God in the Ordinary

by Julie Zine Coleman

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NASB

Many of us have stories of God’s intervention in our lives. My husband and I sometimes recall the times God’s hand was obvious, like the unexpected twenty dollars left as a gift by my aunt when were just about out of baby formula, or a “chance” meeting that changed the direction of my career. These kind of things were blessings easily discerned and continue to serve as poignant reminders of God’s faithfulness and involvement.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day looked for God to do the extraordinary, proving His presence and involvement. They would not believe Jesus was the Messiah because he was so ordinary in many ways. They believed that the Messiah would somehow mysteriously “appear.” The fact that they knew Jesus’ family, his birthplace, and hometown in which he was raised was enough to keep them from acknowledging Him as the Son of God (see John 7:27).

We tend to look for the extraordinary. But we miss so much of God’s activity in our lives when we only look for the miraculous. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17 NASB) The privilege of working at a job which results in a paycheck, the love and laughter of normal family life, the tender concern expressed by a dear friend, the food we eat, or the roof over our heads all may be ordinary every-day occurrences. Yet each good thing is provision from the Lord. Proof of His care and involvement.

My friend Beth had a group of middle-school girls meet weekly in her home for several years. Included in their weekly activities was “I Spy God,” when Beth would encourage the girls to remember times they saw God’s hand in the previous week. No great miracles were reported. Just the growing awareness of His presence in their lives.

When we can find God in the common, the ordinary, we will better understand His constant presence and involvement. We do not live in a world in which God only occasionally invades. Rather, Scripture reminds us we will never experience His absence. As David wrote: “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there, if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139: 7-10 NASB).

The faithfulness of God should not only be measured in the miraculous. While those moments are important and obviously confirming, we lose so much if we ignore the everyday evidences of His presence and provision. It is why we bow our heads at each meal. It is just one moment in our day when we acknowledge His activity on our behalf.

“Morning by morning new mercies I see, all I have needed, thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” (from Great is Thy Faithfulness)

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

About the author: Julie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website JulieZineColeman.com and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose: Understanding God’s Freedom for Women through Scripture, is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation. On Purpose was recently awarded the Golden Scrolls 2022 Book of the Year.

Join the conversation: Please share something from the ordinary that reassures you of God’s presence.

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Go Fish

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

“From others,” Peter answered.

 “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”                                                                                       Matthew 17:25b-27 NIV

Did you play Go Fish when you were a child? My sister and I loved to play that card game when we visited our grandparents. I so enjoyed sending my sister “fishing.”

Now, we weren’t so much on real real fishing, mind you. Daddy had two girly girls and fishing was just too dirty for us. I remember watching Daddy clean the fish he caught, and when I saw how he used pliers to get the hook from the poor fish’s mouth—that was the end of fishing for me!

But if he’d found what Peter found when Jesus told him to Go Fish, I’d have instantly become a tomboy.

The drachma was a coin used to pay the two-coin tax levied on all Jews for the upkeep of the Temple. Roman taxes normally listed specific people who were exceptions and not required to pay. For example, often conquerors subjected conquered peoples, not their own subjects, to taxation. Likewise, priests were exempt from the two-drachma tax cited here. Most significant for this story, dependents of a king were naturally exempt from his taxes.

And with those exceptions in mind, Jesus was making a point to Peter. It was a point Peter would not understand until after Jesus’ death—the King of the Temple, in whose name these taxes are collected, is my Father. It is inappropriate that I should be taxed in His house. And as a son of God, Peter should not be taxed either.

Then Jesus miraculously supplied the tax required by the Jewish leadership. Peter was to cast out a fishing line for a special catch waiting for him. Matthew does not finish the story, but we presume when Peter did what Jesus told him to do, he found a coin that covered both his and Jesus’ tax requirements.

What do you need to believe Jesus for today? Do you believe that Jesus is the King of all things in heaven and on Earth? Just as He provided the tax in the mouth of a fish for Peter, He can and will supply your needs. He knows your needs, but the question is, do you trust Him?

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Go Fish – insight on #FollowingGod from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace (Thomas Nelson). She can be found at www.CheriCowell.com.

Cheri CowellCheri Cowell is also a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

Join the conversation: What needs are you trusting God for today?

Faith for Miracles

by Debb Hackett @debb_hackett

Last fall, my ten-year-old daughter needed two rounds of reconstructive ear surgery. She’s had problems since she was a toddler and has worn hefty hearing aids since she was four. Friends told me they were believing and praying for miraculous restoration, but in all honesty, I found I couldn’t.

I know Jesus loves me, and I know He loves my daughter, formed her in my womb, and has numbered each hair on her head. I had all kinds of faith for miracles in the lives of others, but none for my own family. I was too scared.

 My problem wasn’t believing that He could, it was trusting that He would. I had forgotten how much Jesus loves my daughter. More than even me.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).”

We have just celebrated the glory of the resurrection. God not only showing His power, but His all-encompassing love. He loved us all the way to the cross. And not just at the cross, but in our present everyday struggles and successes, too.

A few weeks later, with tear-filled eyes, I dropped her off at the carpool stop and watched her bounce into school without hearing aids for the first time ever. That was when I dared to believe I had witnessed something incredible. She was well. At that moment, I finally stopped being a coward and started calling it what it was all along: a miracle.

My situation and reaction reminded me of Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, and Anna (see Luke 1-2). Four people who were waiting in eager anticipation for Jesus. Nowhere in Scripture do we see them uncertain about whether He was coming, or if He would indeed be the King they anticipated. They expected something miraculous, and look at what they got. A King who defeated death and saved His people from their sins. One who would rule for eternity.

So now I’m trying something different: I’ve made a spiritual resolution. I’ve walked with the Lord for over thirty years and have seen amazing things happen first-hand. I’ve heard even more stories of the Lord saving, providing for, healing, or setting people free. In 2018, when one of my close friends was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer, this time I waited expectantly for miracles. Sure enough, there have been, praise God. Despite being too ill to complete all the chemotherapy, there was no sign of any cancer in her body at the most recent scan.

As the trials come (and Jesus did warn us about the trials), I am determined to see them as opportunities for the Lord to show off His love.

…Truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.   Matthew 17:20 NASB

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Faith for Miracles – insight and honesty from @Debb_Hackett on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What are you trusting God for right now?