The Fight

by Fran Caffey Sandin

For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 ESV

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? How do they work out for you?

January initiates a fresh year, an opportunity for setting goals, and making changes. Unfortunately, my resolutions only last a few days. So, I make plans and take one day at a time, keeping in mind that God is with me, helping me to be flexible and aware of the needs of others while working toward personal goals.  

The book of Nehemiah describes how, following captivity and wanderings, the children of Israel returned to Jerusalem. Having viewed the destruction, and inspired by God, Nehemiah challenged the people to rebuild the broken walls and the gates destroyed by fire. The people responded favorably and replied, “Let us rise up and build” (Neh. 2:18 ESV). They began the good work, looking to the future.

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah, the Ammonite, and Geshem, the Arab, heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed them. Nehemiah responded to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper” (Neh. 2:20 ESV).

This was an opportunity to start something new, but already opposition had arisen against the enormous project as, one by one, the gates were being replaced and the stone wall gradually gained height. When Sanballat heard about their continuing progress, he was furious and doubted the Jews could restore the wall from all the rubble. Tobiah joined in the mocking.

Meanwhile, the priests and men were working with all their hearts, but Sanballat and Tobiah plotted together to cause trouble and fight against Jerusalem. These enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work” (Neh. 4:11 ESV).

When that news reached Nehemiah, he expressed faith to his workers, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Neh. 4:14 ESV). He had stationed some families with their swords, spears, and bows at the most vulnerable areas of the wall. Aware of the constant danger, Nehemiah ordered half of the men to do the work and the other half to protect them with their swords and weapons. Each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. The wall was completed in 52 days.

Victorious God! When the enemies saw what happened, they were afraid and lost their confidence.

As believers in Jesus Christ, our sword, the sword of the Spirit, is the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Our adversary, the devil, Satan, is a liar, deceiver, and makes plans for our destruction. Jesus used the Word of God to defy the devil’s schemes (Matthew 4: 1-11), and so can we.

We see the evil around us, but we fight for our families, our children, our brothers, sisters, our homes. Let us learn from Nehemiah and face adversity by expressing faith in Almighty God. We can use our spiritual sword, His Word, to defeat the evil one whose goal is to discourage and silence us. Let us stand firm in 2022. Now that’s a resolution worth making!

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

About the author: Fran is a retired nurse, organist, mother, and grandmother living in Greenville, Texas. She has authored See You Later, Jeffrey, Touching the Clouds, and has contributed to thirty books. 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. HOPE on the Way was acknowledged for outstanding Christian Literature both in the Devotional and Christian Living sections by Joy and Company in Arlington, Texas. Visit Fran’s website at www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What adversity have you faced recently?

True Colors

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the cool, crisp days that bring relief from summer’s heat. But most of all, I love the beautiful colors adorning the trees in our Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband and I get great joy from driving through the mountains and hiking the trails to see the changing leaves. And as a photographer, I love capturing images of the lovely scenery.

Recently God revealed a lesson that has changed the way I look at changing leaves and made me love this season even more than before.

Many look at fall as a melancholy time of year. I’ve heard others refer to the colorful trees as giving their last burst of beauty before they die. Truthfully that perception couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Did you know the vibrant colors we see during fall are the true colors of the leaves? Those colors are masked at other times of the year by the flood of chlorophyll that turns the leaves green.

I think of spring and summer as times of abundance. Plenty of sun, with weather that’s easier on the wildlife. Even for people it’s seen as a time of rest and relaxation. And yet, this time of ease masks the true beauty of the trees. During these seasons the trees wear a uniform color, blending in with each other. While it’s beautiful, there is a certain sameness to the landscape.

Life is like that. As much as I love having times of ease, they’re not the times when I shine. I get lazy and my spiritual life reflects a certain amount of lethargy and complacency. When things are easy, I can grow stale, and instead being true to who God called me to be, I merely blend in.

It’s easier to just go with the flow, instead of standing out.

But when adversity strikes, I dig deep and move closer to God. I leave the crowds and begin to work harder at being true to who God created me to be. So, as a direct result of my struggles, my spiritual life begins to shine as insight and inspiration bring color to my relationship with God. This in turn allows me to follow the path He has for me much more wholeheartedly and effectively. Instead of blending in with the crowd, the complacency drains away and His colors begin to shine through me.

We’re in the midst of adversity right now. I don’t know many who aren’t struggling with the new paradigm of life today. But I would like to challenge you to let God use this time to drain away the things that hide the beauty of His Spirit inside you. Allow Him to make you into the true person He called you to be. And as you dig deep and draw nearer to God, do it with anticipation for what He has ahead. 

God has great plans for His people and you are a vital part of that. Rejoice as adversity brings out your true colors! 

And think about this life lesson in light of Romans:

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 NASB

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True Colors – thoughts on letting God shine through when life is hard, @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on http://www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: How has God brought out your true colors in this season of adversity?

Things Are Not Always What They Appear

by Evelyn Johnson-Taylor @drevetaylor

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”                                                                                                                                   1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV

The weeks leading up to my “Stepping into Sixty” celebration brought great joy to my heart. As a younger woman, sixty seemed so far away and appeared very old to me. However, the closer I came to that milestone, I came to think differently.

In our Christian life, we face many challenges. There are mountains that appear insurmountable. But the reality is, when viewed from a distance, we can get a very different perspective. Could it be that the obstacles appear larger than they really are?

Many of the adversities we encounter take our eyes off the prize and miss the potential victories that are in front of us. If the enemy can entice us to concentrate on the problem, we set ourselves up for defeat. But when we stand firm in the promises of God, we can rest in Him and know that our labor is not in vain.

As I look back over my life and see the many battles I’ve lost simply by walking in fear, it saddens my heart. Too often I focused on the magnitude of the situation and neglected to focus on the God who controls every situation. This is not what God wants for us. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).

Fear is worrying about something that has not yet happened and in some cases will never happen. Up close, a challenge can seem frightening, but backing away from it will help us see that God has already given us what we need to overcome that moment.

As my birthday drew near, instead of looking at it as “I’m getting old,” I started focusing on the advantages of being sixty. My thoughts were, “How can I make this next chapter better? How can I move forward in this new season of my life? What new opportunities await me? How can I use my sixty years of experience to pour into someone else’s life?” I began to thank God for allowing me to see another birthday.

It would be the first one I would celebrate without my husband. The reality of knowing that he didn’t live to see his sixtieth birthday made me appreciate God’s blessing that He has allowed me to come this far. Not everyone is blessed to reach this age. Even with such great loss, there were still so many things for which to be thankful. I had the memories of having the love and support of an incredible man for twenty-eight years. God blessed us with two magnificent daughters. I’m grateful for extended family, kind neighbors, and my sisters and brothers in Christ. I know that I am a blessed woman.

Life presents an assortment of changes and challenges, but as we focus on the big picture, the good things in our lives, the challenges seem smaller. Change your perspective on your insurmountable mountain and find the opportunity. Keep your eyes on the prize: “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB).

Simply because we still have life, we still have hope. Focus more on the one who holds the future and less about the future itself.

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Things Are Not Always What They Appear – insight from  @Drevetaylor on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

evelyn johnson-taylorAbout the author: Evelyn Johnson-Taylor is a professor of theology, author, speaker, and coach. She shares her life experiences through mentoring and encouraging others to move forward in whatever God has called them to do.  Evelyn believes that nothing is wasted with God and that everything He allows us to walk through in life is to be used to help someone else. You can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Facebook.

Evelyn shares her experience of caring for her husband for a decade in See Me Hear Me Know Me: From The Heart of a Caregiver, a book that she and her husband wrote together. God has given her a passion to enlighten caregivers on the importance of self-care and has graced her to share a message of hope and encouragement.

Join the conversation: What seemingly insurmountable mountain has God allowed you to overcome?