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)

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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?

The Importance of Thinking Truth About Who God Is

by Grace Fox @gracelfox

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.                                                                                                                                                               Philippians 4:8

Human artists can paint a canvas, but only God can sweep and blend colors across the heavens. Every time I see the sky ablaze with red, pink, orange, and yellow, my mind is filled with awe and wonder and my heart is moved to worship. If I’m feeling discouraged about something, my heaviness lifts at the thought of this amazing God cradling me and caring about every aspect of my life.

The thoughts we think about God are the most important thing about us. That’s because they shape our beliefs. Our beliefs then influence our behaviors, and our behaviors determine our destiny.

For example, imagine facing a tough situation. A cancer diagnosis, perhaps. Or an unexpected job layoff. If we think God is truly good, then we’ll believe He cares about every detail of our circumstances. Our beliefs cause us to turn to Him for help and to trust that He hears our cries. We pray in faith believing His answer is the best answer. Even though we might not understand why He allows these circumstances, we experience inner peace for which there’s no human explanation.

Now imagine facing the same situation thinking God doesn’t give a rip. Those beliefs result in our feeling anxious, angry, and abandoned. We make fear-based decisions believing the outcome rests solely on us because, after all, God doesn’t care. Or so we think.

The Bible story about the twelve spies demonstrates this principle (Numbers 13:25-14:25). Upon their return from scoping out the Promised Land, ten spies focused on the fortified cities and the powerful giants who occupied them. “We can’t go against them!” they cried. “They’re stronger than we are!” Their discouraging reports spread throughout the Israelites who, in turn, wept all night, spoke about returning to Egypt, and plotted to stone the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb.

These spies’ thoughts about God were small. This mindset led them to believe He would allow their enemies to crush them, so they refused to do battle. Their destiny? Death.

Joshua and Caleb demonstrated a different mentality. “We can conquer the land!” they said. They believed God would fight for them and give them victory. They were eager to obey and encouraged the Israelites to do likewise. Their destiny? They entered the Promised Land.

I can identify countless situations when my behaviors reflected inaccurate thoughts about God. Like when our family entered career missions and I stressed big-time over financial uncertainty. Or when He called me to write Moving from Fear to Freedom and I argued with Him for a year because I doubted His ability to equip me for the task. Or when I gossiped, ignoring the fact that He could hear every word and knew I was dishonoring Him. Goodness, my list could go on forever.

By human nature, our thoughts about God are often small and inaccurate. Those thoughts influence our beliefs and behaviors and ultimately determine our destiny. If we want God’s blessing, then we need to fill our minds with the truth about who He is and live from that truth.

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The Importance of Thinking Truth About Who God Is – insight from @GraceLFox on @AriseDailyDevo (click to Tweet)

Grace FoxAbout the author: Grace Fox is the author of nine books. She’s an annual contributor to Mornings With Jesus (Guideposts Books) and a member of the writing team for “First 5”—a Bible study app produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Grace’s book, Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation, will not only show you how to face your fears but to actually let fear be a catalyst for change. Learn how to stop hiding from God develop a deeper relationship with Him by experiencing Him in new ways.

Join the conversation: What is the most meaningful thing about God that you know?

How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

by Debbie W. Wilson

Who hasn’t experienced negative self-talk? Years ago, a knowledgeable guide delighted our group of moms and kids on a fieldtrip to a local historic site. But I sensed her emptiness and wanted to talk to her about the Lord. My conversation didn’t go as I’d hoped.

Accusations pelted me as I drove away, “Why did you say that? You really botched an opportunity. You’re a poor excuse for a Christian.”

Have you ever left a conversation where you wanted to help someone know God better and been besieged by negative thoughts? Or maybe you attended a Bible study and left feeling like you shouldn’t have opened your mouth.

Have you ever wondered what’s up with that?

The Bible says, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephes. 6:12 NIV). We have an enemy who doesn’t want people to know the truth about God. When we try to grow closer to Him or tell others about Him we invite spiritual attacks. This knowledge shouldn’t scare us but prepare us.

Paul told us how to win the battle in our minds: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 NIV).

Here are two filters to help you recognize and defeat damaging self-talk.

Know the truth. Those trained to identify counterfeit money study real money. The better we know the truth the quicker we’ll discern lies. God’s Word is truth. Notice the difference between what Satan said to Jesus and what the Father said about Jesus.

Satan: “If you are the Son of God…” The Father: “This is my dearly loved Son.”

Do you know what the Father has said about you? Do you know the truth about how He sees you? When we know the truth we’ll recognize the lies.

Know the Shepherd’s Voice It’s not enough to know what the Bible says. We must know the character of the One who wrote it.

Satan knows the Bible better than we do. He quoted Psalm 91 to tempt Jesus. But Jesus knew Scripture was never intended to tempt, harm, or condemn God’s children. God’s word corrects, comforts, instructs, and strengthens us.

Do you hear a harsh tone when you read the Bible? Are your thoughts condemning and accusing? That is not the voice of our gentle Shepherd. The better we know our shepherd’s voice the quicker we’ll take every thought captive.

The better we know Jesus, the quicker we discern and defeat our enemy.

We must learn to filter our thoughts. Ideas that argue against the truth or don’t line up with our Shepherd’s voice must be captured and made to submit to Him.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27 NIV).

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever engaged in negative self-talk after a conversation or contributing to a group discussion?

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Fighting the Impossible

by Janet Perez Eckles

One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”                                                                                                                             Job 1:6-7 NIV

Did he say the earth? Gulp. Friend, you and I are on that same earth on which he roams. And we need to watch out because “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).

He’s probably licking his lips, staring at us. And when we’re alone, seated on our bed of self-pity, surrounded by walls of gloom, lamenting our impossible situations, we become more appetizing. We’re more appealing because we’re weighed down by negativity. And we’re weakened by moments of hopelessness.

I’ve been there. And unaware of what an inviting prey I was, I was soon to be his spiritual lunch.

The giant I faced towered over me, reminding me of my frailty, whispering I was defenseless.

That’s the place the enemy wants us, mired in defeat and deceived in thinking that victory will only come when the impossible problem would be removed.

David faced that kind of giant. And like you and I, David probably had to shoo off the enemy’s lies: that problem is too big, destruction is inevitable, the pain will be fierce, or you are doomed to lose. The enemy also presented opposition from all sides: his brothers doubted David’s abilities, King Saul scratched his head in bewilderment, and when Goliath saw David’s size, he laughed.

But God smiled … and prompted David to shed the armor King Saul had given him.

The metals and chains were way too cumbersome for his thin body. Armed with a simple slingshot and a handful of stones, He trusted in a power outside himself: the faithful competence of the Living God.

Have you faced a giant looming over you? One that mocks your courage and laughs at your faith? The lies that say your 2-inch faith is no match for the 9-foot giant of impossibilities? The deception that promises you’ll never see relief, healing or triumph?

We’ve all faced that at one time or another. And in desperation we mistakenly slip on the wrong kind of armor—our own abilities, wisdom, and solutions. But as we drag ourselves toward the battlefield, we find that human armor hinders us. It’s too heavy with pride.

That’s when you and I do what David did. We shed that wrong armor and pull out our best weapon instead. It’s the gigantic love God has for us that must fuel our courage. That’s why 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” (1 Samuel 17: 45 NIV).

Did you read that? The God David spoke about is not just any god. He’s the Lord almighty, creator of the universe, and immensely powerful.

Troubles can come from all sides bearing the sword of anguish, the spear of anxiety and the javelin of fear. But you and I come in the name of the Lord–with confidence, with resolve and trust that through Christ, the victory is already won.

And holding the smooth stones of faith, bearing the spiritual weapon of God’s faithfulness, we can face any giant of impossibility in the name of the Lord.

I had to make that choice. When my son was killed, I heard the lie that I would never find peace again. But the giant’s lies are no match for God’s truth, that God’s restoring power could heal that which seared, restore what was broken, and defeat the giant who threatened my peace.

To us, our problems can seem gigantic, but to God they are minuscule. They’re big when we see them with human eyes. They shrink when we see them through Christ’s eyes. And as we gaze at our problem we have a choice: either to live hoping for blessings, or to bless the hope we already have in Christ.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.     1 John 4:4 NIV

janet perez ecklesAbout the author: Blindness tried to darken her life, but Janet Perez Eckles became an international speaker, best-selling author, personal success coach, radio host and best playmate to her grandchildren. Her books include Contagious Courage: a Thirty Day Journey to Overcoming Stress and Anxiety and Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta. You can learn more about Janet at www.janetperezeckles.com.

Join the conversation: What giants are you facing? What lies are you hearing about your situation? What are the truths that will silence them?

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The More We Learn, the Less We Know

by Deb DeArmond

Have you ever observed the evolution of how our children think about us as they move through life? The story goes like this…….

  • At age 5, the little boy says, “That’s my dad! He’s the smartest man in the whole world.
  • At 10 years old, he says, “That’s my dad. He’s a really smart guy!”
  • The pre-teen at 12 says, “My dad is okay.”
  • At 15, he warns, “That’s my dad. He’s a total idiot – just ignore him.”
  • At 20, he says, “My dad’s not a total loser.”
  • At 30, the young man says, “My dad might know.”
  • At 40, the adult son says, “I’m gonna ask my dad what he thinks.”
  • “I’m not making a decision till I talk to my old man,” the mid-life man of 50 says.
  • At 60, he says sadly, “Man I wish my dad was still alive. He’d know what to do.”

If you’ve ever been down this road with your children, you know it can be a challenging place. As teenagers, kids really do believe they know all that needs to be known. You have to be a lot older to know what you don’t know.

How does that happen? As youth, our sphere of life is very limited. And then life happens and moves us beyond our zone of the familiar. Maturity develops from the lessons that our mistakes teach us.  And at some point, we get that flash of understanding: I know very little and have so much growing left to do.

 The more we learn, the greater our realization is of how much we still don’t know.

The Word of God warns us to be careful about self-aggrandizing assessments:

“What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever” Isaiah 5:21 (NLT).

“There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise” Proverbs 26:12 (NLT).

“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others” Proverbs 12:15 (NLT).

“At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike” Matthew 11:25 (NLT).

Just as it blesses us as parents when our children seek knowledge and are open to learning, the same is true with our Heavenly Father. A teachable spirit, one that desires wisdom, blesses Him. And as we grow in the knowledge of Him, the more we realize there is much still to learn.

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.   1 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the author: Deb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: When did you reach the understanding of how much more there was to learn?

 

He Loves Ewe! Help from the Good Shepherd

by Pam Farrel

I am a true Bo Peep. I was a fourth generation shepherd, growing up on a Suffolk sheep farm in Idaho. If there is something I am familiar with, it is sheep! So when I read Psalms 23, one of the most familiar of all Psalms, it is very personal, encouraging and comforting.

You may also need comfort or encouragement in your own life right now. There are a few qualities of Your Good Shepherd that might encourage you, especially if you are feeling like you are traveling through the “valley of the shadow of death”.

The Shepherd is Personal

For example, the Psalmist’s opening line of “the Lord is my shepherd” became more precious when I became a shepherdess. The relationship between a lamb and a Shepherd can be a very close, caring, and even sometimes, an affectionate one. For example, my first 4-H lamb was a “bummer”, meaning the mother had rejected or abandoned her own offspring. These kinds of lambs need extra attention, so I feed my little lambie with a bottle twice a day, holding her in my arms like a baby. I carded her wool, I hand feed her grain, I walked her, and yes, I talked to her. On cold nights, I tucked her into a warm pen and if I heard howling wild dogs or coyotes, I got up to go out to check on her. I named her, “Bunny” because when she wasn’t in my arms, she would delight herself jumping from rock to rock in our pasture. Ours was an “everywhere that Pammy went her lamb was sure to go” kind of relationship.

The Shepherd is a Protector

It is the picture of my grandfather, father, and brother’s vigilance that I carry in my mind as what a truly protective good shepherd is like. Ravenous coyotes, wolves, and wild dogs roamed the vast expanse of high desert in the area our family farm was located. These savage dogs would attack and kill whole flocks of sheep in a single night. To help keep our sheep safe, we placed collars with bells on them. If we heard an occasional gentle chime, we knew our sheep were simply grazing calmly, but if we heard a cacophony of loud jingling, we knew the wild dogs were near by threatening an attack.

To protect the sheep, the men in my family would take turns staying in the pasture with the sheep. They would wrap themselves in a down sleeping bag with their “rod and staff” within arm’s reach. It was a cold, uncomfortable, thankless job, but it saved the lives of our entire flock of sheep and their lambs. To this day, when I picture my God as my Good Shepherd, I see him as my strong, powerful, and attentive protector.

The Shepherd is a Provider

When I read, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” that is exactly the experience of my upbringing.  I would often walk barefoot through the deep, lush, green grass of the pasture, as the sheep serenely grazed. I would take a blanket and a Bible and lie down and spend quiet hours communing with God. I might walk over to the creek and sit on the simple wooden plank bridge and sit and rest quietly, dipping my toes into the cool stream. This was my place of solace and restoration, far away from the chaos my alcoholic, raging, earthly father might be creating in our small farm house. To this day, resting in an open meadow, or the sound of gently tinkling chimes, remind me of the restorative rest the Good Shepherd can create even in the midst of chaos.

The Shepherd Is a Pursuer

As I have followed my Good Shepherd, I have seen how “goodness and mercy” has surely followed me  the days of my life.  One could phrase the meaning of “goodness and mercy” as something good, pleasant, beneficial, desirable, and best. Our Good Shepherd pursues us in  faithful love to give us these things.

I was going through one of my most challenging years of my life when my friend Jean asked me to co-author Discovering Hope in the Psalms. My Shepherd sent such goodness and mercy because He knew I needed to dwell in the green pastures of His hope-filled Word to survive what I was facing.

With the Shepherd, we can walk through the darkest valley without fear because the Good Shepherd sees his sheep, knows his sheep, and cares for each and every one of his sheep…including you!

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…I know my own and my own know me.”   John 10:11, 14 NASB

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 attribute of the Shepherd do you need to hold on to hope?

Photo by Sam Loyd on Unsplash

I Have Spiritual Dementia

by Kathy Collard Miller

My 91-year-old mother-in-law, Audrey, wagged her finger at me, exclaiming, “I still can’t believe you did that, Kathy. You dropped me off yesterday several blocks from here and I had to walk all that way in the hot sun. You are so mean.”

I was stunned how to answer. Of course, I hadn’t done that, but because of her dementia, she believed it to be true. She had a form of dementia called Lewy-Bodies and with that came paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

In that journey of caring for her, my husband and I learned a lot. And to my shock and dismay, I learned that in many ways, I have spiritual dementia. I am like Audrey in many ways—within my spirit and soul.

Audrey had delusions which were very real to her. That day I supposedly made her walk in the sun actually happened in her mind. She either dreamed it or envisioned it, but to her, it was real. Nothing Larry and I said ever changed her mind about anything. Even if we offered “proof” of what we were saying—the truth—it had no effect on her. She couldn’t even entertain another perspective. Her mind was deceived by the dementia.

That was very frustrating to us though we learned to largely let it go. In the beginning we kept thinking if we would just tell her the truth, it would make a difference. At one point, she believed  her second husband killed his first wife so that he could marry her and steal her money. Of course, she had only been married once to Larry’s dad and the money they’d acquired came from him working until he retired. He had passed away four years earlier.

But if we were to show her their marriage certificate revealing the date they married—proving there was no time for her to have had a “first” husband—she wouldn’t accept it.

I knew the Lord was speaking to me as I saw her rejecting truth—that I can be just like her. I am faced with spiritual truth constantly, and some of it I reject. I read the Bible and mentally cast away anything that is not within my already determined theology.

Most of the time, I don’t even realize I’m doing this. I just neatly categorize something that isn’t comfortable as “not necessary.” It’s not that I’m saying it’s wrong, it’s just not relevant to me. I can discard it.

In living through Audrey’s “example,” I began to evaluate more carefully: am I casting away truth? Am I rejecting God’s ideas because of a spiritual dementia that can’t acknowledge I don’t know everything?

Audrey was blocked by a disease that made it impossible for her to believe the truth. But I can choose the truth. I can ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten me and empower me to receive the truth. I’m so glad nothing is impossible, even my mind being transformed by my great God.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 ESV

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is a wife of one (for almost 50 years), mom of two, grandmother of two, speaker, author and lay-counselor. She and Larry live in Southern California. Her newest book is her story of God’s deliverance over being an abuse mom and about God’s healing of their marriage: No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom. Kathy has shared her story world-wide and on The 700 Club. www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51ORMj3+bSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Kathy’s book, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom, 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: Do you have spiritual dementia? What truths have you unconsciously avoided in the past?