When God Speaks

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

God is always speaking to His children, guiding us toward His very best, but sometimes His voice grows faint amid the noise and confusion all around us.

Early in my parenting days, I was probably the most insecure, and often confused, mother around. I felt bombarded by advice, warnings, and contradicting tips from so-called experts. As a result, I routinely felt overwhelmed. Initially, I tried to raise our daughter in my wisdom and strength, largely because I hadn’t learned to discern God’s voice. I gave too much weight to the faulty and often shifting “insight” of others and falsely believed I could make sense of it all.

Relying on my own intellect characterized every area of my life, and in fact, had for some time, but it rarely brought the results I wanted. I did not experience the peace and confidence I craved.

Granted, I did pray. Oh, how I prayed. But I wasn’t always alert to God’s answers—in part because I rarely sat still long enough to hear Him. And when I did, though my heart would prick with the confidence and assurance that can only come from God, all too soon “common sense” or popular opinion overshadowed His perfect wisdom.

I often resembled a woman caught on an inflatable in the middle of a tumultuous ocean. James 1:5-8 describes this scenario. The principles found there apply to all of life. James began by encouraging us to seek God’s guidance, saying, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

God doesn’t expect me to know it all. He doesn’t expect me to have life all figured out, or even to know His will perfectly. Rather, He invites me to seek Him, and when I do, no matter the question, no matter the struggle, He responds with grace.

Yet, responsibility comes with this access and invitation, for he goes on to say in verse 6, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

When we doubt the very truths God Himself deposits into our souls, our thoughts become divided and disordered. We become unstable, pushed and pulled in whatever direction feels strongest or screams loudest. What an unsettling, if not terrifying, place to be!

Have you ever tried to swim or paddle in choppy water? It’s exhausting and defeating!

Years ago, our family vacationed to Hawaii. One afternoon, my daughter and I went paddle boarding in the ocean. Rather than paddling, I relaxed and allowed the waves to gently rock me. At some point, I realized how far I’d drifted. The people on the beach looked so small and the water surrounding me vast and deep!

I immediately began paddling back, but I didn’t seem to get anywhere against the waves.

Though I did ultimately make it back, the experience painted a vivid reminder of what life feels like when we’re not anchored to truth.

That’s not to say we’ll never experience doubt, but when we do, may we always bring our questions to the One with all the answers and choose to believe His Word.

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When God Speaks – encouragement on #FollowingGod from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever inadvertently ventured away from the truth? How did God speak to you?

Sometimes Love is a Hard Conversation

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-3 ESV

I have witnessed incredible courage in my times – bravery on the battlefield of childhood.

Times when adults stood around muttering that “someone should do something” until a child, full of love, tugged the sword out of their stone hearts and became king of love and reason.

An eight-year-old alone in a room of professionals, speaking up to say, “We’re not safe at home. Please don’t make us go back there.” Then, taking up her mother’s hand, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I love you, but you’re not protecting us.”

A ten-year-old boy who leapt to his feet in a living room crowded with adults and shouted, “Ha! Mom, I knew that was wrong, even though you said it was okay for me to ride in the trunk of the car. It is wrong, isn’t it?”

I nodded my head as I watched his mind make connections like a pinball machine the moment after the quarter drops. “And, I bet it’s not okay for me steal stuff for you! Mom, I think you believe you love me, but you’re doing it way wrong.”

Then, he turned to the relatives sitting in the room. “And you guys! How come you aren’t saying anything to her? I’m a kid. Grown-ups are supposed to watch out for kids.”

Or the thirteen-year-old girl who sat across a kitchen table and looked me square in the eye. “Why should I tell you anything about my hopes and dreams? You’re like the fifteenth old lady to sit in this kitchen and act like you know something that might help us. Why don’t you ask my dad his hopes and dreams? If you start working on that, we might actually get somewhere, but that’s a lot harder than sittin’ with a thirteen-year-old, isn’t it?”

Sometimes love is a hard conversation.

Don’t tell a kid in your ministry you love them in the name of Jesus, unless you’re willing to sit with their parents and talk when you suspect things aren’t right at home.

Don’t tell a young woman you love her, and then suggest she stay quiet when she says that a church leader made her feel uncomfortable with his words or his hands.

Don’t tell a young wife to go home, pray, and be a better wife, when she confides about her husband’s unexpected rages, drinking, pornography, or abusive words.

When your friend gossips in the guise of a prayer request, don’t just walk away and feel self-righteous that “at least you’re not like her.”

To be like Jesus is to love like a child.

A child sees no conflict between loving someone and telling them the truth.

A child sees no dissonance in loving a person and saying hard things to them.

A child knows that if someone doesn’t stand up to people doing wrong things, they’ll keep doing them.

A child knows how to love someone and still tell them they have to stop hurting other people.

Children learn from the people doing wrong to silence themselves, to hide, to cower, and to embrace helplessness. Jesus calls out the child in us to unlearn these ways for these are the ways of the sinful world.

Jesus demonstrated that sometimes love is a hard conversation. Just look at what He said to the Woman at the Well, the hypocritical Pharisees, or to Judas at the Last Supper.

Let love incite us to speak truth into our own lives and to choose love even when it would be easier to stay silent. This is the way of light. Sin, pain, and all manner of evil flourish in the darkness.

Our words can be light, against which, the darkness will not prevail.

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Sometimes Love is a Hard Conversation – encouragement from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: Can you recall a time when a child fearlessly expressed the truth?

 

 

 

A Bad Diagnosis

by Lori Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Mark 2:16-17 ESV

My husband and I used to love watching House. You remember the medical drama about the damaged but brilliant doctor who solves medical mysteries that elude other doctors? He was usually the last hope for his patients and because of that, unlike other medical shows where a patient is devastated to receive a dire diagnosis; these patients welcome the life-altering news.

Why would anyone welcome a bad diagnosis?

It’s because the patients have suffered with symptoms that they know are real. They’ve tried dozens of other avenues for treatment and cure. Usually, the incorrect treatment was not only ineffective for solving their problem; it created more problems and sometimes threatened their lives.

The correct diagnosis, even if it is a terrible one, is better than suffering in the dark.

My husband’s life became a real-life House episode for over five years. He battled a mystery illness and pursued courses of treatment that created more problems than they cured. When we prepared to visit a new doctor to receive test results, we’d be more devastated to have no answers than we would if we were receiving news of a life-threatening disease with a name.

My college professor used to say “the facts are our friends; truth is always on our side no matter what that truth is.” An inaccurate diagnosis, a wrong course of treatment, false hopes – these are the enemies – not the truth.

Which is why most Christians were relieved to learn the condemning news that they are sinners with no hope of saving themselves.

See, we knew something was wrong inside us. We suffered from the symptoms but could not find the cause no matter where we looked. And boy, did we look!

We pursued all kinds of false diagnoses. We tried every self-help treatment available and followed each healer who told us they knew the cure for what ailed us. Those false cures were not only ineffective; they created more problems, some of them life-threatening.

Then, one day, someone told us they knew what was wrong with us. That person may have exhibited compassion, or they may have been as cold as Dr. House, but they knew the truth about our condition – we were sinners with no hope of saving ourselves, facing a sentence of death.

Rather than be offended or devastated by the news, we were relieved to hear the truth that somehow, we already knew. We’d suffered the symptoms of our sinful condition for so long we were ready for the cure.

And THAT was the good news. The cure was available for us. We could be healed by trusting Jesus Christ with our lives. No longer did we have to search bookstores and drugstores, gurus and shamans, backrooms or bedrooms for treatments that only quieted the symptoms but did nothing to touch the disease. Now we were free to pursue the effective treatment available through a relationship with the God of the universe.

Just like on House, for some the evidence of the cure was immediate, for others it took time, but the Great Physician has a 100% survival rate among those who are willing to receive the truth and trust His prescription for their lives.

Not only is the survival rate 100%, but the effects are extended release – they extend into eternity.

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A Bad Diagnosis – encouragement from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

Join the conversation: When did you receive the correct diagnosis on you spiritual ailment?

Focus on the Facts

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.                                                                                                                                     Psalm 16:8, ESV

I remember the week I wanted to quit the ministry. (As a pastor’s wife, I haven’t quite figured out what that means, except that it’s a low point of discouragement and sometimes it feels good to say “I want to quit.”) My husband and I had just met with a couple from our church who listed the ways we had let them down over the past couple years. As I sat there, listening to how we’ve disappointed them and anticipating that they would leave the church for such reasons, I was feeling frustration, pain and anger. As I drove away from that appointment in a separate car, I cried out to God, and told him how I felt.

“God I don’t want to do this anymore!” I yelled through tears. “I don’t want my husband to sit through one more meeting and hear how he has let someone down. I’m tired of pouring out, because everyone just takes and takes and leaves in the end.

That’s how I was feeling: I have nothing left to give and everyone eventually leaves, anyway. But in prayer, I was reminded of the facts: God can fill me up again and He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

Instantly, God spoke to the recesses of my heart: I went to the cross for you. And in light of what I did for you, do you know how many times you have disappointed Me? Do you realize how many times you have failed to meet My expectations? And yet, I have never left. And I never will.

 In the moment my heart received that truth, everything changed. I remembered Whom I am serving: The One who will never leave. It was all about the facts (that He is a faithful God and worthy to be served) and not my feelings (that it’s hard sometimes and I just want to quit). My prayer of complaint turned to praise: God, I can’t do this, but You can. And I will gladly serve You because of what You have done for me.

 When my feelings lead me down a dark tunnel of despair,  I know now to switch on the light of what I know about God to find my way back out.

Psalm 16:8 gives me clarity and helps me focus on the facts of Who God is, rather than on what I feel. “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8, ESV).

Thank You, Lord, that You do not shift and change along with my feelings or circumstances. You are the Rock. Steady. Constant. Persevering. Thank You, too, that You promise to never leave.

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Focus on the Facts – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer, national speaker, and certified writing coach who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of several books including When Women Long for Rest, When You’re Running on Empty, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

What Readers are Saying about When You’re Running on Empty: “Truly, there is not a woman out there who cannot relate to When You’re Running on Empty.” – Cheryl M. Anderson, Director of Women’s Ministry, Morrill Baptist Church, Morrill, ME

Join the conversation: What fact about God encourages you when you are feeling discouraged?

 

The Sacred Word

by Nan Corbitt Allen

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119: 105 NIV)

It was another time—a time when the reading of scripture and prayer were not only permissible but encouraged in the public school. Miss Mary Dell Ard was my fourth-grade teacher, and she was an old-fashioned schoolmarm. Never married, she dedicated her life to teaching children. She called every student “precious,” even though she may be at the same time applying the rod to the child’s backside. (That was permissible and encouraged in those times as well.) Every morning our teacher would read from the Bible, and hers was so overused that she had to hold it together with a substantial rubber band.

One of the few times she embarrassed me by reprimanding me in front of the class was a morning after I had been assigned to take the lunch money to the cafeteria. I had left the room after the Pledge of Allegiance and had re-entered while she was still reading from the Bible. My desk was a mere two steps from the classroom door, and so when I re-entered, I went directly and sat down.

Big mistake. I had forgotten that it was a sacrilege to move about at all during the reading of the Word. The rule: If one enters a room as the Bible is read aloud, one must stand perfectly straight and still until the end of the reading and throughout the following prayer. This was the law, and I never broke it again. Because of this lesson, I still feel the need to be reverent and still whenever the Word is read.

Psalm 119 is a LONG song included in the psalter. No one knows who wrote it, but some believe that it was a priest from Old Testament times. The entire 176 verses are dedicated to the importance and sanctity of God’s Word. The synonyms the psalmist uses for the Word are precepts, laws, decrees, and statutes. The Word is described as eternal, firm, and enduring. This lyric emphasizes that God’s Word is for direction, for teaching, for understanding. It is mostly addressed to God, so it is functionally a prayer. The writer commits to obeying it, hiding in his heart, meditating on it, and delighting in it.

I’m sorry to admit that I haven’t always done this regarding the Word. I’ve read it and believed it most of my life, but have I always consulted it when I needed instruction or consolation? No.

Verse 28 says, “My soul is weary with sorrow: strengthen me according to your word…”  In times of sorrow and frustration, the Bible is often the last place we want to go for help. Why? “[We] have strayed like a lost sheep…” (Psalm 119: 176) Most of the time, the Word will tell us things we don’t want to hear:  trust Himobey Him, and surrender to Him. When we’re suffering, often we don’t want to do any of those things.

When I resist the instruction of the Word, I remember Miss Ard and how she taught me that the Bible is sacred, worthy of my respect, and my go-to for everything I need.

Read it, cherish it, and embrace its truth.

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The Sacred Word – encouragement from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: What does God’s Word mean to you?

The Wildness of the Great I AM

by Linda Rooks @linda_rooks

Christmas music peeled through the interior of the car as I made my final shopping rounds on the day before Christmas. Just a few more presents to get before I made my way home to do some wrapping then head to the Christmas Eve service. On the radio, the song, “Mary Did You Know” was playing. As my car rounded a corner, I heard that stirring question posed to the mother of Jesus—and us. Did she truly know who that baby in her arms was? Did she fully understand that He was actually the God of creation, come to earth to save us?

The song came to its climactic conclusion, reminding Mary that the small child asleep in her arms was the all-powerful God of the universe — the “GREAT I AM.”

As these moving words hit my ears, I stared in surprise at the license plate on the car in front of me. The first three letters on the plate read, “I AM!”

“Ha,” I thought. “Okay, God you got my attention. You want me to focus on who You ARE! Christmas shopping is fine, but you don’t want me to lose sight of the fact that the Great I AM, the powerful God of the universe, came to us at Christmas.

About an hour later, after picking up my last few gifts, I drove out of the parking lot and was stunned when I again pulled up behind another car with a license plate with lettering that began with “I AM.”

Wow! Was God trying to tell me something or what? It’s not about Christmas shopping. It’s about who Jesus is!

Later that evening, as I wrapped the last presents and went to Christmas Eve service, I continued thinking about the wild coincidences of that afternoon.

Then it dawned on me: doing something “wild” is actually not all that unusual for God. For instance, the story of Christmas is pretty wild. The all-powerful God discarded His power and glory for a time and came to earth as a baby, so that we could know and receive Him.

So, yes indeed, God can do wild things like putting a car with a certain license plate before me to remind me what He wants me to focus on at Christmas. He can do something wild like impregnating a woman, so she can give birth to His son. He did do the craziest, wildest thing of all, when thirty-something years later, that baby died in our place.

That’s what I want to keep at the center of my Christmas this year. I want to focus on His incredible love, remembering that it led Him to come so we could know Him and the salvation He offers. Because as wild as all that is…it is the truth.

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:6-11 NLT

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The Wildness of the Great I AM – encouragement from @Linda_Rooks on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda rooksAbout the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning books walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry.

Linda’s recent release, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, dives into topics such as relationship dynamics and healing, protecting children, and praying for restoration, to deciding on boundaries and learning to live with the same spouse in a new marriage, Rooks illustrates what reconciling and rebuilding a marriage looks like—and how the sweet intimacy of Christ is in the waiting.

Join the conversation: Has God ever done something “wild” for you?

 

 

Doubts? Get Back to Basics.

by Monica Schmelter @monicaschmelter

For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.  Psalm 100:5 NLT

In seasons where prayers go seemingly unanswered, you may find yourself riddled with doubts and questions. At least that’s how it is for me.

I’ve been praying over a prodigal for over ten years, and despite my fervent prayers, she continues to make excruciatingly painful choices. I find myself asking God a lot of doubt-filled questions. Why God? When God? How did we get here God?

When I think my prayers are going nowhere and questions and doubts are mounting, I find it incredibly helpful to return to the basics.

For me, that means I cease and desist with the questions, and start digging into God’s Word. As I begin reading its truths, I rediscover a Heavenly Father who is faithful and good. I am reminded that He hears every prayer. His Word assures me He is answering my cries, even if I can’t see or feel Him doing it. And as I soak in those truths, my questions and doubts dissipate.

Going back to the truth helps me to stop my faulty thinking. It inspires me to stop going off on my own and abide once again in Him.

Recently, as I struggled with my prodigal’s situation, God led me to John 15:5: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (NLT). The verse reminded me that going ahead of God, demanding that He do things my way and on my timetable, is the opposite of resting in Him. It’s counterproductive, because He is the source of anything good that can be accomplished. Remaining in Him gives me strength to live out the truth. Ultimately, I can accomplish nothing on my own.

But as vital as it is to our spiritual health, the whole remaining in Him thing is easier said than done. So I tackle that challenge in much the same way as I do those doubts and questions. I post encouraging Scriptures on paper sticky notes, on my computer screen, and my cell phone. So when challenges to trusting God resurface, I go right to those prompts to remind me of the truth, which encourages me to stay on course. It keeps me from allowing unbelief to fester.

Living out the truth is an expression of our trust and love for Jesus Christ. His Word says if we love Him, we will obey His commandments. When doubts and questions about unanswered prayers are looming, our immediate obedience might be thwarted. It’s hard to obey someone you can’t trust. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with taking our doubts and questions to God. But allowing doubts to remain unchallenged is destructive.

Are you are in a season where you’ve been praying for someone or about something for a long time without an answer? A journey back to the basics might be helpful. When you start with the truth, remain in the truth, and live out the truth, you will be much more aware of your Heavenly Father present with you and be able to lean into His goodness and faithfulness to every generation.

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Doubts? Get Back to Basics – @MonicaSchmelter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

monicaheadshot (1)

About the author: Monica Schmelter hosts the daily television show Bridges on Christian Television Network. In her spare time, she searches for delicious and decadent calorie- free chocolate. You can find out more about her on FacebookPinterestTwitter, and Instagram.

Got a junk drawer? Ever find yourself stuffing stray items in there without thinking? Monica’s book, Messy to Meaningful, will help you sift through and sort out the unnecessary spiritual things weighing you down. Stop holding on to so much junk that you can’t fit in the good things the Lord is calling you to. Monica, and co-authors Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea will take you through your junk drawer and make you laugh along the way. Find yourself some beautiful…free.

Join the conversation: What truths about God encourage you the most?

 

Grandma’s Girdle

by Christina Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grandma’s Girdle – thoughts on the armor of God from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Who in your life is an example to you? What have they taught you?

The Genuine Thing

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

Have you ever bought something from one of those television ads that promote their product as a “genuine original?” Often, they offer a certificate of authenticity to substantiate their claim, but even with that, how can you be sure you are getting the real thing?

There is a whole industry created to peddle fake ‘genuine originals’ the police call knock-offs. These fakes cost the consumer millions in fraudulent sales, and an untold amount of public trust. James, Jesus’ brother, was concerned about the same thing around 49A.D., when he wrote to first century Jewish Christians. There were a lot of people claiming to be genuine Christians, yet they lacked fruit on their tree.

So, what does this fruit look like? How can we tell a knock-off Christian spouting wisdom from the true Christian? James explains that true wisdom which comes from God is accompanied by a degree of humility, coming from a depth of character within the wise person. On the other hand, foolishness, or fake wisdom, leads to a disorder of the spirit.

God’s wisdom is identified by its purity of spirit, peace and mercy, and a considerate and submissive attitude toward others. You may have heard a Christian say, “Something just didn’t sit right with me,” after encountering someone peddling fake beliefs. Beneath the glossy exterior, they saw a lack of humility, character without depth, selfishness, and a lack of peace. That “real genuine” is a fraudulent copy of the Genuine Original, pure and holy.

Thank God today that His wisdom is so easily identifiable, now that you know what to look for. Ask God to help you spot the difference between true wisdom and the knock-offs. Ask Him to help you become wiser: pure of spirit, peace-filled, mercy-giving, considerate, and submissive so you can be a vessel for genuine, original truth.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:13-18 NIV

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The Genuine Thing – thoughts on #FollowingGod from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cheri Cowell

Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com

Cheri is also a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

Join the conversation: Have you spotted a bogus imitation of the truth lately? How did you know it was fraudulent?

Run Where Jesus Walked

by Michele McCarthy

My husband and I just returned from literally running uphill both ways where Jesus walked.

Following His footsteps required going low, beneath the current city level. Once we went low, the rest of the trip was uphill, no matter where we went! Israel is an urban mound sitting on top and old, older and finally the oldest of empires. Layers of ancient civilizations are unearthed daily as Tel (a hill with ruins within) upon Tel are explored by archaeologists. The search is ongoing day in and day out.

Up to this point, there has never been an ancient relic that has contradicted one word of Scripture. Excavating truth is a full-time business in that part of the world.

The last day of our trip we participated in an archaeological dig. Under the guidance of professionals, we sifted through buckets of dirt scooped from a street in the time of King David. Totally surreal!

Talk about the best treasure hunt EVER. I was like a kid in a candy store. We dumped small bucket contents in a box sifter, rinsed off centuries-old debris, and scavenged for ancient artifacts.

There were pottery shards, tile pieces, and several tiny bones. We turned up a small nail—the kind the Romans had on the bottom of their shoes to grip the ground. Clearly the earliest use of cleats ever!

I found a small chunk of a stone jar.

Stone, during the time of Jesus, was considered insusceptible to impurity. Stone containers were used for ritual washing. Every Jewish household would’ve had a stone vessel. Those same stone jars were used for the miracle at the Cana wedding. Even though every find stays in Israel for copious study, I smile, thinking my find could be from an important event in the time of Jesus or David.

I could have stayed all day looking through the dirt, but we headed to the airport. I wondered if I’d ever come back, perhaps as a volunteer at a dig. What a remarkable experience feeling the soil upholding Bible stories literally sliding through my fingers.

Visiting Israel was to open the Bible and step inside. Miles of desert, stone relics, the Red Sea, a 2000-year old fishing boat, the Sea of Galilee, baptism in the Jordan, and the empty tomb seared upon my heart. All sights I’ll now recall as I read the Word. The mass of history found beneath the topsoil of Israel boggles my mind. Scientists dig and dig and dig by hand until they reach Biblical time levels.

We have possession of the inspired Word of Almighty God. Do we realize the fortune we hold? Stories, songs, history—truth literally resting atop our hands. Am I as diligent to dig into God’s Word? To study it, and put the pieces together until it makes a whole?

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 HCSB).

Those centuries-old pieces of glass, nails, and stones will likely end up in a museum, proving the validity of the Bible. We can hold truth in our hands. We can have a relationship with Jesus that roars authentic louder than any historical object ever will.

But the word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:25 NIV

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Run Where Jesus Walked – insight on #FollowingGod from Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

michele mccarthyAbout the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves, reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

Michele’s book Daddy and Me, is the story of the unconditional love of the Father. It is a reminder of how important and influential our words are to children. In Daddy and Me, daddy’s form is left to the imagination. Every child is free to picture their own daddy and most importantly their heavenly Father. The Father who loves them perfectly, without reserve no matter what, while gently holding each child in His hand.

Join the conversation: What truth from God’s Word are you holding in your heart today?