A Scary Prayer

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

Some years ago, I attended a three-day conference for Christian speakers. The sessions covered things like techniques and presentation styles, how to do outlines, and how to engage your audience. Every afternoon, we broke into small groups to practice what we were learning. We evaluated our peers on delivery, personality, body language, and more.

On the final day of the conference, we delivered our most important presentation. Not only did our group leader evaluate us, but the founder of the training organization also popped into various groups at different times. I wasn’t overly nervous, but when my turn came, SHE walked in the room and sat down. My speaking ability would be evaluated by my peers, my group leader, and the very experienced founder of the organization.

I felt exposed and vulnerable. What would SHE think? What flaw would she spot? What weakness would she discern? As it turned out, she was very encouraging and helpful. But she couldn’t see everything about me. She didn’t know my insecurities, my failings, or my motivations.

What about you? Have you ever been evaluated? Maybe it was in a speech class, piano recital, or a yearly job performance review. We’ve all faced an evaluation at some point. But we don’t usually ask for it. We don’t often initiate the scrutiny.

But that’s exactly what the psalmist David did. And it wasn’t just some other lowly human he invited to take a really close look. Nope. David asked God Almighty, the One who knows all and sees all, to thoroughly examine his heart and mind.

That sounds super scary to me. I know God knows it all already, but to purposefully make myself so incredibly vulnerable… That’s like one of those dreams where you walk into a room full of people only to discover you wore your birthday suit.

But here’s the thing. God is totally faithful. Completely trustworthy. He wants only the best for us. He desires for us to grow into our full potential so we can be useful and effective for His good purposes. That requires spiritual refinement, transformation, and growth. It requires getting rid of all our junk and replacing it with Jesus.

This prayer, modeled by David, expresses a willingness to be laid completely bare before the Father. To invite His examination and scrutiny of our inner self. Every thought in our minds. Every inclination of our hearts. Every motivation. Every passion.

But if we are going to trust anyone with our lives, with ourselves, shouldn’t it be God? He already knows us better than we know ourselves. Let’s allow Him to have His way. Scary, yes. But also glorious and miraculous. Search me O God.

A Scary Prayer – encouragement and insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. She encourages women to get into God’s Word for themselves in order to build an unshakable faith that will stand firm through all the trials of life. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters in Religious Education and a certificate in Women’s Ministry from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 8 books and Bible studies, including “Lavish Grace” and “30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.” She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her “mostly retired” husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and three dogs – one of them on purpose. She provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.

Join the conversation: Have you ever prayed this prayer? Does the thought scare you a little?

Things I Otter Do

by Sheri Schofield

The first time I heard of the playful otters, I thought of my grandmother. She grew up in Arkansas and had a southern accent with a faint “r” sound at the end of certain words. She often used “ought” to suggest a course of action to our family. Her advice would begin with, “We ought ter do this . . .” Otter. So of course, I associated that little sea creature with her!

During the past decade since my daughter moved to Alaska, I’ve learned a lot of fascinating things about wildlife in the far north. The sweetest thing I’ve heard is about otters. These little creatures hunt in the ocean. When they get sleepy and need a nap, they find a friend and hold hands. This keeps them from drifting away from the group. Sometimes their groups have hundreds of otters, all holding hands, napping peacefully! Scientists call this a “raft”. In this way, the otters protect one another when they are the most vulnerable.

Those little darlings are onto something very special! They are worth mimicking. So in the year ahead, I’d like to take a moment to think of a couple of things I “otter” do.

Jesus provided a great foundation on this subject. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 NIV

 That kind of love is very hard to duplicate! What would that even look like? I’m not sure, but one thing it might mean is that I ought to listen to others better and extend more compassion, because listening with compassion demands that I put myself in other people’s shoes, to see with their eyes and feel with their hearts. It means dying to myself for the sake of entering into another person’s joys and sorrows.

Yes, both joys and sorrows! I know it is easier to feel another’s pain than it is to feel their joy. But joy must be shared if it is to last. I’m fairly quick to reach out my hand to comfort another. But when they are rejoicing? I nod, smile, listen for a few moments then move on. Too many times I forget that joy gives people strength to endure the hard things in life that we all suffer. I ought to do the happy dance with them!

The Apostle Paul gave us some great “Otter Verses”:

 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT

Doesn’t that sound like “raft” building?

Many believers are growing weary of the battle between good and evil. We often hear of other Christians around the world who are driven out of their homes or killed because of their faith. Here in the United States, we are struggling to preserve freedom to believe and worship as we choose, for we can see what happens when that freedom is lost.

This is a moment in time when we need to hold onto God for faith and strength, a time when we ought to be holding onto one another so that we do not drift away on the ocean of life, alone and vulnerable. So here’s my hand. Let’s make a raft!

Things I Otter Do – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Sheri’s book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: What ways have you found to “hold hands” with fellow believers?

Power On

by Nan Corbitt Allen

I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven.  Ephesians 1:19-20 NASB

Last fall, most of my extended family, who live in the Florida Panhandle, were unwelcoming hosts to a despicable guy named Michael.

Hurricane Michael.

I watched on TV the path of this huge storm and started praying (and worrying) about them as soon as I discovered that their town was being targeted by this Category 5 storm, packing 160 mph force winds. Though they are inland 60 miles, the eye and the outer bands of the storm were aiming right at them, threatening to devour them.

They were hit hard. Roofs went flying, and gaping holes were left by falling trees allowing in the torrents that all but destroyed drywall, carpet, and flooring. The water left behind mold, muck, and mud. It was not only frightening, but the aftermath was disgusting.

Of course, the electricity went out—and stayed out for weeks. My family can tell you exactly not only how many weeks, but hours, seconds, and milliseconds they were powerless. Some had generators which got its power from gasoline, which eventually became scarce, but even those generators provided a very limited amount of power at best.

This event made me, and them, aware that we are entirely dependent on someone else for our power. And not just the kind that turns on our lights and keeps our refrigerators running. As believers we have the privilege of drawing our daily power from the Lord. In Philippians 3:10, Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.” (NASB)

The Scripture at the top of this page says that the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is available to us, and not just when we die. What could be better than that!

Henry and Melvin Blackaby wrote in their book Experiencing the Resurrection: The Everyday Encounter that Changes Your Life “Your hope of the resurrection isn’t just for the future when you physically die and go to heaven; it’s also for now, while you’re living on earth …”[1]

Yes, the same power that breathed new life into the dead body of God’s Son is available to us. But realize that God won’t necessarily force this power upon us. Sometimes He allows us to be in vulnerable, powerless situations, but it’s up to us whether we’re going to accept it or not. The first step to accessing God’s power is recognizing that we’re powerless. Often it’s the difference between commitment (imposing our own power into a situation) and surrender (admitting that we are powerless and calling on Him to be our strength).

The Apostle Paul refers to a “thorn in his flesh” that he endured “…to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!” There is conjecture about what the metaphorical thorn was, but Paul saw it as a hindrance and he asked God on several occasions to remove it.

But God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB)

Draw power everyday by surrendering to the resurrected One who can switch it on for you.

[1] Blackaby, Henry, Melvin ©  Random House, 2007

Power On – Thoughts on #FollowingGod 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: Have you experienced the resurrection power available to you?