The Still Voice Above the Noise

by Dr. Mel Tavares

 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10:4 NIV

God speaks to people every day and desires every one of us to hear Him. There is no magic formula to hearing His voice. He speaks in many ways, including in our mind, through chapters we read in the Bible, and through conversations with other people. Sometimes He speaks through dreams or visions. Our problem is that we live in a noisy world and are often too busy to listen, or haven’t developed the ability to recognize His voice.

God Speaks to Our Mind
God speaks to our mind, but we may interpret His voice as a thought of our own, because we don’t recognize His voice. Although some people report hearing an audible voice of God, more often it will be a ‘still, small voice’ we will hear. He desires to communicate with us throughout our days, much the same as if we were communicating with a friend or spouse. When we read the Bible or pray, thoughts will enter our mind. The more connected we are to Him, conversing throughout the day, the more easily we will recognize when He is talking to us.

God Speaks to Us Through Others
God uses other Christians to speak to us. We may have been seeking an answer from God about a specific situation and later converse with another Christian. We might bring up the situation and the other person will give wise counsel. Or we might randomly bring up a Bible verse or a life principle in conversation that supplies the exact answer you were looking for. Rest assured; it was no coincidence. It is God providing the answer for you if you have an ear to hear.

God Speaks to Us Through Circumstances
There are times when God uses dramatic means to get our attention. If we are not in close communication with Him and not listening for His voice, God might speak to us through financial insecurities, housing insecurities, employment struggles, relational problems, and other trials. How often do we cry out to God when we encounter hard times? It is during a crisis that many open their ears, desperate to hear from God if only to get the answer to “Why is this happening?”

The Importance of Hearing God Speak
The importance of recognizing God’s voice cannot be overstated. We must learn to hear God’s voice if we want answers to your questions and prayers. He can and does speak to us but we must recognize His voice and discern that it is God, not Satan, or our own thoughts, or the well-meaning input of strangers.

Just one word from God can change everything. Sometimes it is one word, sometimes it is an ongoing conversation that God has with us. The important thing is that we don’t miss His voice. The voice of God speaking can transform our marriages, give us financial direction, speak to our illness and heal our disease, or give insight into a complex situation at our jobs. 

I pray you will recognize the voice of your shepherd, and that He will give you answers, direction, and guidance each day that you need.

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

About the author: Mel Tavares is an accomplished writer and speaker/teacher, both in ministry and in her career. She is passionate about encouraging and teaching writers. Her target market is women who are hurting and in need of Biblical hope. In addition to ghost writing and authoring her own books, Mel is a contributing author to several books, including the recently released DaySpring “Sweet Tea for the Soul: Comfort for Grieving Hearts.”  She writes for several online Christian communities, teaches classes online, conducts Facebook Live series, and is a podcast guest as opportunities arise. She is a wife, mom to seven, and grandma to ten.

Join the conversation: Have you heard from God lately?

Just Like a Mother Bird

by Sandra Chambers

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 NIV

During my morning walk today, I saw an interesting site—a tiny bird was chasing a much larger bird in midair. It was quite a sight as the little bird darted back and forth, at times getting fearlessly close to the larger bird. Back and forth they flew, zigzagging and circling overhead.

At first I was puzzled, expecting the larger bird to turn at any moment and give chase to the smaller one. Then it dawned on me—the smaller bird might be a mother bird protecting her nest that was nearby. The larger bird was possibly perceived as a predator after the eggs or young hatchlings.

When the midair confrontation finally stopped and the larger bird flew away, I began to think about several scriptures in the Bible where God is anthropomorphically described as a bird offering His wings of protection:

  • He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 NIV
  • I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:4 NIV
  • How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7 NIV
  • I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1 NIV

In the New Testament, Jesus also speaks of himself as a mother hen, longing to protect God’s chosen people:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37 NIV

We have a God who fiercely protects His own. He offers us comfort and refuge from the storms of life and from our enemies. We can do the same for those we love by pointing them to God and praying for them. As believers, God gives us the privilege and power to stand in prayer for our family members, our friends, our co-workers and church members. We can be like that mother bird who defends others because God has given us the mighty weapon of prayer to route our enemies.

When I face an enemy that seems bigger than me—whether in my life or the life of others, I want to remember that little bird’s boldness as it flew over and over again at the perpetrator. I want to remember that prayer is a mighty weapon and that God offers His wings of protection to all who would take refuge there.

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

About the author: Sandra Chambers has a desire to help Christians find joy and purpose in their prayer life and has written a personal or small group study, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet—How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life. Her current writing projects include picture books and kid’s devotionals to help children find a personal relationship with God, develop godly character traits and discover their self-worth and purpose in God. Discover more about Sandra at sandrakaychambers.com.

Join the conversation: What other metaphors found in Scripture describing a characteristic of God are meaningful to you?

Red Alert

by Patti Richter

The voice of the Lord is over the waters…. –Psalm 29:3 ESV

A dark image flashed before me, waking me from a sound sleep at 2 a.m. I couldn’t ignore the internal alarm.

I left my sleeping husband, Jim, and went to our teenage son’s room. Wes was 7000 miles away from home, in China, for a semester of Mandarin language studies. The days had ticked by slowly for us, though peacefully—until this night. For the first time since he left, I climbed into his bed to pray.

Our adventurous, youngest child had visited China before with a group from our church. But this time, alone, he adjusted to classrooms with no heat in freezing temperatures and classes where neither the students nor the professor could speak any English.

When the weather began to moderate in late March, Wes felt secure enough in his surroundings to explore the city. He enjoyed using a wide-range camera with a large zoom lens he’d purchased for his trip.  Jim and I looked forward to our twice-a-day Skype calls with our son. But a 13-hour time difference meant our days and nights were reversed.

Before his return home, Wes asked us if he could travel to a city in Southeastern China that he previously visited with the church group. He had kept in touch with English-speaking students at a large university there, and his contacts would help him find a place to stay on campus.

Jim and I had misgivings about our son’s travel plan. However, with his housing arrangements assured, we agreed to let him go.

When Wes arrived in Xiamen, his expected accommodations were unavailable, so he stayed in a nearby hotel—alone.

He soon began meeting with college students at an “English Corner” group they attended to improve their language skills. Wes also enjoyed venturing out into the colorful port city with so many historic landmarks. He took a ferry boat to a small, pedestrian-only island where he could explore without road traffic. He walked along the island’s narrow brick streets past hundred-year-old buildings from China’s colonial days and climbed a rocky outcropping to capture panoramic images of the mainland.

Though he checked in with us daily, our son’s growing independence concerned us. We experienced peace by day, knowing he was sleeping. But we grew uneasy at night, knowing Wes would be sightseeing again. At bedtime, we prayed for him, and I specifically asked the Lord to wake me for any circumstance needing prayer.

So, the disturbing image that night put me on high alert. I propped two pillows against our son’s headboard and leaned back, trying not to panic. I believed the Lord woke me to pray, not to make me afraid. When peace returned, I fell asleep.

The familiar Skype-tone the next morning brought great relief! Wes sounded normal, with little to report until mentioning high winds that day.

The terrible image flashed before me again: my son in dark waters.

“Were you out in the wind?” I asked.

“Well, yes. I visited the island again. I hadn’t planned to go, or I would have asked you first. The ferry ride was rough.” 

“Did you stand at the rail?”

“Yes.”

“Were other people by the rail?”

“No. But it was fine.”

“Did you have your heavy camera around your neck?”

“Yes. I wanted to get better pictures this time.”

That’s when I told Wes about my prayer alert. And though he discounted the idea of any real danger, I believed God had spared us from a tragedy.

Days later, I watched my son stroll casually out of the airport customs area—safely home.

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

This article 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.

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: Have you ever been awakened by an urge to pray?

A Light for Our Paths

by Christina Rose

“Let the dawning day bring me revelation of your tender, unfailing love. Give me light for my path and teach me, for I trust in you.” Psalm 143:8 TPT

Learning to hear and discern God’s voice takes time and devotion. Unless we set aside quiet time alone with God, the cries of the world may drown out what He is trying to tell us. Each day, in the early hours of dawn, I study Scripture, pray, listen, and write in my journal. Wise words from God prepare me for the day. King David also sought God’s direction in the morning just as a general would ask advice of his commanding officer.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who never gives you a chance to say anything?  I had such a friend who would call and talk at me for half an hour or more and then hang up.  She just wasn’t interested in what I had to say and only wanted to hear herself speak. We went on a road trip once and after several days I thought I would lose my mind. My head was so full of her constant chatter that it drowned out my every thought. While I tried to be patient as she obviously needed someone to talk to, it taught me the importance of being quiet long enough to let others speak.

God is ever present to listen to our prayers, but we will never hear Him if we do all the talking.  Communicating with God is a two-way street.  If we speak to Him, we must allow Him the chance to answer us. Being silent and focused on what He is saying honors Him and blesses us.  The more I have learned to hear from God, the more I understand what a privilege it is to receive a message from Him.

Abraham listened to God who told him he would be the father of many nations; Noah listened to God who told him how to build the ark; Moses listened to God who gave him the Ten Commandments and the Song of Moses to share with the people.

“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! Hear, O earth, the words that I say! Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God!” Deuteronomy 32:1-3 NLT

Every summer we drove down the California coast to camp at Big Sur. This event was the highlight of the year and my daughters’ friends all clamored to join us. Preparation had taken weeks but at last the VW bus was loaded up and we were to leave first thing in the morning. I arose very early in the dawn before the drive to ask God for his protection and provision. This year as I prayed, I heard, “Call the park.” At the time California was having many wildfires but when I checked the night before there were no fires near Big Sur. Again, I heard with urgency, “Call the park.” I dialed the park service who informed us that overnight a huge fire had descended upon Big Sur, and they were evacuating everyone. 

If I had not prayed and obeyed, our day could have been a disaster of driving for hours, gridlock and roadblocks, only to be forced to turn around and return home at the end of the day. It was painful to share the disappointing news with the girls, but God provided one of the last sites at a nearby campground, which was a miracle.  We pitched the tent under the redwoods by a trickling stream and soon were happily roasting marshmallows by the fire.

Taking time to listen to God is truly a light for our paths. He is the great I AM, way maker and miracle worker.  He wants to guide us to an abundant life that is far greater than we can imagine on our own, if we will just listen and trust.

“This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG

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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker with the John Maxwell Team. She is a DAR whose patriot ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.  

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story.  With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina appeals to heaven for hope and freedom just as her patriot ancestors did hundreds of years ago. She is a contributor to the Arise to Peace Daily Devotional and a frequent blogger for Arise Daily Devos.

Join the conversation: Are you taking time to listen to God?

I Confess, I am a Hoarder

by Lori Wildenberg

This year I showed no mercy. As I packed away my Christmas decorations, I purged those I rarely display. My collection was reduced significantly. It felt great to scale back. As my give-away pile grew, God impressed upon me that I hang onto lots of things— and not just material items.

I hoard poor habits and negative characteristics.

In this new year, with God’s prompting, I am challenging myself to ditch the qualities that look more like me and less like the babe in the manger I had just celebrated.

Here’s my list of 10 characteristics to toss with 10 Prayers to accompany that list.

  1. Unforgiveness: When I’ve hurt someone, I want to be forgiven. Why would I not freely give it when another has wronged me? Lord, replace my unforgiving heart with a forgiving heart. I want to be quick to forgive (Matthew 18:21).
  2. Pride: Pride divides. It prevents family closeness. Lord, one of the six things You hate is haughty eyes. Please replace my stubbornness with humility (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  3. Conditional love: Love is a gift. Love isn’t meant to be parceled out, divided, or earned. Lord, give me the supernatural capacity to love when it is hard (Matthew 5:43-48).
  4. Selfishness:  The All About Me syndrome –my time, my resources, my feelings, my perspective. To cure this malady, I need to act more like a servant and see things from a bird’s eye view. Lord, remove my selfishness, give me eyes to see what you see and create a servant attitude in my heart (Mark 9:35).
  5. Dissatisfaction: Paul encourages us to be content in all situations. Lord, take away my dissatisfaction and replace it with contentment in the abundant blessings You have given me so a thankful and grateful heart can blossom (Philippians 4:11).
  6. Distraction: The present of presence is the most meaningful gift. Lord, I am easily distracted by my phone and my list. Remind me daily people are more important than my to-dos or cell phone (Mark 10:13-16).
  7. Criticism: Kindness is the glue that holds families together. Lord, replace my critical spirit with kindness. Nudge me to speak life by being positive and ncouraging (Ephesians 4:29).
  8. Anger, agitation, annoyance: Rather than reacting, I want to manage difficult situations with wisdom, love, and peace. Lord, help me to respond to difficult moments in a way that honors You. Teach me to address disagreements agreeably (Proverbs 12:16).
  9. Independence: An interdependent (not co-dependent) family is the type of family I want. I want my home to be one that emphasizes participation and pitching in. A place where people care so much about each other that they want to do life together. An attitude of independence creates roommates and boarders. I want to have relationships with my family members that lasts a lifetime. Lord, wipe away my spirit of independence and exchange it for a dependence on You and interdependence with my family members (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
  10. To be me: Forget being more like me. I want to be more like Jesus. Lord, I want to reflect you in all I do (Matthew 11:29).

Prayer, worship, and learning more about who Jesus is, is the way to become more like him and less like me.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26 NIV

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

Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation by [Lori Wildenberg]

About the author: Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families create connections that last a lifetime. Lori, licensed parent-family educator, parent coach, and national speaker, is the author of 6 parenting books with Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation being her most recently published book. Lori and Tom have four adult children plus three in-laws and three little grands. Connect with Lori on Facebook or Instagram or over at her popular Moms Together Community page or group. Go to loriwildenberg.com for more information.

Join the conversation:  What qualities do you want to ditch so you can look more like the King in the cradle? 

Made Known to God

by Terri Gillespie

Do not be anxious about anything—but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6 TLV

 Question: If GOD already knows everything, including our requests, why do we pray?

And when you are praying, do not babble on and on like the pagans; for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 5:7-8 TLV

When Jesus taught His followers to pray, how did He begin? “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus offered us the honor to address His Dad.

This is the answer to why we pray. We pray because we can. It is a privilege hard won by our Father’s Son. Yeshua [Jesus] was humbled, humiliated, suffered, and died so that we could be adopted by the Creator of the Universe.

Let that one sink in: “. . . so we could be adopted by the Creator of the Universe.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah. He chose us in the Messiah before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love. He predestined us for adoption as sons [and daughters] through Messiah Yeshua, in keeping with the good pleasure of His will—to the glorious praise of His grace, with which He favored us through the One He loves! (Ephesians 1:3-6 TLV, emphasis mine)

This Creator of the Universe really does know us intimately. He knows our name (Isaiah 43:1) and the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) and sees our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Therefore, He absolutely knows our needs, challenges, catastrophes, pain, anxiety—everything—before they even occur. 

Nothing that happens to us is a surprise to Him. He’s never wringing His hands in worry, or says, “Oops, missed that one.”

Maybe, because we take for granted He knows us so well, we forget to pray—or we get lazy. Or perhaps we don’t feel worthy.

Prayer all boils down to relationship. Our Father wanted a relationship with us so badly that He sent His only Son to die for us (John 3:16). Salvation through the death of His Son was the means to our adoption—that’s a heavy price. But this is only the beginning.

We pray because we are in relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Praying is communication.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray constantly. I believe that when we are in relationship with our Father, we’ll talk with Him all the time. Respectfully. Reverentially. And, yes, sometimes with emotions like anger, joy, sorrow, confusion, frustration. (I’ve done the “What? LO-O-O-RD?” more than a few times.)

Still, if you’re like me, sometimes we need reminding that we have this privilege. Thankfully, Paul and other God-followers were kind enough to give us lots of reminders throughout Scripture. Good thing, right? Because who wants to miss out on time with the Creator of the Universe—our Dad?

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

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About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Sweet Rivalry

Sweet Rivalry, is the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart again?

Join the conversation. How is your communication with God?

He’s Always Listening

by Cindi McMenamin

“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him. For God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 NIV

I called up my friend, bursting with news to share.

“Guess what?” I blurted out as soon as she answered.

“Sorry, I’m on the other line,” she replied, cutting me off.  “Can I call you back?”

So I called another friend. No answer. Finally, I called my husband. “I’m in the middle of something right now,” he said, rather curtly. “I’ll get back to you later.”

Three attempts to share what was on my heart… all to no avail.

Then, as if remembering a friend on standby, I called on the One who is always available when I want to talk.

“Trust in Him at all times…pour out your hearts before Him,” David sang in his 62nd Psalm about this God Who Listens.

I bowed my head and prayed. I told God all that was on my heart. And you know what? He listened.

Why do I not go to Him first when I have something to say? He’s never on “another line.” He’s never got something else that’s more pressing, or more important than what it is I want to share with Him. Like a Daddy eager to hear from His daughter, He is always listening. So why do I not tell Him first?

We often have something on our hearts we just need to share with someone. Some exciting news. Something discouraging that’s weighing us down. A bill we can’t pay. A concern for something that might happen. Who do you call when there’s something on your heart and mind that you need to share? I’ve learned from experience that if I go to someone else, I’m eventually going to be disappointed – by their unavailability, their less-than-enthusiastic response, or maybe their lack of response altogether.

David proclaimed in Psalm 3:4: “I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain.”(NLT) Did you catch that? He isn’t on another call. He isn’t too busy to pick up the call. He isn’t distracted by another incoming call. He answers me.

As you go throughout this day, with all that comes your way, tell God about it first. Of course, He already knows what it is you’re about to say. But by telling Him your news first, you’re reassuring Him – and yourself – that He is the single most important One in your life. And you have a guarantee that He’s listening.

Thank you, Lord, that You are never too busy, unavailable or disinterested to hear from me. Thank You that, instead, Your ear is always tuned to me. Help me to come to You first as You wait for me to share all that is on my heart and mind.

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindi

About the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s latest publication is Seven Ways to Experience More with Your Husband. Your marriage isn’t broken, but it doesn’t seem to be growing, either. Where’s the spark and passion you experienced as newlyweds? Butterflies in your stomach, your spouse’s undivided attention, the anticipation of spending time together…how can your marriage ever get back to that place?

That spark is still there, waiting to be fanned into a lasting flame! Let noted author and speaker Cindi McMenamin show you the small changes you can make to touch your husband’s heart in a big way. Renew and re-glue your relationship as you discover how to strengthen your marriage and reignite the passion you and your husband once shared.

Join the conversation: How do you remember to pray during your day?

The Trouble with Trouble

by Terri Gillespie

When my troubling thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations comfort my soul. Psalm 94:19 TLV

Okay, I admit it. I’m a closet Trekkie. Now, I don’t have Vulcan ears or anything. Yet. Growing up with the original Star Trek was delicious, it fed my vivid imagination.

One of my favorite episodes of the original Star Trek show was, The Trouble with Tribbles. If you’re one of a handful of souls in this world who have not watched the 1960s’ series, here’s a brief recap.

To protect a space station with a vital grain shipment, Capt. Kirk must deal with Federation bureaucrats, Klingons [they’re bad guys], and a peddler who sells furry, purring, hungry little creatures as pets.

The fuzzy pets are called Tribbles and seem to have a calming effect on the crew—but the creatures hate the Klingons. Tribbles physiology is such that once they eat, they reproduce. It doesn’t take long before the ship is overrun with these furballs.

Just in case you haven’t watched the show and might want to—it’s free on YouTube—I won’t spoil the end. Most likely, the writer of this fun episode and I live in our heads. It’s helpful as an author but can be detrimental to my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Do you know what I mean?

Today’s verse defines me a little too accurately. If left unchecked, my troubling thoughts will multiply like the Tribbles. Sometimes, I will talk out a concern and discover it isn’t as bad as I first thought. Other times, I’ll try to ignore it only to have it resurface unexpectedly and cause me to stumble.

The most effective way to keep my troubling thoughts from growing and mutating inside my mind and imagination is to simply seek His counsel. His comfort.

I say it’s simple, but it’s anything but easy. Why? Probably because we think we can or should be able to figure out everything. Our trouble may seem small and manageable. We might even think, this isn’t our problem, someone else should deal with it.

The more we “feed” the problem with our own solutions, or pass the blame to others, the more problems we will create, until one day, what could have been resolved simply has now overrun our thoughts and emotions. The more emotions, the more offense builds.

A few weeks ago, troubles had multiplied in my mind. My peace was gone, thereby shortening the fuse to my anger, which caused blowups nearly every day. Finally, I came across Psalm 94:19 and realized, “I’m feeding these troubles and they’re reproducing like Tribbles.” Which made me laugh. The first time in days. I was overdue to seek my Heavenly Father.

Did that resolve everything? Nah. But it did trim back the excess troubles that weren’t real. Without all my emotions, I could hear the LORD better and work through the problem.

So, should we go to our Heavenly Father for every little thing? Maybe. Little troubles can multiply quickly without His wisdom and discernment.

Besides, with our Father, coming to Him is no Tribble at all.

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

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, messages, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Terri’s newly released book, Sweet Rivalry, is the story of twins separated by a troubled mother. One twin is lovingly raised by her grandmother who owns a small-town bakery. The other sister is raised by an addict mother. They discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry break them apart? The third and final book in the Hair Mavens series, Really Bad Hair Day, is a whirlwind of changes for the mavens—marriage, love, danger, loss, and redemption. The Hair Mavens series is a modern-day Ruth and Naomi story set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: With what little things are you struggling today?

The Ask

by Janet Holm McHenry

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 NIV

I don’t like asking for things.

I was a horrible fund-raising mom. My kids would be given the assignment to sell Christmas wrapping paper or See’s Candy or doughnuts…and I would buy all the things. All. The. Things.

I’m also not good at recruitment. I feel as though I’m imposing on others by asking them to do something for me. And what if they said no? I’d feel awful.

This mindset weirdly slips into the prayer realm. I rarely ask for myself. Perhaps I don’t feel I’m worthy or perhaps I feel I’m bothering God. Maybe you feel like that too.

But Jesus told us (in Matthew 7:7-12 NIV), “’Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

What I often forget is that I have a good Father who delights in giving good gifts. He sees me praying for other people and their hard situations. He knows this sometimes exhausts me by the end of the day. He knows that I too have challenges and hurts and burdens that are too hard for me to carry alone. I picture him saying, “Janet, you shouldn’t lift that heavy luggage all by yourself. Let me carry that for you into the house.”

I also forget God will not only help me with my hard stuff: He is also excited about showering me with blessings…answers to impossible prayers that are beyond my reach. Sometimes I’ll pray with my hands extended straight out or straight up and pray, “God, this is beyond my reach. I have a dream to do this wild and crazy thing, but You will have to step in and make it happen. And I trust you for it, because You are the God who can do the impossible.”

I can pray this because I know that if I had asked, He would have bought all the figurative Christmas wrapping paper or See’s Candy or doughnuts for me. He’s that good.

Yes, it’s okay to ask for myself. I just need to remember to include my own needs and heart’s desires as I look up each and every day and pray on behalf of the world around me.

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

PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by [Janet Holm McHenry]

About the author: Janet McHenry is an international speaker, creator of the online course called Prayer School, and the author of 24 books—including the bestselling PrayerWalk. Formerly a high school English teacher and her small school’s official basketball scorekeeper, Janet has recently taken up cheering others from the sidelines by coaching new writers and hosting the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat. She loves connecting with others on social media and through her website: www.janetmchenry.com.

Join the conversation: Do you hesitate to ask God for yourself?

God’s Best for You

by Karen Wingate

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 58:17 NIV

My 16-month-old grandson recently brought his dad for a 3-day visit while Major Mama did a two-week work trip (TDY) with the military. He quickly discovered the bottom kitchen utensil drawer and had a great time pulling out measuring cups, plastic funnels, and—Uh-Oh—my long-handled meat fork. I guess my house wasn’t as baby proof as I thought.

Being the good grandma that I am, I distracted him with the measuring cups and attempted to remove the meat fork from his fist. At first, his grip tightened. Come on, Buddy-Boy, don’t make me make you cry, my heart implored. With more “redirecting,” the fork soon found a higher home.

Grandson wanted that fork. To him, it looked and felt interesting. As Grandma though, I knew what was best for him. I knew the way he should play. Measuring cups and plastic funnels are non-traditional toys but safe; metal two-pronged meat forks are not. It would be inappropriate and defiant for him to insist on holding on to that fork.

My Bible reading in Isaiah 48 reminded me that sometimes my prayers are like my grandson’s desire for new toys. I see shiny, attractive things that I want. Possessions and accomplishments that I think would be really cool. So I ask for them. But, knowing He has something better in mind for me, God sometimes withholds what I want. If I’m listening, His Holy Spirit redirects me toward those better things or simply reminds me to trust that God wants what is best for me, even if I don’t understand.

There have been times (and I imagine there will be more times) when I tighten my grip on my original request. I may even make a frowny face at God, accusing Him of unnecessary delays or complications. I suspect I’m not the only one who has had the gall to question God’s love for me when He doesn’t let me have what I want, or even what appears to be reasonable.

Sometimes in those moments, God relinquishes, granting my request, so He can teach me the hard way that it wasn’t such a good idea after all. And He will grieve that I missed out on the riches of His peace and righteousness because of my obstinate will (Isaiah 48:18, 19).

The Bible says it so clearly: God wants to teach us what is best for us. I admit, the hard part is knowing what is best. How can I know whether what I request is God’s best?

We can work toward aligning our requests with the will of God in two ways.

First, ask. James 1:5, 6 tells us that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask, and God will generously give it to us.

We can also observe. The next time God doesn’t instantly answer in the affirmative to your request, pay attention to what else is happening. How does He provide for you in the meantime? How does He sustain you through the trial? How does He become more real to those watching you go through your tough time? How do you become stronger and grow closer to Him by not getting what you asked for? Finally, what does God give you instead that is bigger, better and yes, His best for you?

So, the next time I—or you—feel compelled to pray for something we want, here is a way we could pray.

“Lord, I want this, but I realize my judgement and experience may be as limited as that of a 16-month-old toddler. I ask that You give me what is best for me. And, while You’re at it, would You teach me why this is best so I can ask more in line with Your will the next time?”

God loves you so much. Even if it means making you temporarily unhappy because you didn’t get what you thought you needed, He wants to give you His very best.

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

About the author: Author, speaker, and Bible study leader Karen Wingate loves to brag on how she sees God working in the world. Karen is a veteran writer of 30 years, writing Christian education curriculum, magazine articles, and contributions to devotional guides and compilation books. Read about her latest sighting at www.karenwingate.com/blog.

Karen’s book, With Fresh Eyes, gives a fresh look at God, His creation, and people through the eyes of someone who is seeing the details of her world for the first time. It will challenge you to pause, ponder, and praise God for all His good gifts.

Join the conversation: Have you ever regretting receiving something you asked God for?