Get Out of the Boat

by April Newbell

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When one door closes, another door opens. There are many such sayings we often hear. They may be pithy, yet they adequately express familiar truths or experiences.  In the case of the above three, it all comes down to a choice in how to view our circumstances. When terrible things happen, we can choose to trust that God is with us over the uncertainty or difficulty before us.

I recently lost my husband in a sudden accident. It rocked my world; some days it’s hard to make the decisions that are now mine alone to make. Today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s outcome. I end up second guessing every choice.

I believe that everything that has a purpose and that God is working this all for my good—somehow, someway. I have faith in Him who created me and loves me more than anyone.

That kind of faith had Peter climbing out of a perfectly good boat to walk on the water. Matthew 14:29 (ESV): He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

It was the middle of the night and very dark, and those in the boat saw what they believed to be a ghost. Totally understandable, in light of the fact they had left Jesus on the shore without a boat. Then Peter blurted out, “If it is you Lord, command me to come to you.”

 Jesus then told Peter, “Come”.

But just as you and I may well have done, Peter took his eyes off Jesus. He focused on the storm surrounding him and began to sink. Aren’t we just like that? We get so focused on our problems we take our eyes off the Problem-solver. We let our fears and doubts control us, causing us to sink deeper. We try to do things in our own strength, instead of taking it all to God. Or, we stay in the boat that we consider safe, instead of getting out and seeing what God has for us.

Peter had to have quite a bit of faith to leave his companions and get out of the boat. I wonder what Peter was thinking when he stepped out? What would Peter’s life have been like if he chose to let fear keep him in the boat? Would he have spent his life wondering what might have been if he had stepped out in faith?

Faith can make us do “crazy” things that look foolish to those around us. Like climbing out of boats. Building a boat with no rain in sight. Taking a rock to a spear fight. Standing up and speaking out for God against opposition. God loves it when we trust Him enough to risk of rejection or worse.

It’s time to choose obedience to the God we trust over fear. It’s time to get out of the boat.

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

About the author: April Newbell is a retired office manager for a family medicine office and an aspiring writer. She has previously published two devotionals on She enjoys writing devotions to which everyone can relate and apply to their lives. April and her husband, along with their dog, live in Huntsville, Alabama.

Join the conversation: Have you ever taken a leap of faith? What happened?


Don’t Fall for that Old Lie

By Kathy Howard

For by grace you have been saved, through faith and not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

My paternal grandfather was a sharecropper, growing cotton in northwest Louisiana. My father worked in the fields with his father and older brothers. As young as four, Dad twisted the cotton from the bolls and dropped the white balls into the rough burlap bag slung across his small chest. Dad’s strong work ethic, which began in that cotton field, moved him to start his own business and successfully guide it for more than forty years.

Dad also instilled a similar attitude towards work in me and my brother. First, he assigned age-appropriate chores. I most disliked sweeping the pine straw off the pebbled driveway. Then, when we were old enough, Dad expected us to have summer jobs. We learned Dad’s lesson. If you want something, you work for it. Don’t expect things to just be handed to you.

Since the world widely operates on these same principles, some have a hard time grasping the truth that salvation is solely by faith in Jesus. In fact, this is one of the foundational biblical truths commonly rejected by “Christian” cults like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although they may initially proclaim salvation by grace through faith, when pressed they cite certain rules that must be followed or acts that must be accomplished in addition to Christ’s sacrifice in order to gain salvation.

Christians must never compromise on the vital truth that we cannot work to earn our salvation. Justification – right standing with God – is only possible by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death. This truth is necessary and non-negotiable. We cannot add anything to faith and call it biblical Christianity.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul used Abraham to show that salvation through faith is not just a New Testament concept. God declared Abraham “righteous” because he believed, not because of anything he had done (Romans 4:3). Even Abraham, whom God called His “friend” (Isaiah 41:8), experienced right standing with God through faith.

The patriarch’s good works and obedience – including circumcision- came after he believed God’s promises. God promised Abraham a son, his own heir. God showed Abraham the stars in the vast sky and promised that his descendants would be too many to count. “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

In this passage, the Greek word translated “believe” is the verb form of the noun translated as “faith.” By definition, belief in Christ is far more than mere intellectual assent to a collection of facts. According to Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “to believe” means “to place confidence in, to trust.” Believing in Jesus means we depend and rely on Him to the degree that we will follow and obey Him.

True faith will produce obedience (Romans 1:5 and 16:26). Although Paul emphatically declared salvation by faith alone, he never minimized obedience. Good works, holy living, and faithful obedience to Christ naturally flow from true faith. But obedience is the result of salvation, not the cause.

This truth – salvation by grace through faith alone – makes salvation available to all. No matter how deep or shallow our unrighteousness. All need saving. No one deserves it. Not one can earn it. Only faith. Only Christ.

This post was adapted from Kathy’s upcoming devotional book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Romans.”

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 12 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 one accidental dog. Find free discipleship resources at

Have you lost the wonder of your salvation? Maybe you’ve forgotten the abundant riches of God’s grace. The Gospel isn’t just a statement of faith. The Gospel of Jesus is the power of God for your life today. Recapture the awe of your life in Christ with Deep Rooted Romans. Like the rest of the Deep Rooted devotional series, the Romans volume uses the 4-R Bible study framework to help you learn how to interact with and respond to Scripture, not simply read it. These meaty, daily devotions will increase your hunger for God’s Word, encourage spiritual growth and stability, and lay the groundwork for a life-long, spiritually-healthy habit.

Join the Conversation: What does the idea of truth faith mean to you?

Cryptic Jesus

by Julie Zine Coleman

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.   Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB

The town was several days into the wedding feast. The food and wine had flowed in abundance, provided by the groom’s parents. But then the wine ran out. And Mary, in concern for the hosts’ embarrassment of not having enough, went to Jesus, who was in attendance with several of his disciples. “They have no more wine,” she anxiously informed him. She knew him better than anyone, as only a mother knows her child. He had always shown himself to be wise and capable. Maybe he would have an idea to help their hapless hosts.

But his response was not so warm and fuzzy as we might expect. In fact, it gave me pause as I studied this passage for a book I was writing. He replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”

Some commentators suggest Mary was overstepping her bounds, and Jesus was drawing a line in the sand. But would Jesus treat his mother with such callous disregard, especially in light of the concern she had just expressed for the wedding hosts? Not likely: Jesus actually rebuked the Pharisees for neglecting their parents (in light of the fifth commandment: Honor your father and mother). It is inconsistent to think that Jesus would turn his back on Mary when he qualified others’ disregard for their parents as erroneous.

A closer look at the story provides a different purpose to Jesus’ puzzling words.

The literal translation of his response is “What to me and to you?” It was an idiom of the time. Other idioms are common today, like: “he has a chip on his shoulder”, or “to rub someone the wrong way”. We don’t take the words literally, but understand the meaning behind the metaphor.

So what then was Jesus doing with his cryptic response?

It is helpful to compare this conversation with another mother, the Syrophoenician Woman (Matthew 15:21-28). She also came to Jesus with a request: that he would deliver her daughter from demon possession. He also refused her at first. Then he gave a reason why he should not help, just as he did at Cana. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:24, 26 NASB).

What turned the tide in both conversations? Expressions of faith. The Syrophoenician Woman said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27 NASB). Jesus commended the Syrophoenician woman for her great faith. He then granted her request.  

Same with Mary. She told the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it” (John 2:5 NASB). With this instruction, Mary was expressing faith in Jesus. She trusted him to work things out in his perfect way, in his own time. And as he did with the Syrophoenician woman, Jesus responded to her faith with a miracle.

Jesus’ initial refusal in both accounts were really a means to an end. He drove both women further in their trust relationship with him. His puzzling words were merely a way to move them forward. The wine he provided through his first miracle was of superior quality, better than anything the hosts had already produced. Faith was the conduit for God’s abundant blessing.

Hebrews tells us: “Now faith is the assurance of things not seen…and without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Hebrews 11:1, 6 NASB). When we ask in faith, we are acknowledging that God is capable and powerful enough. But we are also submitting to his good and perfect will, which might not necessarily align with our request. We are trusting him to do the best thing, no matter how that might look in light of our specific desire.

Trust is what God wants from us. We tend to think that our actions are most important to God. But how well we behave or how many accomplishments we achieve for him cannot be the basis for any request. Jesus miraculously changed water into the very best wine. It came through someone choosing to trust him, no matter what he did.

Trust in the integrity, wisdom, and goodness of our capable God. He will always do the best thing.

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


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 her new website and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, releases today!! It is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation.

Join the conversation: What is the biggest challenge to your ability to trust God?

Surrender Takes Courage

by Shadia Hrichi

About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned. Gen. 38:24 ESV

Imagine that we are watching these events unfold in a movie. This would be quite the dramatic moment! Even in that time and culture, it was not every day that someone was sentenced to death, much less by fire. Clearly, Judah held a lot of authority. No sooner does he pronounce judgment than we are told Tamar is being led to her fate.

Courageous Faith

Whether it happened immediately, a few hours later, or a date was set, someone would be preparing for the execution. Wood would be gathered. A stake would be set in place.

The procession begins to form as Tamar is led through the crowd. But Tamar is ready. She spent the past three months preparing for this very day. As she is taken away, she clings tightly onto a long narrow object wrapped securely in a cloth along with a smaller object clutched in her other hand. With all the courage she can muster, she surrenders the objects into the hand of a messenger who quickly brings them to Judah.

“As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, ‘By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant’” (Genesis 38:25 ESV).

Surrendered to Her Fate

Talk about the ninth hour! If we were watching this scene play out on a movie screen, we would be gripping the edges of our seats right about now. After all, Tamar has placed her only hope of redemption squarely in her executioner’s hands. Talk about faith! Talk about courage! She does not even remind Judah of his betrayal, and she allows the community to believe she was the betrayer.

If your fate were held in the hands of the person who betrayed you, what would it take for you to choose to surrender your only hope of vindication?

I sometimes have to remind myself that these are real events experienced by real people. At the same time, I am deeply encouraged in knowing that above it all is a sovereign God watching over the children of man. Aren’t you?

Weaved Into the Lineage of Christ

Tamar was only a teenager. A Canaanite, no less. But God saw past all of that and chose to weave her into the lineage of Christ. You see, it is not the ancestry that Tamar was born into that is relevant. Rather, it is the ancestry that would be born out from her. What an amazing, loving God!

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

About the author: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible Teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. In addition to numerous articles, Shadia is the author of various Bible studies, including her latest study, TAMAR: Rediscovering the God Who Redeems Me, as well as LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues MeHAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me, and Worthy of Love: A Journey of Hope and Healing After Abortion. Shadia holds an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice. Currently residing in northern California, Shadia regularly speaks at churches and women’s events and loves to visit the ocean each week for ”a date with Jesus.” Visit

Join the conversation: What have you surrendered in faith?

Auspicious Beginnings: When Love and Faith Converge

by Patti Richter

For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

My parents didn’t like my plan to attend the big University, three hours from our home in central Arkansas. My mother had heard wild stories and gave me one stipulation: Apply for a room in a non-freshman dorm.

It helped that my older sister lived near campus with her husband, a senior engineering student. They had even arranged a date for me on the Sunday of my arrival since the dorm café served no evening meal on that day.

I also had a long-time friend, Carol, for a roommate. In less than 20 minutes, we unpacked our metal trunks and created a hip atmosphere with matching bedspreads in bold-print Indian madras. Then we headed out to the hallway to join a group of returning students—mostly sophomores and juniors.

“Is Jan, the girl from St. Louis, coming back?” someone asked. “I haven’t seen her,” another girl replied, “but I wonder if she still dates Jim.”

A ringing wall phone interrupted the conversation. The phone in my room!

A classmate of my brother-in-law was calling to introduce himself and say he would meet me at the dorm entrance at six o’clock. I soon left Carol to fend for herself.

My blind date, Mike, and I walked several blocks to a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant to meet another couple, “both from St. Louis,” he said. That city again.

As we walked toward the couple who sat waiting for us, I noticed their contrasting appearances: her perfectly styled blonde hair; his muscular build and golden-brown skin. Then Mike introduced me to Jim and his girlfriend, Jan. Those names again!

Within a couple of weeks, Jan became friends with Carol, who attended a class with her. So, it wasn’t unusual when Jim came by our room one day in search of Jan. That’s when he noticed a Living New Testament on my shelf and asked me a direct question: “Have you read your Bible?”

I’d read only a bit of the modern translation I purchased on impulse nine months earlier. During that Christmas break in my senior year of high school, I marveled over the first few chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. However, my busy final semester soon disrupted the work of God’s Word in my heart.  

Jim had made a profession of faith in Christ a year earlier, and now he invited Carol and me to join him and Jan in attending an off-campus Bible study he heard about. The backseat of his brown Ford Galaxy 500 had ample room for us to ride along.

In late October, surrounded by my new fellowship group of students and adult sponsors, I stood in a cold swimming pool, confessed myself a sinner, and asked Jesus to be my Savior. This new relationship would become the greatest love story of my life. However, the Lord had a companion plan for me as well!

The spring semester brought changes when neither Jan nor Carol could return to school. This required my awkward transition to the front passenger seat of Jim’s car for the weekly study. He and I gradually grew comfortable enough to stop for coffee and conversation afterward.

As time passed, Jim and I became sure that coffee and conversation together for the rest of our lives would be a great plan—God’s plan for us. But this did not mean everything fell easily into place.

The Lord used that special season of my life to grow my fledgling trust in him. I learned the hard way a few times that his ways are not the same as mine. They are so much better.

So are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 NIV

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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: Do you have a faith and romance story?

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 with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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?

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 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?

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, Sharon is also co-director of the WCCW conference. She is founder/CEO of AuthorizeMe® Consulting, Coaching, & Editing Firm and Literary Agency.

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 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?