Rise and Shine
by Sharon Betters
Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
The word “arise” in Today’s Treasure is the same one the prophetess Deborah used when she declared,
Village life ceased, ceased in Israel, until I Deborah arose, arose a Mother in Israel.
In the Hebrew “arise” can mean “build, carry out, confirm, endure, establish, fulfill, raise up, restore, support.” This sounds like life-giving encouragement to me. Rather than refusing to get involved in the chaos that permeated her village, Deborah took action that resulted in the restoration of peace.
Deborah rose up, and in so doing she raised up, established, restored, and supported the people in her village. Deborah was a life-giver. Do you recognize the fingerprints of encouragement in her actions? God calls each of us to go and do likewise, to be life-givers who look around our villages, identify the needs and rise up, not in our own strength but in His, with purposeful actions in His name, trusting Him to accomplish His purposes.
Deborah calls herself a “mother in Israel.” Each of us can be “mothers,” whether we have children or not. A mother is the bond of the family. Deborah mothered an entire nation. Her heart for her people united them in a way that gave them hope. Is God calling you to mother those in your circle of influence, your village?
Deborah’s obedience required dying to self, and out of that death came life. Israel experienced 40 years of peace. Remember, village life had ceased or was dying until Deborah arose. In rising, she also had to die to self. In dying, she was a life-giver. Is God calling you to die to self today?
Do you want to be a life-giver in a dying situation? Giving life often requires death. Dying to self can happen in a thousand little ways. Do you need to change your well-laid plans in order to spend the day with a despairing friend, an elderly parent, a moody teen? Does your husband need you to pour life into him rather than a friend? Where does your village need you to intentionally step in with the goal of helping turn hearts toward Jesus? Before you answer, pray and ask the Lord to enable you to be intentional in these decisions. Ask Him to give you specific Scriptures you can share with your friend if it is appropriate.
Sometimes the Lord will direct you to do something that has no obvious spiritual overtones to the recipient. A grandmother burdened for a granddaughter treated her to lunch and a manicure. She had no agenda except to remind her beloved granddaughter of her love for her, with hopes that when her granddaughter needed a receptive listener, she would turn to her grandmother. The grandmother often texts her granddaughter fun facts, pictures from previous fun days and sometimes asks how she can pray for her. Her ultimate goal is to set a table where her granddaughter will always feel welcome, even when she knows her grandmother does not like her decisions. This grandmother is in it for the long haul, knowing her job is not to fix her granddaughter, trusting that task to the Lord. Are you in it for the long haul?
Start with where you are comfortable offering encouragement and ask the Lord to broaden your vision for where you can offer the help and hope of Jesus. Soon He will call you to a place that requires dying to self. The grandmother in today’s devotional dies to self every time she practices refraining from rebuking her granddaughter for her life choices. She dies to self when she refuses to remind her granddaughter that “she wasn’t raised this way.” Instead, she prays during every conversation, trusting the Lord to open her mouth with His Words, praying that she is planting seeds that will one day bear the fruit of her granddaughter’s love for Jesus.
Serving others requires giving up personal time and sometimes personal finances. It might require you entering the crucible of suffering that result in a sacrifice of energy and emotion, but this is where the treasures in darkness and riches in secret places are often the most brilliant. God can use your sacrifices to not only help heal your friend’s broken heart but also deepen your understanding of God’s love and presence. Such sacrifice goes against our natural instincts, but God promises to create new life when we die to self. Through biblical encouragement, we become life-givers. As daughters of the King, we can go into the darkness of a friend’s broken heart, confident that the light of Jesus goes with us.
Lord, we love You. We can’t get our heads around Your love for us but we know Your love invites us to run to You when life turns upside down. In Your presence, we unload our fears, our needs, our longing for a better world. Show us where we need to die to self so that new life can begin. We need You to be specific in directing our efforts to set a table that invites hurting people to come and experience the bounty of Your love.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go to the MARKINC website and listen to the addiction audio resource titled “When Drugs Steal Your Life” so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Is it possible to break free from drugs after a lifetime of using? Shelley Tribbitt says yes. After using drugs for over thirty years, Shelley broke free from the drugs, but then had to face the collateral damage she had done to her family and friends. In this poignant interview, Shelley describes the devastation drug use brought on her family, including the loss of custody of her children. Her daughter, Bay, joins the conversation and describes how she reconciled with her mother and why she never gave in to the temptation of drug use, even though they were readily available.