4 Reasons We Still Worry

by Cindi McMenamin

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Let’s admit it. We know we’re not supposed to worry and yet we do. We worry about finances, our health, and the health of those we love. We worry about what’s already happened and about what hasn’t yet taken place.

There’s a myriad of reasons why we shouldn’t worry. Worry causes stress which prematurely ages us, gives us wrinkles, and wreaks havoc on our health. Worry negatively affects our relationships with others who don’t want to be around a worry wart.

But what if I told you the real reasons you and I worry have more to do with our relationship with God than the people and situations we’re worried about? The reasons you worry probably aren’t the reasons you’re thinking, but as soon as you know them, you may be able to convince yourself to stop.

Here are four primary reasons you and I worry and how to stop it right now.

1. We worry because we forget God is all-powerful.

We worry because we forget about God’s power. We forget what He’s capable of and we start to believe we must take care of things ourselves. We start panicking that we’re on our own, and we might not be able to handle it. You know what? We can’t handle it. It’s why we need Him. God wants us to realize and admit our weakness so He can be strong on our behalf.

God often wants to do through us, what is beyond us. So when you’re faced with a situation in which you feel weak or powerless, rather than worry, call upon the Only One who take care of the situation. His power is available to you for the asking. James 4:10 says: “ Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

2. We worry because we’ve forgotten His presence.

One of the first things that causes us to worry is the fear that we are alone. But when we do that, we’ve clearly forgotten God’s presence – that He’s right here with us, going before us, walking alongside us, and watching our backs.

In Psalm 139:7 David asks “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee your presence?” And then he answers his question by explaining the staying power of God’s presence. Read it. Highlight it. Believe it. And ask for God’s power to live it.  When you’re tempted to fret that you are alone in your worrisome situation, remember His presence. And start talking to Him as if He’s right here. Because He is.

3. We worry because we try to control our lives and the lives of others.

It is in our human nature to try to control our lives and the lives of everyone else around us.  We believe, at times, that it’s up to us to right all wrongs and fix all things broken. But only God can restore the broken, heal the hurting, and bring ultimate justice.

After a season of life in which he was convinced he had no control over what God had clearly allowed, Job said: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (42:1). And in case God’s people became prideful and started to think their victories were at their own hands, the Psalmist corrected them when he sang: “It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them” (Psalm 44:3 NIV). 

Worry dissolves as you surrender to God and admit you are not in control of anything– He is.

4. We worry because we don’t really believe God is good.

God is good … all the time. As the perfect parent, He wants only the best for His children (Matthew 7:11). God is good because He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). So trust His goodness. He wants for you what will shape you for eternity. That means you don’t need to worry about what happens around you. Nothing can come close to you that hasn’t first passed through His loving hands (Romans 8:38-39).

Can you surrender your worries to the Only One who can work all things out according to His good and perfect plan?

For help battling the worry bug, see Cindi’s books, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, and Women on the Edge.

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

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 150,000 copies sold),  Find out more about her speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.  

Every woman, at one time or another, has felt as if she’s “on the edge.” She has felt unappreciated, unsupported, and weary. Such frustration can drive her away from God or toward Him. In Women on the Edge, Cindi shares how women can thrive even in the hard times and learn to live with joy, as they pursue God in exciting new ways.

Join the conversation: Can you find the reason you are worried right now in the article above?

Irreversible

by Julie Zine Coleman

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

Some changes cannot be undone.

One of the science concepts I taught my fifth graders every year was the difference between a physical change and a chemical change. One is reversable and one is permanent. A physical change is a change in the state of matter. Applying heat to ice will melt it to liquid and eventually turn it into gas. But no matter in what state we find it, water remains H2O.

A chemical change is quite different. Heat actually causes a chemical break down of the bonds that hold atoms in a molecule together. They then rearrange to form new molecules that are completely different substances. For instance, the eggs you mix into cake batter, when baked, become something different. You can’t unbake a cake and retrieve those eggs again. What they were no longer exists. An irreversible molecular change has occurred.

There is another kind of irrevocable change: the transformation that God works in us at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

Just as a new substance has new properties, what once was true about us is true no longer. Where there was only death, now there is life (Ephesians 2:1). The Holy Spirit has come to permanently dwell in us as a guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13). Our status has gone from condemned to free, from people who once walked in the flesh now walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-2). Once alienated from God, we have now been permanently adopted into His family (Ephesians 1:5). Our spiritual blindness has been irrevocably altered to an ability to see and understand spiritual truth (Romans 8:5-6). We have been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13, Philippians 3:20).   

And again, just as in chemistry, where a substance cannot change itself (heat is responsible for any transformation), the transformation that happened at our salvation was nothing we could do ourselves. It was something only God could do for us.  

The best news of all: God’s changes are permanent. We didn’t make it happen, and we cannot undo what He has done. We can rest in His work with confidence. Like most children that grew up in Christian homes, I prayed every night for Jesus to come into my heart, just in case the last prayer didn’t take. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood it was God’s doing: He was already there.

Every other religion bases a relationship with God on what they DO. But followers of Christ trust in what God has DONE. Jesus told His followers: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

Do you worry that you can out-sin the grace of God? That somehow you can undo His work in you and change yourself back into what you were before He healed you? Lean into what you know He has already accomplished in you. Trust that His work is sufficient to save. We didn’t do it, and we cannot undo it. He has made us new.

The change is unalterable.

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Zine 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 crafting. 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 revealing 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 of God’s changes mean the most to you?

A Banner

by Dana Peters-Colley

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people…thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.  Isaiah 49:22, 23b KJV

Today, I asked the Lord what to share. The word banner came. A banner is how people are led into battle. Isaiah 13:2 instructs the Lord’s army: lift the banner up on the high mountain, raise your voice, and wave them into the doors of the nobles.

Often, as I live my life, I don’t feel like I can make it one more day through the battle. I’m dealing with prodigals and decades of heartache. The Lord’s been super-good to me, but oh, the battle, and oh my, the giants. Yet, here is God’s instruction. The banner. Let’s look deeper at Isaiah 13:2.

First, we are told to lift what we have on a high mountain. It makes me think of when Moses ascended the mountain to spend time with God, to bring the Almighty’s standard back down to men. The places up there, so joyous. Why would you ever want to come back after experiencing that? But Moses was faithful to bring what God said to the people, and so must we be.

Second, the passage describes waving our hands. Israel gave the Lord wave offerings (Exodus 29:19-28). This made me think of the freedom we receive in Christ to use our hands to reach up and beyond our own limitations and ask for heaven to move in our behalf. People might stare as we lift our hands, so it shows we aren’t man-pleasers but God pleasers. Give the Lord a big wave and say, “I love you, Jesus!”

Third, in that Scripture is the invitation to enter in. And not only that, but enter to where the nobles are. This is God, through the Prophet Isaiah, instructing us that we belong amidst greatness. Nobles. Ones who live well, who are respected and esteemed. Righteous. The banner brings us to this greatness. Nothing we create or do is worthy. Jesus is worthy. And He considers all His children nobility (Ephesians 1:5).

Most Saturdays, I read the portions of the Bible that the Messianic communities and the observant Jews study. All over the world, they read from the first five books of the Bible and then read a portion from the prophets of the Old Testament. The day I received the word ‘banner’ I was in Isaiah 49. In my King James translation, they used the word standard, so I almost missed it. But in modern day English, the best translation is banner.

Our banner. God will place His banner over us. It was there for me to find after the Holy Spirit spoke. I realized as tears swept down my face that this is one of my favorite passages, because the promises are so good to someone like me who is praying that her grown children will return to the Lord.

I hope this simple word, banner, brings you encouragement. God’s banner is filled with His promises to us. It ends with Isaiah 49:25 KJV where it states, “I will contend with him that contends with you, and I will save your children.” I continue to stand and wait with spiritual eyes, knowing that with God all things are possible. I wait for God draw them back to Him. The enemy has done a superb job in deceiving them; it’s been a nightmare. But God, with one word, turned my helplessness into watching what He will do. The banner. He has it over you, too. Don’t you just love the Lord?

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

About the author: Dana Peters-Colley is a creative who loves Jesus. She has been tucked away developing a brand of Christian parable books, faith-based fiction, and inspirational books as well as screenplays. Dana holds a B.A. in journalism, studied screenwriting at U.C.L.A., and is a former long-time Disney creative leader and producer. When the Lord got ahold of Dana everything marvelously changed. She is developing a heavenly-inspired brand line that brings stories to build family, inspire discovery, and teach kingdom ways. See danapeterscolley.com to connect to her spiritual blog and gaze at her adventures.

Do you have a friend you want to receive Jesus into their lives? Do you want to receive how much God loves and values you? Do you want to be empowered to do the impossible? Then, you have to know who you are! Treasure will take you into the realization of God’s love for you as you discover you are His treasure.

Join the conversation: What does God’s banner over you mean to you today?

Weird Advice from A Makeup Artist

by Sheri Schofield

Have you ever been to one of those make-up parties, where someone trained in the art chooses a victim—um—I mean a model—to use for a demonstration? I did go to one. Once, when I was young and didn’t know better. I was chosen to be the model. The makeup artist obviously didn’t know me, or she would have chosen someone else.

As she carefully applied the make-up base, she said with great seriousness, “Now we must always stroke in the same direction, from the nose to the edge of the face. We don’t want to confuse those little hair follicles.”

I snorted. What?? Confuse those little hair follicles?? She’s got to be kidding!

“What was that, Sheri?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I replied, trying to keep my facial muscles still and not burst out into hysterical laughter. I was picturing the little hair follicles calling out to each other in panic, “Oh, no! Sheri’s applying makeup again! Hold on for your life! First she tells me to move down. Then she tells me to move up. What? Now she wants me to lay down with my roots pointing at her ear! I wish she would make up her mind! I am so CONFUSED!”

Fortunately, the makeup artist moved on to eyeliner and I had to concentrate on holding very still so she wouldn’t poke me in the eye.

Even now, when applying make-up, I sometimes remember that admonition to not “confuse those little hair follicles,” and end up chuckling. That may explain why my makeup is sometimes a little askew.

Consistency, however, is a good thing. And I don’t mean just about applying makeup. (You can do that however you want!) But consistency is important in raising children or teaching Sunday school, or any other form of leadership. It is important in everyday life. Those who listen to our words need to see consistency in us.

Today, it is far too common for parents and leaders to freely act out and express their emotions rather than keeping a tight rein on them. This was something I have had to seriously battle, for my heart tends to react emotionally to life and my mouth expresses what my heart says. But in my mid twenties, I saw the value of keeping my emotions in check in order to become an effective parent. My protective nature toward my children demanded that I become consistent. I realized my children needed my actions to back up my words about Christian living. I could not say one thing and do another without confusing them.

Consistent demonstration is necessary for building strong believers. God told the prophet Malachi, “For I, the LORD, do not change” (Malachi 3:6 NIV). Paul, the apostle tasked with reaching the non-Jewish people of the world, told the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV). We also see in Hebrews, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).

Consistency marks the mature Christian. It is based on the least talked about fruit of the Holy Spirit: self-control. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to be consistent in setting an example of godliness for others. That way, when we speak about Jesus—as we have been commanded—our words will be believable. There will be nothing inconsistent or confusing about our testimony of faith. In that way, we will draw others to Christ. That is God’s will for us.

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understand that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way. Colossians 11:9-10 NIV

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

Her first book on salvation, “The Prince and the Plan”, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, “God? Where Are You?,” tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: Who is the most consistent person in your life?

Beauty Born of Fire

by Maureen Miller

You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials, so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6- 7 CSB

As far as my eyes could see… skeletons.

The lodgepole pines poked heavenward, naked and marred—their lifeless forms telling a harrowing tale. Compared to the majesty of the Grand Tetons, these were a stark contrast. Nothing appeared beautiful to me—at least not until I observed more closely, leaned in to listen more carefully.

Right on cue, our guide, perhaps sensing my horror, continued. “See the wildflowers dotting the forest floor? And among them, the saplings—infant lodgepoles pushing toward the sun? These are just some of the results born of fire, because life is resilient and returns in extraordinary ways after the purging caused by destruction.”

And indeed, as I looked more intently, I saw them—signs of new life, and I sighed relief. After all, our guide knew so much more than me, shedding fresh light on my previous and limited perspective.

In reality, these unique coniferous trees possess a powerful life-preserving quality. Wildfires are not uncommon in the arid environment of the northwest, sometimes raging for weeks, destroying hundreds, even thousands, of acres of land.

Lodgepole pines, however, produce serotinous cones. Unlike other conifers, their cones must be exposed to intense heat in order for their outer coverings to open, releasing the seeds inside. In this manner, life continues, and beauty is born anew, even after the devastation of forest fires.

Beauty from literal ashes. New life from a refining fire.

With this broadened understanding, I observed differently—marveling at God’s creative hand even in the stark contrasts. The charred, lifeless lodgepoles no longer appeared to me mere skeletal remains but, rather, a source of rebirth—with wildflowers and saplings dancing joy among them.

And such is true for the child of God. Beauty is born when we endure the Refiner’s fire. Though one faces hardship in sickness and earthly sorrows, as she looks to God’s Son, her suffering and resurrected Savior, she can endure. More, she blossoms with fruitfulness that comes from abiding in the Holy Spirit—including love, joy, peace, and patience (Galatians 5:22, 23).

As we lean in, listening to God and applying His Word, our perfect Guide, our limited and narrow perspective is transformed, no matter the suffering we endure. We recognize that, despite what may have at first seemed destructive, God works through hardships, turning even the most harrowing life situation into a true tale of His interceding and gracious goodness.

And remember—others are observing our lives. As they hear our stories of endurance despite suffering, marred though we may be, they, too, will witness much more than sorrow and pain. After all, an abiding life in Christ is a stark contrast to one apart from Him, and a Christian’s testimony is proof that, while we yet dwell in an imperfect world stained with sin, God is faithful. Not only is He present with us in our suffering, but He suffered Himself that all might receive new life.

Because beauty born of hardship shines forth as pure gold, pointing others heavenward to the saving power of Jesus, resulting in praise, glory, and honor to His name.

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

About the author: Maureen Miller has a heart to convey God’s faithfulness and love to a world in need. She blogs regularly at www.penningpansies.com and is finishing her debut novel The Bible by the Bed, under contract with Redemption Press. She can be found picking wildflowers in western North Carolina or playing with grandchildren and her dogs in dancing pastures, the dwelling place for her family’s Scottish Highlanders.  

Join the conversation: Has God brought gold from the ashes in your life?

God Keeps Every Promise

by Louise Tucker Jones

For every promise from God shall come true. Luke 1:37 TLB

I was worn out from fatigue, fear, and worry. Who could understand my needs, my problems? I was haunted by constant pain from my back, hips, and legs. Even my jaws and temples ached. Anxiety clung to me like glue. My son had special needs that only I could fill, and I was exhausted. Though Jay went to a private school with other Down Syndrome students in his early years, he was now schooled at home due to his suppressed immune system. I constantly worried about his health as well as his education, even though we had a tutor.

The doctor had told us long ago that Jay’s heart disease would eventually prove fatal. Nothing anyone could do. How do you live with that knowledge day after day, year after year? How could I possibly tame this “fear monster” welling up inside me?

It was my regular Bible study night, so I decided to go, even though I was tired. I was listening only half-heartedly during the lesson, until I heard the worst possible statement. It grabbed my attention. The leader turned to our small group and said, “Ladies, if you worry, you are living in sin.”

What a cold and calloused statement. No discussion. No empathy for what many in the group were experiencing. Just a quick judgment and a pious platitude from a misguided Christian who had no idea of the damage her words caused. Of course, I knew the Bible tells us not to worry. But Jesus didn’t condemn those to whom he was speaking. He offered love.

Isn’t that what we are supposed to show people who are hurting? Shouldn’t we instead pray for those who are sad and lonely? Where was the acceptance our hearts long for in that leader’s statement?

Later that night, I got alone with God in my home and poured out my heart. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I held my Bible in front of me and cried out to my Savior. “Lord, I know this isn’t the best way to do things, but I’m desperate. I have to have a word from You!”

I lay the Bible in my lap and kept it closed for a prayerful moment then opened it at random, asking God to show me a special verse. There in the margin was a star beside one of several underlined verses. I read the words of Luke 1:37. “For every promise from God shall surely come true.”

I was struck beyond belief. I had opened my Bible, pleading with God to give me just one promise to hold on to in my physical and emotional pain. But instead, He opened the doors of heaven. He knew my heart and my desperation and gave me a passage that let me know that every promise in the Bible was for me. Not just one, but all of them.

A promise to meet all my needs (Philippians 4:19). A promise to never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). A promise to give me peace (John 16:33). To heal me, love me and more. Every promise was mine—personally autographed with the blood of Jesus.

Father, thank you that you are a God who keeps every promise. You want the best for me. Your grace and mercy flow like a river. Your heart takes great delight in me. Your love covers me and I rest in the shelter of your wings.”

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

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and award-winning author. Her poignant life stories have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles.

Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. Find her at LouiseTuckerJones.com .

Join the conversation: What promise of God means the most to you?

Love Isn’t Spelled W-O-R-R-Y

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Philippians 3:10 NIV

I can still remember as a child hearing my grandmother say to me, “Kathy, I was worried about you.” I have no clue or memory what she might have been worried about, but I remember her comment—because I knew she was trying to say, “I’m worried about you! I love you!”

But what she actually said didn’t make me feel loved nor did I feel helped. I wanted her to say, “I love you. I prayed for you, and I knew God was helping you.”

It’s easy to think worry communicates love, but it doesn’t. It actually breaks down relationships. But telling someone we are praying for them communicates love, builds the relationship, and strengthens the faith of those we care about.

Prayer is powerful; worry is powerless. Prayer builds the relationship; worry destroys the relationship. God never says, “I’m worried about you,” but He does say, “I love you, and I’m doing the best thing for you.” The Holy Spirit says, “I’m praying for you!” (Romans 8:27).

Although I’m far from conquering worry completely, I have greater victory, because I can look back and see how my worry caused me to over-react. Worry not surrendered to God motivates ungodly reactions.

We know the scenario. Our daughter is late getting home from a date. It’s past her curfew and worry begins to rear its ugly head as horrible thoughts of her being raped, or an automobile accident taking her life, or …a thousand other fears. We know those kinds of things actually happen, and we’re afraid it’s now going to happen to our family!

So when our daughter walks in the door late, because she and her date ran out of gas and their cell phone batteries died, what is our reaction?! Anger! “I’ve been so worried! How could you put me through this? What were you thinking? How could you do this to me?”

We aren’t communicating love with worry, because fear enters the heart of our child from our reaction. And often our words can be interpreted as it’s really all about us—our pain and worry, not our concern for our beloved child.

We can justify our worry by saying, “I love her. I don’t want anything bad to happen to her!” But worry didn’t keep her safe and worry has now made her afraid of us. We don’t have to do it! We can trust God.

We will be strengthened to trust God more when we realize there’s a difference between fear, concern, and worry.

Fear can be legitimate when it’s about actual dangerous things. (Just think of that bear running toward you. You should be scared and take action).

Concern is legitimate awareness of a potential danger and we can take it to God who cares for us and everything we are concerned about (I Peter 5:7 NIV tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”).

Worry is when we are no longer trusting God and believe we must take action without God’s direction.

Identifying which of the three you are experiencing can help you to take the right kind of action.

Remember my grandmother? Years later she said to me, “Kathy, I’ve been praying for you.” Not only did I feel loved, but I knew God’s effective power was taking place.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is the author of over 55 books, including Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries from which this devotion is adapted. Her books include devotionals, commentaries and women’s Bible studies. She loves to speak at events and has spoken in over 30 US states and 9 foreign countries. She lives in Idaho with her husband, Larry. They are parents and grandparents. Visit her: www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Her latest book is co-written with her husband, Larry, titled God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. This post is an excerpt from that book. Visit her at https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller.

Join the conversation: What do you do when worry overtakes you?

The Bag of Tricks

by Sharon Norris Elliott

My favorite cartoon was Felix the Cat. Felix started every episode just trying to live life without trouble. He’d whistle as he walked along or as he worked. But trouble always found him in the form of the evil Professor or Master Cylinder. Both of these adversaries wanted nothing more than to obtain Felix’s magic bag of tricks, which Felix was always able to use to escape from their sinister schemes.

Like Felix, most of us don’t go looking for trouble, but trouble often finds us. And trouble is real. Having faith doesn’t mean we ignore problems as if they didn’t exist and just skip on our merry way. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up because we feel hurt or frustrated or misused. Nothing is wrong with us if we experience a financial reversal, disappointment, disillusionment, or grief.

No, distress-producing tribulations that come our way are not indications of a weak faith. We are people of faith. Jesus said that faith as small as a mustard seed is enough. No matter what trouble rears its ugly head, we have rock-solid assurance that the trouble won’t consume us. We have in our possession the ultimate bag of tricks – the real and true and powerful God.

King Hezekiah turned to this very “bag of tricks” when his nation was threatened. The Assyrian king sent his bullying messenger, Rabshakeh, to intimidate King Hezekiah. In a letter he had queried, “Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed?” Isaiah 37:12 (NKJ).

King Hezekiah took the letter, spread it before the Lord, and prayed, “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel… You are God, You alone… Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands– wood and stone. Therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone” (Isaiah 37:16-20 NKJ).

Felix the Cat realized the trouble that came his way was not ever really directed at him. The problems he faced were always ultimately focused on obtaining his bag of tricks. King Hezekiah saw the same ploy. If the Assyrians destroyed the children of Israel, they would essentially be destroying the assertion that Israel worshipped the true God.

It’s the same with us. Our evil adversary, the devil, couldn’t care less about us. He is trying to besmirch the glory of God. If he can get us to give up on our “bag of tricks” – our faith in God through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit – we’ll go down and God’s honor will be tarnished.

Hold on in faith. Let God show Himself mighty as He delivers you. There will be no other answer as to how you got out and got over except to give God the glory. Troubles are big, but our God is bigger. As Corrie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that our God is not deeper still.”

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’” Psalm 91:2 NKJ

About the author: “Live significantly!” That’s the inspiring message of Sharon Norris Elliott, award-winning author, editor, agent, engaging speaker, and licensed minister. Author of 12 books, and associated with several prestigious organizations such as AWSA, ACE, and HSBN.tv, Sharon is also co-director of the WCCW conference. She is founder/CEO of AuthorizeMe® Consulting, Coaching, & Editing Firm and Literary Agency. www.AuthorizeMe.net

Sharon’s latest release, A Woman God Can Bless, walks through the house of your life with you and Jesus. This book will help you ease open the doors of old patterns of behavior, ingrained habits, and accepted dispositions with which you’ve grown accustomed. Within these pages you will find gentle prompts that will help you let the Lord remodel those closed rooms by redesigning your thinking and behavior to line up with His will for how you should then live.

Join the conversation: What distress-producing troubles has God solved for you?

WEPT

by Susie Crosby

verb: shed tears, cried silently

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 ESV

This is the famous verse: the shortest one in the Bible. The one that connects us to Jesus through the extremely painful emotion of sadness.

This is the verse that reminds us of how very human Jesus was.

He felt heartbreak.

He knew deep loss.

He experienced the raw ache of grief.

He shed real tears.

This verse is a surprising sentence in middle of the miracle story of Jesus raising Lazarus to life after four days in the tomb. To see Jesus cry must have significantly affected (and possibly confused) the disciples, the crowd, and especially Mary and Martha as they were mourning their brother. I think if I had been there, I would have been a little shocked and probably scared.

Because a lot of people in my life (including me) don’t cry very often. If our eyes well up or our voices crack with emotion, something really, really tough must be going on. Hurt and disappointment happens just as often to people like us, but for many different reasons, our tears get stifled or suppressed.

But Jesus wasn’t holding back. He wasn’t going to act like this wasn’t as difficult as it was. Mary and Martha and the others who were weeping must have felt so cared for. Not only was this their wise, strong friend unashamedly letting his tears fall, but this was Jesus–the One they believed to be the Son of God–grieving with them.

Even though Jesus knew that, in a matter of minutes, he was going to raise their dead brother back to life, he didn’t rush ahead or dismiss their feelings. He paused for a moment to just be with them. The Master, the Teacher, the One everyone was talking about had stopped to share in their pain, and he had actually started to cry.

The night that my Mom was dying was dark and awful.

Even though we knew she was going to be relieved of her sickness,

even though she was going to be with Jesus,

even though we can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven with her, we were devastated.

And we were going to feel terribly sad for a long, long time.

Jesus didn’t rush us past the pain. Instead, he came closer to us that night in the agony of losing her. He felt our pain, too, as we said goodbye until Heaven. He tended our hearts as we started to navigate life without her over the course of the next few years. And he faithfully, compassionately sits with us when the tears still come.

Whether we cry easily or not, we can be encouraged to know that Jesus wept too. I might even dare to suggest that this wasn’t the only time he cried while he walked on the earth. Even though we wish sometimes that he would just rush us through to the “feel better” place, we can be strengthened and comforted by his constant presence and understanding love.

It is okay to sit and cry with Jesus. Yes, he can bring life from death, good from evil, beauty from ashes, and joy from mourning. But in the painful in-between, let him hold your grieving heart. He’s got tears in his eyes, too.

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: How does knowing God grieves with you make a difference in how you view Him?

Another Meal?

by Doris Hoover

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?  Matthew 24:45 NIV

“Ooo ooo, me!” I could squeal, raising my hands and flailing my arms in response to the above question. But I would really only be able to respond to the second part of Jesus’ question. I am the one in charge of feeding my household. But am I a wise and faithful servant? If I am honest, I often act more like a disgruntled employee, resenting my endless chore of preparing food for others.

I’ve been preparing food for my household for forty-nine years. I have planned and prepared three meals a day along with snacks and desserts. For forty-nine years. Haven’t I earned the right to be bored and weary of the task? Uh, no-o.

My attitude needs adjusting. Each family develops its own pattern of running their household. My husband and I grew up in the 50’s when gender roles were clearly defined. June Cleaver cooked and cleaned, while Ward Cleaver went to work. We followed suit with how we conducted our household. It made sense for us, as I cook way better than my husband does, and he does other chores way better than I could.

I must credit my husband for fixing his own breakfast and lunch, and we go out to eat sometimes. My complaint is that meal prep is a never-ending task. People eat regularly. It’s a big responsibility to make sure others are fed every day. Even Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping her in the kitchen. And Martha liked to serve!

The resolution to my quandary comes in the next verse of Matthew 24: “It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns” (Matthew 24:46 NIV). We all have assigned tasks within our family circles. Many of them are tedious, tiring, and endless, but they are our responsibilities. So how can we keep ourselves from getting discouraged? I have several ideas.

  • Remember all our service is ultimately for Jesus.
  • Look at the blessings associated with the task.
  • Realize we’re being wise and faithful servants by performing the task.

Paul wrote: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB). When we view our responsibilities as God-given opportunities to bring glory to Him, we can be purposeful even in the tedious. Paul wrote the Colossians: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24 NASB).

May we remain faithful to what He has given us to do. And at His return, may we hear with glad hearts, “Well done, faithful and wise servant.” We can make even the hopelessly mundane tasks count for eternity.

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

doris Hoover

About 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. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41DNkvteFwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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: What responsibilities do you have that have bored you to tears?