take them away from the crowds.

But respite was apparently not to be had. Word had spread, and people spotted them on the water from land. A huge crowd awaited them where they came to shore. Rather than avoiding the crowd, Jesus went right into their midst and began to teach them. So much for rest, the disciples must have thought.

The hours slipped by until it had grown quite late. The crowds must be starving, the disciples wearily realized. They approached Jesus. It surely was time to send them into the nearby towns so they could purchase food.

Jesus’ response took them by surprise. “You give them something to eat!” he commanded them. They looked at each other in dismay. There was definitely not enough money in the till to feed a crowd like this! But Jesus had a different idea. “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” The disciples found they had five loaves and two fish. Hardly enough to feed a crowd of 5,000.

Jesus took the loaves and fish and thanked His Heavenly Father for His provision. He broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the crowd. Much to their amazement, the food never ran out. Five thousand ate until they were satisfied, and there were even leftovers. Jesus sent the disciples to collect them. Each disciple returned with a basket full.

Jesus had promised the disciples rest. What they got was a long day working with an enormous crowd. So where was the rest Jesus promised?

The disciples may have been the hands and feet that delivered the food, but the power and provision were all from God. The miracle was a powerful lesson for their future ministry. Their power source would be God alone.

God’s power was amply displayed for each disciple as he filled his basket to the brim with the leftovers from the feast. The crowd ate until they were satisfied, and still there was more. The disciples learned another important lesson that day. As they served God in the years ahead, He would provide even more than they could use. Rest would be available to them every time they leaned into Him. An inexhaustible supply was theirs for the asking.

“Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus warned his disciples. (John 15: 5 NASB) Yes, we are willing, warm bodies. But the responsibility to accomplish the work is on God’s capable shoulders. Even in the middle of a taxing ministry, we can be at rest. He intends for us to do all things through Christ, who will strengthen us.

We can rest even when in the middle of the fray. His supernatural power and provision will be all we need.

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. 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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  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 character quality makes it possible for you to in rest God?

 

An Identity I Didn’t Expect

by Edie Melson

“So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.”  Numbers 12:15 NASB

Miriam’s sin brought the entire nation of Israel to a screeching halt for seven days while God dealt with her and brought her back in line with His will. It must have been devastating for Miriam to realize she was the cause of an unscheduled stop.

How do I know presume to know what she was feeling? Because it wasn’t too long ago that I discovered I’m a Miriam.

Have you ever said yes to something because you thought you should, or continued serving even though God was leading you in a different direction? In my zeal to serve God, I’d become prideful and thought I knew better than Him. I once again ran ahead of His will. I’d said yes to too many things and become a stumbling block to a ministry I love.

For years I’ve known that trying to do too many things at once meant I wouldn’t be able to do them well. But I seem to be a slow learner, or at least someone with a poor memory. When I pay attention to the Holy Spirit, this misguided urge stays in check, but when I stray, life gets stressful . . . for everyone.

My desire to serve overcame my desire to be obedient. When that happened, everyone around me suffered. My family had to take up the slack because I was doing things I hadn’t been called to do. I was grumpy, tired, and frustrated—emotions that affected all who came in contact with me. What started off with the best of intentions, ended up causing stress and grief.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity make things right by turning over some of my responsibilities to those God had called to serve. And as I sat, listening to them express their joy at that opportunity, it hit me how selfish I’d been. Not only was I disobedient (bad enough) but I stood in the way of others who wanted to serve. In effect, I brought the whole ministry to a screeching halt while God dealt with my disobedience.

It felt good to apologize and let go of the duties I’d disobediently taken up as mine. As I once again aligned myself with God’s will and let Him be the only one in charge peace began to take over. It was a difficult lesson to relearn, but when I heeded God’s discipline the stress receded and the joy is returned.

“Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NASB

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Edie’s book, While My Child is Away,  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 you ever struggled to turn a responsibility over to others?