Let’s Play “Name That Problem”!

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Mark 5:15 ESV

From a human perspective, facing thousands of demons controlling one man would propel us to run the other way screaming in terror. But in the story of the demonized man living in the tombs, Jesus calmly, confidently and accurately responds to this man … repeatedly.

That’s what surprises us. We aren’t surprised Jesus tells the demons, “come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” (Mark 5:8 ESV). What surprises us is that the demons didn’t leave immediately until Jesus asks, “What is your name?”

The reply? “My name is Legion, for we are many” (Mark 5:9 ESV).

In the Roman army, a legion can have 6,000 men or more. Since we know the outcast demons inhabit over 2,000 pigs, we know there are indeed many of them.

The verb tense used in the story suggests Jesus “was saying” for the demon to leave, indicating ongoing instruction. We don’t know why the spirits don’t leave immediately but we can surely relate.

When you and I are bombarded with an ongoing problem, we might begin to think God’s power has been depleted or He’s waiting around for replenishment. Of course, in our minds we know that’s not true, but our hearts are impatient, and we begin to feel hopeless and overwhelmed. That’s when we need to remember what Jesus did… Jesus asks for the demon’s name.

I remember a time in my life when I felt like I couldn’t begin to name all the problems I faced. Yet during prayer, I felt led to begin writing them down. I began and then couldn’t think of that many. “But God, I feel like there are so many, yet I can only identify five.” Once I’d written down the five and put them on the altar before the Lord, they didn’t seem as paralyzing. I was shocked.

Sometimes we need to play “Name That Problem!” Worry often overwhelms us because the swirl of uncertainty, panic, and helplessness is unidentified. We need to clarify what is bothering us by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the lies we are believing about the problem and then counter it with who God is. Then we can combat the lie by identifying the characteristic of Jesus’s nature which will strengthen us to trust him.

We can remind ourselves Jesus is faithful, powerful, wise, attentive…so many to choose from.

As we think back to the story, the air is filled with tension and people’s doubts. (Sound familiar?) Then the impossible occurs. The man is delivered! Even though the townspeople have tried to contain this dangerous man with chains and shackles that have proved powerless, Jesus persists and overcomes the demon with the intimidating “name.”

Throughout all of this, Jesus doesn’t have a single moment of confusion, doubt, or troubling thought, even when the demons resisted Him.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, identify the problem(s) and the lies bolstering the panic. Call upon the ultimate Name of all Names, your Lord Jesus Christ. Whether you have one problem or a “legion,” they can be brought into submission, like the demon-possessed man, “sitting there, clothed and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15 ESV).

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to share the truths of Scripture with practical insights giving glory to God. She is the author of over 55 books and a speaker who has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US states. One of her many books is

Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries. She married her high school sweetheart, Larry, in 1970, and they have two children and two grandchildren, and live in Southern California. Kathy and Larry often minister together in their writing and speaking. Reach her: https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What lies about your situation have you believed in the past?

I Don’t Like Feeling Stupid

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I don’t like not knowing. I don’t like not having an answer or an opinion. Not knowing or not being able to reply makes me tense. And dare I say it? I feel stupid.

Even sillier, I will give an opinion even though I’m not sure I’m right—so that I can avoid saying, “I don’t know.” That’s pretty bad. My. My. I’m not like Zechariah.

In Zechariah 4, the prophet Zechariah has been shown a vision of a lamp stand and several other things. He asks what the items mean and the angel speaking with him replied : “Do you not know what these are?” And [Zechariah] said, ‘No, my lord.’”

If I had been Zechariah, I wouldn’t have asked what the things are because then I would reveal my … there’s that word again … stupidity. And then when the angel asked, “Do you not know what these are?” I would have bluffed my way into some sort of answer (said as if I’m Rocky Balboa), “Well, sure, I know what it is. Whatcha think I’m stupid, or somepin’?” Or since the angel woke him up, he could have defended himself saying, “Hey, I just woke up. Let me sit up first and think.”

So I’m admiring Zechariah. He has the humility to admit he doesn’t know, and he is willing to be instructed. I need to remember him as my inspiration. It’s OK to appear to be stupid, because it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. What matters is God’s view of me, and he already knows when I don’t know. And he would much rather I admit my lack of knowledge and ask to be informed.

Because Zechariah was willing to say “I don’t know,” he heard God’s word of wisdom: “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’” (4:6).

God’s wisdom is encouragement for the disheartened Israelites as they face obstacles reconstructing the temple. Just as God is supplying mysterious oil for the lamps in the vision, God promises to supply the strength to finish God’s assignment.

You and I will be more receptive to understand God’s truth when we understand the tone of the angel. And since Zechariah calls the angel “Lord,” most commentators believe this is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. And knowing Jesus, we can safely say the question is not a reproof of Zechariah’s ignorance but an invitation to reflect on the message of the mystery of the vision.

When Zechariah admits his ignorance, God uses him as an encouragement for our growth in humility. If our motive is to protect ourselves from being seen as stupid, we won’t be able to humbly trust Jesus’s loving callings.

Whether the “assignment” is a far-reaching project or a moment-by-moment abiding requiring our humility, we can be assured God is an encouraging God who wants to enlighten and empower us.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 NIV

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller’s mission is to inspire Christians to see how trustworthy and reliable God is. This post is from her and her husband’s book God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. Kathy is the author of over 55 books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US states. She and her husband are parents, grandparents, and lay counselors. Visit her at: https://linktr.ee/kathycollardmiller

Kathy’s Her most recent book is study of the many characteristics of God: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. She is the author of over 55 books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US States. Reach her at: Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
or Pinterest/Kathyspeak. Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: To what degree do you avoid being seen as stupid—or some other identity?

Why Would Jesus Ever Say Such a Mean Thing?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Matthew 12:48 NIV

This passage can be perplexing. A messenger comes into the packed house and interrupts Jesus. “Your mom and brothers want to talk to you.”

Jesus responded to the messenger with a question: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Why would he not be responsive to his family? Family is important. In the cultures of the middle east like Israel, the family especially takes precedence over everything.

Exactly. Jesus is zealous for the family of God, his spiritual brothers and sisters. They take precedence over every other person or group and will last into eternity. God intends the earthly family to be a representation of the forever family in heaven, even if humans on earth can never be a perfect model. Jesus’s response points to his zealous nature. He is fervent, ardent, devoted, and diligent.

On the golf course, I saw a mother quail grow twice as large in defense of her babies hiding in the bushes. A road runner came by, and she strutted out with a fierce determination to protect her children. The road runner knew this was a mean mama and quickly scurried away. I knew I was watching zealousness in action.

As we think again of Jesus’s reaction to his family, we must look at the evidence of their attitudes about Jesus and his ministry. Over time, they become true followers, but they didn’t understand in the beginning.

The first mention besides Jesus’s childhood is when Jesus, his disciples, and his family spend a few days together in Capernaum (John 2:12). The brothers try to tell him what to do (John 7:3-4). The brothers don’t believe in him (John 7:5). The family wants to take custody of him thinking he is out of his mind (Mark 3:21). His mother is at the cross, and Jesus arranges his apostle John to care for her (John 19:26-27). The family is in the upper room after Jesus ascends into heaven (Acts 1:14). James, his half-brother, is a prominent leader in the early church (Galatians 2:9).

In this particular event, when his family arrived and sent in a messenger, some commentators wonder if his family wants special favors. We can also easily imagine they feel ignored, replaced, and unimportant. Over time, how often did Mary reflect on the angel’s words and the wonder of Jesus’s birth to help her in all the uncertainty and especially at the cross? But obviously, at certain times, she is a typical mother desiring her son make the right choices.

Jesus uses this situation to teach a new idea. His human family represents his “old” family, Israel. But the disciples and followers are his “new” family, who will become a part of the church starting on the Day of Pentecost. “Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:49-50 NIV).

Just as a zealous God is passionate about all goodness and righteousness, Jesus is zealous to develop, protect, and control his spiritual family which will bring himself glory. If you know Jesus as your Savior, then you are a part of the Body of Christ, and God is zealous about you.

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

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Why Would Jesus Ever Say Such a Mean Thing? – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is zealous about studying God’s Word and getting to know God better.

God's Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus's Nature by [Kathy Miller, Larry Miller]

Her most recent book is study of the many characteristics of God: God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. She is the author of over 55 books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US States. Reach her at: Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
or Pinterest/Kathyspeak. Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What aspect of being cared for by a zealous God is most meaningful to you?

Are We “Miserable Comforters”?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 NKJV

As I talked to my friend, I was confident my words would make the difference in her life. It was obvious she had done everything wrong, and I was God’s emissary of truth. But the next day, as I continued my study of the book of Job, I became convicted about my motives and words for my friend. I had spoken just like Job’s “friends,” whom he described as “miserable comforters are you all” (Job 16:2 NKJV).

From my ongoing study I began learning what Job meant. He was a man stripped of everything: his children killed, his livelihood destroyed, and his body wracked with pain. Even his wife disrespected him and told him to die.

A group of friends arrived and initially did the best thing: sat grieving with him silently for seven days. Then everything changed. They began giving their opinions.

They tell him the innocent don’t suffer, so Job must have sinned. I can fall into this trap assuming the root cause of everyone’s problem is sin. But trials come from a variety of sources and for a number of reasons. I need to remind myself of that.

They make assumptions. I can falter in this way by seeing the evidence of one thing and also seeing something else, and assume the two are connected. But my assumption might well be wrong.

They talk a lot and don’t listen. Job tries to defend himself, but Job’s friends aren’t really hearing Job’s heart. I’m trying to remember to ask questions like: “Tell me in other words what you’re saying because I’m not sure I understand,” or “How do you define that word you’re using?”

They give pat answers and easy solutions. Zophar, one of Job’s friends was exceptionally good at this. In Job 11:13-17, he basically says, “if you will just do this, then everything will be perfect.” Most of the time there is no guarantee of a fast solution.

They take Job’s responses personally. I can also. If my friend doesn’t agree or do all I say, I am defensive. My focus is no longer on loving her well but trying to find a way to convince her of my goodness and wisdom.

Although sometimes I’m still tempted to think like a “miserable comforter,” I’m growing in my ability to:

  • Listen more than talk.
  • Ask more than assume.
  • Remind myself a life story is complicated and complex.
  • Know there are no instant solutions.
  • Not make the story about me.

Job’s story ends beautifully as God takes over and brings clarification and truth. Job is restored in everything that was taken away and his nosey friends are put in their place by God.

About my conversation with my friend… I called her the next day to ask for her forgiveness about the ways I had been a “miserable comforter.” She graciously forgave me, yet also told me how God had been speaking to her. God had run with the ball which I had fumbled. He took my mistakes and went into the endzone for the touchdown.

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Are We “Miserable Comforters”? – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s Word and see God as the “wise counselor.” She is the author of over 55 books, an international speaker, and lay counselor. Kathy is a wife to Larry, mother to two, and grandma to two. One of her most recent books is Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory, from which this post has been adapted. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com or Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
or Pinterest/Kathyspeak. Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: How do you resist being like one of Job’s “sorry comforters”?

This May Be the Strangest Question Jesus Ever Asked

by Kathy Collard Miller  @KathyCMiller

“Do you want to be healed?” John 5:6 ESV

Jesus may be asking the most intriguing question ever as he talks to a man waiting to be healed. Our initial reaction is, “Of course he does. Jesus, what are you thinking? Who wouldn’t?”

But the man responds, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going, another steps down before me” (John 5:7 ESV).

The crippled man doesn’t say, “Of course. Can you help?” He gives an explanation. Or is it an excuse?

After thirty-eight years of a debilitating disease, is he comfortable in his situation? What would it mean to be healthy again? Maybe he fears handling the responsibilities of normal life.

I wonder how often Jesus asks us a similar kind of question.

  • By allowing frustrating circumstances, he might be asking: “Do you want to give up your disability of discontent?”
  • When someone hurts us, is he asking, “Do you want to be emotionally healed by relinquishing your bitterness?”
  • If someone takes advantage of us, is he asking, “Will you give up your victim mentality?”

Do we have standard reasons—or are they excuses—for our discontent, anger, and powerlessness? The waters of healing are right before us. Why don’t we jump in?

Jesus is a wise counselor. He knows how to prod the handicapped man’s heart and our own. Our hearts are an open book to him and a mystery novel to us. But he desires to reveal the pages which are stuck together with the glue of sin or fear.

Jesus is prying two pages apart as he gives the man an assignment he can refuse. “Jesus says to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man is healed, and he takes up his bed and walk[s]” (5:8-9 ESV).

We are cheering as he is healed and obeys with no explanations or excuses. Interestingly, Jesus tells him to “take up your bed.” The man couldn’t leave it there as his safety blanket in case he felt bad again.

Many years ago, I didn’t know releasing my unrealistic expectations of my husband, Larry, would be Jesus’s way of asking me to burn my “bed” of bitterness. In our early marriage, Larry worked two jobs and had a flying hobby. He was rarely home and gave little help with our two children, a new-born and a toddler. I wrapped myself in my mat of resentment as a way to protect myself from the pain of his rejection.

My husband says now, “I wrapped myself in my mat of controlling pride thinking Kathy had the problem, not me. In my view Kathy never appreciated my efforts, so I gave up even trying.”

We both at different times and in different ways heard Jesus ask, “Do you want to be healed?” The process of restoration began when we each stopped giving explanations and instead acknowledged our own self-centered spiritual sickness.

We will soon celebrate our 50th anniversary and are more in love with each other and Jesus than ever before.

Although we each will sometimes try to pick up another mat, God persists saying, “Do you want to stay well?”

Adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature, copyright 2020, Kathy Collard Miller

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This May Be the Strangest Question Jesus Ever Asked – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s attributes. As a result, her latest two books are devotional books about God’s nature: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature.

These are co-authored with her husband, Larry, and make a wonderful couples’ devotional study. Kathy is also the author of 55 other books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 35 US states. Check out her website: www.KathyCollardMiller.com and YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor

Join the conversation: Can you identify a time you were clueless to your motives and God prodded your heart to show you?

God Never Wonders, “But What If…”

By Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

When God asks Solomon, “Ask what I shall give you,” (2 Chronicles 1:7), He is asking a question most likely we would like God to ask of us: “Tell me anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” Although God’s question is in the form of a statement, some biblical translations frame it as a question, a question showing God is omniscient. God knows Solomon’s reply—asking for wisdom—which fits with God’s will.

Omniscience describes God’s knowledge, specifically, knowing everything. There is not a single thing He doesn’t know. But Solomon doesn’t know all. God invites Solomon to examine his main motive for life, and Solomon asks for wisdom. Good choice. Unfortunately, a current motive doesn’t guarantee long-term godliness. God knows Solomon’s debased future choices, yet God still gives Solomon a choice.

It’s a perplexing situation but all of God’s questions throughout the Bible and His invitations to every one of us are based on the same thing. He knows every single detail about our lives even before we make any decisions—because of His omniscience—yet He still gives us choices. Psalm 139:16 tells us:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

    the days that were formed for me,

    when as yet there was none of them.”

God knows everything about Solomon; his character and his future actions, and His own plan for Israel He will do through Solomon. We focus a lot on Solomon’s reply, and what we might reply, but God is revealing truth about Himself: His knowledge of everything and His graciousness in giving something to someone whom He knows will not always make good choices.

God doesn’t have to wait and see how our lives turn out before He can decide what to do with us. He is aware of all of time at once; He is not bound by human time. He already knows the beginning from the end; He’s the Alpha and the Omega. During God’s conversation with Solomon, this truth is emphasized: “For the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought” (I Chronicles 28:9). God doesn’t learn, He never forgets, He never misunderstands, nor is He ever surprised by anything. Additionally, He never thinks, “But what if …” or “If only …” We do. But He doesn’t.

What comfort for us. We never have to wonder, “What would God have done if Solomon had asked for something totally selfish?” We never have to wonder, “What if I’d made a different choice? Would God have done something different?”

These are deep questions, and we will never know fully here on earth how God’s will and our choices coordinate. But one thing we need never wonder is, does God know the future? Because  Nothing is past, present, or future to Him. He knows all and never has a false, uncertain, or confusing thought. How incomprehensible to our limited minds. We can’t grasp it.

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God Never Wonders, “But What If…” – encouragement from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to share about God’s nature. This devotional is adapted from her book God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature (co-authored with her husband, Larry). Kathy lives in Southern California and is a mom and grandma. She is a speaker and the author of 58 books including Bible studies, commentaries, and Christian living topics.

Reach out to her at: www.KathyCollardMiller.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
Twitter: @KathyCMiller
Pinterest/Kathyspeak, youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03

Join the conversation: How would you answer the question God asked Solomon?

Love Freely Because You Are Loved Freely

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?                                                                                                                 Matthew 5:46 NASB

When Jesus said the above words, He was talking about a kind of love contrary to what His listeners had heard before. It would be like someone telling you, “Do you want to go to Mars? I have one ticket left.” What? Are you kidding? That’s dangerous. How do I know it’s safe?

Jesus’ original audience must have been thinking the same thing. Are you kidding? Loving those who don’t love me is dangerous. They will take advantage of me. After all, then I should love the Romans and those who help them like the tax gatherers. Jesus can’t mean them. No way.

But Jesus dug into their motives by asking, What reward is there for loving those who love you? You know the tax gatherers fake liking you to get on your good side and then take your money. When you love others who love you, you are just like the tax gatherers. You love for selfish reasons. I’m asking you to love everyone, even to your possible detriment.

Jesus’s teaching stood in opposition to what the rabbis and other religious leaders were teaching. The Pharisees used Leviticus 19:18 (at least part of it) to prove they didn’t need to love their enemies: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (NASB). They promoted the idea that only fellow Jews were technically neighbors. And even some of them were exempted, like the tax collectors and other “sinners.” Love everyone but those people—and the wicked Romans, of course.

Jesus challenged His listeners’ motives. They must have been wondering, I should love the guy who robs me when he overcharges me on my taxes? But then I won’t be able to complain about him. I won’t be able to feel superior to such a worm. Then I won’t feel justified to hate.

We can find a crucial insight from Jesus on this in the verse just before Matthew 5:46. He said, “For he [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45 NASB).

Jesus was saying, I’m God, and like my heavenly Father who is such a good God, we give common grace and blessings even to those who are unjust. Why can’t you trust me to provide whatever you, my chosen ones, need as you face a scary, sacrificial opportunity? If I provide for those who don’t honor me, won’t I provide for you who is my favored one? You’ll have enough love to share with others.

At this point, those listening to Jesus didn’t know anything about the great sacrifice their teacher would be making within a short time. But we do. We can tell ourselves, If God loves me so sacrificially, providing salvation at such a high cost, then I can love others no matter the cost.

If it feels like you need to protect your heart by loving only those who can offer you something good in return, consider God’s unconditional love, modeled for you through Jesus suffering the ultimate humiliation and sacrifice.

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Love Freely Because You Are Loved Freely – @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s attributes. As a result, her latest two books are devotional books about God’s nature: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. These are co-authored with her husband, Larry, and make a wonderful couples’ devotional study. Kathy is also the author of 55 other books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 35 US states. Check out her website: www.KathyCollardMiller.com and YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 or Facebook.

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: In what way has God shown you his unconditional love and asked you to pass it on?

You’ll Never Attend This Kind of Wedding

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zephaniah 3:17 NASB

You are at a wedding. After the bride and bridegroom are pronounced husband and wife, the groom turns and with a solemn face announces, “Now we all will mourn. Don’t expect any food at the reception, because we will be fasting.”

You look around to see confused and sad looks on the guests’ faces. A dirge fills the church as the bride and groom drag themselves down the aisle. After the dreary reception where there’s no food, dancing, or singing, everyone is given a little baggie of dirt. As the newly married couple leave the reception, everyone throws dirt on them.

No way! And yet the metaphor is a modern explanation for what John the Baptist’s followers want when they arrive at a party Matthew is hosting (Matthew 9:9-17). Jesus, his disciples, and other party guests are feasting and having a great time. Even those terrible “tax collectors and sinners” are joining in—at Jesus’s invitation. Can’t you just envision Jesus having the biggest smile of them all?

But the disciples of John the Baptist aren’t rejoicing. They look over the crowd with a judgmental scowl and demand, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (Matthew 9:14 NASB). Wow, they are on the prowl to let others know everyone should follow the rules as they do.

We can understand the question considering their teacher is in prison, and they are mourning. They could be thinking everyone should be mourning along with them. They might be thinking Jesus should especially be concerned, because John is his cousin. Plus, John was the one who launched Jesus’s ministry as Messiah with an announcement as he baptized Him. Might they even be thinking Jesus wouldn’t have been successful without John? We don’t know.

Jesus interjects, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” (Matthew 9:15 NASB). Jesus reminds them who he is. He tells them that while He is with them, everyone should rejoice. He completely trusts his Father’s plan for his cousin. Plus, Jesus wants to enjoy the party because he is truly joyful in nature.

For many years, starting in childhood, I never pictured Jesus laughing, partying, and having joy. I believed he was a demanding taskmaster who was always on the prowl to squash any fun.

But as I began studying Jesus’s attributes in the Bible, I realized he is joyful. After all, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 includes joy. It’s impossible for Jesus to not be joyful since the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one along with the Father: the same in essence and character. As I realized this, my perspective began to change and I could actually visualize Jesus having a great time—with the biggest grin!

Adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature, copyright 2020, Kathy Collard Miller.

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You’ll Never Attend This Kind of Wedding – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s attributes. As a result, her latest two books are devotional books about God’s nature: God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature and God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. These are co-authored with her husband, Larry, and make a wonderful couples’ devotional study. Kathy is also the author of 55 other books and has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 35 US states. Check out her website: www.KathyCollardMiller.com and YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 or Facebook.

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 other words would you describe for Jesus’s joyful nature and is it easy or hard for you to envision Jesus as joyful?

What are You Seeking?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Picture for a moment you are at a large conference. You are hungering to speak with the famous speaker who has already made a difference in your life through one presentation. During a break, you fearfully head to the front of the auditorium. You’re thinking, What do I say? Am I intruding?

We can assume Andrew and John had similar feelings the day they first saw Jesus, recorded in John 1. They had been standing with John the Baptizer, who, upon seeing Jesus, announced Him to them by saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Upon hearing who Jesus was, they began to follow Him.

Jesus turned and saw them following. He asked them, “What do you seek?”

John the Apostle uses the Greek word theasamenos for “saw.” This word indicates more than a disinterested glance. It means looking closely and perceiving. Put another way, Jesus’s eyes bore into them. Both men must have felt like their souls were revealed and known.

Then Jesus asked, “What are you seeking?”  Again, the wording is so powerful. In our world, this word “seeking” would be like asking “What are you searching for? What do you think will meet your needs? What are your expectations? What do you value?” Such words pointed to a heavy-duty examination of their motives. Jesus knew His Father had chosen them for the kingdom, so He went deep.

They replied, “Where are you staying?” “Stay” means remain or abide. They wanted to get to know Him and spend time with Him. Ironically, it would be a two-way street. Abiding with Him now would mean He would abide in them forever (through the Holy Spirit). But that indwelling would come after the resurrection.

Jesus welcomed them warmly, seeing that they were in touch with their deep needs. Unlike so many who might come to Jesus looking for instant gratification through healing or solving their problem, these men were looking for a long-term relationship. In an approachable manner, Jesus answered, “Come and you will see.” The theme of “seeing” continues. They are seen, and now they will see.

Jesus does the same for us. He initiates an awareness of our need, and as our spiritual eyes are opened, we “see” the need of continuing relationship. He welcomes us in order to reveal the longing of our hearts. We yearn to be loved, appreciated, approved, and respected. No one but God can fill that hole. He welcomes our quest to “see” and looks for us to surrender to the ways He wants to meet them.

During times of need, I love to meditate on this story which points to Jesus’s close attention to His loved ones’ inner beings and the longings only He can satisfy. In response, God often directs His people to minister to us. How wonderful we are assured heaven will meet all our needs, because we have been welcomed by Jesus. Even when He sees and totally knows us, the good, the bad, and the ugly, He will not turn us away.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28 NASB

TWEETABLE
What are You Seeking? – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to assure God’s people of His welcoming nature. Her own experience of being overwhelmed by abusive anger toward her toddler convinced her Jesus could no longer “welcome” her as His daughter. But God pursued and persevered the healing of her heart and her family. Kathy has more than 55 published books and has spoken in more than 35 US States and 9 foreign countries. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.comGod's Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature by [Kathy Collard Miller, Larry Miller]

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: In what recent way did God reveal He knows you from the inside out? Or what Scripture assures you of that?

When We’re Spiritually Cross-Eyed

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant.                                                                                             Psalm 34:4-5 NIV

Someone has said, “If you have one eye on yesterday and the other eye on tomorrow, you’ll look at today cross-eyed.”

That’s what regrets do to us. Regrets can paralyze us from thinking positively about God’s present working and even steal our enthusiasm for the future. We concentrate on a mistake from the past and fear the consequences of that regretful incident will continually hamper our future. Cross-eyed.

In fact, regrets are a form of worry—we worry with thoughts like, “if only I had treated my child better” or “if only I hadn’t said that to my friend.” Such worry keeps us focused in ourselves, making us unable to receive his loving approval, which would enable our efforts for His glory.

What can we do to fight against crippling regrets?

The Apostle Peter could easily have been paralyzed with regret. He’d denied knowing Jesus three times the night He was arrested. That one terrible failure had the potential to keep him from fulfilling God’s plan for his future. But after a conversation with Jesus on the beach, Peter knew he needed to move past his mistake. Without even a single mention of Peter’s big fail, Jesus told him: Take care of my sheep. (John 21: 17) Stop looking back. Keep focused on what God would have you do next.

From a Scriptural standpoint, the word “forget” means more than not remembering. Holding on to a regret entails being held hostage to the memory. It is not God’s will for us to be held captive by the past. Jesus already paid for that sin. So God has already forgiven it.

The key to overcoming regrets is to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. It is a choice to let go of focusing on the hurt we inflicted and the hurt that others have inflicted upon us. Our enemy, Satan, wants us to mentally bash ourselves over the head by tearing ourselves down. When we do that, there is no positive value. We will not earn back God’s approval (we already have it); we only dig ourselves into a pit of depression.

Isaiah 43:25 can motivate us to forgive ourselves. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (NIV). At a time when I needed to forgive myself, I was struck by the phrase, “for My own sake.” I realized, Lord, You want to have fellowship with me because you love me so much. And if I am overcome by regrets, my ability to fellowship with you is compromised. I have distanced myself from Your empowerment to serve.

Are you condemning yourself for the past?

God wants you to embrace His forgiveness and empower you for godly living. Then you won’t be looking at life cross-eyed. Instead you will be eyeing the past, present, and future through the lens of Jesus’s cross!

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When We’re Spiritually Cross-Eyed – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller wrote her book on trusting God more and overcoming worry because God was showing her how she was cross-eyed with regrets and fear. That book is titled Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries. She has also written over 55 other books on various spiritual life topics. Kathy has spoken in more than 35 states and 9 foreign countries. She and her husband, Larry, are parents, grandparents, lay counselors, and often write and speak together. They live in Southern California. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Join the conversation: Are there regrets in your life that have kept you from living in freedom? Or have you applied the forgiveness of the cross to prevent being spiritually cross-eyed?