The Advocate

by Candy Arrington

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. John 14:26 NLT

For several years prior to her death, I served as a caregiver and advocate for my 96-year-old aunt. Her advanced age brought hearing loss, which made it difficult for her to understand health care providers as well as others. She sometimes attempted to fake hearing—and answered confidently, if incorrectly. But increasingly, she looked to me to translate for her, especially in situations where providers were masked.

My job as advocate was most often needed at times when my aunt was hospitalized. In the months before her death, a hospitalist wanted to send her to an intense physical therapy rehab facility. I knew, because of various medical conditions and declining stamina, my aunt would not be able to handle this rigorous program. I pled her case, standing firm against pressure from the hospitalist. In the end, my advocacy prevailed, and she went to a facility with a program commensurate with her age and physical abilities.

Several synonyms exist for the word “advocate”: champion, proponent, promoter, supporter, to name a few. An advocate acts on behalf of another.

As Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for his upcoming arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and eventual return to his Father, he promised to send them “the Advocate” as his representative. The verse following John 14:26 promises peace, and in our turbulent world, peace is truly a God-given gift. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT).  

Sometimes we forget the Holy Spirit acts on our behalf, providing wisdom, warning, help, conviction, counsel, and comfort. Often, we feel we have to struggle through hardship, solve overwhelming problems, or negotiate life obstacles in our own strength. Instead, we should remember that Jesus’s promise to his disciples to provide an advocate is also a promise to us. The power, presence, and protection of the Holy Spirit are always available to us. All we have to do is ask for his help. The additional benefit of our Advocate is peace of mind and heart, something we all crave when buffeted by difficulty or the unexpected.

Are you facing a life challenge that seems insurmountable? Remember your greatest resource, your Advocate, the Holy Spirit, is within you, and acting on your behalf.

If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. John 14:15-16 NLT

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: How has the Holy Spirit assisted you lately?

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What Everyone Should Know about Confession

by Debbie Wilson

Thomas Dewar quipped, “An honest confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation.” Well, here is my honest confession: I have avoided confession.

Sometimes, I use Ken Boa’s Handbook to Prayer to guide my morning prayers. It divides daily prayers into sections of adoration, confession, renewal, petition, thanksgiving, and more. The confession section begins with a Scripture and asks you to invite the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sins. I was surprised at what God revealed.

I realized I often speed through this part hoping God won’t point out anything. You know I’m doing the best I can. I don’t have time to address anything new.

I’d slipped into viewing the Holy Spirit as a grumpy school principal who wanted to find fault with an imperfect student. I knew better. Yet there it was. I was avoiding the Spirit’s searchlight.

So, here is a reminder of the wonder of confession.

“Confess” comes the Greek word homologeo, which means “to say the same thing as another.” When we confess to God we say the same thing He says. We agree with God and align our wills with His values and perspective.

The Psalmist prayed: “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, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24, NASB).

The Psalmist wanted to know if and where he had veered onto the path of pain. Sin always brings pain. “But he who sins against me injures himself” (Proverbs 8:36, NASB). Besides hurting me, it also grieves the Holy Spirit and hurts other people. Asking the Holy Spirit to reveal sin is asking Him to deliver us from the path of pain.

Sin is missing the mark. It is falling short of God’s glory. When I fail to love others or myself as God does—I’ve missed the mark. When I’m not thankful because I don’t see my circumstances from His perspective, I’ve fallen short.

But, when I agree with the Holy Spirit on the truth He reveals, He cleanses me from pain-causing sin (1 John 1:9). To confess our sins is to agree with what God says about our sins. He says:

• Sin falls short of His glory, grieves Him, and injures us (Ephesians 4:30).

• Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross (Hebrews 10:10).

Confession is not a time of condemnation (Romans 8:1). It is:

• A time to express our regret to God and affirm His cleansing
• A fresh start
• The removal of a painful splinter so we can dance again

Understanding biblical confession makes me welcome the Spirit’s searchlight. Confession is not only good for the soul, but it is also God’s miraculous provision to keep me close to Him.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV

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

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 God and 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]

Debbie 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: How will what you have just learned impact your prayer times with God?

The Trouble With Snakes

by Sheri Schofield

“Look, Mom!” Drew said, a harmless water snake clutched in each hand. “I’m gonna put them in my terrarium.”

“No,” I said firmly. “They will get loose in the house!”

“No, they won’t!”

“Honey,” said my husband, who had just come into the room, “I’ll fix the lid so the snakes can’t get out.”

I just shook my head and sighed. Our house was on the market, and the last thing I needed was snakes in it. But when Tim sides with our son, there was no point in trying to talk common sense to either of them.

About a week later, a prospective buyer came to see our house. I smiled and ushered the plump, middle-aged lady into the living room and spoke of the homey features. Then we turned toward the hallway to the bedrooms. There in the middle of the hallway crawled an escapee from Drew’s terrarium.

“What’s that?” the lady gasped.

“It’s just a…” I began apologetically,

“SNAKE!” she screeched, leaping three feet into the air. Gyrating toward the door in mid leap, she came down with a crash and was already out the door before I could catch my breath.

“But…but…it’s a very nice house!” I called after her. But she was gone, never to be seen again.

We didn’t find the other snake which had escaped until we moved out. It lay shriveled up in Drew’s closet, along with a flattened, dried frog. (That explained the peculiar odor in his room!)

Snakes always escape. There’s no point in trying to pretend otherwise. In the same way, the thoughts and intents of the heart also escape through our lips and actions. Trying to pretend we see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil does not work.

Jesus said, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart” (Luke 6:45 NLT). Jeremiah writes, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT). Since we have fallen natures, the only way to keep our hearts’ contents good is through trusting Jesus day by day. In that way, we can guard our hearts against evil.

The Holy Spirit, living in those who believe and trust in Jesus, produces good things in our hearts. The things escaping through the lips of Spirit-controlled believers are love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (See Galatians 5:22,23, NLT.)

When I was a teenager and later a young adult, I used to pray, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” Psalm 141:3 (KJV). I knew my tendency to allow gossip, bitterness or complaints to poison my words. As the Lord has gradually gained more control of my heart, I have learned to live more and more in His grace. But until the day I am ushered into His presence, the battle for a godly heart will be with me. So, day by day, I surrender my heart to Him, that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be pleasing to my Lord. (See Psalm 19:14.)

May the grace and beauty of the Holy Spirit flow through us always!

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3,4 NLT

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

FREE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM! Author/Children’s Bible teacher, Sheri Schofield, offers a free series of video lessons about Jesus and His salvation—for children ages 4 and up. It is available at her website www.sherischofield.com. In this video series, Walk-The-Talk Island, Sheri presents her award-winning book The Prince and the Plan, in 24 video lessons for your children, grandchildren and any others with whom you wish to share. In addition, Campfire provides devotions for children.

Join the Conversation: How do you work on your heart?

Don’t Settle for the Bubblegum Ring

by Terri Gillespie

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the [Holy Spirit] to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13 TLV

 Do we settle for less because we believe that’s all we deserve? We have a Heavenly Father that wants to give us the best, whether we think we measure up or not.

Have you ever noticed that we don’t always recognize what is best for us? What has the most value?

Once, my mother decided to take each of her young granddaughters out on a special “date” for their birthdays. Their date consisted of grandma and granddaughter one-on-one time.

When their date-day arrived, each little girl could choose their favorite restaurant and then go to their favorite store and pick out a special treasure — within reason — that my mom would purchase for that granddaughter.

Mom found it interesting how different each child was by their choices.

The older granddaughter’s birthday was first. She dressed in a cute sundress. When grandma asked where she wanted to dine, the granddaughter chose her favorite fast-food restaurant. Together they enjoyed a burger, fries, and shake. After the meal, the two perused the local five & dime. The granddaughter randomly walked the aisle, then finally chose a bubblegum-machine ring. The bobble was shiny silver with a big, purple “diamond.” All made of plastic.

When it was the younger granddaughter’s special day, they too dressed in their Sunday best. When mom asked the younger granddaughter where she would like to dine. The granddaughter asked her grandmother, “Where would you eat?” As a result, the grandmother chose her favorite restaurant so the two of them ate at a fancier establishment.

Mom and granddaughter ended up at the same five & dime, but this granddaughter asked for help again. Mom directed her to the jewelry case. The granddaughter chose a sweet, enamel floral bracelet nestled on a pad of cotton inside a shiny, white box.

The big purple ring broke within days. The bracelet lasted considerably longer.

As our Heavenly Father’s redeemed children, our idea of a “good gift” is not always what is best. We may think we know what is best, but our Father often wants to give us more.

Earlier in this chapter, Luke gives his version of the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. The example He gave them is essentially the same as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. Where Matthew’s context focuses on humility and forgiveness, Luke focuses on the generosity of our Father.

Today’s verse and the previous verses in the chapter, may seem like we can ask God for anything we want, and He’ll give it to us — like some celestial Santa Claus—or grandmother. But because He loves us, He longs to give us more than a bubblegum-ring; He longs to give us the riches of His Kingdom. The Holy Spirit. A part of HIM!

Let’s let that one sink in. The Creator of the Universe wants to give us a part of Himself, just as He gave His only Son to redeem us.

We have all prayed for what we believe is the best and God answered, “No.” As difficult as that answer can be — especially when we truly believe it is the best “ring” in the earthly bubblegum-machine — He has a much better choice. A gift beyond our wildest imagination. Isn’t that what we really want?

Abba Father, I don’t want the “bubblegum machine ring,” I want Your best. Please, help me let Your will be done without willfulness from me. Amen.

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

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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, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry

Sweet Rivalry, 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?

Join the conversation: Has God ever blessed you in a far greater way than your original request? Please share!

How Big is Your Cross

by Dana Peters-Colley

Crosses. Petite and silver. Earrings. Big and on necklaces. Gold. Pink. Blue. You can see them a mile away. I love crosses. Don’t you? Yet, have you ever thought about the size of the cross? The weight it represents to carry the cross?

I mean your cross.

As you know, the cross defines the sacrifice and the plan of return that God created. We were made in God’s image, but when Adam and Eve didn’t obey – Blam! Humankind was shattered.

Then, the cross. Two pieces of wood tied up to make a difference. Jesus our Savior carrying the cross under ridicule, torment and suffering. The cross remains a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice. His sacrifice and our rescue. But let’s look further. What did Jesus say to us about the cross?

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 KJV).

So, before our Lord completed His assignment, He told us to carry our crosses. We are called to carry our situations, our families, our struggles and no matter what it costs, to follow Him.

Now, let’s get to the size. What’s the size of your cross? He told us to carry it, remember? I’m going to share a personal story to help us consider this.

Recently, a woman asked me if I was happy in the church. She’d sat on the other side for months. Had ignored me at times. When she asked, I said yes, I’m doing good. I put so much effort into a smile that it was forced, you know those ear-to-ear grins. I pushed hard inside to show that it was all good.

As I walked away, I did some self-talk to work on smiling more. You know, one of those, ‘Just get happier, you need to smile more’ pep talks you give to yourself, because you want to have a teachable spirit. If someone’s bringing up something, you should surely receive and work on it, right?

But oh, what a lovely Lord we have. When I got to my car, He exposed it. I didn’t need to paste a smile on my face. I was just fine with all I was going through. I’m not going to unpack it – but it’s been serious. What I love about the Holy Spirit is that He knew and gave me the truth.  

I don’t think this woman realized the pressure she put on me to smile. Of course, I forgive her and pray for her. Yet, the Lord – it was a loving wow! God moment to show me that putting on a good face was not necessary. Jesus saw my cross. He sees yours, too. The struggles. The pain. The family. The friends. Whatever you carry on your cross, there He is beside you, cheering you on.

The cross. The surrender to follow our Savior in whatever He has next for us, whatever we have to walk through to get to the end and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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: What is on your cross?

Solitude Is For The Birds

by Sheri Schofield

I’m getting desperate—I need people! Winter surrounds our home. Three inches of snow cover my car. Ice lies beneath the snow down our long driveway. It is so cold even the bunny is reluctant to come out of his burrow to hunt food. It is quiet up here. VERY QUIET. My husband Tim is a man of solid worth, but he isn’t a talker. Okay, maybe he can find three or four words to string together. But if he could make it two words instead, he’d do it. So, I’m trapped in silence. I cannot escape this mountain solitude until someone plows and sands the driveway.

“Aaagh! Cabin fever! Let me out!” I beg.

“Oh, alright.” Tim sighs, pulls on his boots and heads for the snowplow. My hero.

Solitude is pleasant—in small doses. Tim loves it. He enjoys his computer, working on cars, looking at the view from our mountain retreat and listening to music. But I need more people around me to satisfy my heart. God did not design me to be a recluse. It’s probably because He gave me a spiritual gift of evangelism. So, I headed for town, hoping to further cultivate my friendships with non-Christians.

That day my friend Levi* said, “You know, I’ve got a lot of things I wanted, but they just don’t satisfy me, now that I’ve got them.”

My thoughts went immediately to the Book of Ecclesiastes. “A man who was known for his wisdom wrote about that, Levi. It’s in the Bible, in the Book of Ecclesiastes. You could look it up online. I think you’d identify with what he says and would be interested in his conclusion,” I suggested.

“I’ll look it up,” he said. Levi is usually lonely and withdrawn. But he is opening up a little.

As I walked away, I thought, “No, he will not look it up. Not unless he has a Bible.” So I went to the Christian bookstore and bought him a New Living Translation. It had a special app he could use with his phone if he wanted to know more about it. Guys love apps, I thought. Levi will enjoy this.

I drove back to the gas station where Levi works and handed the Bible to him. His eyes lit up when I mentioned the app. I also gave him a key ring with a leather fob saying, “Jesus cares for you.” Levi was touched and promised to read Ecclesiastes. “After that,” I said, “read Matthew and keep going.”

Ecclesiastes isn’t where I direct most people who are searching for God. But I’ve learned to sail where the Holy Spirit blows. And it worked!

Two days later, Levi thanked me profusely for the Bible. I asked if he had used the app.

“No,” he said. “It’s the WORDS! The WORDS! I never knew what they meant before! It has inspired me to read the whole book!”

Levi was deeply moved emotionally. I could see the Holy Spirit had gripped his heart. God, who wants a huge family in heaven, wants this man to be there.

There will be no solitude in heaven, for God has been gathering people from every nation to be with Him. He will fill us with such joy that we will want to be continually in His presence. Our hearts will finally be fully satisfied, and we will never be lonely again. Heaven is a holy party place!

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10, NLT

*Not his real name

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

FREE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM! Author/Children’s Bible teacher, Sheri Schofield, offers a free series of video lessons about Jesus and His salvation—for children ages 4 and up. It is available at her website www.sherischofield.com. In this video series, Walk-The-Talk Island, Sheri presents her award-winning book The Prince and the Plan, in 24 video lessons for your children, grandchildren and any others with whom you wish to share. In addition, Campfire provides devotions for children.

Join the Conversation: Have you recently encountered someone searching for God?

Miracles Among Us

by Lane P. Jordan
 
A few weeks ago, as my husband Scott and I were packing to go out of town, I asked what time we would need to leave the house the next morning to make the flight.  Since it was 10:30 a.m., I asked if he was going to his Men’s Bible Study, which started at the (horribly) early time of 6:30 am.

“I’m not sure. I have so much work to do before we leave. Probably not,” was his answer.

The next morning as I was rushing about and he was closing the suitcases, he stopped and looked at me and said, “I can’t wait to talk to you in the car. You won’t believe it.”

Needless to say, I hurried even more! And this is what he shared.

He had woken up around 6:00 am and felt that he had to go to Bible study. He knew he didn’t have to in God’s eyes and the other men in the group were not expecting him. God doesn’t count our work, just our hearts; Scott knew it would be a rushed morning.  But, even after these thoughts, he got dressed and went to the study.

This morning, they were having trouble with the Wi-Fi at the location of the Bible. Scott said, “Let’s connect the computer to my phone.” Once that got fixed, another problem happened. Their normal Zoom conference line was not working.  Scott fired up his Zoom conference line and sent it out to the men that were not there.

Finally, about 10 minutes late, the study was underway. And that’s when one of the men, on Zoom, said, “Please pray for my son, he has been talking about taking his life.”

The men circled around to pray and lay hands on the screen for his son.

Scott then told me, “Lane, I just knew God wanted me to go this morning. I’m sure someone else could have fixed it (as his wife I know he’s about the only one who could have) but knowing I was able to get it working so that we could focus on this prayer request has so blessed my heart.”

And it so blessed mine and I hope yours. We get so busy in our lives, don’t we? Jesus promised that he would send a helper for all his disciples. “The Holy Spirit…will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26 NASB). Paul tells us to stay yielded to the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When we stay in tune to God in our daily walk, we can hear Him say, “I want you to help one of Mine.”

God works in us to help others. And all because His son died and sent His Holy Spirit to us. What a plan! 

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God spared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV

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

About the author: Lane P. Jordan is a best-selling author, national speaker, Life Coach, Bible teacher, and artist. She publishes both fiction and nonfiction, and her writing can be found in magazines and her blog. She is the author of the 12 Steps Organizing books, and her first novel, Evangeline, will be released fall of 2021 as well as her newest children’s books. You can find Lane at:www.LaneJordanMinistries.com and her blog at:www.PathwaysToOrganization.com

Join the conversation: How has the Spirit guided you lately?


 

When to Let Go

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

 No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink,  but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:15 ESV

My adult son needed restoration physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I begged God daily to help Michael overcome his challenges. I’d cry myself to sleep worrying about his future. After many phone calls and website searches, we found another place to hopefully help my cherished boy. But could I handle having him so far away—800 miles from home?

I needed to let go and allow God to work in my son through this program, even though he had tried two others. We removed Michael from one and he was asked to leave another due to his lack of impulse control. I had the habit of rescuing my son from difficult places because of his autism and ADHD.

The Holy Spirit encouraged me to study Hannah, whose story is found in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel. Hannah prayed boldly and with all her might. Her prayer moved the heart and hand of God.

Now, with this program as our last hope, I prayed the staff would understand my autistic son and work with him.

Three days after I dropped off Michael, I walked and listened to an audio book on living a life for Christ. The narrator told a story about a young boy who found a caterpillar and brought it home, where his mother placed it in a jar with leaves.

The boy watched the caterpillar weave a chrysalis. He observed it every day for a week, until he saw the cocoon move. Realizing the creature was struggling, he ran to get scissors, which soon revealed a wet butterfly. The boy watched the insect struggle to fly—then die.

The Holy Spirit was loud and clear. If you rescue your son from this program he will be just like the butterfly. He will die.

I shut off the audio book and cried. “Lord, I commit him to your care. You must help me be strong.”

I had studied butterflies in the past. I knew they needed to battle to free themselves from the darkness. The fight strengthens their wings to fly.

The next day I received a call from Michael. He was hysterical, saying, “Mom, you have to come get me. I have bug bites all over me, and I’m allergic. I hate this place. People are mean. I don’t feel safe. I’ll run away if you don’t come for me.”

I’d never heard him so frantic. I cried, yet I remembered what the Holy Spirit had communicated to me the previous day.

“Michael, I love you. I’m sorry you are going through this. Give me until tomorrow to figure this out.”

I sobbed. Lord you need to help them help my son. I want to take him in my arms and make it all better, but I can’t. It will kill him spiritually. Help him Lord!

That afternoon I shared what the Spirit had told me with a leader from the facility, who said, “I’ll speak with Michael and share this with him.”

The leader called an hour later, saying, “Michael is fine now. He had a fit, and now understands this is his home for the next year.”

I praised God and cried happy tears. I realized Michael belongs to God.

I continue to pray boldly for my son and those he journeys with through the program. Michael has been there for three months now, and I see a remarkable change in him already. My mama’s heart misses him, but he’s in the safest place—the will and hand of God!

Just like God heard Hannah’s prayer, he hears mine.

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

Shine Don't Whine

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: Do you have a child that you worry about?

Sealed

by Donna Nabors

So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard. Matthew 27:66 NKJV

My driver’s license is due to renew this year, 2021, but I received a notice at the end of 2019 that I needed to have it renewed early.

There is a new Federal ID Act requiring a gold star which makes your license compliant for federal identification purposes, like flying. The last time I flew was in 2019, and the year 2020 didn’t turn out to be conducive to either getting a new one or flying. The decision I must now make is: do I wait until my license expires this summer or do it now? Do I need that gold seal of approval for federal identification?

Many documents require seals: birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates. The seal marks the document as official. When Jesus died on the cross, the chief priests and Pharisees were aware of His claim to rise again after three days. They didn’t believe Him, but to prevent rumors, they asked Pilate to secure the tomb, so no one could steal the body. Pilate provided a guard and told them to make it as secure as they knew how. 

Matthew says they sealed the stone and set the guard. The chief priest most likely had his seal of authority set on the stone. He was declaring Jesus officially dead. Who would dare to question the authority it represented?

The same thing happened when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. They laid a stone over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet. God sent angels to save Daniel within a den marked with a man’s seal.

On Resurrection Sunday, God again sent angels to make null and void a man’s seal declaring Jesus dead. The angels rolled the stone away from the tomb where Jesus lay, and He walked out.

It’s in this nullified seal of man that Christ’s resurrection gives us our seal. To seal is to set a mark on something. When we are sealed, God sets His mark on us with the Holy Spirit. The authority of man, even a chief priest or a king, can be broken; but the authority of God cannot.

Ephesians 1:13 (NKJV) says we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Ephesians 4:30 (NKJV) says we are “sealed unto the day of redemption.”

Ranchers brand their cattle to mark those that belong to them, and God marks us, seals us, showing we belong to Him. We are sealed unto the day of redemption. Our redemption will be our resurrection when Jesus breaks man’s seal of death for good.

Don’t wait until your life’s expiration date. Be sure you are trusting in Christ and His resurrection for the Holy Spirit’s seal now.

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

Donna Nabors Headshot

About the author: Donna Nabors is a wife, mom, grandma, and follower of Christ focused on filling her spiritual jewelry box. Through disappointments in life, she shares that the treasures from God’s Word are where we find the strength to stand. Donna lives in Texas, and her hobbies include antique shopping and organizing. She often jokes that her life is in an Excel spreadsheet. You can find more about Donna at donnanabors.com.

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Donna’s book: Pearls: 5 Essentials for a Richer Prayer Life, outlines five elements that can lead to a richer prayer life. It focuses on how Jesus’ words, “It is better to give than to receive,” relate to prayer. Pearls demonstrates how giving to God through prayer draws you into a closer relationship with Him.

Join the conversation: Have you been sealed with the Holy Spirit?

Is it Wrong to Call Jesus “Clever”?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

The story of Jesus responding to the Pharisees’ demands that He condemn a woman caught in adultery offers many lessons for us. I’m curious whether you would say one of them is that Jesus is clever. “Clever” is a tricky word because we might think of “deceitful.” But synonyms actually include intelligent, brilliant, skillful, astute, and quick. Those words do describe the way Jesus handles being “trapped”—at least the Jewish leaders thought they had Him trapped.

Jesus’s question, “Woman, where are they?” (John 8:10 ESV) comes at the very end of the story yet there’s so much vital background. The Jews, who are hypocritical about their own sins, drag this guilty woman, caught in the very act of adultery, to stand naked before Jesus. Leviticus 20:10 says both the sinning man and woman should be stoned. So where is the man? We can easily wonder if the whole incident is a set up. Regardless, she has no defense. She is guilty and deserves to be stoned.

But the religious leaders don’t care about her. Jesus is their target. Their motive is to trap Jesus and destroy his growing reputation. The Pharisees craft this trick believing Jesus only has two options. If he says stone her, then the main theme of his ministry of love and forgiveness is repudiated. If he says to let her go, Jesus is a lawbreaker, dismissing sin. Either way He might answer, their goal is reached: the common people will be convinced Jesus can’t be the Messiah. Plus, the respect the leaders are losing because of Jesus will be restored.

Even if Jesus says to stone her, the Jews are powerless to follow through. At that time, only the Romans were allowed to carry out capital punishment. This is an empty threat. But the Jews are desperate, trying to gain back the respect of the people.

In the meantime, this naked woman is convinced that within moments, the people will start throwing stones at her.

In the midst of the woman’s shame, the Jews’ gloating, and the onlookers’ gawking, Jesus stands confidently. He is clever, brilliant, sharp, and quick. He doesn’t feel trapped by those two choices. He thinks outside the limited human box of cleverness.

He writes on the ground. Oh yes, we want to know the words. Or are they scribbles? We will never know. But his action has the desired effect. The accusers slink away, most likely feeling and knowing they are as guilty as this woman.

Jesus then asks the shocked adulterer, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

His questions are not intended to excuse her sin. But in this particular case, the time isn’t right for him to act as judge. After she answers “no one,” he says, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11 ESV).

His brilliant intellect calmly dissolves the “trap,” convicts the hypocrites, and invites the sinner to repentance and godly living—without a single moment of concern or confusion. Only by writing in the dust. How many of us would have thought of that?

When you are feeling perplexed, remember that the Holy Spirit wants to help you think wisely and possibly “cleverly” like Jesus. Call upon Him who resides in you to help you see beyond the “seen” circumstance. And be open to His leading which may be “outside the box.”

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is an international speaker and the author of 58 non-fiction books including devotionals, Bible studies, commentaries, and over 1,000 blog posts and articles. She has spoken in 35 US states and 9 foreign countries. Her latest book is co-written with her husband, Larry, titled God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. This post is an excerpt from that book. Visit her at https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller.

Join the conversation: Can you share a time when the Holy Spirit gave you a “clever” solution to a difficult problem?