Where Does Jesus Stand in Our Moments of Shame?

by Mary Beth Powers

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” John 8:10 NKJV

In the story of the adulteress woman, can you imagine how afraid she was to answer for her sin in front of the religious leaders and Jesus?

I imagine her standing with her head bowed in shame after being dragged through the streets and into the temple. The religious leaders shouted accusingly, “Look what this woman has done! What will you do about this, Jesus?”

They were trying to trap Him. If He quoted Mosaic Law about punishment for adultery, the Romans would come after Him. If He failed to condemn her act, the Jews would go against Him. So he answered their clever ruse with a simple statement: “Let the one who is without sin throw the first stone!”

We use that verse to push back when we feel judged by others. But I find a bigger application, because I resonate with those feelings of shame.  

Some days I would just like to insert whatever failure I experienced that day into this Scripture. Things like words of condemnation I might have spoken over my spouse or the dismissing of a friend’s pain. Maybe even feeling sorry for myself. Some days I feel like a complete failure.

But I am certain I do not stand in my shame alone.

If I imagine myself standing in the presence of Jesus in my shame, what would he say to me? Because of his radical love, I imagine it would go something like this….

As we stand alone in the dirt, I am sure my feelings of inadequacy would rise in full force. I would feel exposed. Jesus would take off his cloak or robe and place it around me. I imagine standing in His shadow as He stands next to me. He will not leave me standing alone. He would stand with me. In those moments, close by His side, a feeling of safety would flood my soul.

“Like a shepherd, he tends his flock; he gathers up the lambs with his arm; he carries them close to his heart; he leads the ewes along” (Isaiah 40:11 NET).

This is not the first time God has wanted to cover us in our shame. Go back to the first time Adam and Eve mess up in the garden, and you will find Him covering them for the first time as they stood feeling exposed and in shame.  

“And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Genesis 3:21 NLT

There are many times throughout His word He simply just wants to wrap His robe or yet his arms around us leaving with His peace, not shame. Jesus bore our shame on the cross. He covers us with His Righteousness is not the creator of shame.

It is our nature to want to hide from God, but we should never be afraid of standing before Jesus.

He does not dismiss the sin. It is in the presence of Jesus where our sin dissipates, and we become free of sin. Only through Jesus is where real forgiveness takes place.

The next time you feel shame in your sin try standing naked (vulnerable or humble) before Jesus and let Him cover you.

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NET

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

About the author: Mary Beth speaks and writes with an open heart. She believes there is freedom in sharing our brokenness with each other. She loves to share her story of real heart transformation to freedom in Christ. Mary Beth and her husband are enjoying their new season of being first time grandparents.

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt the Lord’s presence during a shameful moment?

5-Step Strategy for Godly Living

by A.C. Williams

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. (Colossians 3:11 NLT)

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Christian Life Checklist? Imagine knowing for sure that the choices you’re making are in line with God’s Will! All you’d have to do is check them off the list.

Don’t change jobs. Check!

Don’t eat that cheesecake. Check!

Take your umbrella with you when you go on your walk. Check!

There’s a reason the Lord doesn’t get that specific with us, obviously. Everyone’s situation is different, and He never wants us to turn off our brains. But the more we get to know Him through studying His word, the better we can understand the strategies He has given us that guide us to make choices that align with His purpose for our lives.

It’s not a checklist, per se, but it is an awesome strategy to use when you’re making decisions. And the best part? Because Christ is alive in each of us, He’ll help us every step of the way.

5-Step Strategy for Godly Living (Colossians 3:12-17)

Imitate Christ’s attitude (v 12-13)

Most everyone has a hero who influenced the choices they’ve made. I certainly do. While having earthly heroes is perfectly fine, it’s good to remember that any human being you admire is still inherently flawed. The only person in your life who will never fail is Jesus, so basing your life after the way Jesus lived will never let you down.

Whatever choice you’re facing, try to make it the way Jesus would have. Is your choice merciful? Humble? Patient? Judge your life’s choices by that measure before you compare it to any human role model.

Let Love guide your life (v 14)

In spite of what our culture believes, Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice we have to make daily in how we relate to everyone around us. Sometimes Love doesn’t feel good at all.

Biblical love, the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love, is something that should be an essential part of every believer’s life, but it’s impossible to do without Jesus’ help.

Let peace rule in your heart (v 15)

Peace is something we all strive for, isn’t it? But peace isn’t just the absence of conflict. It’s calm confidence in spite of conflict. We can have peace no matter what situation we’re in because we can stand on Christ in confidence.

Share God’s Word (v 16)

The best way to get more familiar with God’s Word is to talk about it with others who love it. Share what you know. Ask questions. Read a daily devotional (like this one!) and engage in conversation about it. God’s Word is our source for wisdom, and when we are filled with God’s Wisdom, we can be confident in our next right step.

Live as Christ’s representative (v 17)

No matter who you are, no matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing, if you know Jesus, you are His representative to the world. Your world could be your neighborhood, your workplace, or even your own home. We always say “be Jesus,” but do we take that seriously? How would our lives change if we imagined that Jesus was by our side every step of the way? Newsflash, friends. He already is.

Following Jesus is a journey that takes us all a lifetime. None of us get it right all the time, but that’s why we have each other. Let’s support each other and encourage each other as we run after Jesus with everything we have!

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

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless.

Amy has a special offer for her Always Peachy Devotionals: Free for 7 days and then $5 a month. https://acwilliams.substack.com/arisedaily

Join the conversation:  Which of these guidelines from Colossians seems most important to you?

A Word for the New Year

by Crystal Bowman

A few years ago, like many of my friends, I began the practice of choosing a word or phrase to focus on for a given year. Before I choose my “word” I think about it for a few days and ask for God’s direction. As I look ahead to 2022, I have a few events that will demand my time, attention, and more energy than I have. After much thought and prayer God brought a Bible verse to my mind, so I did a quick Google search to find the reference. “The Lord gives strength to his people. The Lord blesses his people with peace”(Psalm 29:11 NIRV).

Nothing could be more fitting for me to focus on than that verse! I need strength for what lies ahead, and I need peace knowing that God will equip me for what he has called me to do. So I guess I actually have two words this year—strength and peace.

With the events of the past two years, I have learned to be flexible. I have learned that my plans may fall through. I have learned that a loved one may become seriously ill, and some may die. I have learned that the only thing I can count on is God’s love, and that even when I cannot understand his ways, I can trust that his ways are best.

I know that everyone is hoping and praying for a happier and healthier year. Will 2022 bring an end to the pandemic? Will there be peace in the streets rather than riots? Will political issues continue to divide our nation? Will hate and racism continue to escalate? Of course, we don’t know the answers. But we do know that God is in control, and he is faithful to meet all of our physical, spiritual, and emotional needs in the coming year. He will give us strength and peace for what lies ahead.

I came across another Bible verse recently. John 1:1 (NIRV) says, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.  The “word” is Jesus, who was with God from the beginning of creation, who left his throne in the heavens to come to earth in the form of a baby human. His earthly life began in a humble stable and ended on a wooden cross to pay for the sins of the world. His victory over death gives us victory over sin, pain, and sorrow. His resurrection gives us hope for eternal life with him and with our loved ones. Jesus is the word of life, the word of hope, and the word of peace.

I will focus on the words strength and peace in the days ahead, but the greatest word I can focus on is Jesus. He is the way to the Father, the truth that we seek, and the giver of eternal life. Jesus is the Word above all other words!

Here is what we announce to everyone about the Word of life. The Word was already here from the beginning. We have heard him. We have seen him with our eyes. We have looked at him. Our hands have touched him. This life has appeared. We have seen him. We are witnesses about him. And we announce to you this same eternal life. He was already with the Father. He has appeared to us. We announce to you what we have seen and heard. We do it so you can share life together with us. And we share life with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ”. 1 John 1:1-3 NIRV

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: On what word will you focus in 2022?




A Beautiful Reminder

by Melissa Heiland

This morning, I went down to the beach to worship and study and spend time alone with my Jesus. It was very early, and I listened to the crashing of the waves as read and pondered and worried. Disturbing thoughts came unbidden to my mind bringing feelings of sorrow.

I thought about friends who had left without warning or explanation, family members who seemed uncaring. My mind was racing thinking about all the things that were on my list and all the people I wanted to please. I was listening to whispers of the enemy telling me that I was alone and unloved.

And then I looked up.

Sitting very still and incredibly close, was a beautiful snowy egret, a shore bird, spectacular in her beauty and glorious in her nearness to me. If I had extended my arm, I would have touched her.

In that moment, I remembered. I remembered the nearness of my Lord. He is always near, always close, always loving. In that moment, everything changed. My heart and mind were flooded with peace at the nearness of my Savior. How marvelous that my Jesus would love me so much, to send a bird to remind me that He is always with me.

All the issues that were consuming me still existed, but there was a shift in my spirit. In Psalm 46:10, we are told, “Be still and know that I am God.” When I am still in my heart and my mind, I can focus on the love and power of God. He sees me, loves me, and will take care of me. All my fretting is futile and even harmful.

1 Peter 5:6,7 teaches us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” We can cast all our anxious thoughts on Jesus because he cares for us. We do not need to hold them, to nurture them, to replay them endlessly in our minds. We have a Savior, a Savior who cares enough to die on the cross for us and to send me an unexpected messenger as a reminder of His love and care.

In John 14:27, we read, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Peace is a gift given to us. Today, and every day, I want to live in His precious peace. I pray that you and I will be still and know.

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

About the author: Melissa Heiland is the Founder and President of Beautiful Feet International, a mission organization that plants pregnancy ministries around the world. She is an international speaker and author who is passionate about mommies, babies and sharing the Gospel. She has written devotionals for pregnant moms, new mothers and short-term mission teams, as well as a children’s book based on Psalm 139. She and her husband Ken have 6 children and 5 grandchildren.

Part devotional, part pregnancy journal, A Mother’s Journey has forty chapters that correspond with each week of pregnancy, offering comfort and spiritual guidance to those facing challenges. Each week’s reading includes Scripture verses and a journal prompt, as well as information about your baby’s development at various stages to help you get to know the little one growing inside you. A Mother’s Journey is a great resource to help you connect deeper with your baby, yourself, and your heavenly Father.

Join the conversation: What do you do to bring down high anxiety?

Resting upon His Shoulder

by Patti Richter

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

The words proclaim a good-news message set to music that much of the Western world either welcomes or tolerates each December.

Handel’s Messiah, theultimate Christmas (and Easter) composition, contains hopeful promises from the book of Isaiah, who foretold of the coming King whose reign would never end. God spoke through the prophet to a nation weary of sin, strife, and disappointing rulers. This sounds a lot like the world today.

While Christmas carols and concertos serve to temporarily dispel some of the gloom that plagues the nations, the Word of God provides long-lasting hope for humanity. Any meager outlook regarding peace, health, and freedom, gives way to a better view.

Isaiah continues with hopeful news indeed: “And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6 NKJV).

Some 700 years before the advent of the Messiah, Isaiah spoke words that must have disconcerted and raised eyebrows among God’s people: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 NKJV). They must have wondered when—and how—it would come about.

The prophet’s words, cast upon the waters of time, came ashore when the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin, Mary. (More eyebrows would be raised.) But those who love the story never grow weary of the announcement: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus…. and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31, 33 NKJV).

While we rejoice in the gift of God’s Son, his kingdom can seem far away and unresponsive to calamities here and abroad. We may grow anxious in frustrating circumstances. Like some of the early disciples, we long to see Jesus toss our enemies over his shoulder. We desire peace and security, along with assurances of freedom and prosperity.

Like those in Isaiah’s day who awaited the advent of the Savior, we look forward to our Savior’s return. We wonder when and how this will happen. Meanwhile, if we lose heart over the condition of our world, it may be that our hearts need to refocus on Jesus in the here and now, as he is “sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1 NKJV), with “all things in subjection under his feet” (Hebrews 2:8 NKJV).

The current Year of Our Lord will close out with serious unresolved issues, and the new year will surely produce fresh troubles. Yet one thing is certain:

Immanuel . . . God with us. Matthew 1:23 NKJV

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

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: Do you cling to the hope we have in Jesus?

The Only Celebrity Who Matters

by A.C. Williams

Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. Isaiah 40:14-15 NLT

Do you know any celebrities? I’ve met a handful of famous authors, but for the most part, I just watch celebrity interviews on YouTube like everyone else. 

I follow a few actors on social media who I truly believe are the real deal. They live out a true, authentic faith, and from what those around them say, their faith has had an impact. They are great people. 

When I hear about someone who is great, I like to spread the word. Watch this movie. It’s great. Read this book. It’s great. Listen to this speaker. He’s great.

When you encounter greatness, don’t you feel the need to share it with others?

So… when was the last time you told someone how great God is?

I’m asking myself, too. Because I’ll be the first one to help promote a book or an entertaining movie, but when it comes to shouting about God’s greatness, I often get really quiet.

I don’t like conflict. I don’t enjoy rocking the boat. So I generally avoid topics that can potentially cause a stir. And God is really good at causing a stir (Luke 12:51). 

I won’t hesitate to tell someone I just met about the great book I just finished. But can I tell that same person that God put air in my lungs this morning, gave me taste buds to enjoy my coffee, legs to walk around and marvel at the beautiful autumn weather? Can I tell that person that God made the sun, the moon, the stars, caused the birds to sing and wind to blow (Isaiah 40:26)? That He keeps the Earth spinning like He keeps my heart beating, and that He cares about them both (Psalm 8:3-8)? 

You guys. God is great. He’s the only one who truly is. I apply the term too liberally. Only God deserves it (Mark 10:18).

Do you ever stop to think about His greatness? Do you ever take time to tell Him, to acknowledge how great He is? Do you ever marvel at His endless creativity, His unconventional sense of humor, and His relentless love? 

I don’t. Not as often as I should. And that’s got to change. As the times grow darker and the end draws near, the louder we need to be about His greatness. That doesn’t mean we should be obnoxious. But we also shouldn’t cower like trembling, fragile flowers. 

Christians, we are daughters and sons of God. He has redeemed us. He has given us a new life, a new hope, and an everlasting future. He knew my worth before I knew my name, and He’d already decided to do whatever it took to save me (Isaiah 53:10). 

God is great. In Him, I have all I need, and He wants a big family. That’s the thing about great people. They’re always looking for folks they want to bless. The doors to God’s house are wide open, and He wants everyone to experience the peace and joy that we can only find in Him. 

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

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks won’t match. She has authored eight novels, two novellas, three devotional books, and more flash fiction than you can shake a stick at. A senior partner at the award-winning Uncommon Universes Press, she is passionate about stories and the authors who write them. Learn more about her book coaching and follow her adventures online at www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: In what ways is God great to you?

The Power that Comes When We Return and Rest

by Jennifer Slattery

[Jesus invited His disciples:] …Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31 NIV

Early in my ministry, I often exhausted myself trying to manage everything. Though I knew with certainty my assignment came directly from God, I worked as if He expected to carry the load alone. As if results came through sheer grit rather than the work of His hands.

When one of my team members forgot or failed to complete a task, I felt responsible to step in and catch every ball that happened to get dropped. Though I talked a great deal about faith-filled, surrendered living, I routinely behaved as if our results depended on me. Unfortunately, my attitude trickled down to everyone else, turning roles that should’ve brought us great joy, fulfillment, and ever-deepening connections with our Savior into tiresome, anxiety-producing chores.

I knew, intellectually, I wasn’t living or leading as He desired but lacked the courage to slow my hustle. I felt if I did, we’d fail. I was not relying on Christ to be my source of wisdom and strength. Perhaps my heart didn’t believe what my mouth proclaimed.

Then, one spring, life hit many of my team members hard. Hurricanes threw some off balance. Family illnesses left others struggling to think straight let alone write or create. At first, I tried to work harder and faster but this only led to burnout with little visible growth.

My inspiration and vision squashed, I wanted to quit. And so, for a time, I basically did. We all did, in fact, for nearly six months. I expected to see all that we’d worked for would fade until our organization died completely.  

Instead, we grew.

And when the Coronavirus forced us to cancel a year’s worth of events along with their funding, we grew again in terms of readership, impact, and volunteers. Through it all, God reminded me of something that in all my running, I’d forgotten. The God who formed, redeemed, molded, and empowers me doesn’t need me to perform or to strive. Instead, He invites me to yield and to trust. Or rather, to shift my trust off of myself and to where it belongs: on Him.

Isaiah 30:15a says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (NIV).  God spoke these words to ancient Israel when the Assyrian army was coming against them. Grossly overpowered from a human perspective, they were terrified. In their desperation, they turned to Egypt, with its iron chariots and well-trained army, placing more faith in the might of man than in God Almighty. They thought they were aligning themselves with strength. But by distancing themselves from the God who loved them, they were actually increasing their weakness.

God beckoned them to return to Him, the One who had proven His faithfulness again and again, but they refused to listen. And while I can recognize the foolishness of their actions, I much too frequently behave like them when I am under attack. I soon realize, however, how insufficient my most fervent efforts and greatest allies truly are, when formed apart from Christ.

But the moment I turn back to Him in faith, God fights on my behalf, makes up for my lack, and gives me everything I need to do all He’s asked, just as He did for ancient Israel when King Hezekiah humbled himself and turned to God.

Then, his soul was quieted and at peace, not panicked, rushed or confused.

Choosing surrender, especially when the stakes are high, can feel incredibly frightening. But it places us in a position of power and strength. I’m reminding myself of this truth now as I am about to enter into a busy season, returning to school while writing, speaking, leading a ministry … When people ask how I’ll manage it all, I smile and say that I have an amazing team. And I do, but even more than that, we serve an amazing God. I know He will carry everything He wants to thrive. Therefore, whatever areas fall short must not be from Him, because He is big enough and strong enough to perfect all that concerns us.

He is big enough for all that concerns you as well.        

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

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published author, ministry, and the host of the Faith Over Fear Podcast. Find her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com, find her ministry at WhollyLoved.com, and find her podcast at LifeAudio.com and other popular podcasting sites.

Faith Over Fear (podcast) - Jennifer Slattery, Jodie Bailey and Shellie  Arnold | Listen Notes

In her new podcast, Faith Over Fear, Jennifer helps us see different areas of life where fear has a foothold, and how our identity as children of God can help us move from fear to faithful, bold living. You can listen by clicking on the link below or by visiting LifeAudio.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with surrender?

     

Miracle Seeds

by Deborah McCormick Maxey

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.  Luke 8:23-25 (NIV)

I’ve heard so many messages on this passage. I’ve always wondered: after witnessing Jesus perform so many miracles, how in the world did his disciples still doubt?

Eventually, all those times I pondered on this message became the foundation for my own miracle. Because I too would doubt when scared out of my wits.

Hubby and I used to sail for weeks at a time on the Chesapeake Bay. We fished from the back, pulled into islands like Tangier and became tourists, and anchored out in front of billionaire homes. Our small sailboat was a holiday on water several weeks a year.

We were cautious sailors. We never put out if small craft warnings were advised, wore life jackets if the seas grew rough and tied ourselves to lifelines if the need arose with the threat of getting swept overboard. Our sailing days came before small crafts had weather radar, GPS, or depth finders. We used old fashioned charts and radio.

To reach destinations, we had to cross shipping lanes where huge cargo vessels traveled to other countries or back to ours. Our small sailboat would look like a flea on an elephant compared to these ships.

One clear bright day, we sat out to cross the shipping lanes and unexpectedly we were confronted with a “Flash Fog”: a phenomenon we had prepared for but hoped never to experience. Suddenly, a dense fog surrounded us like a thick blanket. Sitting in the back of the boat, we could not see our own bow. Visibility was less than six feet.

With not a breath of breeze, sails were useless. Hubby could not start the auxiliary motor. We were dead in the water.  There was no choice but to sit in the stillness while those massive vessels were still able to navigate.

Praying, I crawled to the bow to begin the recommended emergency procedure: one prolonged and two short blasts of an air horn, ring a large bell for one minute (which seemed like an hour) then listen for a minute, meanwhile praying that we wouldn’t hear the huge groan of a cargo vessel.

But we did.

In the blanket of fog, the sound grew closer. I prayed with panic as I continued the protocol.

There we sat. Unseen at sea. Bobbing like a cork. Waiting for a massive ship to collide with us or it’s huge waves to swamp us.

While I prayed God spoke. I needed to recall the passage above and all the times I wondered why the disciples doubted when they had witnessed miracles.

Because I too had witnessed miracles.  From early childhood I had memories of knowing without any doubt, “That was God.”

I began to recall them while I continued the protocol. And peace that passes understanding descended on me. Thicker than the fog. I knew we were in the palm of His hands. After all, I reminded myself. He rescues His beloved from the seas.

As suddenly as the fog descended it lifted. A ship had passed close by. A bit further on we saw the buoy that we had been sailing towards. We had not even veered off course.

So many miracles. The fog, safety, and cleared skies. But best of all was the miracle that was seeded well in advance of the emergency. I had pondered on His Word and He brought my own insight back to me, reminding me that I could harvest peace in the midst of crisis by recalling his faithfulness.

Yet another miracle to chronicle. Panic lifted with faith, long before fog.

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

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website https://deborahmaxey.com that focuses on miracles.  

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, is newly released! Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: What miracles have you experienced?

Stillness in the Storms of Life

by Darlene L. Turner

 Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

The waves slapped the side of the boat, rocking it gently. My sister and I listened to our surroundings. Silence. Stillness. Serenity. I wondered if this is what it felt like when Jesus calmed this same sea over two thousand years ago.

It was a beautiful evening. The captain had cut the engine, and we marveled at being out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. The stars shone brightly and the lights of Tiberias, Capernaum, Tabgha and the other Galilean towns flickered in the background. Stillness.

Tears formed in my eyes as I thought about my mother and how she had planned to take this trip. It had been her dream to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. She had booked her tour and anticipated the adventure of visiting Israel’s sites. Little did she realize, it would be done through her daughters’ eyes. She would take a journey, just not the one she expected.

I held my sister’s hand as a verse popped into my head. “Be still and know that I am God.” It’s such a simple command, yet so complex.

Many times Jesus withdrew from the crowds to be still and listen to His Father. He encouraged His disciples by His example to do the same. He rebuked the wind and commanded stillness in nature. He encouraged busy Mary to be like her sister, who sat at Jesus’ feet.

This raises a question. How do we “be still” and “know God” in an age where everything moves so quickly around us? Fast-food restaurants, cell phones, text messaging, internet, credit cards, and on-line shopping all vie for our attention. We are constantly trying to keep up with the pace of everyone around us. We are over-involved in the church, our children’s school activities, sports, computer games and television. We work extremely hard to afford the biggest houses, but we’re never home to enjoy them. When will it stop?

Sometimes God allows circumstances in our lives that cause us to be still. For me, it was when our mother was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Then years later, our brother discovered he had bone marrow cancer. It was like someone had punched us in the stomach. How could this be happening twice in our family?

I wrestled with God and asked Him why He would allow this to happen to individuals who only wanted to serve Him. But while I may have struggled, my mother and brother handled it entirely differently. They both chose joy through their trials. Peace radiated on their faces.

Through those hard journeys, God taught me to wait upon Him. I realized I couldn’t control what happened, and after a heart-wrenching conversation with Him, I finally gave in. He loved them more than I did. He taught me to savor every moment.

I also realized I had neglected spending the time with God I should be. I wasn’t being still. I was so busy trying to get things done, I forgot about Him. He wanted my attention. It was time for me to give it to Him.

Just like the captain cut the engine on the boat that night, and we swayed back and forth before feeling tranquility, God uses circumstances in our lives to rock us before we can learn to be still. But when we do, He gives us a peace that passes all understanding. Even in a storm.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3 KJV

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

Abducted in Alaska (Love Inspired Suspense) by [Darlene L. Turner]

About the author: Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning and best-selling author. She lives with her husband, Jeff, in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. Her debut book, Border Breach, released in April 2020 with Love Inspired Suspense. She has two books releasing in 2021: Abducted in Alaska and Lethal Cover-Up. You can connect with Darlene at http://www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders

Join the conversation: Has God ever rocked you into being still?

Silent Love

by Kelly Wilson Mize

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

“The silence was deafening.” 

There is great truth in that ironic expression.  Silence is powerful. Sometimes the sound of silence can be a difficult state of existence, awkward and unwelcome. Quiet can imply sadness, loneliness, or boredom. Silence can also be wonderful–even “golden,” as they say. But when communicating with others, most of us would prefer at least some actual noise. In our fast-paced world, we deal in quick information, and want unmistakable (sometimes loud!) confirmation–We want our voices heard, so we can get the answers we think we need. And we want those answers RIGHT NOW.

While waiting on God, the last thing we usually want to be is silent. Instead, we want to clearly express our feelings to Him in a way that ensures there is no doubt that He understands. And God does welcome our words. But He can also work mightily when we choose not to use any.

I used to teach middle school, and one of my pet peeves as an educator was being interrupted while giving instructions to the class. Many times, while I was talking, a hand would go up (or not) and a voice would impatiently call out:

What if?Can we?But what about?

All while I was in the process of explaining everything completely!  The students would sometimes be so eager to find out what they were supposed to be doing that they would jump ahead. In a classroom setting, only when the class is “tuned in” and listening, can it collectively arrive at a place of true understanding.  And effective listening usually involves being quiet.

There is definitely a time for questioning, but preceding those important questions, there is silence.

Waiting on God is sometimes so difficult. We want to KNOW exactly what he wants from us, what He plans to do for us (if anything at all), and when and where He’s going to do it. But sometimes while we wait quietly, a beautiful thing happens: We begin to feel God’s presence in a fresh, new way.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) describes the beauty of it: “Be still and know that I am God…”

Most versions of that passage say “Be still.” Other translations have a slightly different explanation:

Stop Your Striving, and recognize that I am God…” (NET)

Be in awe and know that I am God…” (ISV)

Stop your fighting–and know that I am God…” (HCSB)

And perhaps my new favorite:

Let go [of your concerns]! Then you will know that I am God.” (GW)

Each variation ends with a reassuring promise: IF you do this–You will know, without a doubt, that God is exactly who He says He is.

Sometimes, as much as we want to jump ahead and ask question after question, like restless middle school students, we should instead be still– respectfully in tune with God’s presence and listening attentively for His direction. Only when we are silent before God (physically, mentally, and spiritually), can we truly hear what He has to say. The stillness provides an environment where we can experience His authentic presence, allow Him to minister to our spirits, and feel His LOVE for us.

We know that love is patient, kind, and never-failing. But sometimes, that perfect love is also silent. 

  • Think of a time you felt God’s presence. Most likely it was at a point where you had “let go” of your own agenda and surrendered to His leading. Even amidst your busy schedule, make every effort to include that invaluable quiet time. 
  • Are you waiting on an answer from God?  Take the time to “Be still and know.”

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

About the author: Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother of two young adults, and former educator with a master’s degree in education. In 20 years as a published writer, she he has composed numerous articles, interviews, curriculum projects, and devotions, and has contributed to eight traditionally published books. Credits include LifeWay, Bethany House, Guideposts, (in)courage, and others. 

Join the conversation: When is the last time you stopped striving?