Let’s Play “Name That Problem”!

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Mark 5:15 ESV

From a human perspective, facing thousands of demons controlling one man would propel us to run the other way screaming in terror. But in the story of the demonized man living in the tombs, Jesus calmly, confidently and accurately responds to this man … repeatedly.

That’s what surprises us. We aren’t surprised Jesus tells the demons, “come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” (Mark 5:8 ESV). What surprises us is that the demons didn’t leave immediately until Jesus asks, “What is your name?”

The reply? “My name is Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5:9 ESV).

In the Roman army, a legion can have 6,000 men or more. Since we know the outcast demons inhabit over 2,000 pigs, we know there are indeed many of them.

The verb tense used in the story suggests Jesus “was saying” for the demon to leave, indicating ongoing instruction. We don’t know why the spirits don’t leave immediately but we can surely relate.

When you and I are bombarded with an ongoing problem, we might begin to think God’s power has been depleted or He’s waiting around for replenishment. Of course, in our minds we know that’s not true, but our hearts are impatient, and we begin to feel hopeless and overwhelmed. That’s when we need to remember what Jesus did… Jesus asks for the demon’s name.

I remember a time in my life when I felt like I couldn’t begin to name all the problems I faced. Yet during prayer, I felt led to begin writing them down. I began and then couldn’t think of that many. “But God, I feel like there are so many, yet I can only identify five.” Once I’d written down the five and put them on the altar before the Lord, they didn’t seem as paralyzing. I was shocked.

Sometimes we need to play “Name That Problem!” Worry often overwhelms us because the swirl of uncertainty, panic, and helplessness is unidentified. We need to clarify what is bothering us by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the lies we are believing about the problem and then counter it with who God is. Then we can combat the lie by identifying the characteristic of Jesus’s nature which will strengthen us to trust him.

We can remind ourselves Jesus is faithful, powerful, wise, attentive…so many to choose from.

As we think back to the story, the air is filled with tension and people’s doubts. (Sound familiar?) Then the impossible occurs. The man is delivered! Even though the townspeople have tried to contain this dangerous man with chains and shackles that have proved powerless, Jesus persists and overcomes the demon with the intimidating “name.”

Throughout all of this, Jesus doesn’t have a single moment of confusion, doubt, or troubling thought, even when the demons resisted Him.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, identify the problem(s) and the lies bolstering the panic. Call upon the ultimate Name of all Names, your Lord Jesus Christ. Whether you have one problem or a “legion,” they can be brought into submission, like the demon-possessed man, “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15 ESV).

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to share the truths of Scripture with practical insights giving glory to God. She is the author of over 55 books and a speaker who has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US states. One of her many books is

Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries. She married her high school sweetheart, Larry, in 1970, and they have two children and two grandchildren, and live in Southern California. Kathy and Larry often minister together in their writing and speaking. Reach her: https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What lies about your situation have you believed in the past?

The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29-30 NLT

Four baby barn swallows peered over the edge of the mud nest on a wall in a corner of our patio, eagerly waiting for their mother to return with breakfast. I had a really good view of the feathered family from my bedroom window. “This is going to be great,” I thought. “I can watch them grow, learn to fly, and leave the nest.” Like my own empty nest, the experience would be bittersweet, but exciting.

Then I remembered the beast. Our ninety-pound yellow lab dominates the back yard. Did the baby birds have a chance against a dog that pulls trees up by the roots? Maybe it would be better for the babies to never leave the nest. The mama bird could continue to feed them. Of course, the daddy bird would have to build an addition to the nest…

Two days later I stood at the bedroom window again. One baby clung to the edge of the nest and one was perched beside it on a brick that jutted out from the wall. It was time for flying lessons! Mother Swallow called to them from atop a blade of the patio ceiling fan about five feet away.

The beast lay on his side by the back door seemingly unaware of the unfolding drama. The baby on the brick hopped off into space, untested wings flapping. He dipped low, coming within eighteen inches of the ground. I held my breath. The beast slept on. Then the baby’s wings caught air, and he awkwardly joined his mother on the fan blade. Whew! One down, three to go.

Within a few days, all four baby birds had successfully learned to fly. At first they only flew to the ceiling fan, then back to the nest. As the days went by, they became a little more adventurous, visiting the roof and the large tree beyond the patio. Then one day they were gone. The nest stayed empty. Their mother had done her job, and they were on their own.

All three of our babies have tried their wings and left the nest. Even now, I worry about what could happen to them outside the nest. Will they watch out for those “big yellow labs?”

Now more than ever, this world is filled with things we could worry about. Most of which we have absolutely no control over. But the glorious thing is, I know someone who has full control, absolute sovereignty. The Creator is still and forever on His throne.

As Jesus reminded us in Matthew, nothing happens to a single sparrow without God’s knowledge. If He cares that much for a sparrow, how much more does He care for my children? For yours? They are worth more than many sparrows.

Summer is a time of transition. It’s filled with transitions like graduations and children planning to leave the nest. Give your worry to God and cling to His promises. Then watch from the fan blade with squawks of encouragement.

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The Birds, the Beast, and an Empty Nest – encouragement from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy Howard

About 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: Is there a transition going on in your life? How are you doing with it?

Look Up, Child!

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head.                                                                                                                                                        Psalm 3:3 NASB

I was having trouble sleeping at night. Over the past several weeks, the world had become a very dark place. Headlines continually warned of thousands dying and the crumbling economy. Anger aimed from one side of the related issues toward the other was rampant all over the internet. How would this all end?

At one point in his life, King David struggled with grim circumstances. His son, Absalom, had staged a coup in an effort to take the throne. He’d rallied tens of thousands of citizens to his support and was now a viable threat to David’s reign and life.

Upon hearing the news, David gathered his household and fled the city. Among them were the Levites, carrying the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle.

When they came to the natural border at the Brook Kidron, David sent the Ark back into the city. The rest of the group passed over the water and started up the mountainside on their way to the wilderness, where they would go into hiding and wait for word from sympathizers remaining behind.

Upon seeing David’s entourage pass by, a man named Shemei came out of his house, shouting curses and throwing stones in disgust. “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless scum! The Lord has returned on you all of the bloodshed you caused the house of Saul and has given the kingdom into the hand of your son. You are only getting what you deserve!” (my paraphrase of 2 Samuel 16:7-8).

David no longer had the Ark, the physical representation of the presence of the Lord.  The malevolence of his son (whom he still loved), the rejection of his countrymen, and the loss of his throne was completely devastating. David and his entourage wept in despair as they continued to trudge up the mountainside, with heads covered and feet bare.

He was sick with grief and fear. In desperation, he called out to God with Psalm 3. “O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head.” (Psalm 3:1-3 NASB)

As David looked around at ground level, there was no hope to be found. His adversaries were increasing. People were saying that God was not on David’s side. But that was only what David could see. So he called to the Lifter of his head.

In response, God lifted David’s gaze to the many times He had previously come through for David. Many times in the wilderness, God had protected him from King Saul, who sought to destroy him. He’d rescued David from invading enemies during his reign as king.

it was a needed reminder: God blesses the people who take refuge in Him.

As David raised his gaze, he also remembered the character and power of God. With that reassurance, he then knew there was no reason to doubt God now. So on that terrible night, as he lay down his head, David was able to sleep in peace.

As I struggled to sleep, I thought about Psalm 3. I decided to make a list of the things I continued to fret over while in quarantine, things I had not yet surrendered to God. When I did, I found every item on my list of concerns was fear-based: insecurity about family members and their situations, money issues, concern about the future of our country and way of life. How could I let it all go?

I needed to appeal to the lifter of my head. And put my gaze where it belonged. Not on what I could see, but on the unseen powerful and merciful God.

What is keeping you up at night? Covid-19 fears? Insecurity about your financial future? Concern for the health and safety of your loved ones? What do you think the Lord would say to you?

Look up, child. When we look up, we remember what’s temporary and what eternal glory we will one day see. We remember a God who is powerful, working every situation to further His plan for the world. We remember the big picture.

We don’t need to fear. We just need to keep looking up.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB 

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Look Up, Child! – encouragement when life is hard from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What is weighing you down today?

 

Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I’m not going to lie, I allowed my kids to make a few bad hair decisions as they were growing up. I did it for two reasons. 1) I knew I would be able to show them the pictures years later and tease them mercilessly, and 2) if everything was all hair perfection for them growing up, how would they ever learn to be funny?

May I say now, “well-done, me.” Because I have pictures. And the laughter is very satisfying. And also, all my kids are hilarious.

I’m also big enough to admit that sometimes when we look at those pictures, the bad hair is mine. I’d rather call it a bad mousse day. Or as I’ve come to more often refer to it, “Serendipity-Do”—since I never knew exactly how that hair would turn out. Or how the gel would come off.

When I say that I’m big enough to admit it, sometimes I mean my hair was big enough. Big enough for whatever. Oh my, the sheer “bigness” of that hair. I look at the photos of those three-story bangs and wonder how it all held up without girders and trusses. I think the highest hair stood with a lot of teasing, spraying, wishing and even more worrying. Plus another jar and a half of the gel-mousse-plaster-of-Paris of the day.

Back then I also worried on windy days that those bangs might accidentally achieve enough thrust, drag, weight, lift and hairspray to fly me a couple of counties over. Oh the worries of heavy-duty aerodynamic bangs (hair-o-dynamic?). It’s enough to…well…make your hair stand on end. Or turn it gray.

Worry in all aspects of life can be as sticky as cheap mousse. It’s even sneaky. I often convince myself that worry works. After all, most of the things I worry about don’t happen. Doesn’t that mean it’s working?

Even in all its slick sneakiness, there’s something we can do with worry. When we feel we’re coming unglued (not a hair reference), and we don’t know what to do, we have a choice. We can trade in that worry. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (Philippians 4:6, CSB).

Trading worry for prayer, petition and thanksgiving? It’s the most amazing exchange. And you’re not even going to believe what comes along with it. A gloriously unexpected peace. We’re told about it in the very next verse. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, CSB). A heart-and-mind-guarding peace straight from Jesus Himself!

Seeking Jesus—heart and mind on Him—is the key. He said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow.” He preceded that command with, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33, CSB). When His peace rules, the fears that seem three stories tall one minute, appear appropriately minuscule the next. Is there any worry—anything at all—that can stand up against the perfect peace of God?

God’s peace has proven its ability to stand up against the biggest heartbreaks, the highest life-threats, or even the smallest and goofiest hair events—even events with pictures.

On the pics topic, I’m backing off my kids a hair. Possibly because for every shot I take at one of their styles, they can always pull out a Glamour Shot of mine.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.                                                                                                 Isaiah 41:10 NASB

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Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head – Encouragement from @RhondaRhea (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-CaffeinatedWhen the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. 

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep your worrying under control?

 

Learning to Listen Well

by Natalie Flake Ford @tearstojoy

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Panic. Dread. Unprecedented Fear. These words describe the emotional turmoil in the car just moments before my daughter’s first driving lesson. After a quick prayer, I gently instructed her on keeping between the lines as well as knowing when to brake and when to speed up. As I did this, my anxious feelings slowly began to dissipate. Peace and calm gradually replaced my fear and anxiety.

In order for my daughter to drive well, we had to turn off distractions (cell phones and radio). As she listened intently to my voice and worked diligently to obey my commands, she gradually learned to drive.

God wants the same for us in our daily lives. Too often distractions drown out his still, quiet voice until we are consumed with doing what the world deems important. The result is becoming preoccupied with worry. Henry Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and psychologist, wrote, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.”

If we want to walk in obedience to Christ, we have to remove distractions so that we can focus on His voice. This is easier said than done. Silence can be uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I get quiet, my mind starts to race. I obsess over my to-do list and struggle with the urge to “do something.” If I am quiet long enough, anxieties, fears, hurtful memories, anger, and pain threaten to consume me.

Uncomfortable with these feelings, I want to stop this “inner chat” and hide in busyness. But to do so would mean missing God’s voice and the peace He offers. When we are still before Him, the Holy Spirit does a healing work in the deep recesses of our heart and soul.

One of my seminary professors required that we spend three hours alone with the Lord. Honestly, I dreaded this assignment and thought it to be a waste of time. But out of obligation, I gathered my Bible, a hymnal, a journal, and my guitar and headed for a local state park.

In the beginning, it felt awkward. My mind wandered, and I continually fought to bring it back to the Word. But as I disciplined myself to be still, I experienced one of the sweetest, most intimate times with the Lord that I’ve ever had. I left that park different than when I arrived. I was filled with contentment, peace, and joy, even though my circumstances remained the same.

Spending three hours alone with God daily is not realistic for most of us. But we can make finding quiet moments a priority, whether it be the few minutes before we get out of bed, turning off the radio in the car, or meditating on the Word during our quiet times.

Consider scheduling time in your calendar for solitude and don’t let anything change that appointment. Get up early on Sundays and spend time preparing your heart for worship — maybe even go to the Church and find a quiet place to pray and listen.

Solitude is not easy. It is awkward at first, but it has the potential to radically sanctify us and make us more like Christ. If Jesus was always intently listening to the Father, how much more do we need to do the same?

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Learning to Listen Well – insight from Natalie Flake Ford, @TearsToJoy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Natailie Ford headshotAbout the author: Natalie Flake Ford teaches counseling and psychology at Truett McConnell University.  She is also a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Ford is passionate about missions and lives to make Jesus known.

In her book, Tears to Joy, Natalie details the tribulations of dealing with mental illness. Debunking stigma and presenting practical advice, she offers hope to those who have dealt with a loved one’s mental illness or suicide, even to those who have struggled with it themselves.

Join the conversation: How do you manage to incorporate solitude into your life?

Kicking Out Worry

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27 NIV

Is worry the unwelcome guest in your home?

Worry can stress you out, damage your family relationships, and ultimately give you an ulcer.

And the dangerous thing about worry is that it creeps into our lives gradually and makes its home with us before we notice it’s there. It usually enters our front door in the form of two words: What if?

What if I lose my job?

What if I can’t pay this?

What if it’s not benign?

What if my worst fear is realized?

But you don’t have to live with worry anymore. At the root of our “what if” questions and greatest fears is what you and I really believe about God’s character. When our minds play through the various what ifs, the question we are really asking is “What if God isn’t able?” “What if God isn’t good?” “What if God can’t handle this?”

And that is not an attitude, question, or mindset I want dwelling in my home. And I don’t think you do either.

So, it’s time to kick it out the door.

God’s Word tells us: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 CSB).

As you and I give God all of our what ifs and worries He can calm our hearts and remind us that He is in absolute control. Then His peace comes to dwell with us, instead of those fearful thoughts.

When you and I trust God with what is closest to our hearts, we are saying “You, God, are capable. You are trustworthy. And all my worries and what ifs are in vain.”

We are also saying to those around us: “I trust God will work this out in your life and mine,” modeling trust and faith before them.

Give God your concerns today and by doing so, you’ll be kicking worry out of your home and welcoming a new family member: trust.

Lord, my worry factor is directly related to how well I know You. When I truly know You and understand all that You are capable of, I can’t help but trust You. Grow my faith and my relationship with You so I can know You intimately.  There is no more room for worry in my life. Only trust.

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Kicking Out Worry – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books. For more on her books and ministry, or to see if her coaching services can help you write your next book, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Every mom is concerned about her children and teenagers. But when does legitimate care cross the line into fear and worry, which Scripture commands us to avoid? 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom will start you on the path to worry-free parenting and a positive relationship between you and your kids.

Join the conversation: What characteristic about God is most helpful to you when you start to worry?

Got Stress?

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8).

What stresses you out?

Knowing there’s a misunderstanding that you’re not able to clear up?

Wondering about something that hasn’t yet happened?

Hearing a half-truth that was said about you and not being able to defend yourself?

Looking at your finances and trying to figure out how to make it all work?

Stress is clearly a result of worrying about what might be, dwelling on something that isn’t true, or being anxious about something we can’t change. And God doesn’t want you to stress. Stress and anxiety sends a message to Him and everyone else that He is not capable.

You and I don’t consciously think that, nor would we actually say that to others, but our actions display it every time we wring our hands, pull out our hair, or need to leave the room to let off steam.

In Philippians 4:8, we are told to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. That means we are not to dwell on what hasn’t yet happened, the worst of what might happen, or what we’ll do if something doesn’t happen.

We are to live in the here and now and experience Christ’s peace in it. Not in the what ifs of tomorrow and worry about what we can’t control.

In Philippians 1:27, followers of Christ are instructed to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” regardless of your circumstances. In fact, in the New International Version that verse is preceded by the words “whatever happens.”

Whatever arrives in the mail. Whatever is said to you at work, whether you deserved it or not. Whatever your bank account says. Whatever comes your way in any given day, you and I are to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

The Gospel of Christ proclaims that Jesus is capable. Our stress says He’s not.

Whatever happens, whatever comes to your mind to cause you to worry, whatever stresses you out, live a life worthy of Christ by dwelling on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, and lovely. As you do, you’ll experience God’s peace, not worry and stress.

Lord, when I begin to fear, worry or stress, help me to say aloud the word “whatever” – knowing that whatever happens, You are in absolute control.

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Got Stress? – Thoughts on God’s Peace from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, or to see if her coaching services can help you write your next book, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, Women on the Edge: Turning Desperate Times into Desire for God, (upon which this devotional is based), offers wonderful encouragement to women longing for a change, for a new direction, or ways to make a difference. Frustration can drive us away from God…or toward Him. Cindi helps women turn their negative longings into positive ones, as they pursue God in exciting new ways.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out the most?

 

 

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Are You a Butterfly or a Slug?

by Doris Hoover

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.                                                                                                                                                    Matthew 6:34 NIV

 A Monarch butterfly flitted from one flower to another. Then it lifted on the breeze and fluttered through the garden, light and carefree. Enchanted by its graceful movement, I got lost in its happy world. The tiny creature seemed to be dancing on air currents, free from any kind of worry.

I wished I could feel as weightless as that fluttering beauty, but a family situation weighed heavily upon my shoulders. I felt more like a slug than a butterfly. I was creeping beneath a load of concerns. Even though I knew the Bible instructs me to cast my cares on the Lord, I was so consumed with my burden, neglecting to look up to see Jesus offering to help me.

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25 NIV ). He directed his disciples’ focus onto the birds. They never plant seed or harvest crops, yet they have food to eat. God faithfully provides what they need. Each day they wake up singing delightful melodies, content in where God has them. In fact, they seem as happy and unburdened as butterflies.

Certainly, you and I carry legitimate burdens. Some issues, like health problems or the loss of a loved one, are so intense we can feel overwhelmed with distress. Life can be a challenge, but the Lord doesn’t want us weighed down with worry, crawling about like a slug. He doesn’t want us obsessively mulling over our problems, analyzing them from every angle, fearing the worst that could happen.

The Lord asks us to look at Him instead of our grim scenarios. The future is not for us to control. The only one who has that kind of power is the One who holds the future. He wants us to hand Him our heavy hearts. He can bear the weight that crushes us. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

So how can we take hold of the rest Jesus offers? Through prayer. By giving our burdens to Him as we sit in His presence. Prayer is a divine passageway that brings our worries into God’s realm in exchange for peace for our troubled hearts. And as we do, choosing to trust Him with every concern, the Holy Spirit fills us with a sense of wellbeing. We feel lighter knowing we don’t bear our troubles alone. The One who has power over our circumstances is sharing the load.

As I watched the Monarch butterfly flit among the flowers and listened to the birds sing that day in the garden, I thought about the power of prayer. Closing my eyes, I asked the Lord to take care of the issues that weighed me down. I leaned into His strength. My shoulder and neck tension relaxed and I could feel my spirit rising above my burden. I was no longer a slug. As I released my worries to the Lord, I felt as light and carefree as a butterfly dancing on the breeze.

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Are You a Butterfly or a Slug? insight from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Is something weighing you down today? How can we pray for you?

Password: Truth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Password anxiety. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing. You’re compelled to choose seven un-guessable characters, throw in some capital letters, add the name of a dead pet, sprinkle in a few lower-case letters, include some numerals, and, on the whole, the password should eventually grow and evolve into an even better password. Essentially, it should ultimately be able to beat up all the other passwords—make them run crying from the yard.

Anytime I have to choose a new password, my fingers hover over the keys for a solid five minutes. My sweaty fingers. Though I do try to hide any fear. Because I’ve heard the most evolved passwords can sense it.

It’s not that I’m a fearful person. Okay, as a child I might’ve been the only kid whose blanket fort had a panic room. But as an adult, fear isn’t such an issue.

Maybe that’s because as a follower of Christ, I know the password for conquering fear. Truth. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what you capitalize or how many numbers you add. Anytime we’re afraid, we find strength as we remember what is true, and by faith we hold onto that truth.

Isaiah 41:10 holds the no-fear message: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (HCSB). The truth is, God gives us the strength for no-fear living as we remember and believe that He holds onto us. Combine the password of truth with faith and trust, and then fear? It runs crying from the yard.

David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4, HCSB).

Fear, worry, anxiety. They’re emotional responses. Our emotions can be sneaky. It often feels impossible to reason with the rascals. And they’re insistent. It’s not like we invite fear to take us over. It just does. But our emotions must be taught the truth. By faith, we must believe that despite what our emotions are telling us, the indisputable truth is that we don’t need to fear.

Think of the things that cause you anxiety. Is there anything you’ve thought of that’s too big for God? Anything that’s too hard for Him?

Financial stresses? He owns everything. Health issues? He knit your body together. Too much to do? He holds time in His hands. Whatever the source of your stress, the Father loves you and it’s His loving desire to shoulder your burden and squelch your fear. “Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5:7, AMP).

Our mighty God, the One who lovingly cares for you, is bigger than anything you could ever fear. He is the firewall of all firewalls, as it were, protecting your soul. Wrapping our minds around that truth in faith will delete fear every time. By faith, remember, understand, believe the password:  Truth.

As for your other passwords? You might as well also understand that when you finally choose one that’s remote enough to be secure, the chances of you remembering it are even more remote than that.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.                                            Philippians 4:8 HCSB

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Password: Truth – insight on #followingGod from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: With what fears do you struggle? What truth can help you overcome that fear?

Joy! The Pathway to Peace

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

If there were a power verse for joy, it would be this one:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4 ESV

When doing a word study on rejoice, I found this meant: REJOICE (lean in and delight in God’s grace) at ALL times, I repeat, REJOICE (choose to be glad and joyful because of ALL God gives us)!

What a command! But God gives the “How how-to” in verses 6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ESV

God doesn’t want us to be anxious, worried, and loaded down with cares. As we ask, request, and petition God, the confidence comes in believing we are giving the circumstance to the only One who has the real power to answer—the Almighty God—the King of Kings! And as we make this transaction, God gives us a gift back—peace that is beyond comprehension!

This week, use this joy builder: pray over worrisome situations using a name of God. Here is a favorite exercise I use for releasing anxiety and to imagine this exchange of our worries for his peace:

Imagine your greatest stress is placed into your right hand, wrap your fingers around this anxiety, now lift it heavenward; open your fingers and present it at the foot of the throne of heaven. Leave your care there but keep your hand open. Now think of all the traits and names of God, which name of God would be best to hang your heart on to find hope, joy, and peace. If you struggle to pick which trait, choose the name or trait of God that would be opposite of your stress. For example, if you care is your anxiety, trade it for the peace of God, then when you get home, look up all the verses about God being peace and giving peace. String your favorite verses together, put your name in the series of verses, and personalize God’s Word to your life.

To keep the peace, Paul’s last instruction is to guard your mind and thought life—keep doing this—and the God of peace will be with you:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

Now dwell on these things, all day, every day. And start each day and each season of life willing to give your greatest fear and anxiety to God and receive his radical peace.

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Joy! The Pathway to Peace – insight from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an author of 48 books, including Amazon bestseller Discovering  Hope in the Psalms: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and her newest book releases today (!!): Discovering Joy in Philippians:  A Creative Bible Study Experience (coauthored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher). Pam and her husband, Bill are international speakers, relationship experts and  Co-directors of Love-Wise.

If difficult days have ever left you discouraged, Pam’s brand-new book: Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, will help you engage creatively with God’s Word and establish habits that lead to greater joy and peace.

Join the conversation: What are your favorite names of God?