CALM

by Susie Crosby

Calm adj: free from emotional or mental agitation; tranquil

Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.  Zephaniah 3:17 MSG

It sounds so nice, doesn’t it? Free from agitation. Tranquil. Calm.

When do we get to feel like that? It seems like we are busy, worried, and stressed so much of the time. Even when we finally get a chance to relax with a quiet day or a vacation, our minds keep churning.

This is when we need to remember where our peace comes from. Let’s get away with Jesus and unpack this verse.

God is present.

He is fighting to save us.

He is happy to have us back.

He will calm us with his love.

Let’s take a deep breath and soak in these truths.

Present.  He is permanently here. He is not only right beside us, but he is actually inside our hearts. We can’t get away from him even if we bury our heads under our blankets and hide. He is sticking with us, committed with all of his heart, and he isn’t going anywhere. 

A strong warrior. He is actively fighting. He’s a mighty warrior who is on our side. He is infinitely powerful and determined to save us. He is more than able to take charge of the battles we are facing, and he will win.

Happy to have us back. He is truly delighted. This is what he created us to do–to simply be with him. He loves just hanging out with us. We don’t have to work hard to enjoy his presence. All we have to do is open our hearts and minds to what he has for us.

He calms us.  He meets our deepest needs. Not with advice, not with reminders, not with suggestions, but with true compassion. He wraps us up in his loving arms, he sings over us, he looks at us with his warm, caring eyes and reassures us of his love.

The peace that Jesus covers us with is rich with tenderness and strength. He can gently sing over us and valiantly fight for us at the same time–revealing his never-ending love that conquers all.

Invite him in: His delight in you is genuine. He is with you right now, keeping you protected and close to him. Rest calmly in his arms–even in the heat of the battle–and you might even begin to hear him singing. He’s got you.

Dear Jesus, can I just sit with you for a moment? Thank you that you are smiling as I come into your presence. You are fighting for me, and I can trust you to take care of every single thing that worries me right now.  Thank you for your calm and powerful spirit of love. Amen.

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Calm – encouragement & insight from Susie Crosby on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: Which truth about God brings you the most peace this morning?

You’ll Never Attend This Kind of Wedding

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17 NASB

You are at a wedding. After the bride and bridegroom are pronounced husband and wife, the groom turns and with a solemn face announces, “Now we all will mourn. Don’t expect any food at the reception, because we will be fasting.”

You look around to see confused and sad looks on the guests’ faces. A dirge fills the church as the bride and groom drag themselves down the aisle. After the dreary reception where there’s no food, dancing, or singing, everyone is given a little baggie of dirt. As the newly married couple leave the reception, everyone throws dirt on them.

No way! And yet the metaphor is a modern explanation for what John the Baptist’s followers want when they arrive at a party Matthew is hosting (Matthew 9:9-17). Jesus, his disciples, and other party guests are feasting and having a great time. Even those terrible “tax collectors and sinners” are joining in—at Jesus’s invitation. Can’t you just envision Jesus having the biggest smile of them all?

But the disciples of John the Baptist aren’t rejoicing. They look over the crowd with a judgmental scowl and demand, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Matthew 9:14 NASB). Wow, they are on the prowl to let others know everyone should follow the rules as they do.

We can understand the question considering their teacher is in prison, and they are mourning. They could be thinking everyone should be mourning along with them. They might be thinking Jesus should especially be concerned, because John is his cousin. Plus, John was the one who launched Jesus’s ministry as Messiah with an announcement as he baptized Him. Might they even be thinking Jesus wouldn’t have been successful without John? We don’t know.

Jesus interjects, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” (Matthew 9:15 NASB). Jesus reminds them who he is. He tells them that while He is with them, everyone should rejoice. He completely trusts his Father’s plan for his cousin. Plus, Jesus wants to enjoy the party because he is truly joyful in nature.

For many years, starting in childhood, I never pictured Jesus laughing, partying, and having joy. I believed he was a demanding taskmaster who was always on the prowl to squash any fun.

But as I began studying Jesus’s attributes in the Bible, I realized he is joyful. After all, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 includes joy. It’s impossible for Jesus to not be joyful since the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one along with the Father: the same in essence and character. As I realized this, my perspective began to change and I could actually visualize Jesus having a great time—with the biggest grin!

Adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature, copyright 2020, Kathy Collard Miller.

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You’ll Never Attend This Kind of Wedding – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s attributes. As a result, her latest two books are devotional books about God’s nature: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. These are co-authored with her husband, Larry, and make a wonderful couples’ devotional study. Kathy is also the author of 55 other books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 35 US states. Check out her website: www.KathyCollardMiller.com and YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 or Facebook.

Kathy’s most recent book is God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature from which this devotion is excerpted. Kathy and her husband, Larry, of 50 years, co-wrote God’s Intriguing Questions.

Join the conversation: What other words would you describe for Jesus’s joyful nature and is it easy or hard for you to envision Jesus as joyful?

Love Songs

by Christina Rose

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Spring is here, heralding in blossoming trees, blooming flowers, new babies, sunny skies, spring showers, and fresh hope for the new year. As a tiny child, I watched my mother spend hours on a cold autumn day digging holes to bury bulbs in the ground. When spring arrived, those little bulbs would burst forth with a spectacular colorful display of daffodils, tulips, and crocus. In the early spring mornings, the robins would perch on the fence by my mother’s flowers, bursting with love songs of God’s glory and giving voice to the joy it is to be alive.

We sang as well: my father sang in the choir, while my mother sang with us children in the pews. As we grew older, we were introduced to love songs at dances and weddings, where beautiful melodies would inspire people to fall in love. New parents are so filled with love they can’t help but sing over their babies with joy. I cherish memories of the many hours I sang my babies to sleep as I rocked them by my window that overlooked San Francisco bay.

As my daughters grew up, my songs became less frequent as they became busy with their own lives. Then my songs were suddenly silenced by my father’s suicide. While I never lost my faith, I did lose my joy. The days felt long and my sleep was constantly interrupted by bouts of anxiety attacks, wondering when the next unexpected tragedy might strike. My marriage then ended, I imagine partly because if I couldn’t find peace within, how could I find it with someone else?  Now the anxiety in caring solo for two young daughters increased my already overloaded night watch of keeping the darkness at bay.

My daughters grew up to be successful and independent. As I grew in faith, I was called to write. That process included many trials, like making seven moves in seven years. One daughter joined me, which was a great comfort, but recently she chose to move far away.

I felt lost. I couldn’t understand what God was up to. As I sat looking at the Rockies, I called out, “God, I’ve done everything you wanted me to, what do you want me to do now?”

A soft whisper answered, “Go to church”.

As I entered Cherry Hills Community Church for the first time, the amazing worship band was leading everyone in song. Thousands were on their feet, with hands in the air, singing passionate songs of praise. Before long, I was singing along with them like a wannabe Christian Rockstar.

And then an amazing thing happened – my nightly anxiety attacks left me. The fear had gone, and instead I was awakened by beautiful worship songs. One of my favorites is “Raise a Hallelujah” by Bethel Music. It expresses the idea that our praise can actually be a weapon against the things that cause us anxiety. Praise is an act of trust in the character and power of God.

Like the little bulbs that spend the winter under the pressure of the dark earth, God can help us burst out of the heavy darkness to sing for joy and bloom for His glory. He gives the gift of song to all creatures of the earth– so we can praise Him and sing love songs to one another.

God’s love endures forever. If you have lost your song, pray that God will lead you to others who can help you sing again.

“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge,  the God who shows me unfailing love.” (Psalm 59:16-17 NLT)

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Love Songs – encouragement from Christian 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: What songs help you sing for joy in this dark time?

Are You Ready for God’s Abundant Blessings?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

“Mommy, I’m ready to go over to Irene’s!” I cried out. I had my pajamas and toothbrush! It was going to be my first overnighter at my best friend, Irene’s house, across the street. I could hardly contain my excitement. I felt like such a big girl to be able to spend the night at someone else’s house. A big step for a first-grader!

My mother accompanied me across the street and Irene and I had a great time that evening. When we woke up the next morning, we played with our dolls for awhile and then I packed up my stuff in my little duffel bag.

Irene’s mom offered breakfast but it just didn’t seem right to both spend the night and have breakfast. Did I deserve that much joy? I answered, “Thank you, Mrs. Luna, but I have to go home.”

Mrs. Luna frowned but walked me across the street.

My mother asked me about my time and I told her about the fun. Then asked, “I’m hungry. Can I have a bowl of cereal?”

“Kathy, didn’t Mrs. Luna give you breakfast?”

“I didn’t think I was supposed to spend the night and have breakfast too.”

“Yes, honey, it would have been fine to have both.”

At times I come to God with my thanks for all He’s done for me, but somehow feel that I don’t really deserve anything more. It’s overwhelming to think He loves me that much to give me both the “overnighter” and breakfast too. It’s then I remember Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Just as Mrs. Luna delighted in me but I didn’t know how much, God delights in you and wants you to know it.

What are you feeling awkward about receiving from God’s hand? Help? Blessings? Affirmations? Love?

He wants to give you everything you need. Just receive it.

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Psalm 149:4 NASB

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We should never be timid about asking for God’s blessings – thoughts from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to speak and write about how God’s children can trust Him more. She has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. She has over 50 published books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. Larry and Kathy live in At the Heart of Friendship by [Miller, Kathy Collard]Southern California and are the parents of two and grandparents of two. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller and www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor and @KathyCollardMiller (instagram)

Join the conversation: What is hardest for you to receive?

Demystifying the Cinderella Syndrome

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

My father has affectionately called me his Cinderella for as long as I can remember. But my story, unlike the fairy-tale Cinderella, is not a tale of servant girl eventually living happily ever after with her prince. Rather it is a tale of experiencing brokenness to redemption, and living out the reality of being redeemed.

I don’t do it perfectly, or as Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12 NIV). I long to do the same, to live out my relationship with Jesus before the rest of the world.

Reflecting redemption can be challenging with the kind of noise that has been deafening as of late. It was really hard to not jump in and join the rants and raves on social media about the recent election. I read, listened, watched and prayed. Such division and hostility. It makes me sick and sad all at the same time.

Today was a fresh reminder of that as we had our windows worked on by two repairmen.  One had an accent, and I asked him where he was from. He hesitated and said he was originally from Mexico. As we began to talk, he shared with me how he loved his job, but recently he was sensing hate and fear from various clients. Lawns were littered with signs of campaign supporters that he knew were reproachful about his heritage. I sadly assured him that in my home, he was welcome to express his thoughts and opinions.

God is in the process of redeeming us even in the face of the noise and madness of our world. It is a manifestation of just how patient He really is. I actually struggle with God’s patience at times. And yet, I know it is a part of the narrative that is being written on His plan of redemption for the world.

I ask you, can we walk as redeemed people and practice the humility that Jesus lived? Can we, in our bantering back and forth, carefully choose to state our opinions with courage, and yet sprinkle them with kindness?

There is a line in the recent remake of Cinderella at the end of the story when the prince discovers his mystery princess and asks, “Who are you?”

She steps forward and says, “I am Cinderella, I’m no princess. I have no carriage, no parents, no dowry, and I don’t even know if that beautiful slipper will fit. But if it does, will you take me as I am?”

As I watched this scene, I envisioned presenting myself to the Prince of Heaven: Will you take me, as I am, each and every day?

He whispered in my soul throughout the rest of that day:

You are my treasure…Exodus 19:5, I rejoice over you with singing…Zephaniah 3:17. As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart…Isaiah 40:11. One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes…Revelation 21:3-4

This is the redemption God gives us through His son Jesus. We can offer nothing to Him but flaws and failings. He redeems us and creates in us a new life. We only have to be willing to admit our need. Our redemption then comes full circle as we wake up each day with confidence, believing that our lives matter and can make a difference to all we encounter. It really is a Cinderella story.

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When we turn to Jesus our Cinderella story always leads to happily-ever-after – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: Do you have a favorite verse that speaks of God’s love for you?