The Only Celebrity Who Matters

by A.C. Williams

Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. Isaiah 40:14-15 NLT

Do you know any celebrities? I’ve met a handful of famous authors, but for the most part, I just watch celebrity interviews on YouTube like everyone else. 

I follow a few actors on social media who I truly believe are the real deal. They live out a true, authentic faith, and from what those around them say, their faith has had an impact. They are great people. 

When I hear about someone who is great, I like to spread the word. Watch this movie. It’s great. Read this book. It’s great. Listen to this speaker. He’s great.

When you encounter greatness, don’t you feel the need to share it with others?

So… when was the last time you told someone how great God is?

I’m asking myself, too. Because I’ll be the first one to help promote a book or an entertaining movie, but when it comes to shouting about God’s greatness, I often get really quiet.

I don’t like conflict. I don’t enjoy rocking the boat. So I generally avoid topics that can potentially cause a stir. And God is really good at causing a stir (Luke 12:51). 

I won’t hesitate to tell someone I just met about the great book I just finished. But can I tell that same person that God put air in my lungs this morning, gave me taste buds to enjoy my coffee, legs to walk around and marvel at the beautiful autumn weather? Can I tell that person that God made the sun, the moon, the stars, caused the birds to sing and wind to blow (Isaiah 40:26)? That He keeps the Earth spinning like He keeps my heart beating, and that He cares about them both (Psalm 8:3-8)? 

You guys. God is great. He’s the only one who truly is. I apply the term too liberally. Only God deserves it (Mark 10:18).

Do you ever stop to think about His greatness? Do you ever take time to tell Him, to acknowledge how great He is? Do you ever marvel at His endless creativity, His unconventional sense of humor, and His relentless love? 

I don’t. Not as often as I should. And that’s got to change. As the times grow darker and the end draws near, the louder we need to be about His greatness. That doesn’t mean we should be obnoxious. But we also shouldn’t cower like trembling, fragile flowers. 

Christians, we are daughters and sons of God. He has redeemed us. He has given us a new life, a new hope, and an everlasting future. He knew my worth before I knew my name, and He’d already decided to do whatever it took to save me (Isaiah 53:10). 

God is great. In Him, I have all I need, and He wants a big family. That’s the thing about great people. They’re always looking for folks they want to bless. The doors to God’s house are wide open, and He wants everyone to experience the peace and joy that we can only find in Him. 

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

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 she 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: In what ways is God great to you?

The Trouble with Trouble

by Terri Gillespie

When my troubling thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations comfort my soul. Psalm 94:19 TLV

Okay, I admit it. I’m a closet Trekkie. Now, I don’t have Vulcan ears or anything. Yet. Growing up with the original Star Trek was delicious, it fed my vivid imagination.

One of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek show was, The Trouble with Tribbles. If you’re one of a handful of souls in this world who have not watched the 1960s’ series, here’s a brief recap.

To protect a space station with a vital grain shipment, Capt. Kirk must deal with Federation bureaucrats, Klingons [they’re bad guys], and a peddler who sells furry, purring, hungry little creatures as pets.

The fuzzy pets are called Tribbles and seem to have a calming effect on the crew—but the creatures hate the Klingons. Tribbles physiology is such that once they eat, they reproduce. It doesn’t take long before the ship is overrun with these furballs.

Just in case you haven’t watched the show and might want to—it’s free on YouTube—I won’t spoil the end. Most likely, the writer of this fun episode and I live in our heads. It’s helpful as an author but can be detrimental to my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Do you know what I mean?

Today’s verse defines me a little too accurately. If left unchecked, my troubling thoughts will multiply like the Tribbles. Sometimes, I will talk out a concern and discover it isn’t as bad as I first thought. Other times, I’ll try to ignore it only to have it resurface unexpectedly and cause me to stumble.

The most effective way to keep my troubling thoughts from growing and mutating inside my mind and imagination is to simply seek His counsel. His comfort.

I say it’s simple, but it’s anything but easy. Why? Probably because we think we can or should be able to figure out everything. Our trouble may seem small and manageable. We might even think, this isn’t our problem, someone else should deal with it.

The more we “feed” the problem with our own solutions, or pass the blame to others, the more problems we will create, until one day, what could have been resolved simply has now overrun our thoughts and emotions. The more emotions, the more offense builds.

A few weeks ago, troubles had multiplied in my mind. My peace was gone, thereby shortening the fuse to my anger, which caused blowups nearly every day. Finally, I came across Psalm 94:19 and realized, “I’m feeding these troubles and they’re reproducing like Tribbles.” Which made me laugh. The first time in days. I was overdue to seek my Heavenly Father.

Did that resolve everything? Nah. But it did trim back the excess troubles that weren’t real. Without all my emotions, I could hear the LORD better and work through the problem.

So, should we go to our Heavenly Father for every little thing? Maybe. Little troubles can multiply quickly without His wisdom and discernment.

Besides, with our Father, coming to Him is no Tribble at all.

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.

Terri’s newly released book, Sweet Rivalry, is the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart? 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 series is a modern-day Ruth and Naomi story set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: With what little things are you struggling today?

New Every Morning

by Sheri Schofield

Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools. Joshua 8:31 NLT

“Tim! Drew said his first sentence today!” I exclaimed, as I welcomed my husband home from work.

“What did he say?”

“He said, ‘I wub you, Mommy!’” For a first sentence, that was delightful.

Have you noticed how enthusiastic new Christians can be? God must enjoy them immensely. They are so full of excitement and eager to obey him. It warms my heart and fills me with joy to see this new life taking shape in them, too! Just as I treasured every step my children too, every new word they learned, every hug and every smile, so I enjoy those first steps new believers take.

I have some friends who came to Jesus as a young married couple. They read the New Testament like they were on their first safari, noticing every new thing, delighting in each of the Lord’s commands. They came across the story of John baptizing Jesus. At first, John didn’t want to do it because he felt Jesus should be baptizing him instead. But Jesus told him, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires,” (Matthew 3:15 NLT).

“Oh! We need to be baptized!” my friends concluded. They didn’t know how baptisms were done by churches. All they knew was that John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. So, they filled their bathtub with water and baptized each other.

Spiritually, they sprouted like seeds in the springtime, flourishing and obeying all they read in the Bible. They read that they were supposed to become part of a group of believers, so they joined our church. What a joy it was to get to know them! They were unshaped by the church culture, willing to let God teach them, eager to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading; willing to be conformed to the life Jesus presented in the Bible.

They were like the stones of the memorial Israel built after crossing the Jordan River—unshaped by the tools of man. Their hearts were sculpted by the Holy Spirit. They were new creations. Paul wrote, “He (Jesus) died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view…This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17 NLT).

Our new lives in Jesus must be built on one thing: God’s love. We love God. We love each other. We reach out in love to those who do not know God. Yes, God told the Israelites what His love looks like in Exodus 20. There God spelled out how to show our love for him and for each other.

But the Israelites didn’t get it. They became judgmental of each other’s behavior instead of loving. Knowing this, Jesus made it clear. He simplified the instructions. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-36 NLT).

Do not let the world—the hands of others—shape us. Like fresh, new believers, let us allow the Holy Spirit to shape us. Let our love for Him be new every morning.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22,23 NLT

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.

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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: Are there things in you that have resulted from the world’s influence? Attitudes or actions, that are not from the Holy Spirit? How can you tell?

God, Grace, and Gratitude

by Nancy Kay Grace

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NIV

A small, wooden plaque on my office shelf contains three words: God, Grace, and Gratitude.

When I saw it in the store, the simplicity of the message spoke to my heart. The three words remind me of the blessings God has freely given and guides my response to them. Let’s look at the interesting connection between those three words.

God. The “God of all grace” is one of the names given to God in scripture (1 Peter 5:10). God is the author of grace, freely given though we are undeserving. God’s greatest gift is the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. The blessings in daily life like family, sustenance, or even the next breath we take are also gifts given out of grace. I praise God for this amazing salvation and the daily outpouring of his grace gifts.

Grace. The word for grace in Greek is charis, meaning goodwill or favor. This is also the root word for charity, which is generosity and helpfulness shown especially toward the needy.

Charity is a free gift. We are in need of God’s free gift. Every day, I need connection with the Lord. God, the author of grace, generously gives us his favor as a free gift, not from anything you or I do.

Gratitude. It is interesting to note that the Greek word for gratitude is also charis. Our response to receiving grace from the Giver of grace is gratitude. The difference is that one charis (grace) flows from the Giver and the other charis (gratitude) is the response of the receiver. Grace flows from God to us; his blessings flow to us. We receive them with gratitude, the counterpart to grace.

God, grace, and gratitude are related words that spill into our lives. No matter what season in life you are experiencing, whether it’s a time of great blessing when things are going right or a time of distress when life overwhelms you, the God of all grace is present.

Thanksgiving is more than a season. When we begin and end every day with thankfulness, we gain a better perspective. Simple ways to live with overflowing thankfulness are to make a gratitude list and refer to it often, to thank others for their impact on you, and to thank God for the small and large grace-gifts in your life. Cultivating a heart of gratitude lifts our eyes to the expansive gift of God’s grace.

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

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is the speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about God’s grace. Her website, blog, and GraceNotes newsletter sign-up are found at www.nancykaygrace.com. As a cancer survivor, she writes about hope, perseverance, and God’s grace. Nancy enjoys hugs from grandchildren, playing worship songs on piano, hiking, and travel.

Join the conversation: How does gratitude help your perspective?

Thankfulness as a Sacrifice

by Elaine Helms

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 NASB

I was having one of those mornings when I just didn’t feel like saying thank you for anything. It wasn’t just a bad hair day; I was running late for work. When I turned onto a two lane road by the river, a car darted around me in a no passing zone, and then slowed down.

My attention was immediately drawn out my window to the daffodils beginning to bloom next to the road. I suddenly said out loud, “Lord, thank you for the beautiful flowers!”  I started to laugh and prayed, eyes open, “God that was You! You are working in my heart.” It wasn’t that long ago that in a similar situation, I would have started fuming that someone was in my way and slowing me down.

My whole mood changed as other things to be thankful for entered my mind. I began to praise God for my health, a comfortable car with heat, paved roads, and traffic lights so I could get across a busy intersection. The slow car in front of me actually turned right at that intersection, so I thanked God for that, too. I even thanked God for the job that I was rushing to get to.

My spirits began to rise, and I began to pray for the day ahead, the people I worked with who might also be having my kind of Monday morning. The projects we were working on that week were my next topic of prayer. I arrived at my destination before I could even finish praying for all my co-workers! Spring wasn’t completely here, but I noticed a spring in my step as I walked to the building.

With just a little gratitude, my attitude had completely changed. God knows us so well, He created us after all. When He gives a command like “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,” it’s for our good. Gratitude equals joy – that inner joy that is not based on our circumstances. I am a child of God and I have much for which to be thankful.

The verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, NASB came to mind, “Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It does make sense that in my walk with Jesus, there is opposition – my flesh wants control. It is a challenge to make my flesh submit to the Holy Spirit within me, but that is the goal.

Once inside the building, I was shocked to see in passing a mirror that my hair didn’t seem that bad. I had a smile for those I encountered on my way in, and I invited my secretary to join me in my office to pray about our busy week ahead. What a difference a little thankfulness had made in my day.

Maybe that’s why Jesus told the disciples and us in Mark 14:38 (NASB), “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

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

About the author: With her passion for God, humor, vulnerability and spiritual strength, Elaine Helms encourages audiences and readers to draw closer to God and live the abundant life Jesus came to give His followers. Prayer Coordinator for the Southern Baptist Convention for 10 years and for My Hope America with Billy Graham for two years, Elaine has 30 years of experience in church, national, and interdenominational prayer leadership. www.ChurchPrayerMinistries.org or erhelms@bellsouth.net

Prayer 101: What Every Intercessor Needs to Know

Prayer 101, What Every Intercessor Needs to Know, is a comprehensive guidebook for discovering how to pray as God intends. You’ll journey through Scripture, find inspiration in the stories of others, and learn simple and effective principles for prayer. An ideal resource for groups, Prayer 101 includes review questions for each chapter and a prayer ministry guide for churches eager to put prayer into action.

Join the conversation: For what are you thankful today?

Please Pass the Peace

by Christina Rose

It’s much better to live simply, surrounded in holy awe and worship of God, than to have great wealth with a home full of trouble. It’s much better to have a meal of vegetables surrounded with love and grace than a steak where there is hate. Proverbs 15:16-17 TPT

As the holidays drew near, Dad paced nervously, puffing on his pipe and jiggling the coins in his pocket. He was a quiet and pensive man, yet I noticed his feeling pressured as he stared out the window. Autumn leaves swirled in the wind as dark clouds filled the sky—setting the perfect stage for the storm that was about to hit with Oma’s arrival.

Mom’s mother was coming to help with the holiday meal. Oma was a tall, commanding captain of the nurses at Walter Reed military hospital, and she had a critical nature. She came from a frugal family of German immigrants who settled near the Amish in rural Pennsylvania. They worked the fields, raised livestock and saved every penny. Their diet of sauerkraut, pickled pigs’ feet, pickled beets and eggs (and all things pickled) didn’t help to sweeten their serious, hardworking demeanors.

Since Dad came from a family that loved to laugh and didn’t take things too seriously, Oma had a hard time understanding Mom’s choice of Dad for her husband. And Oma aired that opinion far too frequently.

After Oma arrived, the kitchen was on lockdown for several days while she and Mom created the perfect holiday meal. Dad took us hiking and we tossed the football around, then we enjoyed pizza and ice cream with a movie in the den. All of this was much more fun than being scolded for wandering into the kitchen and disrupting the cooks. “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife” (Proverbs 17:12 NIV).

Dad grew up on the beautiful coast of New England, and whenever we visited his childhood home, Grammie Dot greeted us with warmth and hugs. We gathered in the front room where aunts, uncles and cousins would laugh and jest for hours. When everyone got hungry, we ordered lobster rolls, fried clams, shrimp and French fries; then we tossed the paper plates in the trash so that no one was stuck in the kitchen washing dishes. These memories are full of joy.

The contrast of those memories reminds me of something I learned after my car broke down recently. I felt overwhelmed by car replacement choices and prayed to God for the right one. When a little white Ford Focus landed in my driveway, I realized it was more than a car; it was a word from God. Each day, when I see “FOCUS” on the back of my car, it’s a reminder to focus on what matters most.  

While Oma focused on creating the perfect holiday meal, Grammie Dot focused on enjoying her family. Prioritizing God’s plan for us gives us the peace, knowing He directs our steps, meets our needs with abundance, and holds our future safely in His hands. When we learn to live this way, we can relax and enjoy our lives instead of worrying about details that rob us of the joy that comes from loving God and one another.

Jesus imparted that wisdom to Martha when her sister chose to sit at his feet to listen and learn, deeming it more important than helping prepare the holiday feast. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her”(Luke 10:41-42 NKJV).

While I know that both my grandmothers wanted to create special memories, the focus on family over the feast was far more enjoyable. A holiday masterpiece feast is a treasured gift, but the love, laughter and joy we share with one another is paramount to celebrating the life that Christ died to give us.   

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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

Like Thanksgiving without the Turkey

by Patti Richter

Some memories stand out within the annals of holidays past—for better or worse reasons.

I recall my first Thanksgiving holiday away from home due to threatening weather. My college friend and housemate, Rhonda, could not drive the distance to join her family either. So we hatched a plan for our own little feast on Thursday—the very next day. We thought to invite a friend from our Bible study group who would otherwise be alone. Kirk surprised us in return, saying, “I could bring the turkey! My company just handed them out to all the employees.”

Kirk planned to come early and hang out with us while the turkey roasted. Meanwhile, Rhonda and I—novice cooks at best—planned to prepare some basic side dishes and a pumpkin pie to complete the traditional menu.

On Thanksgiving Day, we set the dining table with 1970s green and gold dishes as the fragrance of cinnamon wafted through the house. Kirk arrived, and with a pleased smile, he handed us a heavy bag containing the turkey—still in its wrapping and frozen solid!

Our little triangle of young adults, suddenly subdued, must have resembled those well-known TV characters: wide-eyed, disbelieving Lucy; disappointed, slump-shouldered Ethel; and poor old Fred, wishing the girls had given him better instructions.

The disappointment of missing that central dish of Thanksgiving gave way to an abundance of laughter for days. It further provided an enduring remembrance of a holiday, and it possibly served to sharpen each of our critical thinking skills.

Although I went on to better success in the kitchen, I still have instances where a meal goes wrong. It’s usually when I’m distracted. My oldest granddaughter recalls one of my mishaps and still teases me if she knows I’m preparing chicken casserole: “Don’t forget to add the chicken, Grandma!”

The main ingredient of most recipes is so obvious that we assume we’ll remember it. Thanksgiving can be this way too—not only concerning dinner items but regarding the reason behind the celebration. Neglecting to offer thanks to God on the occasion specifically dedicated to this purpose is something like forgetting to prepare the turkey.

A wayward culture attempts to redirect our Thanksgiving focus by urging appreciation for those who serve us. Romans 1:21 speaks of this departure from acknowledging our Creator: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (ESV). Even worse, we commonly hear public prayers addressed to departed loved ones instead of to God, in the name of the One who rose from the dead. Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 ESV).

One way to keep a right focus at Thanksgiving is by thanking God each day, not just at mealtimes but at every opportunity. The apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” and “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4, 6 ESV).

Thanksgiving is one big opportunity to share our faith with families and friends through offering gratitude to our Provider. Let’s not forget this main ingredient.

O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth . . . You visit the earth and water it . . . You crown the year with your bounty. –Psalm 65:5, 9, 11 ESV

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: Does your family remember to thank God at Thanksgiving? Do you have a tradition on that to share?

Inconsistent Thanksgiving

by Carol Ogle McCracken

 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8 NIV

Mom and I sat in the hospital waiting room again giddy from lack of sleep and a huge sense of relief. My husband Rich was no stranger to hospital visits, given his heart issues. But this time he’d had to undergo emergency surgery.

 He had been in the hospital for eight days because his doctors could not locate the cause of the excruciating pain that immobilized him. Test after test failed to provide answers. Rich was so frustrated he was ready to leave. Then finally, one of the tests yielded an unexpected result. He had thrown a blood clot, and it had become lodged, compromising the blood flow to his large intestine. His organs were in danger of shutting down.

Mom and I were chuckling on a waiting room couch, bemoaning the fact that my husband would have to be still, which was not his strong suit, and recover from yet another surgery. He had almost died twice, and yet here he was, stubbornly alive and kicking.

The doctor came out and told us the surgery was successful. What he neglected to tell us before the procedure was that only twenty percent of the people who had this surgery survived. This wiped the giddiness right out of the situation. We knew surgery was serious; what we didn’t know was the risk we faced. There had been no choice but to go forward with the surgery, for without out it, my husband would die. The clot could not self-correct. But how close he came to possible death was not on our radar. Rich had now almost died a third time. Praise God for this gift He had given us. What great things our God can do!

I think King David and his fellow Israelites felt a similar sense of thanksgiving as David oversaw the return of the captured ark of the covenant. King David had properly prepared a place after God previously had taken Uzzah’s life for mishandling the ark. As a Levite, Uzzah should have known better. David had initially been angry at the Lord’s wrath, but David grew in his relationship with and understanding of the Lord.

As a result, there was a significant advance in Israel’s worship. Musicians were appointed, burnt offerings were sacrificed and fellowship offerings were blessed. David appointed Levites to thank and praise the Lord. At least eight ways to praise and glorify God are recorded in 1 Chronicles 16 to proclaim what God had done.

We would need to remember this reason for thanksgiving as Rich again recovered. Satan tried to defeat us many times in the waiting. Crankiness and lack of patience reared their ugly heads. Facing mortality is challenging for all concerned. I do not have an exemplary bedside manner. Just ask Rich. “Suck it up,” were not the words he wished to hear from his loving wife. What can I say? I prefer to heal in a solitary state. Perhaps something more sympathetic like, “Thank God you are alive” was more what he wanted to hear!

But God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving all the time. Even in the waiting, we are to proclaim His name. Even in giddiness, relief, anger, crankiness, and absence of patience, we are to make known what He has done.

So, join the Israelites and me in the never-ending cycle of highs and lows as we try to consistently give praise to God for what He has done. Praise Him no matter what you are feeling. He is worthy.

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

Wisdom: Where To Find It If You've Lost, Forgotten, Or Never Had It

About the author:  Carol McCracken has been a Bible teacher for over twenty years. She currently serves on church staff as Adult Discipleship Minister. Her passion is to make the Bible come alive for women and connect it to a real relationship with Jesus Christ in today’s busy and demanding world. She is an AWSA and Destin Word Weavers member. She serves as volunteer staff at Wholly Loved Ministries. Carol is a contributor to ChristianDevotions.us, Arise Daily, Arise Daily to Peace and Mustard Seed Ministries. Her book Wisdom: Where to Find It If You’ve Lost, Forgotten, Or Never Had It is available on Amazon. Connect with her at CarolMcCracken.com or on social media. Carol Ogle McCracken can be reached at: 614carolm@gmail.com

Join the Conversation: How has remembering to give thanks been helpful to your walk with Jesus?

Thanksgiving Boulevard

by Fran Caffey Sandin

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

When devastation touches our lives, responding with a thankful heart becomes a challenge. Everyone has a story. Mine began when our seventeen-month-old, Jeffrey, became ill on a Sunday and died on Thursday. Bacterial meningitis. Everything medically possible had been applied. Many prayers for Jeffrey’s earthly healing remained unanswered, but I know I will see Jeffrey in Heaven.

Years later, we said goodbye to our forty-three-year-old son, Steve, a godly physical therapist who spent his life serving and helping others. He passed away after a fourteen-year struggle with cystic fibrosis and kidney failure. My heart still aches, but I cannot live in constant grief knowing Steve will greet me in Heaven.

So, the question becomes: How can we be thankful when grieving such great losses?

I once heard singer Joann Shelton say, “Praise moves me from Complaint Avenue to Thanksgiving Boulevard.” I found the four-lane divided parkway beneficial.

  1. Thankfulnesssoothes our distresses as we recall joyful memories from the past. It is comforting to recall the times we enjoyed with our loved ones and thank God for those blessings.
  2. Thankfulness—helps to allay anxiety. God is in control, and we do not have to live in fear. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
  3. Thankfulnessheightens our hope. Remembering God’s past faithfulness and mercy causes us to look to the future with hope. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV).
  4. Thankfulnessstrengthens us for endurance. After the crisis and adjustment time has passed, we look toward what the Lord has for us to do, and we become the person He wants us to be. We press on and will remain on earth until our work is done. No one else can complete the unique assignment He has given to us.

When I think of the apostle, Paul, who endured shipwrecks, beatings, hunger, sleepless nights, imprisonment, and weary days, I marvel that he wrote I Thessalonians 5:18. He did not mean that we thank God for bad things that happen. But we can say, “Dear Lord, even in this heartache, I believe You are working things out for my good and for Your glory.”

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

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

About the author: Fran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She has authored See You Later, Jeffrey, and Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith. This devotional is an excerpt from her new book, HOPE on the Way, DEVOTIONS to Go, published by Roaring Lambs Ministries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For more information visit Fran’s website: www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: On what “street” are you living?

Discovering Gratitude

by Candy Arrington

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God. Psalm 9:1-2 MSG

Have you experienced a time when you really wanted something, prayed constantly, did everything humanly possible, and still things didn’t turn out as you’d hoped? It’s difficult to express gratitude when dreams go unfulfilled, and prayers seem unanswered.

Hannah’s story in the Old Testament is one of wanting, suffering, trusting, and answered prayer. In Hannah’s time, a woman’s self-worth depended largely on her ability to have children. Hannah’s husband loved her and was concerned about her, but no matter how understanding and loving her husband, Hannah still felt like a failure, because she was childless.

While you may not be able to connect with Hannah’s situation, we’ve all experienced times of disappointment, frustration, and defeat. When we focus on what we don’t have, gratitude is far from our thoughts.

Following Hannah’s example, we can discover and cultivate gratitude by:

Worshiping Wholly

Despite her sorrow, Hannah understood worship. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit prays for us in our weakness with groans too deep for words (Romans 8: 26). That’s the kind of intense worship and prayer Hannah expressed, even in her disappointment.

Often when we go through a time of emotional upset or difficulty, we fail to worship. Even if we attend church, we’re not totally there mentally or spiritually. Our minds drift to imagined scenarios of what we wish would happen. In times of difficulty, worshiping God totally requires intentionality.

Eliminate Envy

Hannah potentially had a major source of envy in her life – her husband’s other wife, which sounds a little like the title for a daytime drama! Peninnah possessed what Hannah wanted most – children. Peninnah seized every opportunity to make Hannah feel worse by taunting her.

Steer clear of the envy trap. Envy robs us of joy and leaves us with an attitude that can sour our whole outlook on life. Although it’s hard to do, praise God for how he’s blessed you, and stop looking at others and envying their situation. You can be sure there are difficulties in their lives of which you simply aren’t aware.

Recognize Blessings

Often, we choose to focus on hard circumstances rather than blessings. To redirect your thoughts, consider starting a gratitude journal. As your blessings list grows, notice how your thoughts track toward positive aspects of life.

Once Hannah shifted her focus to praise and thanksgiving, Peninnah’s jeers faded. Ultimately, Hannah’s prayers were answered, but even before she had that assurance, she praised God. Our lives transform when we learn to recognize and give thanks for blessings.

Live in the Present

Like Hannah, we sometimes get so involved in the wished-for future we forget to enjoy life today. Hannah modeled some practical steps we can adopt when we’re discouraged and not feeling grateful.

First, Hannah prayed. She honestly poured out her fears, frustrations, and hurts to God. Second, she told Eli, a trusted church leader, her situation. Eli listened, prayed for Hannah, and encouraged her. Sometimes, we need encouragement and help from someone else to get an objective view of our situation. Third, Hannah stopped feeling sorry for herself and trusted God. She left her unfulfilled dreams at the altar, dried her tears, ate a meal, and went home with a smile on her face.

We can do the same. By making an effort to discover gratitude, we gain a new perspective that provides joy today and hope for the future.

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

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books),  When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Wellprovides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: Have you allowed gratitude to influence your attitude towards unanswered prayer?