Out Into the Light  

by Julie Zine Coleman

She had never seen him before that day. She saw by his clothing he was a Jew. As she moved toward the well, he startled her by striking up a conversation, requesting she give him a drink with the jug she carried. “You are asking me, a Samaritan woman, to give you a drink?” she blurted out, astonished by his willingness to converse with her.

“If you knew who I was,” he told her, “You would be asking me for living water. Everyone who drinks the water I’m offering will never be thirsty again.” 

“Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, and not have to travel all the way here to draw water anymore,” she said.

“Go,” he said. “Call your husband and come here.” She quickly informed him that his assumption about her marital status was mistaken. “It’s true you have no husband at present,” he agreed. “For you have had five husbands, and the man you are living with now is not your husband.”

Her mouth dropped open at his startling revelation. How could he know so much about her? And why so abruptly bring up her sordid history when thus far he had seemed only intent on kindness? (See John 4 for the whole conversation.)

We, too, might puzzle at Jesus’ blunt and seemingly confrontational words. We can best understand them in context. He was offering her living water. Bringing her sin out into the open would begin an honest relationship with God that would truly quench her thirsty soul.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me…” David prayed (Psalm 139:23-4 NASB). Our sin can keep us from intimacy with God, even after we are saved. Taking a good, honest look at ourselves can be a revealing exercise. But the Bible does not instruct us to do so alone. We are to take the Lord with us on our internal journey.

Examining ourselves in the light of God’s holiness will reveal the darkness within. Involving Him will also help us to avoid despair. His unconditional forgiveness will only foster a deeper knowledge of His grace and hope.  

It is not a comfortable process. Reality can be painful to view and even more painful to confess. Yet like a physical infection, only when sin is brought into the open can healing begin. Just like what Jesus did for the woman at the well.

After months of freezing temperatures here in Maryland, we were finally blessed early this spring with a few days of balmy breezes. Snow quickly disappeared as the temperatures soared into the sixties. But I noticed, as my dog and I walked one early morning, that patches of snow and ice still remained where evergreen trees shaded the ground, preventing the sun from doing its magic. Winter’s icy grip remained where the sun failed to reach.

When we allow sin to remain hidden in our hearts, we deny ourselves the healing touch of God in those cold, hard places. Confession is good for the soul. It is time to rid ourselves of our shameful secrets and bring them out into the light and warmth of the saving grace of God.

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28: 13 NASB

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 her new website JulieZineColeman.com 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, 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 sin are you protecting from coming into the light?

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Pressing Past Adversity

by Dana Peters-Colley

When you try, you give it all, and wham! The enemy turns the knife. The glint in the eyes of darkness faces you as you fall, and you lose your position. You fall slap-wham-daddy on the ground. Oh, the joy the beast feels when he’s been able to strike you.

But get back up!

Yes, we are instructed to stay in Christ. Abide. We are led by our Savior. But sometimes, as we walk with others, the enemy uses their weaknesses, their sin, to turn and destroy us. Surprise attacks—they can take us down, down, down.

After an attack like that, days may pass to recover. Then what do we do? What do we do when we’ve worked so hard, cared so much, helped significantly, and then been struck? And the fall feels like it was a forty-story building we’ve been pushed from.

Again, get back up!

Yes, don’t give up. The Lord’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Don’t run away. Oh, this is important. We do not for a nickel run away but run to God.

Let’s look at two sinful situations: Adam and Eve, and David the King. There was a gigantic difference in how they responded after failure. Adam and Eve hid from God when they messed up. David, when confronted with his great sin, ran to God; he admitted what he’d done and pressed into God for forgiveness.

So, the first thing we do when we’ve fallen is run to our beloved Savior. We cry out and make what is called “Tshuva.” This is the Hebrew word for repentance, but what it means is to “transform back.” We don’t make light of what we’ve done. We go inside the deepest places in our hearts and ask the Lord to help us return to where we need to be. We look deep. We apologize to anyone wronged. We press into the Lord to help us get on track even when we can blame the other person, even when we can be justified.

Next, we forgive ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with this. It takes me awhile to let go of what happened. It haunts me when I’ve sinned—even if I know it was a strategic set up from the enemy.

Often, these strikes come from those closest to us. Their access to our hearts makes the hit like close-range target practice—bullseye! We are downed. Jesus warned us our enemies would be in our own households (Matthew 10:36). We care about them the most. So, it’s the fiercest way the enemy attempts to destroy us.

In these fierce situations, we fall, but we must get back up!

The times I’ve been through trials like this, I run and press in and cry out to God. I repent. I seek Him, and He carries me as His beloved child up the Mountain, God’s Mountain. There, I hide. I recover. I find Him in prayer, in His Word.

There is such beauty in brokenness. There is such tenderness from God in moments like these. He understands we are in a war. And when we run to Him, Jesus becomes our everything. He showers us with His unconditional love.

On the other side of adversity, even if we fall, even if we are devoured, there is our beloved, Jesus.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17 (KJV)

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

About the author: Dana Peters-Colley is a creative who loves Jesus. She has been tucked away developing a brand of Christian parable books, faith-based fiction, and inspirational books as well as screenplays. Dana holds a B.A. in journalism, studied screenwriting at U.C.L.A., and is a former long-time Disney creative leader and producer. When the Lord got ahold of Dana everything marvelously changed. She is developing a heavenly-inspired brand line that brings stories to build family, inspire discovery, and teach kingdom ways. See danapeterscolley.com to connect to her spiritual blog and gaze at her adventures.

Do you have a friend you want to receive Jesus into their lives? Do you want to receive how much God loves and values you? Do you want to be empowered to do the impossible? Then, you have to know who you are! Treasure will take you into the realization of God’s love for you as you discover you are His treasure.

Join the conversation: Have you been wounded in the spiritual warfare that continues around us?

Cleaning Our Spiritual Filters

by Dyann Shepard

Recently, I was cleaning out the filter of my clothes dryer. Usually, I just pull the lint out, but I pulled the entire filter out and was shocked at all the packed-in lint. There was no doubt my dryer was being overworked, having to push air through extra lint.  It made me ponder, “What kind of spiritual lint or clutter am I accumulating, slowing down the work of the Holy Spirit in my life?” 

I have learned an indicator of spiritual clutter in my life is actual physical clutter. When I look around my office or home, and all I see are piles, I know I have pulled back control from the Holy Spirit. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know where to begin to put order into my spiritual and physical life. I need to stop, take a deep breath, pray, and allow God to reveal what needs to be dealt with, beyond the obvious: like needing to hang up my clothes, put things in the proper file, etc. It is time to ask what spiritual issues need to be addressed, more importantly, to listen. It is not a pleasant process, but it is a freeing process in the end. 

Both giving forgiveness and asking for forgiveness are probably my most vulnerable areas for accumulating spiritual lint. This saddens me, especially since forgiveness is at the center of Christ’s sacrifice for me.  But truth be told, I can be stingy with forgiveness. There is often an internal battle of excusing actions I deem insignificant. It can be a seemingly minor infraction, perhaps a snippy response to my dear husband when I am tired; “No big deal, I tell myself, I am tired.”

But it is a big deal.  Each time I fail to ask for forgiveness, there is a buildup of hardness. It is a type of spiritual plaque clogging the free flow of God’s spirit just as the buildup of bad cholesterol inhibits blood flow. Eventually, I risk not hearing God’s gentle prompting: That was unnecessary, apologize.”  Jesus reminds us in Luke 16:11 (NASB), “The one who is faithful in a very little thing is also faithful in much; and the one who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much.”

Every time I ignore the Lord’s conviction in a minor matter, I risk falling into sin in a significant matter, progressively searing my conscience (Ephesians 4:18-19).  

The beautiful truth is my Father knows my weakness. He has provided His son’s sacrifice and the means for the daily cleaning of my spiritual filters. It is confession: the acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Confession is not for God’s sake but for ours. The Lord knows as we acknowledge our offenses, we keep our relationship with Him and others healthy. 

As we practice confession, we build spiritual muscle memory, which makes confession easier and more automatic.  

I feel freer when I confess my sins. It is an intentional act of giving up my pride. There is a sense of refreshment and renewal. At the same time, I am allowing the fruits of the spirit to grow and thrive. 

I love what Louise Smith, a top level women NASCAR drivers, said: “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.”  It’s time for spring cleaning.  I encourage you to join me by letting go of any accumulated spiritual lint or clutter of old hurts, unforgiveness, disappointments, and pride. Make room for all that God has provided. He has given us the imperishable gifts of love, joy, peace, and forgiveness. 

 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].”  James 5:16 Amplified Bible

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

About the author: Dyann Shepard is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, Bible teacher, former staff member of CRU, former Stephen’s Minister and retired CPA. Her passion is writing about God’s transforming power in our daily lives as we open our hearts to Him. Her Bible study Wisdom: Capturing the Power of our Words is scheduled for release in the summer of 2022. 

Join the conversation:  Are you holding on to spiritual clutter?

Smile and Say ‘Daddy’!

by Maureen Miller

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5 NLT

Photographs. Life’s miraculous moments captured via a contraption I can’t quite understand, but for which I’m grateful.

All around our house, we’ve collected them—photos in frames as unique as the images within, evoking memories of milestones and vacations, held timeless under glass.

But there are several which, for me, stir no memory and hold no recollection, although they’re no less dear. These depict a daughter—our daughter—before she came to us at the age of two.

Toothless smile in one with very little hair on her perfect head, swaddled in pink and dressed by another. And then there’s the one of her upon Santa’s knee—several teeth showing through a crooked grin, her tiny pigtails holding tight the growing locks of a toddler.

It wasn’t her daddy or me who’d taken her to the mall that Christmas and encouraged her in overzealous excitement to birth a smile with Santa. It was others who’d shared that moment and, thus, the memory. Still, they were kind enough to send the box that contained that and many other photographs of the girl—our Allie, adopted in 2012.

Then there are the pictures that mark a new beginning, a ‘start over’ of sorts for our daughter who’d experienced loss. Like our first trip to the beach as a family of five. Allie’s older brothers held her proudly, their smiles proclaiming on glossy paper, Here’s our little sister! Isn’t she cute? 

And there are others, too many to count, in frames or filed in photo boxes, held behind plastic in albums. Birthdays and other holidays, school pictures, and family gatherings on the farm—each drawing forth the broader memories encapsulated in a single moment on film.

I asked myself not long ago, “Why is it I hold dear–continue to display–those photographs of our daughter that were taken prior to her having joined our family?”

And the answer came, though the response wasn’t mine. Rather, it was Abba’s voice I heard.

Might the pre-adoption photographs not represent a deeper truth? After all, did I love you any less before you came to Me, and said ‘Yes’ to a new beginning as My daughter? So, too, with your sweet girl. She may not yet have been yours, but you love her just the same.

As God’s children, dearly loved, we’ve each experienced that moment of having said yes to Him, accepting Him as our Abba Father—our Daddy—through His Son Jesus, who came, died, and rose again, defeating sin and death. Thus, we’ve been adopted into His family and are held securely in the confines of His care.

That doesn’t mean that God, in His infinite wisdom, looks back upon our past—those years prior to our full surrender—and loves us any less. He loved us infinitely then as He loves us immeasurably now. He longs for us to leave our sin behind, receive forgiveness by grace through His Son, and receive His ‘start overs’ each time we fall short (Lamentations 3:22-23).

What joy it must bring the Father as He watches from His heavenly perspective. To see all the moments of life—both the successes and failures, the milestone moments and even seasons of misery. Perhaps they’re like snapshot frames, most precious when His children look to Him and, even through tears, manage a smile and say–“Daddy!”

Now that’s a picture worth a thousand words.

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

About the author: Maureen Miller lives and loves on Selah Farm—a hobby homestead nestled in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. With Bill, her husband of 32 years, and their three “born-in-their-hearts” children and three grandchildren, they raise a variety of animals. Maureen loves books, movies, and music that make her cry. She asks daily to have eyes and ears wide open that she might experience the wonders of God’s Word and His created world and blogs regularly about His extraordinary character discovered in the ordinary of life at www.penningpansies.com. Taking Spirit-breathed ideas and framing them with words is her passion. Living Jesus is her highest aim.

Join the conversation: What do you love most about our Heavenly Father?

Whiter than Snow

by Candy Arrington

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; Cleanse me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7 NASB

Although Christmas is a special time of year, full of music, color, lights, worship, gifts, food, and celebration, I find it refreshing to put away the decorations, remove the Christmas tree, and vacuum up the remnants of the festivities. The house is uncluttered again, the pressure is off, the schedule is less harried, and the new year usually brings snow.

January is one of my favorite months. Part of the lure of January is the idea of new beginnings. No matter what happened the year before—illness, heartaches, challenges, mistakes—here is a chance to start fresh. The new year is ripe with the promise of possibilities. Anticipation and hope mingle to propel us forward into the unknown.

Just as snow blankets the ground and covers its uneven contours, so the new year stretches into the future like a nice, white, blank piece of paper. We can choose, in part, the story to be written on that blank paper. We have the opportunity for a do-over, the option to confess sins, make adjustments in attitudes and actions, and implement life changes.

When King David penned Psalm 51, he felt the full burden of his sin, transgressions against God and man. David acknowledged his sin, stated God’s qualities of compassion and unfailing love, and asked for forgiveness.

Hyssop, a pungent, aromatic herb, was used in Hebrew purification rites. David understood the depth of his sin and wanted deep cleansing, a purging with hyssop, blotting out his sin, leaving him whiter than snow.

God is the God of forgiveness and second chances. When we admit our areas of failure and turn from past wrongs, God’s forgiveness gives us a fresh start. As the writer of Lamentations wrote: “The Lord’s acts of mercy indeed do not end, for His compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB). Each new day brings opportunity for putting the past behind and looking toward the future. We have the option to re-evaluate, change old patterns, and move forward with fresh determination.

Have you been truthful with God about cherished sin in your life? Have you measured your life against the bright purity of the Savior? Jesus Christ is waiting to blanket your life with forgiveness and redeeming grace. All you have to do is honestly confess sin and acknowledge God’s power to forgive and cleanse. Then you will experience a fresh start and covering for sin that is whiter than snow.

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 Wellprovides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.

Join the conversation: Do you need a fresh start?

Salvation of Our Countenance

by Terri Gillespie

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you murmuring within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, the salvation of my countenance and my God. –Psalm 42:12 [11] TLV

This is such a beautiful psalm, written by the sons of Korah—one of the elven written by them. Wait… Korah? As in the Korah who was swallowed up by the earth (in Numbers 16:32)? Yes. That one.

Korah was the grandson of Kohath, of the tribe of Levi. He was of the priestly lineage but ran with a bunch of malcontents and rebelled against Moses and Aaron out of greed and envy. After God cracked open the ground, 250 followers of Korah were consumed with fire (Numbers 16: 1 – 35).

Fortunately, Korah’s sons were spared and learned well what not to do. As a result, some served as guardians and gatekeepers of the tabernacle and others oversaw the baking of the showbread (1 Chronicles 9:19, 31).

Fast-forward to the time of King David, these descendants of Korah were known for their loyalty to the king and as fierce warriors. Yet, like David, they were talented in the gifts of music and lyrics. Also of note, the prophet Samuel was from the line of Korah (1 Chron, 6:33-34; 1 Samuel 1:1).

Truly, the stain of Korah’s rebellion was not carried for long. While Korah paid his own penalty with God’s judgment, God was merciful and gave favor to his sons. Still, their ancestor’s name represented great shame for the sons of Korah:

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you murmuring within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, for the salvation of His presence. (Psalm 42:6, TLV)

That wording is amazing: “for I will yet praise Him, for the salvation of His presence.” The same presence that destroyed their ancestor became the sons of Korah’s salvation.

In Psalm 42:12 (TLV), one of the sons of Korah says: “for I will yet praise Him, the salvation of my countenance and my God.” Because of God’s presence in the sons’ lives, their countenance has changed.

Could these sons, who took ownership of their identity as descendants of Korah, still have experienced ridicule and mistrust by association? Maybe. Ancestry within the Jewish culture is very important—think of all the “begats” in the Bible. They could have said they were sons of Levi or Kohath, but they held on to Korah’s name.

Many of us carry the stain of our families’ sins–our parents, children, or even a spouse. Or perhaps our own past was stained with sin. Possibly sins that warranted some ground swallowing.

Our Heavenly Father is all about redemption. Long before the Word became flesh (John 1:14), God sought those whose hearts were turned to Him. He is slow to anger and rich in love and mercy (Joel 2:13). We may have repercussions for the sins of the past, but through Jesus our Father can redeem even that for His glory and our growth.

Let’s learn from the sons of Korah who, with the Lord’s help, rose above the shame of their past to overcome and excel. They are a beautiful tribute to God’s salvation and a reminder of His great love. Lessons for us all.

Father, I don’t want the stains of the past to color my future. Help me to walk out Your love for me because of Your Son. Amen.

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

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

Terri’s newly released book, Sweet Rivalry, is the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart again? The third and final book in the Hair Mavens series, Really Bad Hair Day, is a whirlwind of changes for the mavens—marriage, love, danger, loss, and redemption. The Hair Mavens series is a modern-day Ruth and Naomi story set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: Have you allowed the sin of your past to color your future?

The Rule of Double Negatives

by Doris Hoover

Don’t use no double negatives. That was a saying we had in elementary school to emphasize a grammar rule. When two negatives are used in a sentence, they indicate the opposite—a positive. So, the actual meaning of the example sentence instructs us to use double negatives.

The same rule occurs in mathematics, but as many times as I tried to make sense of it, my math-impeded brain couldn’t understand the examples. But whether you understand things mathematically or with words, the rule is accurate.

Not surprisingly, God incorporates the rule of double negatives in the spiritual realm. He cancels out a negative with a negative to create a positive. The sin we commit is cancelled out by the sin Jesus bore on the cross, so we can become sinless. Logically, it defies common sense. Just as I have trouble understanding things in mathematical terms, God’s double negative rule makes no sense to a fleshly mind. It is spiritually discerned.

When in our flesh, and we are confronted with the guilt of our sin, we frantically search for spiritual hope. The day the Lord opened my eyes to see the immensity of my sin, boy, did I hold onto the rule of double negatives. I desperately needed my sin cancelled out. I needed the gift of Jesus bearing my sins on the cross to make me sinless before God.

That’s not the only time I needed the rule of double negatives. As a Christian, I continue to stumble into sinful actions, thoughts, attitudes and choices. They cause me to build up guilt.

Guilt is the enemy’s delight. With it, he torments us. But God reminds us in Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The One who cancels negatives with negatives makes a way for us. He gives us the guilt-freeing gift of confession. Even though we may act according to the ways of our flesh, we don’t have to carry the guilt of those actions. The sins we commit daily in our flesh have been cancelled by the gift of salvation; yet God gives us a way to clear them from our minds and release the guilt that torments us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)

We can be certain that our blood in the flesh that brings us death was cancelled by the blood Jesus shed, so that through His blood we have eternal life. That’s a given. But God also provides a positive for those negative feelings of guilt. Jesus invites us to share our guilt with Him so He can deal with it and give us a clear conscience. Our negative actions which produce negative feelings of guilt are cancelled by the positive action of remembering we’re loved by the God of mercy, grace, and compassion.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-22 NIV

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

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Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: How does God’s unrelenting grace impact your life?

Cancel Culture

by Catherine Segars

A recent comment in an online Christian group I read recently showed how far our current “cancel culture” has infiltrated the faith: “Now that we understand that what David did to Bathsheba was sexual assault, what do you do with all of the Psalms?… Are the Psalms less desirable to you now? Are you able to separate the words of worship in them from the actions of the man?”

As Believers, we must be able to separate the words of the man from the actions of the man.

Why?

Because God does.

Why does God do this?

Because David genuinely repented.

In 2 Samuel, we read, “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin.'” (2 Samuel 12:13 NIV).

In David’s beautiful song of transformation in Psalm 51, He pleads with God: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me”  (Psalm 51:11 NIV)

If God does not cast David away, how can we? If God restores David, how can we discard that remarkable transformation and throw away his precious words?

We live in a culture that regularly “cancels” people for their mistakes. God doesn’t do that. God offers us forgiveness. And He offers us redemption. If God offered David that redemption, who are we to withhold it? Who are we to cancel someone God has forgiven and say that his words are meaningless or forever tainted?

We must never forget, God chose Moses (a murderer), Jacob (a liar and a cheat), Rahab (a prostitute), Esther (an orphan), Matthew (a tax collector), Peter (a Christ denier and ear-slasher with a serious temper problem), Mary Magdalene (a demon possessed woman), and Paul (a terrorist) to be His instruments.

God doesn’t pick pure instruments. God picks people with a past. This is the very heart of the Gospel message. The Gospel tells us that we are all hopelessly flawed, but God offers us forgiveness and redemption.

To deny David what God has given him is to put ourselves in the seat of the ultimate Judge. We aren’t qualified to sit there. That seat is for God alone.

Cancel culture isn’t new. In Luke chapter 7, Jesus addressed the cancel culture of His day by commending a repentant woman who had been discarded by some self-righteous religious leaders. Jesus educates the Pharisees saying: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7: 47 NIV).

Like this sinful woman whom Christ forgave, David had been forgiven much. So he loved much. His words offer us the depth and breadth of the Gospel message, proving that God uses the worst sinners to show the magnitude of His grace. When we participate in cancel culture, we are professing that the sin of others is greater than our own. And we hold redemption hostage.

We must never forget that the heart of the Gospel is God’s amazing grace. If we deny God’s redemptive grace, we’ve missed the primary purpose of everything Jesus accomplished on the cross. We must never deny that grace to those who seek it. And we must never deny the work of redemption in the lives of those who have received it.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16 NIV

Christian Parent, Crazy World - Christian Podcast

About the author: Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright—turned stay-at-home-mom—turned author, speaker, podcaster, blogger, and motherhood apologist. This homeschooling mama of five is the host of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD, a Life Audio podcast about raising godly kids in an ungodly world, and she is matron of the Mere Mother website, which delves into critical cultural issues that affect families and marginalize mothers. Catherine helps parents navigate through dangerous secular landmines to establish a sound Biblical foundation for their kids. You can find Catherine’s blog, dramatic blogcast, and other writings at www.catherinesegars.com and connect with her on Facebook.

Join the conversation: Have you been tempted to join the Cancel Culture?

Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace?

by Lee Ann Mancini

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, Just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Do you have a friend that needs your grace? I remember one day a friend of mine made an unfavorable remark about my husband’s weight. It really hurt me, because even though he is overweight, his heart is pure as gold. I tried to forgive and forget what she had said, but every time I saw her, those mean-spirited words always came to my mind. I discovered that sometimes it is easier to forgive than to forget.

Praise God that we have the perfect example of what we need to do in what He has done for us. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25, NIV). While Jesus hung on the cross, He asked the Father to forgive those who were killing Him (Luke 23:34)! It is a wonderful picture of total forgiveness.

“The living God so forgives that he forgets!”[1]  If He can forgive and forget our many sins, surely, we can forgive and forget a sinful act of a friend or even a foe.

Grace is needed in order to forgive completely. Grace is the gift of mercy and love towards those who don’t deserve it. Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, found himself in a situation that should have cost him his life. It was common for the reigning king to kill the bloodline of the previous king to make sure the king’s position would not be jeopardized. King David’s love for Jonathan allowed him to extend grace to Mephibosheth, who voiced his gratification when he said, “All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table” (2 Sam 19:28, NIV). 

The Greek word for grace is charis. “It is significant that the most common cognates for joy (Chara, “inner joy,” and chairein, “to rejoice”) are derived from the same root— char—as in the Greek word for “grace.”[2] Grace may be the most important word in the Bible because grace is love in action!  We are to rejoice because of His loving grace and the hope we have in Christ. “We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2 CSB).

I always extend grace to my friend, because a loyal friend is a treasure beyond comprehension. A friend who forgives and loves when we deserve nothing but condemnation is a treasure that can’t be measured.

When the world says we are to judge and punish the offense, God’s word says we are to lovingly extend grace. If you think your friend was loyal before, watch how your love and grace will transform them even more!

[1] Knight, G. A. F. Servant theology: a commentary on the book of Isaiah 40–55  (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publications), page 71.

[2]  Morrice, W. G. Joy. G. F. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin, & D. G. Reid (Eds.), Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), p. 511–512.

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Do You Have a Friend that Needs Your Grace? – insight from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author:  Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.

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Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! In I’m Not Afraid!, Susie and her friend go to the Undersea Amusement Park. After  saying a prayer to Jesus, she rides the roller coaster and her fear turns into faith! She learns that praying to Jesus during difficult times and having faith are all she needs to overcome her fears!

Join the conversation: Do you need to forgive someone?


It’s Not Okay, and I Forgive You

by A.C. Williams @Free2BFearless

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:15 NLT

When someone hurts me, and they apologize, I usually respond with the same phrase: “It’s okay.” That works, right?

I don’t like saying, “I forgive you” because it ends up sounding sanctimonious. I’m not a stained-glass sort of person, so I tend to steer away from churchy vernacular.

But here’s the problem: If someone hurt me, it’s not okay.

Maybe the hurt was unintentional, maybe it wasn’t. It doesn’t matter. Hurt is never okay, and the truth of the matter is “it’s okay” and “I forgive you” don’t mean the same thing. They shouldn’t be used interchangeably, but I fear that there is a generation of Christ-followers who haven’t learned to distinguish the difference. I’m among them.

I don’t like admitting when I’ve been hurt. It feels petty. Like I’m nit-picking or being too sensitive. I think: Surely I’m mature enough to absorb a few hurt feelings.

So instead of dealing with the hurt, I pretend it isn’t there. I tell myself that no hurt was intended, so I should be happy to carry on working with or being around whoever hurt me. God commands us to forgive. So that’s what I do. They hurt me, and it’s okay.

But that’s not forgiveness. That’s denial. And it’s dangerous.

Denying that you’ve been hurt never allows you to heal. The hurt just gets hidden, stamped down in the dark recesses of your heart. Maybe you’ll be functional for a while, but the hurt won’t stay there. It puts down roots. What started as legitimate hurt at being wronged may grow into bitterness. Your heart will eventually overflow, and what comes out won’t be pretty. 

Our hearts are the core of who we are. When we speak, we speak from whatever is stored in there. Jesus said, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fill his heart” (Luke 6:45 NASB). If what’s in our heart is mercy and grace, that’s what we communicate; if it’s damage and pain, that’s what we communicate. If you’ve spent a lifetime hiding your hurt rather than facing it, your heart will be cold and resentful and afraid, and that’s not a heart God can use.

So what do you do to heal a hurting heart?

Friend, you can’t do anything. But Jesus can.

The first step to take may seem obvious, but if you’ve made a habit of hiding your hurt, it won’t be obvious to you. Your first step toward healing is to admit that you were hurt. Name it. If the hurt is some fuzzy concept, you can’t do anything with it.

If you can’t identify how someone hurt you, you can’t really forgive them. Choosing to live your life in hurt and pain is choosing a life of bondage, and you’ve put the chains on yourself.

Acknowledge the hurt. Name the hurt. Then, you can give it to Jesus.

You may not be able to address it with the person who hurt you, but you can address it with the Lord. You can recognize that how you were hurt wasn’t okay, and you can choose to forgive.

That doesn’t mean you’ll forget what happened. It doesn’t mean you will be immediately able to move on. Honestly, it may be better that you don’t, especially if you’ve come from an abusive situation. Forgiveness and restoration aren’t the same either.

Our world is full of Jesus-followers who have concealed emotional trauma all their lives because denying it was easier than confronting it. Stop hiding from your hurt. Stop ignoring that it exists. It’s time to heal. Give yourself the opportunity to do that, and be brave enough to extend it to others.

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It’s Not Okay, and I Forgive You – insight & wisdom from A.C. Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williams

About the author: A.C. Williams is an author-preneur who weaves fantastic tales about #AmericanSamurai and #SpaceCowboys, and she’s passionate about helping writers master the art of storytelling. A quirky, coffee-

Finding Fireflies

drinking, cat-loving thirty-something, she’s on a mission to help authors overcome fear and live victorious. Join her adventures on social media (@free2bfearless) and visit her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: Are there hurts festering in your heart today?