Rejoice: How to Safeguard Yourself

by Debbie W. Wilson

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Philippians. 3:1 NIV

How can you safeguard what’s precious to you? In the above Scripture, Paul offers a surprising form of protection—rejoice in the Lord!

I find it ironic that a letter written from prison would talk about rejoicing. Maybe you’ve felt like you’ve been in a prison this past year. COVID restrictions restrained us from gathering with friends and family. We couldn’t participate in activities we’d taken for granted. Without warning, many of life’s securities and pleasures were yanked away.

Paul didn’t have Zoom to keep in touch with the churches or Amazon Prime to deliver groceries. At one point, he asked Timothy to bring him the basic necessities of a cloak and writing paper. Yet, he says, “Rejoice in the Lord!”

Why Should We Rejoice in the Lord?

Paul says, “it is a safeguard to you.” A safeguard is a form of protection. It provides firm footing in uncertain times. The only absolute certainty we have is knowing the One who never changes (Heb. 13:8).

When Do We Rejoice?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV).

Always! Even during COVID and political unrest. Even when we’re sick, weary, broke, or lonely. Rejoicing in the Lord should be a constant attitude no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.

In What Do We Rejoice?

Imagine being on death row. You’ve said goodbye to your loved ones, your reputation, and your dreams of a future. You await lethal injection. The fateful day arrives. The guard, accompanied by a cohort of officials, comes at the appointed time. A man steps forward and reads from an official-looking document. The President of the United States has pardoned you. They haven’t come to escort you to your death, but to return your life!

Now imagine a month later you scorch the shirt you’re ironing for a job interview and get a parking ticket the same day. How long would the wonder of being pardoned last before you allowed lesser things to rob you of the joy of being alive?

Jesus understood the folly of basing our joy on our circumstances. Even phenomenal wins are transient.

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name’” (Lk. 10:17 NIV). What a high the seventy-two followers of Christ must have felt watching demons submit to them. Jesus rejoiced with them. But notice His warning.

“He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’” (Lk. 10:18-20 NIV).

The seventy-two who rejoiced in that victory would soon be disillusioned when Jesus was crucified. Circumstances change. There will be days when we see great victories. But no matter how amazing those highs are, they can’t compare with the unshakable fact our names are written in the Book of Life!

It’s good to rejoice over our blessings. But we must be careful not to let the setbacks in life tarnish the joy that comes from knowing Jesus and having eternal life.

How? David danced before the Lord. Mary washed Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment. The woman who’d been forgiven much washed His feet with her tears. Deborah and Miriam led Israel in song.

How you rejoice may depend on your personality and situation. The admonition to rejoice in Philippians 4 was in the context of worry and prayer. The point is, do it! Make a habit of recalling God’s character and counting your eternal blessings. This practice will safeguard you through whatever life brings.

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

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: How do you rejoice over your blessings?

A Tea Party with God

by Chris Manion

You prepare a table before me…. Psalm 23:5 KJV

My 2-year-old grandson sets a tea party for his kitties every day before naptime. He slowly, carefully places a tea cup and bread before each stuffed kitty and then feeds every one.

His hand looks ginormous compared to the table, cups, and kitty.

“Meow… Tea?” he asks, as he lifts the littlest tea cup between his pudgy thumb and forefinger to his kitty critter. The time and care he takes to set up the tea party and feed his little ones belies his twenty-four-month development and small motor control.

That perspective made me imagine God’s hand big enough to pick up my kitchen table… then my house… then my city… then the planet. Yet he so patiently, slowly places before us our daily bread and feeds us when necessary, when we don’t – or won’t – take care of ourselves.

Imagine… His big hand and heart entering our tiny little space with such tender care.

I want to look at the world the way my little grandson does. I want to see creatures and humans with such loving eyes that I am moved to stop what I’m doing and sit with them, pour tea for them, serve the soup in a soup line, or help them find a child separated from them.

If I had such eyes, what would I do? Become a foster parent? Give more money to missioners for milk and bread? Spend time with the widow down the block? Adopt a lonely child?

“The Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples” (Isaiah 25:6 NIV).

Since God is not human, He sets up millions of tea parties or circumstances to feed us daily. To offer us our daily cross. Can you see His smile if we take the time to taste? To carry our cross like His Son did? To sip tea with someone we dislike?

Children teach us so much, so fresh from heaven…

Why not have tea with God today?

What is he gently setting before you? What is He asking you to see? To do? To be? “Be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good…” (Matthew 5:45 NABRE)

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

About the author: Chris Sauter Manion loves to speak from her core Scripture verse: “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). She’s an award-winning author, leadership expert, and inspirational speaker who uses skills from building a $20 million sales organization to help people of all ages embrace the give and take of a deepening relationship with God. Chris lives with her husband of forty-plus years in Florida‘s panhandle where she kayaks and photographs the Gulf coast’s natural beauty. She is a grandmother of five wee ones and loses all sense of time when gardening, creating and cooking. Reach out to her at www.ChrisManion.com

Join the conversation: What is God asking you to see?

The Doors are Still Open

by Crystal Bowman

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 9:36 ESV

With only an eighth-grade education and some carpentry training in the U. S. Army, my dad became a successful contractor, building beautiful homes on Lake Michigan and remodeling almost every downtown storefront in our city. I enjoyed spending summers at our cottage on an inland lake in a small rural community. It was a way for our family to be on vacation while my dad was able to work in the area.

My dad had a burden for the lost, and when he discovered a poverty-stricken neighborhood only miles from our cottage, he could not ignore their spiritual needs. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion for them. With support from our church, my dad built a small chapel at the entrance to the neighborhood. Every Sunday afternoon, instead of taking a much-needed rest, he canvassed the dirt roads on foot, inviting the families to come to the evening service where a pastor told the people about Jesus. Recognizing their physical needs as well, my dad provided food and clothing for those who came to worship. 

The ministry flourished for decades, and because of my dad’s vision, many people from this poor neighborhood have a mansion in heaven. When my dad became too old to continue this ministry, another local church took it over and continued offering services in the chapel.

Before Jesus went back to heaven after His resurrection, He told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV). This passage is also known as The Great Commission, and if we are followers of Jesus, then the message is for us.

Many people leave their homes, friends, and families to serve on foreign mission fields. They follow God’s calling to share the Gospel in other countries or continents. The sacrifices they make for the sake of the Gospel are something I cannot relate to. But even if God has not called me to leave my homeland, He still asks me to share the Gospel in my neighborhood, my community, and at the grocery store.

We are surrounded by people who need Jesus. There are many different ways to share the Gospel, and opportunities are all around us. We can invite others to church or Bible study (even virtually). We can volunteer at local food pantries or after-school programs for children. If we have physical limitations, we can partner financially with ministries to support those who are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

In 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), the Apostle Peter shares these words, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” In other words—be ready to share at any moment because we never know when someone is open to hearing about the hope, joy, and peace that come from having a believing faith in Jesus.

My dad has been with Jesus for 15 years, and there are others walking in heaven with him because he saw their needs. He built that little chapel 55 years ago, and I could never count the number of people who have come to know Jesus because of his compassion. The chapel is still standing and the doors are still open.   


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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Who has inspired you?

IDEA

by Susie Crosby

noun: something imagined or pictured in the mind; a plan for action 

“We can only keep going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea…” 2 Timothy 1:8-9 MSG

God has so many wonderful ideas. Billions and billions of them–each one unique and intricate and miraculous.

Life was his idea.

Every living thing comes from him.  He imagined stars, oceans, continents, gardens, fish, birds, insects, and mammals. He created babies to grow inside of their mothers and be born. He made music, poetry, friendship, laughter, campfires, and homemade pie.

And he designed the flowers.

As I write this, life is beginning on some shelves in our basement. In some old clay pots, tiny shoots of green are poking up through dark, moist soil. Within weeks, delicate buds will appear and burst open into brilliant purple blossoms.

How does he do this?

What happens inside these dry, dirty, odd-looking bulbs that causes them to grow up and out of the soil, radiating beauty and fragrance? And how did he make my brain to appreciate the scents and sights and comforts of brilliant hyacinths blooming in the warm sun?

New life was also his idea.

It was His idea that we could be born again. His idea that all the wrong we’ve done, the hurtful things we’ve thought and said, and the selfish choices we have made could be redeemed.

His idea that we could start over with him.

When do we ever get to do that? Start over completely? As human beings, we try to forgive and even forget, but things from the past lodge firmly in our hearts and minds. We hold things against each other and against ourselves–judging unfairly and restricting freedom.

But God takes our dry, dirty, odd-looking souls and plants us in his nourishing, grace-filled soil. Somewhere in the deepest, darkest places, he does his creation miracle, part two.

He makes us brand new.

The hyacinths that spark the hope and joy of the coming spring were created by God for a beautiful purpose. And so were we. God’s idea for us is to embrace this new life filled with glorious calling and promise. We are not limited by what we have or have not done, by what we think we can or cannot do. He will be faithful to prepare and purify us for his holy work–and to accomplish the wonderful ideas he has for us. We can trust him to nurture us with righteousness and love as we begin to bloom and bring joy.

Thank God for every one of his ideas. Thank him for creating life and especially for creating new life. Ask him to show you how free and forgiven you are, and to grow you into your holy purpose day by day.

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

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: What is spring revealing to you about God this year?

Are You a Negative Nellie?

by Amber Weigand-Buckley

The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NASB

During the months of COVID quarantine, I’ve found myself fighting one long-lasting virus more deadly than any other—the virus of negativity. And it doesn’t matter how much I pray or how many Scriptures I read, sometimes it only takes one scroll through social media or one disgruntle phone call. Or a not so lovely email, for the symptoms to come creeping back in.

The thing about negativity is that not only does it affect you, but it also creates an environment that infects you.

There are times when my British husband has told me: “Stop being a Negative Nellie,” and I don’t realize I’m being negative at all. But you see, the symptoms of negativity are more surprising than you might think.

  • Do you find yourself zapped of energy when you read someone’s Facebook post? Then do you spend time fuming about it, even if you don’t write a reply?
  • When a particular person’s name is mentioned, does your mind instantly transfer to all the bad qualities about that said person? Or do you dread when one specific name pops up on your cell phone because you “just know” they are going to “drain you” of your good mood?
  • Do things that you don’t like about yourself, or “stupid mistakes” keep you feeling like you will never achieve (you fill in the blank).
  • And this is a big one for me— Do you find yourself calling yourself “a failure” or other demeaning names when things go wrong, or your home is not at peace.

Negativity is an outflow of tired, frustrated, prolonged discouragement. It is as infectious as any virus. In fact, I think that the enemy of our soul likes to use it more than any other weapon against us. Why?

It’s a spirit-killer.

Negativity destroys the spirit of hope, joy, and peace that the Father works to grow in us, so we might be a testimony to His faithfulness in all things and through all things.

Hebrews 12:1 describes it like this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every UNNECESSARY WEIGHT and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith” (AMP).

Negativity may not be sinful, but it definitely is “unnecessary weight” that keeps us from testifying the truth of God’s faithfulness. So, refuse to carry it.

You can turn the channel on negativity with mindfulness to what we let into our thoughts and hearts. When the negative dialogue starts playing in our head, we can catch ourselves. Speaking God’s truth into those moments will break negativity’s hold on us!

Guide negative conversations with friends into the truth of God’s good things. You might consider breaking through negative conversations with moments of laughter or funny or encouraging words—it’s indeed good medicine. 

Also, know there is nothing wrong with guarding your heart against social media or feeds that stir up negative emotions in you. Also, consider Philippians 4:8 when you are posting, too. 

In order for you to arise to everything God has called you to be, I pray that God would daily strip away everything that the enemy would like to use to hold you back, by the ultimate authority and power of the name of Jesus Christ.

amberweigand-buckley - Issuu

About the author: Amber Weigand-Buckley is editor and art director for multi award-winning Leading Hearts magazine, the official voice of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Get the latest issue for FREE by texting LEADINGHEARTS to 64600 and check out leadinghearts.com.

Join the conversation: How do you fight negativity in yourself?

When You Don’t Know When . . .

by Afton Rorvik

Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called place Marah (which meant “bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses, “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.  Exodus 15:22-23 NLT

First they had too much water, and then they didn’t have enough.

The people of Israel had just watched God part the mighty waters of the Red Sea so they could walk through them to safety from their Egyptian pursuers. Then they had witnessed God calling the waters of the sea to regather and crash down around the Egyptians, obliterating them.

They danced and celebrated and praised the Lord.

Then three days later, they got thirsty and started whining. Did they forget that God had just parted the Red Sea for them? Did they forget that God had just rescued them from many years of Egyptian oppression? Did they get so focused on their own immediate needs that they forgot to remember God’s past provisions?

Yes, yes, and yes.

And oh, I understand. After a year of so many uncertainties, I just want some certainty. I want to know when this Covid virus will release its grip on us. I want to know when schools will reopen. I want to know when I can once again have neighbors gather around my dining room table. I want answers. I want to know when.

Like the people of Israel, I can all too easily complain about what I need and want today and not remember to thank God for the many times He showed up for me in the past in His perfectly orchestrated timing.

I forget the way He helped me find a job just weeks after my previous job ended. I forget the way He helped orchestrate the arrival of a book contract the month the pandemic began, providing me a distracting project while quarantined at home.

Lord, help me to remember!

As I read about the people of Israel, I notice how God graciously continued to remind them of His care:

Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. After breaking camp at Rephidim, they set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.

Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:1-4 NLT).

Oh, Lord, remind me that You see and you care, that You carry me on eagles’ wings too. Help me to trust Your timing. Forgive me for whining while I wait. Help me to live grateful.

About the author: Afton Rorvik writes about living connected, something that matters deeply to her even as an introvert. In her book Storm Sisters, she talks about the power of friendship in hard times. Afton and her husband John have two adult children and love to walk and hike in Colorado. You can connect with Afton on her website, or on Facebook.

Join the conversation: What do you remember about God’s gracious care for you?

Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayer?

by Cindi McMenamin

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 CSB

Are you wondering why God isn’t answering a particular prayer of yours? Maybe He seems silent and you’re wondering why you should pray at all – especially if God doesn’t appear to be doing anything about it.

Oh, how we hate the silence of God. And yet, God does some of His best work in the quiet.

It’s easy to get the idea that because we pray, God is obligated to answer. Yes, God is good. Yes, He is loving. But He also promises to work all things for our good, when we love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Sometimes our waiting – and unanswered prayer — ends up making us more dependent upon God, like His Son, Jesus. And when we become more like Jesus, God is working our situation for our eternal good (Romans 8:29).

 God is also eternal, meaning His idea of time is different than yours and mine. God may choose to wait a whopping 10-20 years to give you something you’re asking for. For you and me, that seems like an eternity. To God, it is just a moment in time. And yet, His timing for your life and mind is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Sometimes, God’s work is in the eternal realm where we can’t see it. Proverbs gives us good advice when we can’t see what God is doing: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 CSB). Trust that what He does in the silence is in the scope of the billions of consequences and details that He is ever aware of and that you may never be able to see this side of heaven.

Sometimes God’s refusal to answer your prayer is His way of keeping you close by…still asking, still waiting, still relying on Him. Show God that He can trust you to be faithful even in the silence. Even in the uncertainty. Even in the dark.

Psalm 84:11 tells us, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord grants favor and honor;
he does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity” (CSB). That promise of God assures us that if we are living with integrity and God doesn’t appear to be granting our request, it either isn’t good for us or it isn’t time. Trust Him with the silence. 

When God Sees Your Tears: He Knows You, He Hears You, He Sees You by [Cindi McMenamin]

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and the author of 17 books. For more on drawing closer to God during disappointment, see her books, When God Sees Your Tears, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs. You can find out more about Cindi’s speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and resources to help you grow in your walk with God, your marriage, and your parenting at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced an answer to prayer after a long wait? Were you able to see God’s goodness in His timing?

He’s Got This

by Nan Corbitt Allen

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Just a few days ago, for almost a week, we were SNOWED in. As I write this, the temperature outside is a balmy 70.

I recently saw a funny meme about our unpredictable weather here in Tennessee. It said our region actually has 12 seasons. They are, or so it says:

  1. Winter
  2. Fool’s Spring
  3. Second Winter
  4. Spring of Deception (where we are now)
  5. Third Winter
  6. The Pollening
  7. Actual Spring
  8. Summer
  9. Hell’s Front Porch
  10. False Fall
  11. Second Summer
  12. Actual Fall

This is supposed to be a lighthearted jab at our present condition, of course, but it speaks more to me than that. It’s a message on the unpredictability of things, such as weather and seasons, life and death, day and night—events that only God can control.

There is a lot of discussion these days about climate change and how we, as humans, have caused it. I don’t believe that we have been good stewards as we were instructed. Of course, we need to take care of the planet. In the beginning of Genesis, God declares that humans were put in a perfect environment, and charged with the task of maintaining it—of caring for it. Being aware of our responsibility to our Creator and His handiwork, I believe, is important. But I also believe that in taking this responsibility more seriously of late, we’ve forgotten Who made it and Who sustains it. And we somehow start to believe that we are the only ones who can fix it.

Several verses in Psalm 104 portray Creator and His creation in a beautiful poetic way. This speaks to the title “He’s Got This.”

“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains…He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down…All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things” (Psalm 104:5-6, 19, 27-28 NIV).

Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, grew up in a strict Calvinist family. However, he became a confirmed deist in adulthood. A deist believes that God created the universe, but that He left it to its own devices. In other words, He spoke us into being, spun us into orbit, and let us go. There’s no need to pray since God isn’t listening.

Scripture doesn’t support this idea.

Paul explained the work of the Trinity in Colossians: all parts of that entity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit are actually One—Him. He writes: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17 NIV).

In this time of uncertainty and perhaps feelings of impending doom—the virus, the weather, the unsavory events in politics—remember that God, Who made it all, is still in control of it all.

Daniel, of lion’s den fame, wrote this about the providential care of God:

“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness,
 and the light dwells with him” (Daniel 2: 21-22 NIV).

Good to know. Important to remember.

For the record, in 1787, at the opening of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin called on those gathered to open each session with prayer. Perhaps Franklin, who didn’t believe in prayer, was exercising some diplomacy. Or maybe he began to believe in the existence of God’s providential care by recognizing His creative and sustaining hand on a brand new nation.

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

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ 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.

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Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. 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: How does the thought of God being active and in control of all things help you this morning?

Time to Soak Up the Son-Shine

by Debbie Wilson

Riding home one Saturday night, I caught myself grumbling. My husband and I had picked up Thai takeout for dinner. While we waited for our food, I felt like an alien. Everyone wore facemasks and avoided eye contact. What happened to the friendly South? We rounded the bend and the bright moon interrupted my grumbling. “Look how bright that small sliver of moon is!”

The moon’s brightness stood in beautiful contrast to a day that had been gray, windy, and even briefly snowy. Seeing it helped me understand an admonition from Scripture I needed to ponder, especially with what is going on in our country now.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:8-16 NIV).

God wants His children to live as children of light. He warns us to be very careful in how we walk, because the days are evil. Evil and darkness are synonymous in Scripture. As the lines between good and evil blur, we need the light of true goodness to guide our steps.

How do we shine light in darkness? The same way the moon does.

When Astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the moon they didn’t discover a glowing orb. Photos of the moon look like pocked concrete. Yet, who hasn’t felt the enchantment of a full moon? Even that small sliver of bright moon made me smile.

Craters and dark areas mar the moon’s surface. It’s beauty and light don’t come from the moon itself. The moon is beautiful only when it reflects the sun.

Whether we deal with the darkness of an inner attitude, bad habit, or what is going on in our nation and the world, we find our way through darkness, not by staring into it, but by following the Son.

Focusing on a bad habit won’t make it go away. In, fact, it’ll probably make it worse. Fretting over the evil and deception around us won’t heal our nation. But focusing on Jesus—the way, the truth, and the life—illuminates our paths and shines on those around us.

Have you felt overwhelmed by the darkness? I have. We become light when, like the moon, we allow a purer light to illuminate us. Here are some tips to help you soak up the Son.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate any area where the world has shaped your thinking instead of the Word.
  • Write it down.
  • Write out 1 John 1:9 over your list. Then tear up the sheet and throw it away.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His light and help you live wisely (Ephesians. 5:17-21).

The darker the night the more we must keep our eyes glued on Jesus, the true light. Then we will shine as light, walk wisely, and help others find their way.

Everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:13 NIV


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

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Has darkness felt overwhelming to you this early spring?

For Every Dry Place

by Rhonda Rhea

My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. Psalm 63:3 CSB

Is there anything better than a really good hand cream on a dry day? I love me some high-quality lotion. I can almost hear my hands: glub, glub, glub.

My husband though? His hands could be sparking from the friction. They could be a mere half a degree from kindling and he would still snub my hand cream. I say snub, but spurn would be more like it. Maybe “repulsed repugnance” is closer. Is that redundant? If so, I still think it fits because he doubly-triply-quadruply despises all things even nearly linimentish.

Richie doesn’t even want me to drive his car after I’ve lotioned up. According to him, it makes his steering wheel “gooey.” I’ve seen him drive his car after hand-creamed-me has had a turn, and he’ll drive using only a forefinger and a thumb from each hand. Or my favorite is when he pulls his sweater sleeves over his hands.

Granted, I might have to admit somewhere in here that when I say I love me some lotion, I mean it. Sometimes I may go a tad overboard. I consider myself sufficiently creamed when my fingers are so slippery I can barely keep them from sliding off that steering wheel. Never ask me to hold your favorite coffee mug. Because I may have recently been swimming in my vat of lotion, and there’s no way to have enough mug-holding traction. Bye-bye fave mug. Give me an ocean of lotion. That’ll be perfect, thanks.

More perfect than any lotion could ever satisfy, though, I love how our God satisfies every dry heart—all the way to the innermost parts of our souls. “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. My lips will glorify you because your faithful love is better than life. So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands. You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:1-5 CSB).

When we seek the God who quenches, and we desire Him more than anything else—whether life feels dry or downright gooey—we find ourselves swimming in the deepest satisfaction. Contented. Fulfilled. Satiated! As we get a glimpse of His strength, His glory, His faithful love—we leave behind the crackly-dried for every kind of satisfied. I think it’s impossible not to slip into praise and worship as He so beautifully quenches.

It’s good for us to remember that in any difficult place, God’s faithful love can lead us to a sweet, gratifying closeness with Him. “The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry” (Isaiah 58:11 CSB). Never running dry, ever-lotioned—in a beautiful way. No matter the circumstances. It’s a glorious heart-watering. David had the perfect response in Psalm 63. “So I will bless you as long as I live; at your name, I will lift up my hands” (vs. 4). Praise!

By the way, if we’re ever in the same crowd of praising hands, mine will be the ones that are especially moisturized.

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

rhonda rhea

About 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. 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.

Got baggage? Ever find yourself lugging around messy spiritual baggage like so much purse clutter? Rhonda’s latest release, Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over, will help you stop holding on to what you don’t need and start fighting for what you do. Learn to walk out your faith life less weighed down, lighter, and freer that ever!

Join the conversation: Are you living a satisfied life?