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).

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

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)

beth duewel (2)
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?

Out of Tragedy God Brings New Life

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

I called my friend Nikki, anticipating her lively voice and was shaken to hear her sob, “Debbie, we just found out our son died.”

I’d called in response to an earlier text. That was not why she’d texted me. But God had timed my call perfectly. Even though I couldn’t take away my friend’s pain, I could share in those initial moments of shock and grief.

Nikki felt the need to contact Justin’s birth mother. The woman was devastated. She’d never be able to meet her son on earth. She wanted to fly across the country for the service. With Nikki’s permission I share what she wrote about their meeting.

For the first time ever, we met on Thursday. Both of us felt extreme emotions about this meeting, but together we walked, and together our hearts connected in ways only God could have worked. We saw each other, our hug was 33 years long, our embrace was extreme in love, joy and compassion for each other. This Holy moment that God ordained since the beginning of time, was fragrant and beautiful, pure and Holy. Nothing could ever surpass the delight that came from our hearts in those first moments.

Justin’s memorial service was Saturday. Nikki shared that not long after having their daughter, she had to have a hysterectomy. “I asked God one time for a child we could adopt. But then I left it in His hands. I thought, How could I ask for another woman’s child?”

Thirty-three years ago, God completed their family with Justin. Nikki told us, “Justin came just in time.”

Pastor Chuck recalled funny and poignant stories of Justin’s escapades. Then he shared the hope those who know Jesus have of heaven. He invited all who didn’t know Jesus to receive Him as their Lord and Savior. As he closed, he asked those who’d invited Jesus into their hearts to stand.

“I’ll count to three,” he smiled. “One, two, three.”

One person stood—Justin’s birth mother.

Overcome, Pastor Chuck covered his face and turned aside. Because of Justin’s untimely death, the woman who’d chosen life for the son she could not keep will enjoy him for eternity.

Texts to Nikki and her husband revealed two internet attenders who also stood and gave their lives to Jesus—including a ninety-year-old cherished friend!

So much in our world is broken. Untimely death, pain, and loss have marred 2020 for many. We need to remember, this is not our home. And as Pastor Chuck proclaimed after he’d recovered his composure, “If it ain’t good, it ain’t over.”

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

TWEETABLE
Out of Tragedy God Brings New Life – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever witnessed God changing tragedy into good?

Bulldozer Mom

by Sharon Wilharm @SharonWilharm

We’ve all heard the term helicopter mom. It’s used to describe those parents who hover too closely over their children, working to the extreme to protect their kids from experiencing failure or harm. As the homeschooling mom of an only child, I wouldn’t say I was a helicopter mom. No, I went way beyond that. Instead, I’m afraid I was more of a bulldozer mom, pushing my way in front of my child to pave the way for her, then standing between her and anyone or anything that might cause her discomfort.

At the time, I thought I was helping her. Eventually, however, God got my attention and showed me that I needed to back away. In my efforts to protect my daughter, I had totally taken God out of the equation. As her Mama Bear, I felt it was up to me to make sure no harm came to my young one.

I had forgotten that she was not just my child. She was God’s child. And as hard as it was for me to comprehend, He loved her even more than I did.

Once I loosened my grip and gave her to the Lord, she was able to grow in ways she’d not been able to before. God had amazing work in store for her, but I had to relax my grip in order for her to go where God was calling.

As a mother, Jochebed was quite the opposite of me. She had every reason to hold tight to her newborn. The king was trying to kill all the baby boys, so she hid her precious son as long as she could. But the time came when she had to step out in faith and put him in God’s hands.

She carefully put together a basket made of reeds, placed her sweet baby boy in it, and shoved him off into the Nile River. I can only imagine the prayers she sent forth as she watched the basket weaving its way down the river towards Pharaoh’s palace. And God answered her prayers, working out all the details for Jochebed to not only get to care for and nurse her baby boy, but to get paid to do so.

Then the time came again for her to give him up, this time for good. Once he was weaned, Jochebed took Moses to the palace where he was to remain for the rest of his growing up years and early adulthood.

I’m sure that in Jochebed’s plans for her son’s life, she never imagined co-parenting with an Egyptian princess, but look at how God used each of these women to impact his life. Jochebed provided the spiritual training, teaching him the ways of our Lord. But Pharaoh’s daughter also helped mold him, providing him a quality education and influence. God knew that Moses needed more than just one Hebrew mom. He needed the influence of both women in order to fulfill the mighty task God had in store for him.

How often do we think we know what our children need, when in reality, we have no clue? Fortunately for Moses, Jochebed was strong in her faith and trusted God with her beloved son. She allowed God to work in ways that made no sense to her, but took life day by day in obedience to Him even when that meant handing her precious child over to a pagan princess.

We, too, need to trust Him even when we don’t understand what He’s doing.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”     Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

TWEETABLE
Bulldozer Mom – encouragement on #FollowingGod from @SharonWilharm on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon Wilharm headshotAbout the author: Sharon Wilharm is a female filmmaker, Christian speaker, and ministry leader and podcast host. Sharon’s motion pictures have screened in theaters, festivals, and churches around the world. She’s been recognized with the “Shibboleth Award for Visionary Leadership in the Field of Christian Filmmaking”, four ICVM Crown Awards, and dozens of “Best Director”, “Best Writer”, and “Best of Fest” awards. She is a popular guest on radio, television, and podcast shows. You can learn more about Sharon at her websiteFacebookTwitter, or Instagram.All God's Women | Sharon Wilharm - Christian Storyteller

Sharon’s podcast All God’s Women is a journey through the Bible one woman at a time. She brings to life their stories and shares,  life lessons from each of the ancient women, applying them to our modern day lives.

Join the conversation: When have you had to trust God even though you didn’t understand what He was doing?

Father Knows Best

by Christina Rose

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him
.  Psalm 18:30 NIV

Memories of long road trips as a child evoke thoughts of red vine licorice, flashcards, counting license plates, and tormenting my parents with, “Are we there yet?” or “I have to go to the bathroom again!”  On one such dreary drive I was relegated to the rear of the station wagon after my tantrum over having to share my McDonald’s French fries with my brother. Since dad was driving, and I was well out of arm’s reach to be spanked, I took advantage of this and howled for hours from Canada to Massachusetts.

Waiting on God’s timing can sometimes feel just as aggravating as an endless road trip in our fast-paced society that wants everything yesterday. If an unexpected glitch derails our plans, it is easy to become unglued. Knowing that God is in control and often intercedes to interrupt our plans for our benefit can ease our frustration.  God is sovereign and his plans always supersede ours to ultimately show us that “Father Knows Best”.  

When our prayers seem to go unanswered, our faith can wane. We may wonder if God is listening and worse yet, wonder if He even cares. Yet time will prove that God is always listening and does care. But He will always provide in His way and His timing, not ours.  When we trust Him like a child, knowing that He has our best interests at heart and is in control over every creature, event and circumstance, we learn to wait in peace.

I make known the end from the beginning  from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
(Isaiah 46:10 NIV)

A few years ago I had a long, stressful commute to San Francisco.  One morning I could not find a seat on the ferry and in exasperation, I leaned against the wall looking out over the sea of 450 passengers.  They were silently engrossed in their electronics and were seriously somber as if they were all on their way to a funeral. I thought, “Everyone looks as miserable as I am. I guess we’re all in the same boat.” Through constant prayer and surrender, God delivered me from this bondage. Six months later, I found myself on a sunny beach in Florida for an extended vacation.

Many divinely guided adventures have happened since then, as I have learned to let go and let God. He wants us to enjoy the life that Jesus died to give us.

I confess that I have struggled with worry over my children, even while knowing this does not serve them. One day as I was praying yet stressing unnecessarily over my daughters’ futures I heard, “They are my daughters and I have good plans for them. Thank you for taking care of them for me.” I was reminded that my daughters are God’s daughters first. He just gave me the privilege of helping Him to care for them while they are on earth.

God knows what He is doing, and we must trust Him. When we believe that our Father knows best, we learn to wait on His timing knowing that all things work for good to those who love God.

TWEETABLE
Father Knows Best – encouragement from Christina Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina rose

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, as well as 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, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: For what do you have a hard time trusting God?

The Importance of Trust

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” John 2:5 NASB

In John 2, Jesus and His disciples attended the now famous wedding at Cana. Mary approached Jesus about a horrible problem their hosts were having. In Jewish weddings, which lasted seven days, running out of food or wine was a shameful mark against the family. Mary told Jesus, “They have no wine.” Whether she believed her son would provide miraculously or just be resourceful enough to find more wine, we don’t know, but she trusted that Jesus could somehow help.

Jesus gave a somewhat surprising response: “Woman, what does this have to do with me?”

First, we need to understand why Jesus would call His mother Woman (John 2:4). In today’s world, this might be regarded as disrespectful and even mean-spirited. But we can be assured it was actually an endearment, from a second time Jesus addressed Mary from the cross: “Woman, behold, your son!” (John 19:26). In that moment, He was lovingly telling her that His apostle, John, would provide for her.

But then what does Jesus mean when He says, “What does this have to do with me?”

The meaning of this idiomatic phrase in other contexts in the Bible is, “We aren’t on common ground.” Or “Your perspective is entirely different than mine.” We can identify five reasons Jesus may have needed to point this out to His mother.

Motive. Mary desires to spare the couple embarrassment. Jesus has a bigger picture in mind: He desires his Father to be glorified.

Timing. Mary wants the wine problem to be solved immediately. Jesus was waiting on the Father to let Him know it was the right time to do His first public miracle.

Quality. Mary assumes he will merely replace the same kind of wine. Jesus provides something so superior the wedding coordinator is amazed.

Method. Mary tells the servants to do what he says. She trusted Him to do exactly the right thing. Her instruction to the servants was an expression of faith in the One who lived in consistent obedience to the Father. It was exactly what Jesus was waiting for.

Feelings. Based on her request, we must conclude she feels anxious. Is Jesus showing her a better way? The literal Greek of His response reads “What is that to me and to you?” He may have meant, “It’s not your responsibility, and it’s not mine.” Jesus was perfectly calm. He didn’t feel pressured by anyone, even His beloved mother. He would only do what His Father wanted. In that obedient relationship with Him, Jesus was filled with peace, confidence, and guidance.

We can learn a few things from Mary on this occasion:

  • Like Mary, we can bring our concerns and cares before God. We can trust God will do the perfect thing.
  • Like Mary, we can have faith Jesus can do anything. We don’t need to help Him, only follow His directions.
  • Like Mary, we can direct our anxiety to God. He can bring us peace even in tense situations.

What God wants is for us to trust Him. He will respond to us with the same understanding that He did Mary, even as He calls us to deeper faith and godly living.

TWEETABLE
The Importance of Trust – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to assure God’s people of His understanding nature. She is a wife, mom, grandma, author, speaker, and lay counselor and lives in Southern California. Kathy has more than 55 published non-fiction books in genres like Bible studies, commentaries, Christian living and compiled books. She has spoken in more than 35 US States and 9 foreign countries. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Kathy’s most recent book is God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature from which this devotion is excerpted. Kathy and her husband, Larry, of 50 years, co-wrote God’s Intriguing Questions.

Join the conversation: What principles or other stories from the Bible support your assurance that God is understanding?

Parenting Can Have Its Moments

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

One Sunday afternoon, as I tackled the pile of dishes in the kitchen, I heard a distinct dripping sound coming from the foyer. Upon investigation, I found a large puddle on the tile floor. The ceiling above it was bowed with water. Where was all that water coming from?

I dashed up the stairs to find the hallway bathroom sink running full-force, plug down, water cascading over the edge like Niagara Falls. The bathtub was also plugged up and nearly filled to capacity. I shut the faucets off but could still hear water running. A quick check revealed the master bathroom had been rigged to overflow as well.

I knew there could be only one culprit—make that two—THE TWINS. I marched into their room to find them up on the top bunk surrounded by every stuffed animal in the house. “Hi Mommy!” my four-year old daughter cheerfully greeted me. “We’re playing Noah’s ark! Joseph is Noah, and I’m his wife!”

Apparently, with the animals safely aboard, they were just sitting back, waiting for the flood.

Motherhood has its moments, right? We had four children in the space of 3 ½ years. I could curl your hair with stories from those early days. Someday I’ll write a book.

Whenever I read James, I have to wonder if he was a parent. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 NASB).

This verse should be stamped on the forehead of anyone attempting to raise a family. Experiencing trials? It’s not a question of if, but when.

Consider it all joy, my brethren…

How much joy did I experience as I mopped the floors that day? There was no cheerful whistling nor a single happy thought as I repeatedly wrung out my mop, I can assure you. But is that what James meant by joy?

A look into the grammar of the original language reveals that James was identifying the type of joy a person should have. It is a state of being, not an emotion. If it were, we could equate joy with happiness. But seriously—who could possibly be happy about spending time reserved for a Sunday afternoon nap soaking up gallons of water? Not this girl.

Joy is something deeper, more consistent than what certain circumstances would allow. It can be had in any situation, because it is a steady, thankful trust in a God who uses even the hard things for His glory. It is not so much of an emotion, but rather a way of thinking. It is the lens through which we should view everything this world throws at us.

Trials are an opportunity for us to put the viewpoint of joy into practice.

The testing of your faith produces endurance…

There’s something else in James’ exhortation worth noting: “…the testing of your faith produces endurance…” How do trials like water dripping out of a ceiling test our faith?

What we believe about Him is the content of our faith. In His kindness, God allows trials for the purpose of testing those ideas and revealing what we need to reevaluate—in a good way! Trials grow our understanding of Him.

So, next time a trial comes down the pike, think: how is God revealing Himself? What He may be showing you can produce endurance in your ability to trust Him. Even the little challenging moments of parenting can have a real impact on our spiritual well-being.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.                                                                                             2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NASB

TWEETABLE
Parenting Can Have Its Moments – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About 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 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: Do you have a parenting trial story? Please share! (Surely I’m not the only one!!)

 

 

Persuaded  

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee…when the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.”                                                                                                                 John 2:1-4 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.”

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 6:5-6 NASB).

Several times, religious leaders (and also Pilate) asked Jesus to perform a miracle for them. He flatly refused, for they had not asked in faith (Mark 8:12 NASB).

His miracles were not meant to create faith; they merely served 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? He explained, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).

In these and many other cases, belief in Jesus’ mercy and power was required before He 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 comes as a result from what one has found to be true.

Mary raised Jesus. He had always lived in unfailing obedience to the 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, the crossing of the Red Sea, 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 weren’t enough—they balked at entering the Promised Land, refusing to trust God for his provision.

So God spent the next 40 years proving to the new generation just how trust-worthy he was. And when it again came time to go into the land, they were ready to follow Him anywhere. Knowing truth about God is foundational to trusting Him.

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. 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.

TWEETABLE
Persuaded – thoughts from @JulieZColeman when trust doesn’t come naturally, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About 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 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: What do you know about God that gives you the ability to trust Him?