Are We Drinking from a Muddy Cistern?

by Kathy Collard Miller

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13 ESV

While in third grade, I angrily chased a girl on the playground and tripped. I fell on my face, shattering my top two front permanent teeth. I clearly remember thinking, “God allowed that to happen. He can’t be trusted.” I also condemned myself as stupid because I had allowed my anger to control me.

In big and little ways, every one of us experiences events which prompt distrust of God, which results in ungodly responses. As for me, I’m very sensitive when someone responds as if I’m stupid. My old third-grade-self pops back into my heart and I overreact—most often with anger.

In a unique way, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to describe an ungodly choice— gulping stagnant, dirty, polluted water from a broken cistern instead of from His fountain of living waters. What a contrast. When you and I overreact out of self-protection, we are spiritually rejecting the better way God offers to those who choose to trust Him.

Years ago, when my husband, Larry, and I visited Israel, we saw cisterns that had been dug to hold rainwater or water from some other source. One was so deep that we literally walked down into it. Our tour guide pointed out other smaller cisterns, and, as we expected, the water was murky, muddy, and terrible looking. If one was parched and dehydrated, I suppose that dirty water might offer some help, but it sure wouldn’t taste good.

The tour guide then pointed to a green, lush area where a natural spring bubbled up. That water was clear, pure, and seemed to invite us to take a drink. I couldn’t help but think of Jeremiah 2:13 and how often I must choose between a muddy cistern—spiritually—or God’s rejuvenating, refreshing spring—full of life and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Recently, I couldn’t figure out how to overcome a computer problem. I called in Larry, and he told me what to do. I replied, “I already tried that. It doesn’t work.” Then he repeated the same instruction. I could feel my tension and anger rise. Does he think I’m so stupid that I hadn’t already tried that obvious solution? A third time, he repeated the same instruction and my anger increased.

I was drinking from the muddy cistern for sure, but then I caught myself: Wait a minute! I’m rehearsing the lie from third grade that I’m stupid, but God says I have the mind of Christ. I don’t have to get angry and defend myself. All that matters is that God knows the truth about me—He made me smart and I’m valuable to Him regardless.

In that moment I began gulping from God’s fresh flowing spring. My anger ebbed away. (By the way, Larry loves to tell me how smart I am.)

Whenever we feel tempted to react in an ungodly way, we can pray, “Father, am I believing a lie in any way? How am I feeling threatened?

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of 59 books, which include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, and Bible commentaries. She has written over a thousand articles and blog posts, and appeared on hundreds of podcasts, TV, and radio programs, including the 700 Club. As a speaker she has shared in nine foreign countries and 34 US states. Kathy and Larry married in 1970 and are the parents of two and grandparents of two. They live in Southern Idaho and often write and speak together.

Kathy’s most recent book is a women’s Bible study, Heart of Courage: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com. This article is adapted from her book Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory

Join the conversation: In what way do you sometimes drink from a spiritual cistern? And in what way do you often drink from God’s living fountain?

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The Day the Paparazzi Discovered Me

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3 ESV

My mom and I love ice skating performances. Years ago, she and I attended an ice-skating show in Los Angeles at The Stapes Center. After we found our seats, the woman sitting next to me struck up a conversation and eventually asked with a quizzical look on her face, “You’re famous, aren’t you? You look familiar. I’m a celebrity photographer, and I recognize you.”

I immediately felt confused. I thought, “Well, actually, some people would think I’m famous. I’ve given thousands of presentations all over the world.” I instantly reflected back on the numerous times I’d arrived at a speaking engagement and someone came up to me and said, “You’re the speaker, aren’t you?”

I also remembered the time I was having lunch at a restaurant with a local pastor’s wife who was considering me for their church’s women’s retreat. As we chatted, a woman I didn’t recognize walked by and suddenly stopped. She stared at me and said, “You’re Kathy Collard Miller, aren’t you? I heard you speak at…” and she named a local church. She went on to rave about how much she appreciated my presentation, and I thanked her.

After she walked on, I turned to the pastor’s wife and said, “I promise you I didn’t set that up.” We both laughed; she did choose me for the retreat, but I trust it wasn’t because of the encounter from my plant…oh wait, no. Wrong word. I didn’t arrange that.

So the reason I was confused as I heard the photographer’s words was because in my own circle of the world, you could say I am famous.

But then the best thought came into my mind.

I’m known by God! If being famous can be defined as known by the public, I’m known by the most famous person ever. My worth and value are determined by being a child of God, not how many people recognize me. What a wonderful thought.

In that moment with the photographer, I smiled an intriguing grin that I hoped would make the photographer wonder if I didn’t want to be recognized as I said, “No, I’m not a celebrity.” Right then the ice-skating program began and our conversation ended. I didn’t get an opportunity to speak with her again, but I wish I’d been able to explain my definition of being famous—known by God.

I love the examples I’ve shared, because I think they point to Ephesians where it speaks more about God knowing His children and their worth and value than any other biblical passage.

In Ephesians 1:1-14, through the Apostle Paul, God assures us we are:

  • saints (vs. 1)
  • blessed (vs. 3)
  • chosen, holy, blameless, loved (vs. 4)
  • predestined, adopted (vs. 5)
  • redeemed, forgiven, rich (vs. 7)
  • have inheritance, predestined, within God’s will (vs. 11)
  • giving praise to God’s glory (vs. 12)
  • sealed in the Holy Spirit (vs. 13)
  • guaranteed possession of inheritance, capable of bringing praise to God’s glory (vs. 14).

I actually wish I could go back in time and tell that paparazzi photographer that every believer in Christ is famous. I doubt she would take my photo, but I would hope it would give her lots to think about as she photographs those she considers celebrities.

Have you ever felt famous? Even if you’ve never been recognized as famous, you are known to God. I’d say that’s pretty famous. Just tell that to the next paparazzi photographer you run into. I’m going to.

Do you feel famous and known by God?

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller had no idea when in 1980 God opened the door for her first speaking engagement and when in 1984 her first book was published that He would open so many doors of ministry over many years. She has spoken in 9 foreign countries and 34 US states. She is a best-selling, award-winning author of over 59 non-fiction books including women’s Bible studies, inspirational Christian living, Bible commentaries, and compiled books. One of Kathy’s many books is Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory

She married her high school sweetheart, Larry, in 1970 and some of Kathy’s books are co-written with Larry. They also speak independently and together. They live in Boise, Idaho, and are parents, grandparents, and lay counselors. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com and find her full line of social media at: https://t.co/aa1lKEUBu3

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt famous?

Help! Someone Is Complimenting Me About my Child

by Kathy Collard Miller @kathycmiller

Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.  Proverbs 31:31 NASB

I’ve often been perplexed as to how to answer when someone compliments me about my child, especially as she’s now an adult. Of course, I’m thrilled my child is being acknowledged, but it feels like I am being invited to stand on the edge of quicksand and not know if I should step out or step back…or stand still.

No wonder hearing my friend’s words feel uncomfortable. Do I take credit? Do I try to convince my friend I actually wasn’t that great of a mom? Do I point out my good choices or my bad actions? How do I credit God even when I did depend upon His empowering to grow as a mom? Will I come across as humble or proud depending upon what I say?

In those moments, I feel paralyzed and confused.

If you’ve ever felt similarly, you and I can take encouragement and courage from an interaction Doctor Luke recorded.

While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that carried You, and the breasts at which You nursed!” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and follow it.” (Luke 11:27-28 NASB)

The woman’s comment is both a compliment to Jesus’s mother and to Jesus himself. She is saying, “Your mother must be so happy to have a son like you. You are wonderful.” She might even be insinuating Mary must be a special kind of mother to have raised such an amazing son who had the courage to correct the Pharisees in front of the crowd and deliver a man from an unclean spirit (Luke 11:14-26).

Interestingly, during Jesus’s ministry, Mary, along with Jesus’s half-siblings believed he had lost his mind (Mark 3:21). We can only wonder if in truth Mary was embarrassed to have a “son like him.” Thankfully, the truths told to Mary at Jesus’s conception and birth won out, and Mary and several of Jesus’s half-siblings believed in Him as Savior and became a part of the early church.

Jesus’s response to the woman in the crowd indicates He didn’t depend upon her recognition of His goodness, or how He was a blessing to His mother. And Jesus didn’t go into a detailed explanation about whether His mother was a good mother or not—or even whether He was a great son. Only upon His Heavenly Father’s acknowledgement.

Jesus’s dependence upon His Father’s recognition can strengthen us. We don’t have to be puffed up with pride hearing compliments about ourselves or our children. Jesus’s focus is on those who follow God’s Word. The change in other people is what thrills Him and is the ultimate blessing. If we can have the same focus, we will be strong in not depending upon the comments of others—whether positive or negative, especially about our offspring.

Of course, we should acknowledge the comments from others. This is not wrong. God most likely was prompting our friend to bless us through compliments about our child. We can courageously receive His support.

So what to do? Courageously reply with a simple sentence and joyfully receive God’s encouragement. Ultimately, the best compliment we and our children will ever hear is God’s encouragement, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Copyright and excerpted from Heart of Courage: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to show how Scripture reveals God’s wonderful nature, is relevant to daily life, and empowers us to trust Him more. Her 59th book was published in March, 2022, and is entitled: Heart of Courage: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, a 10 lesson women’s Bible study for groups and individuals. Kathy is also an international speaker, wife, mom, and grandma. She and her husband, Larry, (co-author on many books), live in Boise, Idaho, and speak together on marriage. They were high school sweethearts and married in 1970. Visit Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor, Twitter: @KathyCMiller, Pinterest/Kathyspeak, Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03, Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What have you found to be the best way to respond to someone complimenting you because of your child?

God’s Strange Question Strengthened My Contentment

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15 ESV

We didn’t have money for the unexpected bill. We didn’t know what we were going to do, but somehow I had an anticipation that God knew. God had been working on my contentment, and the lack of money seemed a perfect challenge for learning more about His ability to provide. I decided I wouldn’t be discontented or worried.

A strange question God asks in Psalm 50:13 seems to provide the same challenge for all of us: “Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?”

God is addressing the Israelites who believe they are offering sacrifices to Jehovah because He is weak, impotent, needy, thirsty, and hungry. The unbelievers around them have influenced the Israelites to believe Jehovah is like their gods, which they think actually eat the sacrificed food.

In Psalm 50:10-13, God explains,

“For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.“ If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” (ESV)

The pagans believe they must bribe their gods in order for their needs to be provided. But the God of the Israelites wants to provide out of His great love. God established the sacrificial system not as a means for His people to bribe Him or earn His favor, but to point to the future sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. God knew exactly how He would generously provide for the most important need of all: reconciling sinful people to Himself.

In effect, God is asking in Psalm 50:13, “What is your motive in giving the sacrifices? I don’t need you to provide for me. I want to provide for you. My resources are unlimited and I am generous.”

How much we believe the powerful truth of God’s generous nature can be measured by our level of contentment. Then we are resting in the assurance that He knows what’s best and will generously provide it, just like God did for our unexpected bill.

Soon after finding out about the bill, I heard a crash in our back yard. Our ten-foot-high brick fence was adjacent to a busy street. I used a chair to crawl up and look over the fence. A car had smashed into the brick wall.

Thankfully, the driver took responsibility and his insurance company estimated how much it would cost to repair the brick wall and then gave us a check. When my neighbor who owned a construction company heard of the amount, he said, “I can fix the wall for lots less than that.” And he did.

And guess what? Yes, you can guess. The unused amount was exactly the amount we needed for the unexpected bill.

I almost felt like I could hear God say, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” Interestingly but not surprising, verse 15 in Psalm 50 says, “…call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

God has received glory many times as I’ve used that story to remind myself to be content and share it with others in my writing and speaking. It reminds me God wants me to be content knowing He will provide according to His will. He is generous and caring.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is the author of more than 55 books and is an internationally-traveled speaker. She loves to share from the reservoir of God’s work in her life and from the truths of Scripture, especially about His nature. Two of her books (co-authored with husband Larry) emphasize how God’s questions in the Bible reveal His nature. One is the multiple-award winning God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. The other is God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature.
Check out Kathy’s other books at: https://www.amazon.com/Kathy-Collard-Miller/e/B001KMI10S? Kathy and Larry live in Idaho. They were high school sweethearts and married in 1970. They are parents of two and grandparents of two.

Also connect with her at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
Twitter: @KathyCMiller
Pinterest/Kathyspeak
Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03
Instagram: @kathycollardmiller

Join the conversation: What other examples or concepts in the Bible assure you God is generous?

Cast Your Sin into the River of God’s Forgiveness

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 ESV

I’ve never forgotten meeting a woman (I’ll call Carrie) at a women’s retreat where I was speaking. I had shared at the Friday evening session how God delivered me from being a child abuser. During Saturday afternoon free time, I enjoyed visiting individually with many of the women. Carrie came into my room looking fearful. After this attractive thirty-something woman sat down, I asked what was on her heart.

“Kathy, when I heard you share about being a child abuser, I knew you were the one I could talk to.” Carrie looked down and her face turned pale.

I waited.

“You see, I’ve done something as bad as that, and I haven’t been able to tell anyone. But when I heard you, I figured you were the one.”

She glanced up at me quickly and then again averted her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she whispered, “I had an affair with my husband’s best friend.” After pausing, she rushed on. “My husband has forgiven me, but I cannot seem to really believe God can forgive me. I keep asking Him to forgive me. I tell Him over and over again that I’m sorry, but I never feel forgiven.”

I expressed my appreciation for Carrie’s willingness to be vulnerable, and we talked for a few minutes about forgiveness being a decision, not a feeling. Soon, it was as if a burden had been removed from her shoulders. She could look me straight in the eye, and she sat up taller. Confessing her sin to someone else seemed to relieve her of her pain.

We prayed together, and I took her through a process of asking God to forgive her and help her to receive God’s forgiveness. I sensed God was working an incredible healing in her heart.

When the next woman knocked at my door to indicate Carrie’s time had concluded, she gave me a quick hug, snatched up her Bible and cup of tea, and hurried out the door smiling. After the evening session, she thrust a piece of paper into my hand. “Thanks,” she whispered. Later in my room, I read what Carrie had written.

“Kathy, after speaking with you, I went down to the river to pray. I told God that for the last time I was going to ask for His forgiveness, and then let it go. Then I did a sort of ceremony. I took the cup of tea I was drinking and said, ‘Jesus, this tea represents my sin, and this river represents you.’ Then I threw the rest of my tea into the river. And you know what I noticed? The tea was immediately washed away. There wasn’t a trace of it anywhere. Isn’t Jesus wonderful?”

I was thrilled to read about Carrie’s new-found freedom from guilt.

If you are holding yourself captive because you cannot receive God’s forgiveness for some past sin, God wants you to know that you can drop your sin into the river of His forgiveness and grace. His love is sufficient, and He guarantees the stain will be washed away because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. He wants you to have confidence that nothing can prevent His forgiveness from applying to you.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to share with others the many ways God shows His love for them. She is an internationally traveled speaker and an award-winning author of 58 books, including Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory. She and her high school sweetheart, Larry, have been married over 50 years and often write and speak together. They are parents of two, grandparents of two, and live in Boise, Idaho. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: Have you struggled to forgive yourself even when knowing God has forgiven you?

Sometimes I’m Hesitant to Approach God

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

Sometimes I’m hesitant to approach God. I wonder how God will answer my prayer—will I be disappointed with His answer? Am I evaluating the Bible correctly when I study—is He pleased with my conclusions? Am I hearing Him correctly—is He mad at me when I don’t obey completely?

Approaching God can be a mystery, and shall I say it? It can feel scary!

I think that’s why Psalm 103:7 ESV fascinates me. “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.” The New Living Translation translates it, “He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.”

Why the different words?

The first is a “who” and the second is a “what.” God revealed to Moses who He is. God only revealed to Israel what He did. But that wasn’t God’s desire. It was what the Israelites wanted. Something prevented the Israelites from approaching God with the motive to know His heart—His character.

I think the biblical story of the Israelites camped at the base of Mt. Sinai is the key to understanding why the Israelites were scared of approaching the mountain of God.

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21 ESV

Moses climbed the mountain with a passion to meet with God and know Him better, regardless of the risk. The Israelites focused on the threat of thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke on Mt. Sinai and resisted going up the mountain to approach God.

Psalm 78:11, 18 ESV describes why we fear climbing the mountain toward God. They [the Israelites] forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. We forget God’s loving works from the past, and we demand that God work the way we think He should.

That’s just like me. I see God working in my life, but it’s not always the “food” I want. He doesn’t fulfill all my plans. He doesn’t heal everything I think He should. He doesn’t work in people’s lives with “deeds” that seem most effective to me. I’m just seeing the thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke. I’m not seeing God’s heart which is motivated totally by love, goodness, grace, mercy, kindness, wisdom, and ….oh, the list of who He is goes on and on!

Each day you and I have a choice whether to believe the truths Moses believed about God’s character and climb through the darkness toward the heights of knowing the motives of God. Or we can choose to believe lies based on our incorrect evaluation of what the thunder, lightning, noise, and smoke seem to mean.

Truth comes from studying God’s “heart”, which involves His qualities, character, and nature as revealed in Scripture. False interpretations of our trials, afflictions and disappointments make us hesitant to draw closer to God.

Let’s join Moses in risking going through the darkness at the base of the mountain and trust we will know God in truth the higher we climb.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to motivate herself and others to examine both the heart of God and our own motives. Her purpose in her book, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory, is to help us examine our hearts and confidently obey God because of His goodness, wisdom, and love. Many of her other 55 books focus on approaching God through knowing His character, including God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature. She is a wife, mom, grandma, and loves walking before dawn in order to see the stars. She lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, Larry. They married in 1970. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: What is your favorite characteristic of God? How does it encourage you to approach God even when it seems “scary”?

Love Isn’t Spelled W-O-R-R-Y

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Philippians 3:10 NIV

I can still remember as a child hearing my grandmother say to me, “Kathy, I was worried about you.” I have no clue or memory what she might have been worried about, but I remember her comment—because I knew she was trying to say, “I’m worried about you! I love you!”

But what she actually said didn’t make me feel loved nor did I feel helped. I wanted her to say, “I love you. I prayed for you, and I knew God was helping you.”

It’s easy to think worry communicates love, but it doesn’t. It actually breaks down relationships. But telling someone we are praying for them communicates love, builds the relationship, and strengthens the faith of those we care about.

Prayer is powerful; worry is powerless. Prayer builds the relationship; worry destroys the relationship. God never says, “I’m worried about you,” but He does say, “I love you, and I’m doing the best thing for you.” The Holy Spirit says, “I’m praying for you!” (Romans 8:27).

Although I’m far from conquering worry completely, I have greater victory, because I can look back and see how my worry caused me to over-react. Worry not surrendered to God motivates ungodly reactions.

We know the scenario. Our daughter is late getting home from a date. It’s past her curfew and worry begins to rear its ugly head as horrible thoughts of her being raped, or an automobile accident taking her life, or …a thousand other fears. We know those kinds of things actually happen, and we’re afraid it’s now going to happen to our family!

So when our daughter walks in the door late, because she and her date ran out of gas and their cell phone batteries died, what is our reaction?! Anger! “I’ve been so worried! How could you put me through this? What were you thinking? How could you do this to me?”

We aren’t communicating love with worry, because fear enters the heart of our child from our reaction. And often our words can be interpreted as it’s really all about us—our pain and worry, not our concern for our beloved child.

We can justify our worry by saying, “I love her. I don’t want anything bad to happen to her!” But worry didn’t keep her safe and worry has now made her afraid of us. We don’t have to do it! We can trust God.

We will be strengthened to trust God more when we realize there’s a difference between fear, concern, and worry.

Fear can be legitimate when it’s about actual dangerous things. (Just think of that bear running toward you. You should be scared and take action).

Concern is legitimate awareness of a potential danger and we can take it to God who cares for us and everything we are concerned about (I Peter 5:7 NIV tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”).

Worry is when we are no longer trusting God and believe we must take action without God’s direction.

Identifying which of the three you are experiencing can help you to take the right kind of action.

Remember my grandmother? Years later she said to me, “Kathy, I’ve been praying for you.” Not only did I feel loved, but I knew God’s effective power was taking place.

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

About the author: Kathy Collard Miller is the author of over 55 books, including Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries from which this devotion is adapted. Her books include devotionals, commentaries and women’s Bible studies. She loves to speak at events and has spoken in over 30 US states and 9 foreign countries. She lives in Idaho with her husband, Larry. They are parents and grandparents. Visit her: www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

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: What do you do when worry overtakes you?

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?

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?