Receive The Cup

by Louise Tucker Jones

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. Luke 22:42 NIV

When I read of Jesus’ last moments at Gethsemane, as he prayed for the Father to remove the bitter cup that lay ahead, I weep and even identify. That almost sounds blasphemous to say I identify with Jesus, but wasn’t that one of His purposes? To endure pain and suffering, so we might know that He understands when we are faced with the same?

No, I have not been asked to suffer on a cross for a world of sin. Only Jesus has done that. And it is through His death and resurrection that we have eternal life. But we will have problems on this earth. Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV) None of us are immune from pain or suffering.

And I doubt any of us can understand the loneliness that Jesus felt during such agonizing prayer that He sweat drops of blood, then found his friends sleeping. But because of this, He knows how we feel when we are betrayed or try to pull friends along for support in the midst of our crises. And often, like the apostles who napped while Jesus prayed, our friends don’t understand the magnitude of our pain. They have their own lives and problems, so they often retreat, leaving us feeling alone and hurt.

Prayer is truly all we know and all we can do in some situations. It’s the best thing to do. I know what it’s like to pray all night for something to change—for a child’s fever to break or an illness to leave. For teenagers to be kept safe when they are out after curfew. I’ve prayed long and hard prayers for a prodigal to return and a rebellious spirit to be subdued. And I definitely know the deep grief of sitting beside a loved one on the brink of death, praying that this day or night would not be their last breath. I want the “cup” to pass and life to go back to normal. And when it doesn’t happen, I want ready answers.

But sometimes those answers don’t come. We pray. We ask. We plead. But the answers evade us. They lie in unknown corridors of time until God is ready. When this happens, it is often all we can do to hold onto a scrap of faith lest we plummet into a pit of despair. When there is no rescue, and it is just God and you in the dark of night. When the answer is not what we want and our hearts are broken, may God give us the faith and courage to do what Jesus did. To lift our hands toward heaven and receive the cup as we plead, “Thy will be done!”

Lord Jesus, thank you that you understand our deepest heartaches and greatest sorrows. Thank you for loving us through the dark times as well as the good times. May our souls rejoice in You!

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones is the author/coauthor of six books, including the Gold Medallion award winning, Extraordinary Kids. She has published hundreds of poignant life stories in anthologies, magazines such as Guideposts and thirteen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Married for 45 years before her husband, Carl, relocated to heaven, Louise is the mother of two children on earth and two in heaven. She is a grandmother, great-grandmother and professed chocoholic. LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt isolated by disappointment?

Side by Side

by Doris Hoover

In the summer, my backyard garden has an assortment of flowering plants. Plumbagos add a lovely shade of periwinkle to the color scheme. Mexican petunias chime in with purple, while roses stand out in bright red. I specifically chose those plants for their colors. As they grow side by side, they beautify my yard.

The beauty of God’s kingdom is displayed when many different people labor side by side to accomplish His work. We find a perfect example of that in the book of Nehemiah. The wall around the city of Jerusalem was broken and the gates burned. There were huge gaps where rocks lay in heaps on the ground. Under Nehemiah’s leadership, people worked side by side to rebuild the broken sections. “The repairs next to him were made by the priests from the surrounding region. Beyond them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house, and next to them, Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his house” (Nehemiah 3: 22-23 NIV).

The list goes on, naming people with various vocations and social standing. Even though the wall extended around the whole city, by laboring side by side, each on his own section, the people were able to take on an enormous task.

As writers, speakers, and others in Christian ministry, we labor side by side to accomplish the enormous task of reaching the world with God’s message. We each have unique skill sets and individual experiences that help us relate to others. God equips us with all we need to do the work He sets before us.

There’s no room for comparison, envy, or competition because we’re not competing with one another. We each have our own area in which to work. Your success helps to fill your gap, my success helps to fill my gap, so together, we carry out God’s work.

The entire field of wordsmithing is like a garden with a variety of plants. Some people write fiction; others write non-fiction. Some are gifted speakers; others have creative genius in putting words on paper. Then there are those who coach, mentor, edit, and publish. Each talent enhances the whole effort to reach the world with Good News.

God assigns each of us a part. Our style may be tailored to relate to a specific group of people. Another person may have a story that relates to countless people in many places. As we each work faithfully on our unique message, we become part of God’s bigger plan.

The only way the Israelites could repair the entire city wall was through a joint effort. The task was too big for one person. Likewise, for those of us who feel called to a particular aspect of ministry, the task is too big for one person. The Lord equips each of us to fill a specific gap. As we work to fulfill our own task, we help achieve God’s bigger plan. Let’s work happily and faithfully side by side in a joint effort to share God’s message with the entire world.

The God of heaven will give us success. Nehemiah 2:20 NIV  

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

About the author: If you’re looking for Doris Hoover, she’ll be somewhere between the Sunshine State of Florida and Sunrise County, Maine. Most likely, you’ll find her outside collecting ideas for her writing. Her love of God and nature inspire the devotions she writes. Doris is a mother of three and a grandmother of five. She and her husband Tim enjoy traveling to visit their family. Doris has won awards for her devotions. In addition to being published in The Upper Room, CBN.com, Arise Daily e-devotionals, and InkspirationsOnline.com, Doris is also a contributor to many compilations such as Arise to Peace, Short and Sweet, Light for the Writer’s Soul, and more. Her first book is Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional. You can visit her website and blog at ANatureMoment.com.

Join the conversation: Do you have experience in working as a team in God’s kingdom? Please share!

Though Resolutions May Fail

by Patti Richter

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

It usually happened every year around the end of January; I had to acknowledge my failure to keep those well-intended New Year’s resolutions. When I finally reckoned with my poor track record—the rabbit-like start, tortoise-speed progression, road-kill finish—I decided to quit making resolutions.

For years, I believed my annual objectives were superior to my husband’s simple, very practical goals (such as “replace all weather stripping”). Yet by year’s end, his list faithfully emerged from his top desk drawer with a bold checkmark beside each entry. My own list remained hidden from view, deep in the belly of an overstuffed journal.

Though I no longer trust my lofty aims for self-improvement, I still appreciate the idea of a fresh start. In his book, The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan points out the benefit of looking ahead to new days. He says the past might be beyond repair, but we have the future, “vast, unbroken, pristine, radiant.”

A new year is like a door to the unknown, which leads to surprises, including some unpleasant ones. But what happens if these challenges find us February-weak instead of January-strong? Limping instead of running.

While most of us distain weakness, God values this condition as more pliable working material than our self-confidence. Especially when we come to admit our powerlessness to change ourselves or our circumstances. According to 2 Corinthians 12:9, we will find God’s power available when ours fails.

This makes me think of a recent shopping trip to a big-box store. A sudden power outage left me standing at my cart in total darkness. Then, behold, the store’s generator—unseen and unappreciated until now—took over and saved the day (and thousands of pounds of refrigerated items).

The Old Testament is full of stories of men and women who experienced God’s power despite their weakness. Many of them are honored in the New Testament’s “Hall of Faith,” as chapter 11 of Hebrews is sometimes called. In forty verses, this chapter commends those who “conquered kingdoms… stopped the mouths of lions… escaped the edge of the sword…” (vv. 33-34 ESV), not by their own might but by faith in God.

Abraham appears in this chapter because he “obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8 ESV). The others mentioned endured challenging circumstances not unlike ours today: family strife, relocations, sinful influences, childlessness, poverty, affliction, and so on. Yet, through faith, they “were made strong out of weakness….” (v. 34 ESV).

Acknowledging our dependence upon God is a cure for the kind of willful determination that keeps us from experiencing his power. We can instead emulate those by resolving to embrace the singular goal they had in common: Live by faith.

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: What are ways that you keep your faith strong?

God is Up to Something

by Dr. Sharon Norris Elliott

Joseph’s scandalous brothers had sent him through hell, but the tables turned when they appeared before him needing food for their families during the famine. Joseph could have exacted harsh revenge, but instead he communicates God’s perspective on their situation. In Genesis 45:4 – 8 we read:

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt” (NIV).

COVID-19 has caused many of us to make unscheduled changes. I was in the 36th year of my teaching career in March of 2019 when the pandemic forced schools to shut down. Like teachers all over the United States, our faculty pivoted and began teaching kids from home.

Boy, that was hard. The pressure of those months exclusively in front of my computer until the end of the school year sent me into physical therapy. My back, neck, and shoulders ached. The weight of those months added more anxiety on top of other work-related tensions. Why was all this mounting up on me at one time? God seemed silent. 

Then, at the end of July, well before vaccines, the administration at my school began talking about returning to classroom learning. I couldn’t see it. Either I could stay and risk my life, or I could quit and risk my livelihood. After prayer and consultation with my husband, I made the decision to retire early.

I felt God’s prompting to turn my avocation of freelance editing, coaching writers, and publishing my books into a full-time, entrepreneurial venture. He had plans. He directed me to hang out my shingle as a literary agent and start a writers’ academy by turning my one-hour seminars into 12 masterclasses.

After going through the business door God opened, I’ve never looked back. My agency represents dozens of clients, my clients are getting book contracts, my books are launching, and the book development and editing side of the business has no empty slots. I had to step out in faith before I would see God’s favor supporting me on this journey of total trust.

No matter what we’re facing, we too must realize that God is up to something in our lives. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered (“koon” in Hebrew, meaning rendered sure, confirmed, or made prosperous) by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (NKJ). We may not know why God is having us hike the paths we’re trodding, but our job is to just keep walking.

As long as we’re following Him, we can’t go wrong. When troubles threaten to drown us, no worries; He can help us walk on our fitful seas. If difficulties get heated, no problem; He can walk with us in our fiery furnaces. We won’t know until we grow through what we go through that God had us on that path because He had a plan all along.

Even though He’s leading through unfamiliar and possibly treacherous territory, trust God enough to keep following Him. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJ). God is up to something.

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

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 is God up to in your life right now?

Trust the One Who Knows

by Nancy Kay Grace

On New Year’s Day, when changing the calendar on the fridge, I uncovered a familiar magnet.

Once hidden by pictures, coupons and notes, the revealed message resonated in my head and heart as if I read it for the first time. The magnet featured a quote from Corrie ten Boom:

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

A new year brings new challenges. Every day will be an opportunity to trust God with our fears and problems.

Trust. A simple but powerful word. It is the belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, or effective. We put trust in someone who is greater than us. What better source of trust is there than the all-knowing God? When we can’t see through the darkness, His presence is with us. He sees the beginning and the end, the first days of the new year through its closing hours.

Consider these 5 assurances to trust our God in the new year:

  • God sees the whole picture of history. We see only our present and have an understanding of the past, but God holds the future. He knows how all of history fits together. “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals the deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:20-22 NIV).
  • God is aware of His creation. The Creator cares for each of us, His workmanship. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” Hebrews 4:13 NIV He is involved in every detail of the world around us.
  • God is the great comforter, the God who is “with us.” “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows my way” (Psalm 142:3 NIV). We are never alone.
  • When we trust in God, we gain peace. His peace stabilizes us in uncertain situations. “He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).
  • Our strength may wear out, but God’s strength is ever present. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped” (Psalm 28:7 NIV). He is strong enough to carry us through. We can rest in the sovereignty of God’s grace. Whatever 2022 holds, always look to the Lord. He is soooo trustworthy—he has been in the past and will continue to be trustworthy in the future.

These five assurances show us Who to trust in these changeable times. Which one do you need the most?

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: What do you know about God that helps you trust Him?

Will You Carry the Baton?

by Kathy Howard

Billy Graham spent his life taking the Gospel to the world. According to estimates, Graham preached in almost two hundred nations and territories. About 215 million attended his events. Two billion more heard Graham via radio and television. Most importantly, estimates of how many responded to his invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior exceed two million souls.

We can’t statistically measure the impact of the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. But both Scripture and history prove that the Holy Spirit used him to launch the Gospel like a rocket across the world. Not even the chains of his Roman imprisonment impeded his ministry. God simply brought the lost to Paul, including an early opportunity to preach to a big crowd of curious Jews.

“When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets” (Acts 28:23 ESV).

Picture an ancient version of a Billy Graham crusade. Great numbers of lost Jews showed up to hear Paul preach. And he preached all day! From the Law and the Prophets, Paul presented Scriptural evidence to persuade them that Jesus was the Messiah they’d been waiting for. Like those who hear the Gospel today, some believed, but many others rejected the evidence and did not believe.

“He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:30-31 ESV).

Luke’s account of Paul’s two-year house arrest is brief, but other Bible passages show that Paul was not idle. He wrote many letters to encourage and instruct churches and ministers. Four of them – Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon – are part of the biblical canon. Paul also used his rented house as a hub for ministry. Some ministry partners consistently stayed with him and others – like Timothy – came and went as they continued the evangelistic work outside Rome. Believers from other churches also visited, like Epaphroditus who brought financial aid and encouragement from the Christians in Philippi (Philippians 2:25).

But what happened after the book of Acts ended? The Holy Spirit powerfully propelled the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and all the way to Rome (Acts 1:8). But for those of us who want to know more, Scripture and church tradition offer clues. Likely, Paul was released (Philemon 22, Philippians 1:19-26, 2:24) and continued his evangelistic work for a few more years (1 Timothy 1:3, Titus 3:12). Then, based on Scripture (2 Timothy 4:6-7) and early church tradition, Paul was arrested a second time in the mid-60’s AD and beheaded by order of Emperor Nero.

The end of the book of Acts is not the end of the story. The Holy Spirit’s work to take the Gospel to the world has continued through the millennia all the way to today. And now it’s our story. It’s our commission. We hold the baton. We cannot be silent. JESUS CHRIST is the hope of the world.

Pray: Lord Jesus, You alone are the hope of a lost world. Open my heart to the great need of the lost and open my mouth to boldly proclaim Your name.

This post is adapted from “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts.”

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, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. Kathy is the author of 11 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Here’s more about “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts”

Deep Rooted: Growing Through the Book of Acts: A 50-Day Devotional Journey by [Kathy Howard]

Pack your bags and join Kathy Howard for the journey of a lifetime. You’ll experience the powerful arrival of the Holy Spirit, witness the birth of the church, and walk the dusty roads alongside those first missionaries as they boldly share the Gospel of Jesus with the world. 

This volume of Deep Rooted — will show you how to interact with and apply Scripture, not just read it. These meaty daily devotions use a simple study framework designed to help you:

  • Develop a regular habit of spending quality time in God’s Word
  • Learn how to dig into Scripture on your own
  • Foster a desire to share the gospel with others 
  • Depend on the Holy Spirit as you follow Jesus

Finally, a devotional with some meat on its bones!

Purposeful Waiting

by Janet Holm McHenry

I had timed my trip perfectly. I would have just enough time to drive into Reno from the mountains, take the antique clock to the repair shop, and get to church across town for a Zoom meeting.

But as I came down the mountain thoroughfare, I saw flashing lights down the road and a long line of stopped cars in front of me. A major section of the street had been cordoned off, and when I turned the radio on, I learned a couple miles in all directions had been blocked because of an “incident”—which meant criminal activity was underway. I would be stuck there waiting potentially for hours.

As I inched my way forward, though, I noticed a side street to my left and made a quick turn so I could navigate around the area to the clock repair business. However, many other drivers had done the same, and a ten-minute errand ended up taking an hour as I waited in traffic. I missed my meeting entirely.

The disciples had to wait, too. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come. They did just what Jesus told them to do. They returned to Jerusalem from Mt. Olivet, and they waited . . . and prayed.

If I had been there, I would have found some cooking to be done or some clothes to be washed. I’d have gotten out my clipboard and put together some action plans, if not a grocery list or two.

I’m not good at waiting. If I text someone, I want a quick response. If I’m put on hold, I reorganize my office. Waiting is hard, especially when there are a dozen other things to do. But the followers of Jesus waited for the Spirit to come to earth and indwell them, so that they could proceed with the power they needed to carry the gospel message to the ends of the earth.

However, even though we feel stagnant during a season of waiting, God is not necessarily inactive. He is working behind scenes, as well as building character, strength, and self-discipline in us to do the hard work that is ahead. And we can do that hard work, because the Spirit will equip us for it.

Prayer may be the best thing we can do as we wait. It sets our hearts and minds on God, helps us anticipate His plan for our lives, and makes us more like Him.

 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” Acts 1:4 NIV

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

About the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. The coordinator of prayer ministries of The Bridge Church in Reno, she is also Sierra County (CA) coordinator for the National Day of Prayer and creator of Prayer School, an online Teachable course. Janet is the host of the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat, coaches new writers, and loves to connect with readers: www.janetmchenry.com

Join the conversation. How do you make use of your waiting seasons?

A Father’s Heart

by Terri Gillespie

“Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7, TLV

Isn’t this a hopeful and uplifting verse? Chapter seven is a part of Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount.” The context of this verse is Jesus giving insights into His Father. Prior to this, culturally, there was more a reverential posture, rather than relational toward ADONAI—the LORD—by the Jewish people. This was clearly demonstrated by the Tabernacle and then the Temple, with obstacles and a curtain that separated the “common” people from the holy places.

The Jewish people’s ancestors saw God open the ground and swallow up the rebellious (Numbers 16:32). They also walked on dry ground when He parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14). So, as chosen people of Adonai, they were rightfully fearful and yet, in awe.

This Creator of the Universe wouldn’t even give His “Name” to Moses (Exodus 3:13-15)—He was to be referred to as one of His many attributes, “I AM.” Which is why some Jewish people today will not completely spell out Lord or God, but instead write L-RD or G-D.

“For what man among you, when his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or when he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (vss. 9-11, TLV)

Jesus now explains to the people that our relationship with His Father could be different. Still very reverential, as Jesus was, because He served His Father (Luke 22:42; Hebrews 10:7), but Jesus hints that something was about to change. Those children that would be redeemed by His blood could call Adonai, Father—even Abba, which is more like Daddy (Romans 8:15).

The people’s heart cry would be heard, as any loving father would listen.

Does that mean our Father will give us anything for which we “cry out”?  As a parent or your parents, did we? Did they? Of course not.

Seeking is another essential part of our relationship. As Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10), our relationship with the Father is to be like Jesus’s—“Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) Seeking that will, our Father will make certain we’ll know what it is.

Knocking, I suppose is just making sure that we have the right “door.” We don’t want to walk into the wrong room or break into our own desires rather than our Father’s will.

Now when Yeshua had finished these words, the crowds were astounded at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their Torah scholars. (vss. 28-29, TLV)

Many people ask why I prefer to use Father, or Abba, when referring to God. Why not Yahweh or Jehovah? I guess because of passages like this, but even more. Jesus humbled Himself to be born in a stinky stable. He suffered much on our behalf. All so that I could call the Creator of the Universe Abba. That is an honor not to be taken lightly.

As His redeemed children, in reverential awe, we can call Him our Daddy.

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

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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, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Sweet Rivalry

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 again?

Join the conversation. When do you tend to seek God?

Faith And Miracles

by Sheri Schofield

“If God doesn’t do a miracle, how am I supposed to believe?” a friend asked in anguish. He had been begging God to grant him healing for a long time, but God did not heal him. “Why?” he cried. “The Bible says that by his stripes we are healed!”

Some people think if they don’t believe hard enough, God won’t give them a miracle. Others think they should name the miracle then claim it. When they don’t receive a miracle, their faith in God suffers a blow.

This brings us to the question: What is faith that results in miracles? Trying to believe hard enough—insisting to ourselves and God that we believe—is a form of works. It is not true faith.

Faith and absolute trust in God are two sides of the same coin. Faith is believing God is all-powerful and in control plus trusting Him absolutely for His answers to our prayers. Job said it best when he was suffering Satanic attacks. His response on why God allowed this? “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!” Job 13:15 (KJV).

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3 ( NIV.) When a small child wants candy at the check-out counter but his parent refuses to buy it, the child doesn’t shout, “Because you didn’t give me that candy, I don’t believe in you!” No. The child may cry or even throw a tantrum. But when they get out to the busy street, the parent will reach down to take the child’s hand, and the tiny hand will trustingly take the parent’s hand. That is trust. It is the other face of faith.

Jesus told us to persist in prayer and not give up. He told a parable about a crooked judge who didn’t fear God or care what people thought about him. A widow in his town persistently came to his court asking the judge to give her justice against someone who was causing her great distress. The judge resisted for a long time. But finally, out of exasperation at seeing this woman in his court repeatedly, he gave her what she asked so she would leave him alone. (See Luke 18:1-5.)

Jesus said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6-8, NIV)

Yes, we are to persist in prayer, continually taking our requests to our heavenly Father. But we are to ask in true faith, not presumption or demanding to get our own way. When we bring our requests to God, we should leave them there and not tell him how to answer. Trust that he hears us. Trust that his answer will be best. Trust that he has the power to do anything he chooses. Trust that he does miracles when that is the best answer to our prayers. Trust that his answer will be for our good and his glory.

God will always answer us, but sometimes his answer will be the miracle of shaping us into the image of Christ. Sometimes it will be a miracle of healing or provision. But he will never leave us without his loving answer. We must simply trust him.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV).

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

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.

God? Where Are You?: Answering Your Questions About God and How You Can Find Him by [Sheri Schofield]

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: Has God ever finally answered a long-time request of yours? Please share!

How to Live Happy When Life Isn’t

A.C. Williams

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11 NLT

How happy is your life? Do you jump up every morning and dash excitedly from task to task because you have confidence that everything you try will work?

Yeah? Me neither.

Most days it takes a heaping helping of faith for me to crawl out of bed to face my to-do list. Life is hard. It’s a constant struggle of trying to make ends meet, supporting people who need me, giving generously (and cheerfully), and fulfilling my God-calling.

Honestly? I just want a nap.

But I also know that rejoice is a verb. Sure, it’s a noun too, but most of the times I find it in Scripture, the Lord is talking about rejoicing as an action we’re supposed to take. That means it’s a choice. It’s something we can do or not, and it’s up to us.

So how does that work? How can you rejoice when you don’t feel like it? How can you choose joy when life keeps giving you reasons to be sad? How can you be happy when life isn’t happy at all?

This is what the Lord is teaching me.

Do what you can. (Proverbs 16:3)

We all have impossible problems, but even if you can’t fix it, you can do something. Do what you can. Fix what you can fix, and give the rest to God. Trust Him with what you can’t do.

Don’t give up. (2 Timothy 2:3)

God never promised that following Him would be easy. Quite the opposite actually (John 16:33). We’re going to face challenges. Jesus says so repeatedly throughout Scripture. But we know God has His own timetable, and He’s never late (2 Peter 3:8-9). So don’t give up on what He’s doing in your heart, in your life, and in your world. He’s got a plan. Give Him the chance to keep His promise to you.

Feel what you feel. (Psalm 34:18)

Surprise! God gave us emotions. You have permission to feel sad or hurt or discouraged when life is wrong. Experiencing negative emotion doesn’t make you a failure as a Christ-follower. It makes you human. David expressed his feelings to God honestly in the Psalms, and we should too. Feel what you feel, but choose your actions based on truth (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Look for the good. (Romans 12:12)

You can acknowledge that life is hard without embracing a negative life perspective (Job 13:15). Spend time with God and let Him transform how you see your life. When you trust that God can truly do anything, your challenges suddenly become opportunities He can use.

Take one step at a time. (Philippians 2:12-13)

Choosing to believe in Jesus saves you immediately (Romans 10:13), but you still have your sin nature to contend with (Romans 7:15-17). You aren’t going to get it right every day. No one does. But God remembers that we aren’t perfect (Psalm 103:14), and He offers us grace for the journey of life.

Remember where home is. (Philippians 3:20)

Heaven is our home, but for now, we are in this world as God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) with a message of reconciliation for those around us. We have a purpose here. And no matter how difficult life is, we can always remember that this life isn’t our full destiny (Hebrews 13:14-15).

God didn’t promise us a happy life, but He did promise us a good future. We can rejoice in that, because He always keeps His promises. So choose to be happy, even when life isn’t.

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

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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. An AWSA Golden Scrolls finalist and an editor at Uncommon Universes Press, she believes that God works miracles through stories. Learn more about her coaching services at www.amycwilliams.com and subscribe to her daily devotional emails at www.alwayspeachy.com.

Join the conversation. What helps you get through the times when rejoicing is a challenge?