Persuaded  

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee…when the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”                                                                                                                 John 2:1-4 NASB

The supply of wine had been depleted. Not one drop left. And the party was still going strong.

Mary shuddered at the embarrassment the oversight would bring on the hosts. She instinctively turned to her son to relate the news. He would know what to do. But Jesus seemed impervious to the problem. “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” he queried. “My hour has not yet come.”

Unfazed, Mary turned to the servants. “Do whatever he says,” she simply told them. And Jesus turned the water into wine.

This story has its puzzling moments. But one big question towers over the rest: why would Jesus refuse to help, even going so far as to state his reason for not helping, then turn around and do the miracle anyway?

There were other times Jesus refused to perform miracles.

We are told in Mark 6 that in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus “could do no miracle there except that he lay his hands on a few sick people and healed them.” Why? “He wondered at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6 NASB).

Several times, religious leaders (and also Pilate) asked Jesus to perform a miracle for them. He flatly refused, for they had not asked in faith (Mark 8:12 NASB).

His miracles were not meant to create faith; they merely served to confirm it. Faith is a necessary component to any request we make of God. Jesus would not perform a miracle without it.

When two blind men asked for healing, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” When they affirmed their trust, Jesus gave them their sight (Matthew 9:29). He asked a father to confirm his belief before ousting a demon that controlled his son. Why? He explained, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

In these and many other cases, belief in Jesus’ mercy and power was required before He would help them. When faith is expressed, God responds.

Mary’s instructions to the servants at the wedding of Cana were brim-full of faith. Whatever he says, do it. She trusted Jesus would do the right thing. Jesus responded by turning water into the finest of wines.

The Greek verb pisteuo, translated as believetrust, or to have faith often carries the qualifying connotation of being persuaded or convinced. The Greek lexicon defines it as “to cause to come to a particular point of view or course of action.” Trust comes as a result from what one has found to be true.

Mary raised Jesus. He had always lived in unfailing obedience to the Father. What she had observed of him in the past persuaded her to trust him now.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He demonstrated his power and faithfulness to them over and over, first with the plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, provision of water and manna, and the dramatic giving of the Law. In short, he was teaching them to trust him. But the months they spent in the desert weren’t enough—they balked at entering the Promised Land, refusing to trust God for his provision.

So God spent the next 40 years proving to the new generation just how trust-worthy he was. And when it again came time to go into the land, they were ready to follow Him anywhere. Knowing truth about God is foundational to trusting Him.

Trust doesn’t come naturally to us. So God brings along hardship, times when we struggle to perceive his presence or guidance, times when everything seems hopeless or overwhelming. We hate those times and dread their appearance. But He will use them to give us a deeper understanding of just how faithful He is. We will emerge from the darkness with a better capacity to trust him. And the conduit of trust opens the way for his blessing and mercy.

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Persuaded – thoughts from @JulieZColeman when trust doesn’t come naturally, 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: What do you know about God that gives you the ability to trust Him?

Swallowed Up by Life

by Patti Richter

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened… that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  2 Corinthians 5:4 ESV

After weeks of floating in the Pacific in a deteriorating raft, the well-known Olympic runner turned World War II Airman tasted a heavenly peace as death approached. While gazing at the vast ocean and starry skies, he’d made a promise to God. If the Creator of so much beauty could save him from the dangers he suffered—starvation, thirst, the heat of day and cold of night, Japanese planes overhead and sharks beneath—he would serve him forever.

The sea did not swallow Louis Zamperini. Readers of his survival story, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, hope his suffering will end as a boat comes into view. Instead, Japanese sailors hauled up his skeletal but yet-alive body. He would spend two long years enduring the wretched holes and brutal conditions of prisoner-of-war camps.

The late evangelist Billy Graham once answered a question about suffering by drawing a horizontal line to represent eternity and then placing a dot on that line to mark an earthly lifetime. The Apostle Paul provided a similar perspective: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 ESV).

The best outlook on suffering typically comes from those who have been through it. In the process, they discovered wisdom, strength, or some other gain they deem a worthy result of past travail. Giving birth is one such example.

In our human perspective, Zamperini’s afflictions do not seem to us as light nor momentary. But Paul had plenty of experience to qualify him to speak of hardship: he had survived beatings and imprisonments; he was shipwrecked, adrift and in danger at sea; he endured hunger, thirst, and exposure to cold (2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:25-27).

In the post-World War II years, Louis Zamperini descended into bitterness, anger, and alcoholism. His wife begged him to go with her to hear Billy Graham present a gospel message under a circus tent in Los Angeles. In the crowd on that evening, the nearly broken man heard the young preacher speak about earthly suffering and a loving God who knows the number of hairs on our head.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, Zamperini found redemption. With God’s help, he overcame his crippling hatred of former captors, and he finally fulfilled the promise to serve God he’d made while tossing in the ocean. This man who’d suffered so much lived in peace until his death at age 97.

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Swallowed Up by Life – Encouragement from Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Patti Richter headshot 2017-1nAbout the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She writes and edits global mission stories for The Gospel Coalition and her faith essays appears at BlueRibbonNews.com.

Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of SufferingIt is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: How did trusting in Jesus Christ change your life?

Why Do I Keep Procrastinating?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.                                                                                                                                               Zechariah 4:10 NLT

Just the other day I figuratively shook myself by my lapels and asked, “Kathy, why do you let the dishes stack up? It looks so messy!”

As I faced my problem of procrastination about messiness and other challenging tasks, the Holy Spirit led me to make some commitments.

Institute the 30 Second Rule. Even though so much can get done in 30 seconds or one minute, I still put things off. For instance, I pull up my email account on my phone and receive a message that I could easily answer in 30 seconds or a minute. I tell myself I’ll wait to answer when I get to my desk. But then when I get to my desktop computer, so many emails have added up I have a big job—and I delay responding!

That’s why I’ve been telling myself if something can be done within 30 seconds or a minute, even two minutes, do it right then. Sometimes we don’t recognize the value of little things but God does. He says in Zechariah 4:10: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin” (NLT).

 Recognize your motive for wanting to put things off. I often wondered why I neglected doing the dishes. After all, instead of putting a dish into the sink or onto the counter, I could have used the same energy and time to stick it into the dishwasher—and it would be done!

Then one day after loading the dishwasher, I paid attention to my emotions. I recognized the sense of achievement in that moment. It felt good to transform the kitchen from messy to clean. But in a sense that anticipation of satisfaction was keeping me from acting in the moment at other times. I knew I if I waited for things to pile up, my accomplishment would yield a higher reward.

To combat procrastination, pay attention to your emotions. Look to God for your satisfaction and joy. Anything that replaces Him is an idol. His approval is what we should seek because He wants to tell us, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Acknowledge any fear about the response you’ll receive for your actions. Whereas we just talked about the satisfaction of success, we can also procrastinate because we fear the potential “pain” that will result from taking action.

Maybe you’ve been putting off responding to that email because you’re convinced whoever receives it will become angry. Or you don’t know exactly what to say to your friend and so you delay—waiting for just the right words to show up in your mind.

But in avoiding these things we aren’t trusting God. We’re leaning on our own ideas and expectations, which is contrary to Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (ESV).

If we recognize our procrastination as not trusting God, then we can see our faulty thinking, that He isn’t in charge of the results. Since He’s sovereign and therefore in charge of everything, He could literally bring a good result from our poorly worded correspondence and bring an unexpectedly positive result. We can’t control what happens, but we can seek Him for wisdom. Then as we take action, we can trust Him for the resulting “straightened path.”

Which of those three insights could help you to resist procrastination? For me, they have been instrumental in recognizing God at work and empowerment in me, as I have learned to take action and increase my trust in Him.

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Why Do I Keep Procrastinating? – encouragement from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to help women trust God more through her 55 books and her speaking in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Her website is www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: What keeps you procrastinating?

 

What Does It Look Like to Be Highly Favored of God?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“She lives a charmed life,” a friend said regarding her daughter-in-law. “Everything just works out for her.” If a charmed life is easy, then what do you imagine a highly-favored-of-God life to be?

If an angel called you highly favored, wouldn’t you expect some free “get out of pain” passes? If God picked you to carry His child, wouldn’t you anticipate some special treatment? Surely, He’d assure your fiancé of your faithfulness.

God chose Mary to be the mother of His only Son. Gabriel the angel called Mary highly favored of God twice in their brief encounter. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).

I’m not sure what Mary imagined would happen when she returned from a three-month visit with her cousin to tell Joseph she was pregnant—with God’s Son. But he didn’t buy it. Since their engagement could only be ended by divorce or death, he looked for a way to quietly divorce her.

Mary didn’t live a charmed life. Her fiancé believed she’d cheated on him. She saw Joseph’s pain and had no way to prove her faithfulness.

Since God set the bar on sexual purity, why did He let others believe Mary was sexually immoral? Why did He put this couple through this tension?

In the nick of time, God sent an angel to stop Joseph from divorcing Mary. But the religious leaders continued to call Jesus illegitimate even in His adult years. God allowed people, including their religious leaders, to believe Joseph and Mary were sexually loose, when they had shown extraordinary restraint. Joseph kept her a virgin until after Jesus’ birth.

I wonder how many Jewish customers and friends Joseph lost in his carpentry business because of this scandal. Wouldn’t you think God would clear the reputation of this highly favored couple?

Isaiah 55:8 reminds us God’s ways are not our ways. They are far better. God cleared Mary’s reputation with those for whom it mattered. He also used this misunderstanding to benefit Mary, Joseph—and us.

  • Mary and Joseph could empathize with those who doubted their story. They didn’t waste energy being offended that others didn’t believe them. After all, it took an angel’s visit for Joseph to understand.
  • Joseph modeled how to handle betrayal.
  • Mary and Joseph’s faith grew. With each new challenge they remembered God’s faithfulness through previous tests.
  • When people believe lies about us, we know we’re in good company. Some of God’s most highly favored saints were misunderstood.

Having God’s favor didn’t mean ease for Mary.

  • Instead of having a midwife and a clean bed, Mary delivered God’s Son in a stable.
  • Instead of being escorted by the king’s army, soldiers hunted her boy to murder him.
  • Instead of being protected from suffering, her Son’s scourging and crucifixion pierced her own heart.

Definitely not a charmed life!

As we prepare for Christmas, let’s not let the world’s view of how this holiday should look rob us of the true riches we have in Christ. God’s ways are not our ways; they are infinitely better. Despite her trials, Mary found peace in knowing no problem is too big for God. She dwells in heaven today with the Father and the Son.

If you asked her, she’d tell you: the favor of God far surpasses living a charmed life.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the fiery troubles that are coming in order to test you. Don’t feel as though something strange is happening to you, but be happy as you share Christ’s sufferings. Then you will also be full of joy when he appears again in his glory. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory—the Spirit of God—is resting on you” 1 Peter 4:12-14 GW

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What Does It Look Like to Be Highly Favored of God? – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What has God done that didn’t make sense to you at the time? Did His ways prove better than yours?

Mary, Model for Modern Women

by Fran Caffey Sandin

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Luke 1: 38

Early one morning with Christmas only a week away, I sat in a comfortable chair near the lace-curtained window. As I rocked our baby boy, listened to his soft newborn sounds, and stroked his velvety cheek, my thoughts drifted to that first Christmas night. Although my comfortable surroundings were far removed from the stable where she gave birth, I felt a common bond with Mary, the mother of Jesus. The love and tenderness we shared toward our sons might span the gulf of time, but Mary’s example remains as a guide for me and other modern moms.

Even as a teenager, Mary’s spirit was tender toward God. She was listening, expectantly, willing to obey when the angel Gabriel explained that she would give birth to the Son of God. Probably stunned and frightened, Mary wondered how it could be, but she did not run away and hide. I considered my active life to ask, Am I tuned in to God? Am I listening to Him before taking the next step? If he calls me out of my comfort zone or to accept a new challenge, I feel unprepared for, will I trust Him and obey?

A willing servant, Mary faced an unplanned pregnancy. Instead of refusing to place herself in an awkward social situation, she viewed herself as part of God’s sovereign plan for humanity and humbled her life before Him. Our culture emphasizes a woman’s need for self-fulfillment, even at the expense of others. And yet, our privilege as wives and mothers is to nurture and train our children to have a godly character. What is more important than protecting a helpless child and meeting his needs? It may not always be fun and convenient, but cultivating a servant’s heart will provide one of life’s greatest joys.

Isn’t it interesting that Mary did not wait for Joseph’s approval before saying “Yes” to God?

With a quiet spirit she waited for God to take care of Joseph, and He did. Instead of divorcing Mary, since they were already betrothed, or having her stoned to death, thinking she had committed adultery, he listened to God and chose a third option. Marry her.

Mary’s submissiveness to God proved to be a blessing as Joseph proceeded to love and protect Mary and baby Jesus. In my early years of marriage, I sometimes tried to take over the reins. I wanted the control in all of our decisions. Since then, I’ve learned to follow Mary’s example, and let God lead how we move forward. Mary waited for God to take care of the details. He did. 

Mary was told by the angel: “Fear not.” As women we often worry and fret unnecessarily. But as the angel assured Mary, nothing is impossible with God. Author David Hubbard wrote in his book, How to Face Your Fears: “We can face the future with courage. Why? Because the same God whose presence surrounded the Bethlehem manger will see us through our ‘impossibilities’ of tomorrow. When uncertainties come, let us not shrink with fear, but rather, respond as did Mary, ‘I am willing, Lord.’”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the example of Mary, a woman who believed and trusted in You through her difficult situation. Let us learn from her servant heart, quiet spirit, and submissiveness to your will. Help us listen for your Holy Spirit to guide us in making wise decisions. May we exalt you daily and give you praise. In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Mary, Model for Modern Women – Fran Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What examples from the Bible are inspiring to you?

 

 

 

 

Go … and Wait

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.”                                                                                    Genesis 12:1-4 NIV

Always in the past, when I’ve read the story of Abraham, I focused on the promise God gave him: that he would be the father of a nation. My take-away was that God does keep His promises. But it was 25 years between His promising and fulfilling it. Rarely do I remember God called Abraham to take action first (leave your country and relocate to a foreign land) … and then grew silent while He made Abraham wait … for a long time.

Maybe this story has touched my heart lately because it seems to parallel the journey I’m on right now. Approximately six years ago, God started our family on a path which began with preparation. I used to be a medical transcriptionist, and one day, while typing away at home, God whispered to me, “Finish your book.” Unlike Abraham, who didn’t question God’s authority but promptly obeyed without any details, I argued.

“What do You mean finish my book? I’m not a writer, this book is just something I do as a form of therapy, in my spare time. And,” I continued, “while we’re on the topic of spare time, with three kids under the age of 12, I don’t have any of that in which to write.”

God, in His infinite patience, and knowing I wasn’t (really) back-talking, but more mirroring the insecurities of Moses, answered with three simple words, “Finish your book.”

his time I obeyed. Without knowing what exactly God wanted me to do, I did the next thing. I “finished my book” … which led to attending a writer’s conference … which led to creating a blog … which led to joining some writer’s groups … which led to a job for a book club … which led to the elimination of my medical transcription job … which led to where I am today. I’ve published over 20 nonfiction books on a variety of topics, and am currently working on writing and publishing in the fiction realm in this year.

Just like with Abraham, the direction God wanted me to go hasn’t been a straight line. I have taken a few detours (rushing ahead in trying to find employment when God instructed me to rest) and have suffered a few lasting consequences for them (much like Abraham did by having Isaac to “help” God.)

But God forgave my mistakes and allowed me to experience blessings as well. For instance, God used my 10 years of medical transcription work to teach me grammar and typing skills (which come in handy with my current employment, not to mention with writing itself). In addition, He has used various jobs in the past three years to teach me skills and give me certain experiences. There’s no doubt in my mind that He has been equipping me for whatever future He has planned for me, which seems to be something in the world of writing.

Rereading Abraham’s story in Genesis recently, it was encouraging to see God first commanding Abraham to take a step of faith, then give him a 25-year waiting period before fulfilling His promise. Despite the many detours he and Sarah took, and the times they went off on their own to make things happen more quickly, God still fulfilled the promise—but  in His way, His time.

I’m do glad I did what God asked me to do: I finished the book. In light of Abraham’s story, I am now determined to patiently wait for Him for the rest. I can wait with a sense of purpose for Him to clearly reveal the ministry or purpose He has for my life. I continue to take each next step He commands, whenever He chooses to speak. One step at a time.

It’s something I’m getting better at as time moves on—this waiting patiently thing. Just like my latest manuscript, I’m still a work in progress. But what I will be in the end will be worth the wait.

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Go … and Wait – insight on #FollowingGod from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She writes regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart. You can connect with her on Facebook.

Her newest release, Journey of Complete Surrender, delves into the freedom that comes with giving God your whole heart and taking your hands completely off to give Him the chance to move as only He can.

Join the conversation: Has God ever made you wait? How did He use the time in you?

 

Big Faith

by Christina Rose

He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Matthew 17:20 NIV

My niece gave birth to her first child in a fierce whiteout blizzard in South Dakota.  It was impossible to reach the hospital as they lived in a remote area. Tica settled into the bathtub with towels while Dusty called her mother Karla, a labor and delivery nurse.  Dusty stayed on the phone while Karla coached the young couple through labor.  After several hours little Faith was brought into the world, perfectly healthy, while the swirling wind and snow continued to rage outside.

A few years later, I was visiting and passed three year-old Faith on the stairway.  “Oh my,” I said, “There’s little Faith!”

She climbed a few stairs to reach my height, and her big blue eyes stared directly into mine. “I’m not little Faith, I’m big Faith!” she boldly announced. She continued to march up the stairs and glanced back at me as if to say, “Don’t ever call me little Faith again!” In that moment Faith taught me that there is nothing small about faith of any size, we just have to own it and declare it.

David, the scrawny shepherd boy, declared his faith when he defeated the giant Goliath with merely a small stone and slingshot. It looked impossible that he could slay him, yet he did.  “ David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’ ” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV).

Moses led the Israelites to safety by faith in following God’s commands. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground’” (Exodus 14:15-16 NIV). Once they were safely through, Moses faithfully followed God’s command to raise his hand over the sea, and it swallowed up the Egyptians who were trying to kill them.

Queen Esther risked her life when she dared to request an audience before the king. She had faith that her purpose was to boldly step forward on behalf of her people, and they were spared.  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:14 NIV).

There was a woman who could not stop bleeding for twelve years, and no one could heal her.  She knew that Jesus was passing by, and although the crowd was overwhelming, she believed that if she could just touch him she would be healed. She fought through the crowds, came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. Instantly her bleeding stopped and she was healed. “Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from  your suffering.’”  Mark 5:34 NIV.

The Bible is full of testimonies of faith. Jesus told His disciples that trusting God was the key to tapping into His power. “Have faith in God…truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”(Mark 11:22-24 NIV).

Life throws us tests that we would never have imagined. Some days it feels as though we’re slaying giants and crossing stormy seas. But as Jesus tells us, faith as small as a mustard seed is big enough to enable us to do whatever God asks of us in serving Him and His perfect plan. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1.

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Big Faith – inspiration 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: Do you have a story of when God carried you through a challenge? Please share!

Comforting and Encouraging Others

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 TLB

After my father’s death, I uncovered an ancient cardboard box wedged in the back of his closet. Inside were some remnants of his military service during World War II: a good conduct medal, his wings, war department ID, aircraft spotters’ guide, a 1943 Christmas menu from headquarters in Fortaleza, Brazil where he was stationed for a time, and the letter notifying my grandparents that my father was a prisoner of war.

In a daring endeavor, my father eventually escaped captivity through the Underground. When he returned to America, he didn’t talk much about his experiences. One of his brothers told me that Daddy often sat in front of the radio in those days, head bowed and arms on his knees, listening. If someone entered the room unexpectedly, daddy jumped, wary, eyeing the intruder with suspicion.

Today, my father’s post-war reactions would likely be labeled post-traumatic stress, but there was no name or counseling for it then. Daddy packed his emotional pain in a mental compartment and shoved it to the back of his mind, in a similar fashion to the back-of-the-closet cardboard box housing the history of his military service.

Decades later, my cousin was accepted at the US Air Force Academy. The summer before his freshman year, my father bought Wesley a pair of military dress shoes, took him out to our driveway, and taught him to march.

“I want him to be a step ahead of the other boys,” Daddy said.

My father also hauled out war stories, dusted them off, and told him about his experiences. Much of what he said had never been shared with others. He identified with some of the challenges Wesley faced in the coming four years, and hoped to help him in his adjustment to military life.

Often, when we go through difficult life situations, we swallow the hurt and consign the pain to a private corner of our minds and hearts. Some stagnate in grief, withdrawing from those around them, never discussing their challenges, or moving beyond the pain. Others find a way forward, with God’s help, yet never encourage others dealing with similar situations.

But 2 Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that we are to minister to those around us with the same comfort we’ve received from God. My father didn’t share his experiences until my cousin embarked on a similar journey.

Perhaps someone you know is struggling. Although the situation might not be identical to yours, your wisdom and encouragement may be of great benefit. Dredging up memories may feel uncomfortable, but despite the emotional pain, be available to support someone marching down a difficult path. By listening and encouraging, you pass on the comfort you found through Scripture, prayer, and a deeper relationship with God forged through hardship.

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Comforting and Encouraging Others – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: Has anyone ever encouraged you with their experience of God’s faithfulness?

What NOT to Say to a Drama Queen

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

I recently had a conversation with someone who volunteers in a nonprofit organization. Something she said sent up red flags for me. She was complaining about her clients, who were so dramatic over trivial problems. “Everything that happens to them sends them into a tizzy, even the smallest things. So I just tell them: you need to have more faith.”

Not the best response.

First off, the people she is serving have not had easy lives. Many have experienced major trauma somewhere along the way. Many have only recently come to know the Lord and are only now learning what healthy looks like. From my (albeit brief) foray into counseling training, I learned that trauma victims react strongly to “small” things for a reason. On a scale of 0-10, what would barely register at a 1-2 for a healthy person can be a 10 for the traumatized. Why? While a normal baseline is 0, the traumatized are living life at a steady 7 or 8. Unresolved trauma keeps them on continual fight-or-flight mode. So it doesn’t take much to get them to 10.

In ministering to someone in the healing process, one of the least compassionate things we can say is “you have to have more faith.” Because in doing so, we will only add to their burden, which is already too much to bear. It’s just one more way they are not measuring up. So while “you need to have more faith” might sound like good advice, it’s actually more damaging than helpful.

Second, Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, “you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20). Faith as small as a tiny mustard seed is enough. Faith is not quantified in the Bible. You believe or you don’t. It is the line in the sand that sets believers apart from those who have not believed. It’s the only difference between saved and perishing.

Where believers struggle is not in how hard they believe. The problem is in doubting the object of our faith, in thinking Him to be only selectively involved in our lives. That while He may be capable, He is not concerned with the little things that matter to us. After all, we all prioritize what deserves our attention. You can’t jump at every little thing.

That’s true for us…but not for God. He knows the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). He knows when a sparrow, the commonest of birds, falls (Matthew 10:29-31). He knows what we are about to say before we say it (Psalm 139:4). He holds our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is a Heavenly Father who delights in His people and gives good gifts to His children (Psalm 149:4, Matthew 7:11). He is a God who is INVOLVED. In all of it. Even the things that might seem too trite to bring before Him. (Because really, what would seem big to God, anyway?)

So the answer to trusting Him in the “little” things is to learn about His intimate care for us. That He is not only capable, but interested. The better we know Him, the better we can trust Him.

After the conversation, I started thinking about what would have been a proper response to that volunteer. How should I have responded to  her frustration? (I am very good at “I should have said”s. In fact, it may be my spiritual gift.) What could she say to help someone on the path to healing? What would I have said if I were confronted with the same drama?

Thinking through what I know about God gave me the answer. I could encourage them with what I just listed about Him above. I could let them know that what is important to them is important to Him. That we can trust Him, no matter what is smacking us in the face at the moment. Because He is a God of details. And He is good.

There’s no burden in knowing God better. There’s no guilt induced for someone in hearing how deserving He is of our trust. And maybe, after receiving that encouragement, they will gain ability to place what has sent them into crisis into His capable hands.

Incline your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For you are my rock and my fortress, for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. Psalm 31:3-4 NASB

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What NOT to Say to a Drama Queen – @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: What do you know about God that could be an encouragement to others?

Is God Still Good?

by Ashley Lauren McClain

The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:9 NASB

Our front yard has always been one of my favorite things about our house. It’s beautiful. Our house sits back off of the road, there is a weeping willow tree, a white fence with horses and a barn, and a perfect place to watch the sunrise every morning. I remember sitting on that front porch before we bought our house and looking out at that front yard, dreaming about the wonderful life we would live there.

This morning as I sat on our couch looking out the window, I could see the “coming soon” sign recently erected out front. That sign represents so much excitement about the future and our new home, but it also represents those dreams that are now gone.

I always pictured children playing in that yard or sitting on that ugly living room carpet. I thought I would someday show them pictures of Mommy & Daddy’s first house where they lived part of their happy childhood.

But sitting here today I now there is no possible way for that ever to happen. Those children never came. Why God? I prayed for that. Why didn’t you do it?

I wish I could tell you that my faith is so strong, I don’t ever question Him. That I know He is sovereign, and His plans are the best plans for my life. I DO know that to be true. But I still sometimes ask Him questions… and you know what? He is not mad or even disappointed in me for doing so, not one bit.

Even in my questioning, I know He still loves me. Even in my disappointment, I know He is still good.

Maybe today you are not moving on and leaving behind unfulfilled dreams. Maybe your struggle involves a recent diagnosis, an unexpected death, the loss of a job; maybe it is hurt recent or from your past, or plans you had that never came to fruition.

But you know what? He is still good.

That can be hard to believe in the midst of some of our greatest challenges. But it is true. I know that His Word tells me that He will NEVER leave me or forsake me, and I believe it. I know His Word tells me that He has GOOD plans for my future, and I believe it.

When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, they faced some of the biggest challenges possible. The land was filled with strongly fortified cities, fierce warriors, and impressive kingdoms. Not much had changed since their parents had balked in fear and refused to go in forty years earlier. But God had once again promised to go before them. He would give them the victory and eventually the land. And as they prepared for what lay ahead, He reassured them once more: “The Lord will deliver them up before you…Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:5-6 NASB). God had their good in mind. And unlike their parents, they chose to believe in His goodness.

It was the right choice.

He is the same God today. I am sorry for the pain, the hopelessness, the frustration, or loneliness you may feel today. I am sorry for whatever dream you may have had to lay to rest. I get it. I am laying down one of mine with you today.

But here is what we can know: God is good all the time. No matter what you may have to face today, know that you are facing it with the strong & trustworthy presence of Jesus Christ living in you.

The plans that the Lord has for my life and yours are greater than any dreams we have for ourselves. Does that mean they will look exactly like we thought or wanted them to be? No. But we can trust in His goodness. Because He is good. Always.

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Is God Still Good? – thoughts on #GodsLove from Ashley Lauren McClain on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Ashley McClainAbout the author: Ashley McClain is a girl with big dreams and a blog to encourage women in their journey through this life we have been given by the greatest Gift Giver there is! She loves to read, write, drink coffee, and spend time with the hubby & puppies! Connect with Ashley on her website ashleymcclain.org. She would love to hear about your journey too!

Join the conversation: What dreams have you had to lay down? What did God give you instead?