Who to Believe

by Linda Rooks

When I read an article in the newspaper saying certain foods we had all considered nutritious for years were now considered toxic, I was alarmed. The scientific certainty of former studies had been undisputed. We had relied on their veracity. Now they were saying the exact opposite.

At breakfast, I reasserted my confusion. “I don’t know what to use in my cooking now,” I said to my husband. “I don’t know what is healthy and what is not.  They’ve always said . . . .”

“Who is they?” he said.  “They say this. They say that.  But then it all changes. They change.” Even who we consider to be experts – that changes too. “

I said, “Yes, I guess there’s only one thing that we can always count on as being true: God’s Word in the Bible. It doesn’t change.”

As I thought about his comment and my response, I realized how that applied to all of life. It’s so easy for us to rely on common beliefs, the current thinking about something, scientific findings, and “what they say . . . .”

But there is only one thing we can always count on as being absolutely true, and that is God and His Word.  When we see one kind of truth coming from the world and another truth coming from God’s Word, which one should we believe?

Paul is clear about the answer. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (I Corinthians 3:18-19 NKJV).

Even the evidence in archaeological findings attests to the truth of God’s Word and triumphs over doubters of its accuracy. In the early 20th century, critics mistrusted the Bible’s historical reliability, regarding much of the Bible as myth. But little by little, archaeologists began to discover cities and artifacts that proved the existence of previously disputed biblical accounts and locations. The Hittite Empire, referenced 40 times in the Bible, was generally considered a myth by critics until 1906 when Hugo Winckler uncovered 10,000 clay tablets that documented the lost Hittite Empire. With each new revelation, critics have been forced to seriously reevaluate criticism of the Bible’s historical reliability.

Whether it is about morality, how to live life, who God is, history, or even science, the Bible trumps the world’s wisdom. The world with its changing theories, beliefs, histories, morals, and philosophies cannot be depended on. But God’s Word “is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV).  If we build our life on the world’s theories alone, there may come a time when we look back to see we have built our life on sand. But when we build our life on the rock of God’s truth, everything we build will stand.

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete” (Luke 6:47-49 NIV).

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

About the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her earlier book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, and Home Life. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: What do you count on to keep your world in order?

The Bag of Tricks

by Sharon Norris Elliott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miracle Seeds

by Deborah McCormick Maxey

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.  Luke 8:23-25 (NIV)

I’ve heard so many messages on this passage. I’ve always wondered: after witnessing Jesus perform so many miracles, how in the world did his disciples still doubt?

Eventually, all those times I pondered on this message became the foundation for my own miracle. Because I too would doubt when scared out of my wits.

Hubby and I used to sail for weeks at a time on the Chesapeake Bay. We fished from the back, pulled into islands like Tangier and became tourists, and anchored out in front of billionaire homes. Our small sailboat was a holiday on water several weeks a year.

We were cautious sailors. We never put out if small craft warnings were advised, wore life jackets if the seas grew rough and tied ourselves to lifelines if the need arose with the threat of getting swept overboard. Our sailing days came before small crafts had weather radar, GPS, or depth finders. We used old fashioned charts and radio.

To reach destinations, we had to cross shipping lanes where huge cargo vessels traveled to other countries or back to ours. Our small sailboat would look like a flea on an elephant compared to these ships.

One clear bright day, we sat out to cross the shipping lanes and unexpectedly we were confronted with a “Flash Fog”: a phenomenon we had prepared for but hoped never to experience. Suddenly, a dense fog surrounded us like a thick blanket. Sitting in the back of the boat, we could not see our own bow. Visibility was less than six feet.

With not a breath of breeze, sails were useless. Hubby could not start the auxiliary motor. We were dead in the water.  There was no choice but to sit in the stillness while those massive vessels were still able to navigate.

Praying, I crawled to the bow to begin the recommended emergency procedure: one prolonged and two short blasts of an air horn, ring a large bell for one minute (which seemed like an hour) then listen for a minute, meanwhile praying that we wouldn’t hear the huge groan of a cargo vessel.

But we did.

In the blanket of fog, the sound grew closer. I prayed with panic as I continued the protocol.

There we sat. Unseen at sea. Bobbing like a cork. Waiting for a massive ship to collide with us or it’s huge waves to swamp us.

While I prayed God spoke. I needed to recall the passage above and all the times I wondered why the disciples doubted when they had witnessed miracles.

Because I too had witnessed miracles.  From early childhood I had memories of knowing without any doubt, “That was God.”

I began to recall them while I continued the protocol. And peace that passes understanding descended on me. Thicker than the fog. I knew we were in the palm of His hands. After all, I reminded myself. He rescues His beloved from the seas.

As suddenly as the fog descended it lifted. A ship had passed close by. A bit further on we saw the buoy that we had been sailing towards. We had not even veered off course.

So many miracles. The fog, safety, and cleared skies. But best of all was the miracle that was seeded well in advance of the emergency. I had pondered on His Word and He brought my own insight back to me, reminding me that I could harvest peace in the midst of crisis by recalling his faithfulness.

Yet another miracle to chronicle. Panic lifted with faith, long before fog.

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

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

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

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

Join the conversation: What miracles have you experienced?

Do Not Lose Heart

by Christina Rose

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

While walking through the San Francisco financial district on my way to work, I would often glance upwards to see American flags on top of each building with the red, white and blue waving boldly in the sky. The flag holds great significance for many Americans, including myself. My ancestor, Captain William Blackler, was the owner and commander of the boat that carried General George Washington across the Delaware River on Christmas Eve in 1776. 

This dangerous undertaking to cross a raging river full of churning ice floes in the dead of night, in a winter storm with bitter cold and high winds, made Washington to deliberate whether they should cross at all. While he greatly feared that lives would be lost, turning back meant defeat and death. Washington was a man of great faith who was known to resort to prayer before every battle, so after such deliberation he pressed onward with the decision to cross. The crossing was successful and considered to be a pivotal event in winning the Revolutionary War.

Year ago, my dad would take us kids to Old Burial Hill in Marblehead, Massachusetts where we would sit on the Blackler family plot that overlooked Marblehead harbor. As he told us the story of the crossing, I could picture my uncle, Captain Blackler, fighting ice floes and sleet in the dark winter night, doing his best to keep the boat steady among the tossing waves. I could picture the many other boats with freezing men in rags, starved and far from their families, who were willing to risk their lives for freedom. They marched in place in the icy water of the boats, which were actually rafts, to keep their feet from freezing.

They all had one goal: to reach the other side with General Washington, who would lead them to freedom. That night required great sacrifice, faith, and determination. Their efforts were rewarded. Today we enjoy freedom at the price they paid.

 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV).

When Moses led the Israelites to freedom, God parted the Red Sea to lead them safely to freedom. Just as the crossing of the Delaware River was challenging, so was that crossing. The Israelites had to walk with giant walls of sea on either side of them, filled with sea creatures, wondering if the walls would fall down on them. Yet they did not lose heart. They pressed on in faith and were delivered to the promised land.

Life is not meant to be easy. Occasionally we will be required to cross a stormy sea. But just as we are inspired to take heart by stories of other crossings, we can inspire our brothers and sisters to not lose heart and to have faith to press onward for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 KJV


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 stormy waters have you crossed recently?

A Good Father

by Candy Arrington

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 ESV

Recently, a cousin and I had a conversation about the blessing of growing up with good fathers. As adults and having interacted with many types of people with very different father experiences, we are reminded afresh what a gift it is to have had godly fathers.

Father’s Day is bittersweet for me. My father died thirty years ago this year. I loved him, and I miss him, but in many ways, he is still with me. I can hear his soft southern drawl, see his lopsided grin, and envision his strong hands. Daddy is with me most in the lessons he taught me about life and faith.

My father was a builder, and I often walked job sites with him. One of the first life lessons I learned is things are not always as they seem. During the “stake off” portion of building, the footprint of a house often appears smaller than its true size. The wooden stakes and ditches dug before constructing the foundation are somewhat deceptive in conveying the actual size of the house. Likewise, our view is sometimes skewed regarding people or opportunities. Only with wisdom, experience, and God-perception can we learn to see beyond appearances.

A second lesson I learned from my father was the importance of a level, firm foundation. Builders who don’t take time to do the necessary site work, wait for the dirt to settle, and pause to measure to ensure a level, plumb, straight foundation run into problems later in the building process. My father likened this  to building a sturdy faith foundation through prayer, Bible study, and spiritual growth.

A third lesson my father taught me comes straight from Scripture, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 ESV). I witnessed my father “do good” to the men who worked for him. I especially remember one hot summer day when he came home and took clothes and shoes from his closet and drawers and asked my mother what cooking items she could part with. When I asked Daddy what he was doing, he said, “The house of one of my men burned last night and he needs help.” Doubtless, that help also included financial assistance.

Following my father’s death, I heard many stories of ways he had helped others in need. His giving was practical, without fanfare, and service-oriented, like voluntarily re-screening a widow’s porch, or maintaining rental properties in town for missionary families overseas. Daddy’s heart for service taught me to notice needs and give graciously according to the ways God has blessed me.

Perhaps you do not have pleasant memories of your father or know him at all. If that is your experience, look to your Heavenly Father as your example for love, grace, forgiveness, and relationship.

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 Well, provides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: What lessons for life did your father teach you?

Persuaded

by Julie Zine Coleman

I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12 NASB

The supply of wine had been depleted. Not one drop left. And the party was still going strong.

Mary shuddered at the embarrassment the oversight would bring on the hosts. She instinctively turned to her son to relate the news. He would know what to do. But Jesus seemed impervious to the problem. “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” He queried. “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4 NASB).

Unfazed, Mary turned to the servants. “Do whatever He says,” she simply told them. And Jesus turned the water into wine.

This story has its puzzling moments. But one big question towers over the rest: why would Jesus refuse to help, even going so far as to state His reason for not helping, then turn around and do the miracle anyway?

There were other times Jesus refused to perform miracles. We are told in Mark 6 that in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus “could do no miracle there except that He lay His hands on a few sick people and healed them.” Why? “He wondered at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6 NASB). Several times, religious leaders and then Pilate asked Him to perform. Jesus flatly refused, for they were merely “seeking a sign from heaven to test Him” (Mark 8:12 NASB). They had not asked in faith. The miracles were not meant to create faith; they served merely to confirm it.

Faith is a necessary component to any request we make of God. Jesus would not perform a miracle without it.

When two blind men asked for healing, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” When they affirmed their trust, Jesus gave them their sight (Matthew 9:29). He asked a father to confirm his belief before ousting a demon that controlled his son. Why? “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NASB). In these and many other cases, belief in Jesus’ mercy and power was required before Jesus would help them. 

When faith is expressed, God responds.

Mary’s instructions to the servants at the wedding of Cana were brim-full of faith. Whatever he says, do it. She trusted Jesus would do the right thing. Jesus responded by turning water into the finest of wines.

The Greek verb pisteuo, translated as believetrust, or to have faith often carries the qualifying connotation of being persuaded or convinced. The Greek lexicon defines it as “to cause to come to a particular point of view or course of action.” Trust results from what one has found to be true. Mary knew Jesus as only a mother can know her child. He lived in unfailing obedience to His heavenly Father. What she had observed of Him in the past persuaded her to trust Him now.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He demonstrated His power and faithfulness to them over and over, first with the plagues, then the crossing of the Red Sea, with provision of water and manna, and the dramatic giving of the Law. In short, He was teaching them to trust Him. But the months they spent in the desert experiencing His faithfulness apparently weren’t enough for the message to sink into this “stiff-necked” people. They balked at entering the Promised Land, refusing to trust God for His provision.

God ironically gave them what they wanted. They would never go in. But their children would. So God spent the next 40 years proving to the new generation just how trust-worthy He was, teaching them the truth of His goodness and power. And when it came time to go into the land, they were ready to follow Him anywhere. Truth is foundational to trust.

Trust doesn’t come naturally to us. So God brings along hardship, times when we struggle to perceive His presence or guidance, times when everything seems hopeless or overwhelming. We hate those times and dread their appearance into our lives. But He will use them to give us a deeper understanding of just how faithful He is. We will emerge from the darkness with a better capacity to trust Him. And the conduit of trust opens the way for His blessing and mercy.

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

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About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God taught you to understand His faithfulness?

Waiting with Hope

by Dena Dyer

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:4 ESV

The people of Israel had not heard from their prophets in over 400 years. In the midst of cruel taxation laws and heavy religious burdens, the long-awaited Messiah became a distant hope, a flicker of promise almost extinguished by doubt and fatigue.

Then a star appeared over a smelly manger in Bethlehem, and rumors began to surface about a child-king who’d been born to a poor man from Nazareth and his young bride. Angels sang to sweaty shepherds, who bowed in worship at a trough housing a promise kept. Some Jews—such as Anna, Simeon, and Elizabeth–worshipped; others stayed mired in confusion.

Thirty long years passed before Jesus began his public ministry. He healed the infirm, emptied graves, and forgave sins. And still, doubts persisted. After a very public trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, thousands of skeptics believed.

Even so, many people still await the Messiah.

Because we as humans are temporal beings in an ever-decaying world, we have a hard time waiting. We have an even more difficult time believing in promises.

My youngest son prayed like this for years: “God, I hope that Dad has a good day at work. I hope I can go to Morgan’s this weekend. I hope Uncle Marty’s cancer gets better.”

I wondered whether I should correct him when he said “hope,” because I was only familiar with the Webster’s Dictionary definition: “to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.”

Then I learned the biblical definition of hope. In the Old Testament, hope is often translated from the Hebrew word yachal meaning “trust.” In the New Testament, the word hope is used for elpis, which can be translated “to expect or anticipate with pleasure.”

Therefore, hope–in the biblical sense–equals trust and faith. Paul wrote in Romans 8:24-25 (ESV), “In this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

As our world groans from a pandemic, political division, injustice, and terrorism; as we slog through financial and familial stress, job changes, and health crises; as our children face temptations we could have never imagined—let’s not forget that we trust in what we do not see.

Let’s wait for Jesus with patience, encouraging one another to expect and anticipate with pleasure his second Advent, when he will set all things right.

Let’s wait in peace.

Lord, my spirit grows weak at the thought of my children inheriting a world that we haven’t stewarded well…a faith that we haven’t lived out the way we should. Father, you’re our hope and peace. You can comfort us with your presence and your Word. Let us not neglect it, or you, when we are afraid, but instead run to you with open minds and hearts. And Jesus? Thank you for your ridiculous love. Give me assurance that you are still at work in this world

*This devotional was originally posted as a part of The High Calling devotional series.

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

About the author: Dena Dyer is an award-winning author, speaker, and non-profit leader. She loves encouraging hurting, harried women with humor and hope. You can find her on Instagram or Facebook, or at her website.

Book Cover

You’re invited to download a free copy of Dena’s devotional book, Grace for the Race, which uses real-life stories, Scripture, and gentle humor to soothe the souls of frazzled moms. By being honest and vulnerable about the ways God has shown Himself to her as she’s struggled with motherhood, Dena hopes to help women realize that they’re not alone, and they’re not crazy!

Join the conversation: For what do you hope during this difficult season of uncertainty?

Expressing Gratitude

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

…Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.  Ephesians 5:18-20 NASB

From the outside, my friend Peter seemed to have it all together. He was a bright, gifted young man, who became a Christian during his college years. Immediately he began to study and grow, and soon discovered he had an incredible gift for teaching. After graduation, Peter spent his first two post-college years in full time work for the Lord, teaching Scripture and mentoring students at several local colleges and universities.

Yet as he progressed in his ministry, Peter began to be plagued with doubts. He may have been a dynamic teacher on the outside, but on the inside, he was a mass of conflict. So much of what he preached was coming back empty for him on an emotional level. He began to doubt about even the existence of God. Finally one evening, after much inner turmoil, he decided he could not live with the doubt any longer. He would abandon his faith for good.

A half-hour later, there was a knock on his door. A young college co-ed stood outside with tears in her eyes. As she entered, she explained that she had serious doubts about the existence of God. “I want to believe,” she told Peter. “Please help me.”

Peter stood in his doorway, uncertain of his response. He knew exactly what this girl was experiencing, since his own struggle had just come to a head. Yet at the same time, he knew Jesus said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NASB).

So he sat down and shared with her from God’s Word. In Romans, they looked at many witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ. In Matthew, they saw how over one hundred prophecies written eight hundred years before Christ’s birth were fulfilled during His lifetime. Too much evidence was contained in Scripture to be denied. It just didn’t make sense NOT to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

As Peter saw his young friend out the door, he knew he had just talked himself back into believing. By teaching the truths he already knew, those truths became even more compelling for him. There is a power that comes in verbally expressing our faith.

Paul tells the Ephesians that they should live lives yielded to the Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-21 NASB). What he suggests to foster this is to make verbal expressions of their faith: speaking to one another in psalms, singing hymns and spiritual songs, as well as giving thanks for all things. There is something powerful about truth, that when shared aloud with others, it benefits the one speaking as much as the recipient.

Perhaps that is why Paul makes sure to mention giving thanks in many of his letters. We should be faithful to express thanksgiving aloud. And as the words come off our tongues, what they express becomes real to us in a fresh way. When we remind others about the faithfulness of God, we also remind ourselves and are enabled to trust Him more fully.

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

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Expressing Gratitude – encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Does verbalizing what you believe strengthen your faith?

He Will Make It Rain

by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. Exodus 14:31 NIV

Today, the forecast on my side of the world is sunny. But this isn’t the case in many places around the world, I know.

Just recently, I read an article about the drought in Salinas Valley, California. The scarcity of water is so bad that the remaining water supply is salty. And nothing about salty water says relief to the farmers or life to the plants. They need fresh rain to restore the land.

With not a rain cloud in sight though, many people in California are calling on “mother nature” to act fast. The opposite is true for Louisiana and Texas. After getting hit with a hurricane, they want mother nature to calm herself down. So many people are surprised when she doesn’t answer her cell, but a brief look at the world with droughts and hurricanes, floods and earthquakes will tell you—mother nature is not a reliable friend these days.

But God is.

Although, I can’t say I’ve never rested my reliance on the wrong forecast. Or in the wrong thing. Even today we’re being tested with our ability to “fix” and restore things on our own. I mean, who doesn’t feel a little deep-down-dry right now? Parched maybe. SALTY even?

When it comes to daily dependence on God alone, I can certainly falter. Sometimes I’ve even rested in religion and not in the sheer power, truth, and love of Jesus. I can forget that no one, no institution, no right way will ever get it righteous. When I depend on the rules and regimens to get me through, it’s simply as silly as relying on mother nature to get it right. She may have a great day every now and then, but can she make it rain? Never. For me, it’s a great reminder that religion won’t save us—Jesus will.

Paul addresses this need to know God when he talked about what Jesus’ life accomplished: “For I passed on to you what was most important…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scripture said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NLT). God’s Word is the truth we can rely on. Jesus’ life is the hope we can live in.

Even so, my dependence on other things doesn’t stop. I’ve placed restorative power in the hands of my relationships. My efforts. My job. My grande cup of coffee in the morning. Lately, it’s been a bit bitter too, don’t ya think? Our souls know what it means to get dry. Parched even. We have to decide on who or what we will depend.

And I hate to pick on the Israelites. Over and over they’re the example of what not to do. But because I feel like I relate to them, struggle with them as a human, I thought we might look at the few things they got right.

For instance, they depended on God. Daily. They woke in the morning looking for God to drop what they needed from heaven, and they laid their heads down knowing He would send a cloud to lead their way. They knew a God who could supply them with the greater gift of life itself, could also be counted on for the lesser worries. They had to trust God.

“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant” (Exodus 14:31 NIV). They showed us this day-to-day-have-to-have-God mentality grows a bigger faith. It erases worry, it calms anxiety. It helps us trust Him fully and fearfully. Friends, we’re learning to trust God like never before. It can be big and scary. But mostly it’s big.

Like in C. S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian, a child named Lucy is reintroduced to Aslan the Christ-figure in the Narnia series. When Lucy sees him again after a long separation she says, “Aslan, you’re bigger.” But Aslan explains that he isn’t bigger, but Lucy is. “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” Such is our faith. A bigger faith sees a bigger God!

Friends, this is the joy of the drought.

Because anything we’re going through, any lack we’re suffering—when God’s plans the forecast—we can be sure that it’s growing something good. And big. The certainty of who Jesus is delivers us and pours life down on us. We don’t have to-do, re-do, and over-do. We simply must look up. Because GOD WILL MAKE IT RAIN.

TWEETABLE
He Will Make It Rain – encouragement when life is hard from @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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fix her upper reclaim your happy space

About the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their new book,  Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy Space.

Join the conversation: Has God grown bigger for you through a drought?

Let Go

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

For the earth will be filled with knowing the glory of ADONAI [the LORD], as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14, TLV

We thought it was safe. The Missouri River had a long sandbar that was invisible from the shore. A group of people ran over it making them appear to be walking on water. Of course, we wanted to do it, too. So, my daughter, three of my nieces, and my sister-in-law and I skipped and laughed all the way to the end—which dropped off suddenly, in the middle of the rushing river current!

I was the last person to hit the undertow. I tried to swim back to the shallows but went nowhere. All I could do was keep myself from being dragged under the water. Within seconds I was exhausted from fighting to stay afloat. Part of me wanted to just give up—until I watched in horror as my daughter and nieces frantically tried to keep from going under.

Finally, I screamed for my brother on the shore. He ran in and stopped at the edge of the sandbar. Since I was the closest, he grabbed for me.

Have you ever heard the stories of rescuers being drowned by the victims they tried to save? I had. Still, I panicked and nearly pulled my brother in. He rebuked me—yelled at me to stop or I would drown us both.

In seconds I did the most counterintuitive thing I could do given my fear—I let go. I chose to trust that my brother would help me.

Once I did this, he was able to easily pull me to safety. Then, we both rescued the rest of our family. Had I not let go, the outcome could have been tragic.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from that experience had nothing to do with water safety. I learned what it felt like to want to give up, and how that is different from letting go.

Today’s passage is a prophecy. The prophet Habakkuk had witnessed another round of disappointing behaviors by Israel. Discouraged, he questioned why God had allowed all this. Amid this whirlpool of despair, Habakkuk proclaims that one day the earth would be filled with knowing the glory of the LORD.

The prophet continues with one of the most beautiful psalms of letting go—letting go because he trusted in the Most High God:

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and there is no yield on the vines,
Though the olive crop fail,
and the fields produce no food,
the flock is cut off from the fold,
and there is no cattle in the stalls.
Yet will I triumph in Adonai,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Adonai my Lord, is my strength.
He has made my feet like a deer’s,
and will make me walk on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19, TLV

Giving up is wrapped in despair. Letting go is supported by faith and trust.

It can be discouraging to see the disappointing behavior all around us—sometimes within our own families. We may want to give up—to not be engaged in our calling. We wonder how we can let go of our fear, anger, disappointment, and choose to rejoice and speak words of faith: that one day all the earth will recognize the glory of our Heavenly Father, and acknowledge the hard-won salvation by His Son, Jesus.

We may wonder, but it is possible. All we need to do is let go.

TWEETABLE
Let Go – insight on #FollowingGod from Terri Gillespie, @TerriGMavens on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Do you need to let go?