Busy, Busy, Busy Doing the Lord’s Work

By Deborah Maxey

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NIV

We all know a Martha. Or two.  You know that super-hostess on steroids with everything coming to the table at the same time, at the right temperature, looking like the best picture on Instagram. Her table is beautifully set and adorned with fresh flowers she grew and arranged herself.  

I wonder if the Biblical Martha was like that. These verses tell us Martha was scrambling around in constant motion to “get-her done.” Maybe she chaired the synagogue hospitality committee and organized the bake sales, making cookies shaped like baskets with a little Moses in the middle.

But her sister Mary wasn’t on the same page. Can’t you just hear the conversation between them? Martha exasperated, placing the food just so on a beautiful serving tray, “Mary, help me. This is Jesus we are talking about. Everything has to be just right. It’s not like we can open a Pringles can and set out Hostess cupcakes” (or whatever the equivalent was back then). 

What we do know is that Martha was using her gift of hospitality to serve the Lord. She wanted things just right for Him.

In the Bible passage it is clear that both Mary and Martha loved Jesus. And Jesus recognized that. Jesus didn’t condemn Martha for her focus on detail and being busy, but he lovingly asked her to check her priorities. Both women felt they were honoring Him.

The passage describes Martha as “distracted.” She had gotten off course. And Jesus was loving Martha when he guided her towards focusing on what would be hers for eternity, not busy work, but worship, internalizing His love, and basking in His presence. He wanted her to know, among other things, the greatest value is the joy of worship, feeling swept up in His love.

Which one do I want to be? Mary of course. Mary who had her priorities and focus straight. And yet…when I take an honest look, so often I am Martha.

When I rush through my daily devotions.

When I read The Word but don’t bother to research something I don’t fully understand.

When I drive to church thinking of the list of things I need to do when I get there or return home, instead of preparing my heart with praise and readying myself for worship and hearing his Word.

When I thank God for blessings but don’t slow down to let myself feel the joy of what I’m thanking God for.

And, anytime I go about my calling with a hurried checklist instead of connecting with God on a deep heart-felt level. After all, who called me? He is present in what He asked me to do. My work becomes a holy gift to me when I allow myself to recognize His presence.

If an internal command pushes me to get it done without those things, I’m Martha!

Lord, I know you love me even when I get distracted. Please help me to be like Mary. Continue to show me how striving to check the boxes robs me of precious closeness to you. I’m grateful that you want me to feel your presence instead and to soak up your love. Because that is what I most want.

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

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey repurposed her life when she closed her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website https://deborahmaxey.com that focuses on miracles.  

Her debut novel, Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, was named the Golden Scrolls Fiction Book of the Year. Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation. Are you a Mary or a Martha?

Broken and Beautiful

by Fran Caffey Sandin

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12: 1 NIV

October’s birthstone is the opal. Light appears to emanate from the lovely gem when internal spacing of silica spheres, like broken chains, cause the diffraction of light to enhance various colors. In other words, the tiny open spaces inside the stone project a beautiful image.

This reminds me of broken things in the Bible that shine for God’s glory.

BROKEN JARS (Judges 7) The Lord directed Gideon to take 300 men to save the Israelites from the numerous Midianites. Gideon gave all the men trumpets and empty jars with torches inside them. When commanded, the men simultaneously blew their trumpets, smashed the jars, and with torches aflame, shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” The Midianites became confused, turned on each other with their swords, killing their own, and many ran away crying as they fled. The light within the jars could not be seen until those jars were broken.

BROKEN ALABASTER JAR (Mark 14: 1-9) Jesus was in Bethany two days before the Passover when the chief priests were secretly plotting to arrest and kill Him. While Jesus was in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head. Some guests were complaining that she had done a wasteful thing, but Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. What she has done will be told in memory of her.” The scent from the oil only could be smelled until after the jar was broken.

BROKEN BODY (I Corinthians 11: 24) On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus gave himself so that all who believe in Him will be saved. His body was broken to redeem us from our sin.

BROKEN WILL (Psalm 51: 17) The Psalmist, David, reminds us that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” He did not come to God for forgiveness until his spirit was broken, revealing the sin within his heart.

As a young wife and mother attending an evangelistic meeting, my heart was broken when I realized the wickedness of my sin. Although a church member for many years, I opened my spiritual eyes for the first time to see that my “righteousness” was like filthy rags in God’s sight. I had all of Jesus, but He did not have all of me.

I confessed my strong will and submitted my heart to Jesus. His sacrificial love on the cross caused me to give myself to him wholeheartedly. I visualized myself lying on an altar and said, “Jesus, I am yours–body, soul, and spirit. Take me and use me for Your glory.” I had a new hunger for the Bible and could not stop singing God’s praises. The hymns I learned in my youth had a new and deeper meaning. I felt renewed!

Through years of both happiness and heartache, failures and successes, the Holy Spirit has emboldened me with supernatural peace and joy. Even when I have been broken-hearted or discouraged, I remember…He makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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

About the author: Fran Sandin is a retired nurse, organist, mother, and grandmother living in Greenville, Texas. She and her husband, Jim, have traveled to many countries and states. Her latest book, Hope on the Way, Devotions to Go– contains 52 devotionals for those who love to combine faith and adventure. Visit her website to order with a click on the home page fransandin.com. Hope on the Way has been nominated by Joy and Company in Arlington, Texas, for the Henri Award (for outstanding Christian Literature) both in the Devotional and Christian Living sections.

Join the conversation: How important has brokenness been in your life?

God Comes Down To Us

by A.C. Williams

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Philippians 2:6-8 NLT

Recently, I got to dog-sit for a dear friend. She has two dogs, a little old white fluffy dog and a bigger younger golden fluffy dog. She set me up in her adorable little house, gave me the run of her kitchen and pantry, and provided a list of things that needing doing while she was gone.

Not a problem, I thought. How hard can dog-sitting be?

Shoot. If I ever think that again, y’all have permission to kick me.

Turns out dog-sitting is very hard, especially when one of the dogs doesn’t trust you. This silly critter spent thirty minutes making sure I was fully aware of her disapproval. The entire first day, she wouldn’t let me within three feet of her. That was a problem because she wouldn’t go out. I couldn’t walk her. I couldn’t give her meds. AND she wouldn’t eat.

Worried for the poor dog’s safety, I asked for help, and my friend’s neighbor came running to the rescue. And what do you think she did?

She got down on all fours and crawled around the kitchen floor, laid down on the dog bed, and acted as though she would eat the dog’s food. I believe there was a conversation about vegan meatballs, too.

Guess what? The dog calmed down, ate her food, and chilled right out.

The dog was scared. She felt alone. And a stranger had come into her safe place. She needed someone to come down to her level, to walk like her, to live like her, so that she could learn to trust them.

As I watched this neighbor lady crawling around on all fours for the sake of a silly, stubborn puppy, all I could think about was God’s grace.

Maybe some of us sneer at the idea of crawling around on all fours for the sake of a dog. Maybe some of us would never stoop to doing something so ridiculous.

My friends, what do you think Jesus did for us? He is God. He made the universe. All of creation began with Him (Colossians 1:15-17). He didn’t begin in that Bethlehem manger. He existed before Time. And He put on human skin and came to us (Philippians 2:7).

We were scared and stubborn and lost (Luke 19:10). We were lonely and empty inside. And He didn’t sneer at the idea of humiliating Himself. He crawled down in the dirt with us for three years, going knowingly to the most excruciating death in history, all for the sake of giving us someone to trust with our eternal souls Philippians 2:8).

So the next time you run into someone who needs help, remember how Jesus helped you. The next time you encounter another person who looks different than you do or who doesn’t dress as nicely as you do, remember what Jesus gave up to reach you. The next time you butt heads with some stubborn person who disagrees with you, remember the status Jesus sacrificed to have a relationship with you.

Oh, in case you were wondering, the dog and I figured each other out. A few days into my dog-sitting stint, we became buddies. But I had to take a page out of the neighbor’s playbook and get down on the floor with her for a little while.

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

Flipping Fates (The Misadventures of Trisha Lee Book 3) by [A. C. Williams]

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks won’t match. She has authored eight novels, two novellas, three devotional books, and more flash fiction than you can shake a stick at. A senior partner at the award-winning Uncommon Universes Press, she is passionate about stories and the authors who write them. Learn more about her book coaching and follow her adventures online at www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: How do you practice the grace of God?

Do You Need Protection?

by Tracy Hester

Psalm 91 beautifully illustrates one of God’s characteristics as being our protector. In reading the entire Psalm, I get comfort in knowing God is my security guard and his host of angels. This Psalm reminds us that if we trust God and not in anything else, he will deliver and protect us from the snares set up by the enemy. The enemy wants to hinder, discourage, and distract us by making us forget who we are in God and the power we have as Christians. 

Psalm 91 is one of the if and then passages in the Bible. Meaning if we do something, then God will do something as well. Here are a few examples:

“When you sit enthrone under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.” Psalm 91:1 TPT

“When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm.” Psalm 91:9, 10 TPT

“Because you have delighted in me as my great lover, I will greatly protect you. I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face.” Psalm 91:14 TPT

I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.” Psalm 91:15 TPT

The consistent message conveyed in Psalms 91: when we rely on God and stay in communion with him, despite our challenging and difficult times, he will place us under his care and protect us. Even if evil comes our way (and it will), it won’t destroy or hurt us because we have made God our habitation. A habitation is where we live or where we call home. It’s not a place we visit now and then, but it’s our consistent resting place.

So how do we make God our habitation? Well, first, it involves us not depending on our jobs, homes, families, or anything as the primary source for our security, filling us up, or making us complete or happy. Second, we can make God our habitation when we practice being in the presence of God consistently, not just on Sunday mornings. 

We can also practice being in God’s presence when our thoughts, actions, and desires focus on his ways and not our ways. This happens when we praise and worship him and consistently get our instructions from our life’s handbook—the Bible.

God’s presence is the only thing that can protect us completely, so run home and let God cover you!

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

About the author: Tracy Hester is a mentor, life coach, and a Bible teacher. She lives in Hercules, California, with her two children. She is excited about becoming a new grandmother in the fall of 2021 and releasing Get Up, Girl, Let’s Go in the spring of 2022. You can reach out to Tracy on Facebook or her website at tracyhester.com.

All Things New!: Discovering God’S Peace and Protection During Challenging Times by [Tracy Hester]

Tracy is the author of All Things New. When we experience personal struggles, we often hope He will remove our pain and instantaneously lift us from despair. But God’s plans for us will not always work out in that way. So often God wants us to instead take a journey of healing that can change our lives.

Join the conversation: Have you made God your place of habitation? How did you do it?

Learning to Surrender

by Michelle S. Lazurek

Skimming my hands across the spines of books poking out from the edge of the bookstore shelves, I found these words in the titles: Hustle. Prepare. Become. Wash. Be.

 As a type-A, driven person, this spoke to my perfectionistic heart. The thought that I could have the spiritual life I longed for by simply doing more made my heart leap. After all, who doesn’t love the ability to take their life out of God’s hands and into our own?

Then my heart sank.

As someone who jumps at the chance to use my writing ability for God’s glory, I have been in what I would call a holding pattern with God. For years, God had revealed writing project after writing project, much to my delight, as someone who is happiest when she is checking items off her to-do list.

But after many submissions to publishers, there were no contracts. No matter how hard I prayed to God to reveal his future for me as a writer, I heard nothing but radio static.

On top of this, financial stresses went up, and in just a matter of weeks, my life was crumbling around me, and there was nothing I could do about it. But little did I know, I was actually in the best position in my life. God was teaching me how to surrender.

Surrender means I acknowledge, “I’m not the boss. But you are, God.”

Surrender means I no longer have a say.

Surrender means God does what He wants to do, and I embrace His plan.

What God was asking of me was not to do more. Quite the opposite. He was actually asking me to stop working. I needed to lay down my ability to perform and everything else that separated me from a dependent relationship with God. It was only then would He do the impossible.

In Exodus 14:11-14 NIV, the Israelites had that same experience. Faced with the reality of a swarm of armies surrounding them, it seemed impossible they would ever win the battle. But instead of rolling up their sleeves and fighting the battle in their own strength, the Lord told them to do something counterintuitive: “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:10-14 NIV).

When the Israelites laid down their weapons, they made room for God to fight for them. They simply waited and watched as God used an angel to bring darkness and light, turned the sea into dry land and jammed wheels of chariots, thwarting the opposition’s schemes. All because they laid down a need to control and picked up an attitude of surrender, which in turn increased their faith.

When I laid down my desire to control my life, I made room for God to do a miraculous work. After that period where I was in a holding pattern with God, two book contracts I had been hoping and praying for came through. They opened up new doors for me in the writing world I could have never opened myself.

Sometimes the best thing we can do instead of claiming victories for our own is to surrender our will to God’s will, so He can do the impossible in our lives.

Everything is possible for one who believes. Mark 9:23 NIV

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

I Surrender All (Sort Of) by [Michelle S. Lazurek]

About the author: Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She is a regular contributor for ibelieve.com and crosswalk.com and is a movie reviewer for Movieguide Magazine. She also is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services. Her newest book I Surrender All (Sort Of) teaches people how to let go of the areas of life that are difficult to surrender and embrace a life of freedom. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.

Join the conversation: Has God worked on your behalf when you surrendered to Him?

Sometimes I’m Hesitant to Approach God

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Sometimes I’m hesitant to approach God. I wonder how God will answer my prayer—will I be disappointed with His answer? Am I evaluating the Bible correctly when I study—is He pleased with my conclusions? Am I hearing Him correctly—is He mad at me when I don’t obey completely?

Approaching God can be a mystery, and shall I say it? It can feel scary!

I think that’s why Psalm 103:7 ESV fascinates me. “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.” The New Living Translation translates it, “He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.”

Why the different words?

The first is a “who” and the second is a “what.” God revealed to Moses who He is. God only revealed to Israel what He did. But that wasn’t God’s desire. It was what the Israelites wanted. Something prevented the Israelites from approaching God with the motive to know His heart—His character.

I think the biblical story of the Israelites camped at the base of Mt. Sinai is the key to understanding why the Israelites were scared of approaching the mountain of God.

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21 ESV

Moses climbed the mountain with a passion to meet with God and know Him better, regardless of the risk. The Israelites focused on the threat of thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke on Mt. Sinai and resisted going up the mountain to approach God.

Psalm 78:11, 18 ESV describes why we fear climbing the mountain toward God. They [the Israelites] forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. We forget God’s loving works from the past, and we demand that God work the way we think He should.

That’s just like me. I see God working in my life, but it’s not always the “food” I want. He doesn’t fulfill all my plans. He doesn’t heal everything I think He should. He doesn’t work in people’s lives with “deeds” that seem most effective to me. I’m just seeing the thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke. I’m not seeing God’s heart which is motivated totally by love, goodness, grace, mercy, kindness, wisdom, and ….oh, the list of who He is goes on and on!

Each day you and I have a choice whether to believe the truths Moses believed about God’s character and climb through the darkness toward the heights of knowing the motives of God. Or we can choose to believe lies based on our incorrect evaluation of what the thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke seem to mean.

Truth comes from studying God’s “heart”, which involves His qualities, character, and nature as revealed in Scripture. False interpretations of our trials, afflictions and disappointments make us hesitant to draw closer to God.

Let’s join Moses in risking going through the darkness at the base of the mountain and trust we will know God in truth the higher we climb.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to motivate herself and others to examine both the heart of God and our own motives. Her purpose in her book, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory, is to help us examine our hearts and confidently obey God because of His goodness, wisdom, and love. Many of her other 55 books focus on approaching God through knowing His character, including God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. She is a wife, mom, grandma, and loves walking before dawn in order to see the stars. She lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, Larry. They married in 1970. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: What is your favorite characteristic of God? How does it encourage you to approach God even when it seems “scary”?

The Whistle Stop

by Kathy Howard

A train whistle always stops Lloyd in his tracks. No matter where he is or what he’s doing, when he hears the whistle blow, Lloyd pauses to thank God. Sometimes, his prayer is a simple “Thank You, Lord.” Other times, he pauses longer to praise God and thank Him for specific acts of mercy and grace in his life.

The seed for Lloyd’s “gratitude prompt” was planted long ago during happy childhood days spent on his grandfather’s Arkansas farm. One of Lloyd’s strongest memories of that time was the sound of the logging train that regularly chugged across the property. Thankfulness filled those days. Thankfulness for his strong, gentle grandfather and his example of love and family. Lloyd naturally connected those feelings of gratitude with the sound of the train.

Now, decades later, there’s another train that cuts a path across Lloyd’s Wyoming ranch in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Everyone that visits the ranch hears the story of the train, its whistle, and the reminder it provides to stop and thank God. From family and friends to neighbors and the Wounded Warriors Lloyd often hosts, everyone pauses to thank God when the whistle blows.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 1 Chronicles 16:8-9 ESV

After King David rescued the ark of the covenant from the Philistines, he brought it back to Jerusalem. As he entered the city, David encouraged the people of God to express their gratitude. He urged Israel to remember everything God had done and to thank Him for all His wondrous works. Like David, Lloyd knows that purposeful gratitude fosters a deeper awareness of God and greater joy in the heart of the worshipper.

God still deserves our praise and gratitude. We can follow David’s and Lloyd’s examples by not only stopping to thank God for His marvelous works and good blessings, but by also encouraging our loved ones to express gratitude to God. We could develop a “gratitude prompt” for our own family by identifying an everyday sight or sound as a reminder to thank God for His many gifts. We could also set a regular time for our family – perhaps around the dinner table – to share these “wondrous works” with each other.

Although thanking God is not hard, Lloyd knows how easy it is to forget. “People don’t take time to stop and thank God for all He’s done. We all need a little reminder.” Lloyd’s reminder is as faithful as the train.

This post is adapted from “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith,” Kathy Howard’s new, unique devotional that combines stories of faith with practical tips for spiritual legacy and helps for genealogy research.

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

About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate and richest coffee. She searches for cherished stories of faith that still impact hearts. And, she digs deep into God’s Word, mining His eternal truths for herself and to share with others. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters of Christian Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 10 books, including the “Deep Rooted” devotional series and “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” (October 2021).  Kathy and her husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org.

In the Dark and Loving It!

by Penelope Kaye

Fear. We have all experienced it with various levels of trepidation. Regardless of the particular phobia, it can cripple us and keep us from enjoying life, enriching our community, and embracing our future. Not the abundant life Jesus promised.

My fear of the dark began as a child watching scary movies at the local theater. Later, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” resulted in complete terror of the night. Even during my marriage, I wouldn’t let my husband turn the lights off until I was in bed with the covers pulled over my head. Taking the garbage out, reading past midnight, using the bathroom in the middle of the night—no matter what activity—darkness caused a pounding heart, sky-high anxiety, and a racing pulse. I knew someone or something waited around the corner to do me in!

Not until after I committed my life to the Lord did I receive deliverance from fear, especially the dark. However, being free from fear of the midnight sky did not leave me enamored with it. That all changed one August night. A night orchestrated by God.

I had driven to Portland, Oregon for a writers conference and was on my way home. My plan? Cross the treacherous Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho border before dark. But the day had started early and was ending long. Unfortunately, pinpoints of light dotted an inky sky by the time I reached it.John 8:12

Slowing to maneuver yet another curve, I suddenly realized I had no fear. The headlight beams allowed me to see only the path ahead, not the dangers around me. With a laser focus on the light, I was totally oblivious of any risk.

In a flash, God dropped a revelation into my spirit. As long as I focused on Jesus and His light, I didn’t have to fear regardless of how much darkness surrounded me. Joy bubbled up and I started to laugh—I was in the dark and loving it!

A paradigm shift had taken place.

Laughter took over. The joy of the Lord became my strength. I rejoiced in a new-found delight of my former terror.  What key led me to laughing at the enemy of fear? A change of focus from my darkness to His light.

You can experience the same freedom, whether it’s fear of spiders, fear of heights, or any other phobia. Make the shift to look to Jesus, the Light of the World. He’s the only one who can turn quivering dread into a celebration of praise—something He delights to do!! He, more than anyone, wants us to walk out of darkness into His marvelous light. Regardless of the phobia, when we move our focus to Jesus, the Light of the World, the victory belongs to us.

Trust Him to make the paradigm shift. And then let joy bubble out as you laugh in the face of your fear.

“. . .I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12, NKJV

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

Making Crooked Places Straight: A Spiritual Warfare Journey to Become Shining Stars in a Corrupt World by [Penelope Kaye]

About the author: Author of the award-winning book, Making Crooked Places Straight, Penelope Kaye’s new book, Land Media Interviews Without a Publicist releases in October. A teacher who loves to write, she pens poetry, picture books, and adult non-fiction. Her teaching career spans decades, including writing courses for the local adult community education center. Her devotional, In the Dark and Loving It won “Best Devotional” for the Oregon Writers Cascade Awards.

Join the conversation: Has God delivered you from a fear?

The Master Builder

by Terri Gillespie

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
Unless Adonai builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless Adonai watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain. Psalm 127:1 TLV

A Song of Ascents (vs. 1). There are fifteen psalms written as Songs of Ascent. Many scholars believe these were psalms sung by Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem or possibly while ascending Mount Zion or the steps of the Temple. It was a way to both worship and ponder different themes as they approached the Most High God.

Psalm 127 was about family. Children. Building a home. King Solomon writes that unless GOD builds the house—our “house of God”, our families—we labor in vain.

As the daughter of a contractor, I grew up loving the aroma of freshly sawed wood. Four of our homes were built from the ground up. One we finished ourselves, including standing on the joists of a two-story deck as hubby nailed in the 2x4s. I understand the importance of integrity, good materials, and patience.

Once my husband and I began building homes, my father cautioned us to visit the construction site every day, because no matter how good a contractor’s reputation was, his laborers weren’t always as honorable.

When I pulled up to the job site, depending upon who was present, I could practically feel the grumbles and curses before I exited the vehicle. Once inside, thanks to my father, I knew where to look for problems and the questions to ask. I was able to catch those problems, but the ones that happened when I wasn’t there, well …

Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the [Holy Spirit] who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 TLV

Yes, each of us is a “temple of the Holy Spirit”. That means our “building” has an on-site “contractor” living inside us, 24/7.

As we labor within this temple, we will make hundreds of choices each day. Will we use inferior materials, or the best GOD has made available to us? Will we cut corners and try to take shortcuts, or will we follow the blueprints GOD has made for us? Just know, the Holy Spirit sees all.

The primary choice we have is to build our temple on a solid foundation with Yeshua as the cornerstone (Acts 4:11). Otherwise, we labor in vain.

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear. For the Day will show it, because it is to be revealed by fire; and the fire itself will test each one’s work—what sort it is. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13, TLV

Let’s follow our Contractor and build the best temple we can, for there resides all we do in His Name.

Father, I want to follow Your blueprint and build upon Your Foundation with what will withstand the test of fire. Gold, silver, and precious stones—not wood, hay, and straw. Thank You for our “Contractor” who oversees our behavior and guides us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com.

The third and final book in the Hair Mavens series, Really Bad Hair Day, is a whirlwind of changes for the mavens—marriage, love, danger, loss, and redemption. The Hair Mavens: modern-day Ruth and Naomi stories set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: have you ever tried to “cut corners” around God’s plan?

Black Holes and God’s Rescue Plan

by Patti Richter

Midway Island is home to the albatross. Along with other birds, fish, and marine animals, these creatures are threatened by massive swirls of non-biodegradable refuse that collects in this area of the Pacific Ocean. Sadly, countless young albatrosses die on the island due to ingesting plastic.

That’s just one terrible consequence of garbage patches at sea; and most of us share the blame since we can’t seem to live without plastic. It’s everywhere.

Since man has stewardship of the earth, it’s hard to be optimistic about our pollution problem. Besides control and clean-up efforts, we can hope to find future uses of recyclable material—highways paved with microplastic asphalt maybe? But our trash issues go beyond land and sea.

A long trail of debris fills the earth’s orbit: broken satellites, spent rocket parts, and more space-age rubble. Just one Chinese anti-satellite weapon test added some 150,000 pieces to the not-so-heavenly junk pile. Scientists have considered using harpoons, nets, magnets, and other devices to tackle galactic clutter.

Further out in this galaxy there’s a black hole estimated to be more than four million times the size of our sun. By its strong gravitational pull, it traps celestial body parts within reach—possibly including fiery remains of collapsed stars.  

So, instead of thinking of black holes as big scary things, we could view them as God’s vacuum cleaners. Surely, like sharks and other things we want to avoid, they serve a useful purpose. According to scientists, black holes might serve to hold galaxies together.

Preserving the heavens and the earth is ultimately beyond man’s ability. The natural elements are God’s, after all, “created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16 NIV). Yet God showed his concern for man’s greater pollution problem—sin, which leads to eternal death. Like a black hole, sin is too strong for us to resist on our own.

God’s rescue plan for us is summed up in John 3:16-17 (NIV), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… to save the world through him.” And this good news includes temporal help as well. The apostle Paul wrote, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NIV). In Christ, we’re “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).  

While we anticipate a new heaven and a new earth with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4 NIV), at present we live with the effects of sin everywhere—like plastic debris. And though the world’s morally toxic atmosphere works against our faith, God is faithful to provide all we need for godly living.

He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world. 2 Peter 1:4 NIV

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: How has God “cleaned up” your life?