Don’t Settle for the Bubblegum Ring

by Terri Gillespie

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the [Holy Spirit] to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13 TLV

 Do we settle for less because we believe that’s all we deserve? We have a Heavenly Father that wants to give us the best, whether we think we measure up or not.

Have you ever noticed that we don’t always recognize what is best for us? What has the most value?

Once, my mother decided to take each of her young granddaughters out on a special “date” for their birthdays. Their date consisted of grandma and granddaughter one-on-one time.

When their date-day arrived, each little girl could choose their favorite restaurant and then go to their favorite store and pick out a special treasure — within reason — that my mom would purchase for that granddaughter.

Mom found it interesting how different each child was by their choices.

The older granddaughter’s birthday was first. She dressed in a cute sundress. When grandma asked where she wanted to dine, the granddaughter chose her favorite fast-food restaurant. Together they enjoyed a burger, fries, and shake. After the meal, the two perused the local five & dime. The granddaughter randomly walked the aisle, then finally chose a bubblegum-machine ring. The bobble was shiny silver with a big, purple “diamond.” All made of plastic.

When it was the younger granddaughter’s special day, they too dressed in their Sunday best. When mom asked the younger granddaughter where she would like to dine. The granddaughter asked her grandmother, “Where would you eat?” As a result, the grandmother chose her favorite restaurant so the two of them ate at a fancier establishment.

Mom and granddaughter ended up at the same five & dime, but this granddaughter asked for help again. Mom directed her to the jewelry case. The granddaughter chose a sweet, enamel floral bracelet nestled on a pad of cotton inside a shiny, white box.

The big purple ring broke within days. The bracelet lasted considerably longer.

As our Heavenly Father’s redeemed children, our idea of a “good gift” is not always what is best. We may think we know what is best, but our Father often wants to give us more.

Earlier in this chapter, Luke gives his version of the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. The example He gave them is essentially the same as recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. Where Matthew’s context focuses on humility and forgiveness, Luke focuses on the generosity of our Father.

Today’s verse and the previous verses in the chapter, may seem like we can ask God for anything we want, and He’ll give it to us — like some celestial Santa Claus—or grandmother. But because He loves us, He longs to give us more than a bubblegum-ring; He longs to give us the riches of His Kingdom. The Holy Spirit. A part of HIM!

Let’s let that one sink in. The Creator of the Universe wants to give us a part of Himself, just as He gave His only Son to redeem us.

We have all prayed for what we believe is the best and God answered, “No.” As difficult as that answer can be — especially when we truly believe it is the best “ring” in the earthly bubblegum-machine — He has a much better choice. A gift beyond our wildest imagination. Isn’t that what we really want?

Abba Father, I don’t want the “bubblegum machine ring,” I want Your best. Please, help me let Your will be done without willfulness from me. Amen.

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. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry

Sweet Rivalry, 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: Has God ever blessed you in a far greater way than your original request? Please share!

The Silent Warriors

by Terri Gillespie

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:10, TLV

Who are the silent warriors and what do they have to do with this verse? The definition of persecution is a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate people based on their membership in a religious, ethnic, social, or racial group: i.e., the persecutions of Christians by the Romans. That seems straightforward. I’m guessing most of us haven’t been subjected to campaigns to annihilate or subjugate us because of our faith.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” (vs. 11, TLV)

This morning, I was thinking, persecutions are not limited to events — systematic though they may be. Persecution could also include illness, disabilities, and other physical and mental struggles. We have several examples of that in Scripture. Job, for one, was persecuted because his faith was exemplary (see Job 2). God allowed Satan to destroy what was Job’s, including his family, livestock, and eventually his health. But in the end, Job came through the trial giving glory to God.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, TLV)

The enemy wants to rob, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), and this includes our bodies and our minds. He will use people, famine, war, disease, whatever he can. Whether we’re hit by a drunk driver to live a life in a wheelchair, or because of a fallen world we get cancer or some other disease, it may well be Satan robbing, stealing, and destroying. Isn’t that persecution?

What about believers with a chemical imbalance in the brain causing inappropriate behaviors that ostracize them from church? Aren’t these attempts to destroy? Or, at least, subjugate our bodies and minds to a life of trials and tribulations? To try to rob us of our peace and faith?

A few months ago, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

This woman taught believers about Jewish roots for over forty years in rural Missouri, mentored and discipled women who have gone on to do great exploits for the Lord. She worked with Dr. C. Everett Koop (America’s Surgeon General, 1982-1989) to get warning labels on smokeless tobacco because children were disfigured and dying of mouth cancer. She was even a spy for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League to identify white supremists who had infiltrated legitimate Christian organizations. But today, she now has difficulty reading her beloved, worn Bible. That’s robbing, stealing, and destroying — that’s persecution.

Many of the great men and women of faith, like Richard Wurmbrand and Corrie ten Boom, who were persecuted and tortured in their earlier years, were again persecuted and tortured in their mind and body in their later years. Dementia, strokes, Alzheimer —still on earth, but not really.

As I think about my mother, I try to reconcile the unreconcilable. I can’t go down the “Why” road — it goes nowhere. Her body and soul are becoming more and more confused. But does her spirit — that part of God’s Spirit inside her — rejoice and know she is blessed even in this reviling humiliation? I have to believe the answer to that question is, “Yes!”

Who is the one who condemns? It is Messiah, who died, and moreover was raised, and is now at the right hand of God and who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34 TLV)

Our Messiah condemns all spiritual powers and worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. He not only condemns them but intercedes on our behalf in heaven. The Holy Spirit within us connects with that intercession.

So, what does that mean to us? It means those sitting in care facilities after years of service for the Lord, are still silently serving as warriors for our Messiah. How? I don’t know how precisely, but I believe they are.

As my mother journeys this treacherous road, I need to remember that she was and still is a warrior. As her daughter I will continue to pray and speak the words of life she has spoken to others and to me, even when her mind doesn’t remember or understand. But her spirit will, her warrior spirit.

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, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry, 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: Are you a caretaker for a silent warrior?

Of Mice and Men

by Terri Gillespie

The heart of man plans his course, but Adonai directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 TLV

Have you ever heard of the saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” It is from the poem To the Mouse, by the 18th-century Scottish author, Robert Burns. The poem describes the story of a field mouse who carefully builds a winter nest in a wheat field, only to have it tilled over by a young farmer.

In the mouse’s small world, her location for the nest seemed perfect. In the young man’s broad world, there was nothing standing in the way of tilling the soil. Both plans were shortsighted due to their imperfect understanding of the world around them.

As I thought about the story, I realized sometimes we’re the mouse and sometimes we’re the farmer. Whatever our plans, they are fragile in the light of eternity and our Heavenly Father’s kingdom. They are flimsy in the face of evil.

Sometimes we have no idea just how big the world around us is, and how any given circumstance will affect our plans. Other times, we may know more of how the world works, but there are other things at work we can’t see. And, how easy it is to run over others — unintentionally or intentionally — to accomplish our goals.

We may seek the Lord for our plans, or He may implant a passion and vision in our heart we long to fulfill. He may even give us a release to proceed with plowing the field, but because we are flawed — and not omniscient — we can go off course or not pay attention to the nests of others around us.

The little mouse was not wrong in building a winter nest, it was her choice of locations that crushed the plan. On the other hand, it was necessary for the farmer to plow the field to plant his wheat; however, he destroyed the plans of the mouse.

When we have a delay in our plans, it can cause us to doubt we heard from God, but there may be something else at work. Therefore, the second half of Proverbs 16:9 (TLV) is so important: …but Adonai directs his steps.

If we go off course — if our location is not where He wants us — He is there to redirect our steps. Or, He may have us slow down or linger to show us the mouse nest and how to avoid it.

It takes faith to be open to altering our course, even if it’s uncomfortable or frustrating. Because even in the discomfort, we can be assured He will get us to our destination. His plans never go awry.

If we’re feeling frustrated or discouraged because our plans and visions are not going as we thought—as we thought we heard from the Lord—then perhaps there is a mouse nest we might destroy, or the season is not right for us to begin plowing the field. We don’t want to be the oblivious farmer or the foolish mouse. We want God’s will, right?

Heavenly Father, I can’t help the feelings of discouragement and frustration right now. First, Father, confirm the vision or plan you showed me. Then help me see if I’m running over someone else’s vision or if the season isn’t right. But above all else, I pray for Your will to be done—not mine. In Your Son’s Name. Amen.

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. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry

Sweet Rivalry, 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: Are you experiencing a big fail and don’t know why? Please share.

More

by Terri Gillespie

Now to Him who is able to do far beyond all that we ask or imagine, by means of His power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the community of believers and in Messiah Yeshua throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 TLV

The ornate rod iron fence was too high—especially for vertically-challenged souls such as me. Behind the formidable barrier were the thousands-year-old olive trees of Israel’s Garden of Gethsemane. Trees that Jesus most likely passed, perhaps touching their young trunks as He made His way to the Garden for prayer to His Father.

I wanted a leaf. Oh, how I wanted a leaf. I checked the sidewalk around me for the small willow-like foliage. Then I knelt to hunt the ground just inside the fence, but there was nary a leaf, not even a fragment.

If you’ve ever toured Israel, you know it is frowned up to take natural “souvenirs.” Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a rock or tree left in the Land. There are hefty fines, and one could be unceremoniously escorted from the site.

So, what did I do? I lifted my foot to a crossbeam. If I climbed a bit higher, maybe I could reach one of the branches. That’s when the tug on my backpack brought me back to reality. Fortunately, it was only my wise hubby warning me to stop. He shook his head as he walked on.

I pressed my face against the bars and sighed. LORD, could I please have just one little leaf? When I turned away, I looked down and saw not one leaf, but two! Yes, in the area I had just searched.

As I praised the LORD, several from our tour approached and asked what had happened. Somehow, I knew I wasn’t to give the extra one away, so I told them to pray. The next few minutes where once there had been an empty sidewalk, there were slender green leaves in front of each person. Whoever asked that day, received.

Now to Him who is able to do far beyond all that we ask or imagine …

Did I need that little leaf? Of course not. But our heavenly Father had to have smiled at my longing to connect with His Son. Still, I did wonder about the second leaf. Should I keep it or give it away?

The supple green leaves were placed in my small Bible—at Joshua 1. Later, whole flower petals from what was believed to be the Garden Tomb were “conveniently” left on the sidewalk. My Bible filled with meaningful reminders of my first trip to Israel.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 TLV

Upon our return, our ministry secretary, Faith, wanted to hear every detail of the trip. That’s when I knew why there were two leaves. After I told her the miracle of the olive leaves, she teared up. Once I gave her the leaf God had left specifically for her, she wept.

“Oh, how I want to go to Israel,” she said as she blew her nose.

“You will,” I responded. The moment I said it, I swallowed. Faith was a single mother who could never afford the trip.

She shrugged and said, “Maybe. If it is the Lord’s will.”

Two years later, Faith accompanied us to Israel. God had provided the finances, and she finally visited the Land she had so longed to see. What an incredible gift it was to watch her experience the Land for the first time carrying her little Bible with her olive leaf.

Twenty-three years later the leaf isn’t as green, and it is fragile. But it’s still the tiny, sweet reminder that our Father does indeed give us more than we could think or imagine. And it began with a simple prayer for an olive leaf.

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. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Sweet Rivalry, 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?

Sweet Rivalry

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you more abundantly than what you asked?

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?

What is Our ROI

by Terri Gillespie

Two are better than one, because they get a good return for their effort. Ecclesiastes 4:9, TLV

Back when I worked in the corporate world, a high Return on Investment (ROI) was paramount. Division heads and executives continually asked for that bottom line ROI. Too low? Get rid of the project. Great ROI? How could it be more successful or replicated?

It’s interesting the translators used a similar business term for fellowship.

For if they fall, the one will lift up his companion.

But oy [woe] to the one who falls and has no one to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:10 TLV

King Solomon’s sometimes depressing “proverbs” in Ecclesiastes brought an interesting concept to mind this morning. How is our fellowship or friendship ROI?

If we’re always the one “lifting up” the friend who falls, and there’s little to no reciprocity, then we might want to evaluate that “investment”. This is not assessing the value of the person, but the relationship.

I have friends that because of great distances, we’re unable to regularly “invest” in each other’s lives. However, when we do, that investment is so great, it goes a long way.

There are friends that have emotional challenges that can drain me, but if I needed them, they would drop whatever they were doing and be there to help. These are great ROIs. But what about those folks who aren’t there when we need help? In fact, their only concern is their own needs.

A relationship assessment is especially important here—and this may be difficult for those with a servant’s heart—because if we are investing without wisdom, we could be causing more harm than good.

What do I mean by this? Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to assess whether a relationship investment is for:

  • friendship,
  • fellowship, or
  • ministry.

Identifying the type of relationship determines our expectations.

Friendship: Choosing our friends prayerfully is important. Understanding both of our strengths and limitations goes a long way in developing closer relationships. Sometimes friendships are for a season, which is okay. The key to this type of investment is that return—the reciprocity. The friendship is not one sided.

Fellowship: Who we “yoke” ourselves with is important. Friendships that include fellowship, are a true blessing. But when fellowship is based on circumstances (i.e., services, ministry outreaches, teaching, Bible study), it is important to understand that our time together generally lessens when the service, ministry, Bible study, etc., conclude. No hard feelings. Just no expectations that there should be more than what it is.

Ministry: When we seek the LORD about a relationship that continues to be disappointing—that we’re always the giver and they are the taker—He may tell us that we were meant to minister to them. Our expectations would then change, right? If we don’t expect a friendship/fellowship relationship, then we use more wisdom when it comes to our investment.

NOTE: sometimes the person needs professional ministry. Just because someone is within our proximity doesn’t necessarily mean we are to make the major investment. If we find this to be the case, seek an elder or pastor of your congregation.

Of course, the relationship that brings the greatest ROI is our relationship with Jesus. His investment in us was the ultimate sacrifice, long before we were a great ROI. He didn’t give up on us. He wanted to invest in us. He gave His all and now, we are His eternal ROI.

As we enter 2022, let’s seek to invest in our relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son—it’s a guaranteed great return. Then, let’s follow our Savior’s example of friendship, because He can show us how to see an eternal Return on Investment, too.

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 again? 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: Into which category do your relationships often fall?

A Father’s Heart

by Terri Gillespie

“Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7, TLV

Isn’t this a hopeful and uplifting verse? Chapter seven is a part of Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount.” The context of this verse is Jesus giving insights into His Father. Prior to this, culturally, there was more a reverential posture, rather than relational toward ADONAI—the LORD—by the Jewish people. This was clearly demonstrated by the Tabernacle and then the Temple, with obstacles and a curtain that separated the “common” people from the holy places.

The Jewish people’s ancestors saw God open the ground and swallow up the rebellious (Numbers 16:32). They also walked on dry ground when He parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14). So, as chosen people of Adonai, they were rightfully fearful and yet, in awe.

This Creator of the Universe wouldn’t even give His “Name” to Moses (Exodus 3:13-15)—He was to be referred to as one of His many attributes, “I AM.” Which is why some Jewish people today will not completely spell out Lord or God, but instead write L-RD or G-D.

“For what man among you, when his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or when he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (vss. 9-11, TLV)

Jesus now explains to the people that our relationship with His Father could be different. Still very reverential, as Jesus was, because He served His Father (Luke 22:42; Hebrews 10:7), but Jesus hints that something was about to change. Those children that would be redeemed by His blood could call Adonai, Father—even Abba, which is more like Daddy (Romans 8:15).

The people’s heart cry would be heard, as any loving father would listen.

Does that mean our Father will give us anything for which we “cry out”?  As a parent or your parents, did we? Did they? Of course not.

Seeking is another essential part of our relationship. As Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10), our relationship with the Father is to be like Jesus’s—“Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) Seeking that will, our Father will make certain we’ll know what it is.

Knocking, I suppose is just making sure that we have the right “door.” We don’t want to walk into the wrong room or break into our own desires rather than our Father’s will.

Now when Yeshua had finished these words, the crowds were astounded at His teaching, for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their Torah scholars. (vss. 28-29, TLV)

Many people ask why I prefer to use Father, or Abba, when referring to God. Why not Yahweh or Jehovah? I guess because of passages like this, but even more. Jesus humbled Himself to be born in a stinky stable. He suffered much on our behalf. All so that I could call the Creator of the Universe Abba. That is an honor not to be taken lightly.

As His redeemed children, in reverential awe, we can call Him our Daddy.

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. When do you tend to seek God?

Salvation of Our Countenance

by Terri Gillespie

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you murmuring within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, the salvation of my countenance and my God. –Psalm 42:12 [11] TLV

This is such a beautiful psalm, written by the sons of Korah—one of the elven written by them. Wait… Korah? As in the Korah who was swallowed up by the earth (in Numbers 16:32)? Yes. That one.

Korah was the grandson of Kohath, of the tribe of Levi. He was of the priestly lineage but ran with a bunch of malcontents and rebelled against Moses and Aaron out of greed and envy. After God cracked open the ground, 250 followers of Korah were consumed with fire (Numbers 16: 1 – 35).

Fortunately, Korah’s sons were spared and learned well what not to do. As a result, some served as guardians and gatekeepers of the tabernacle and others oversaw the baking of the showbread (1 Chronicles 9:19, 31).

Fast-forward to the time of King David, these descendants of Korah were known for their loyalty to the king and as fierce warriors. Yet, like David, they were talented in the gifts of music and lyrics. Also of note, the prophet Samuel was from the line of Korah (1 Chron, 6:33-34; 1 Samuel 1:1).

Truly, the stain of Korah’s rebellion was not carried for long. While Korah paid his own penalty with God’s judgment, God was merciful and gave favor to his sons. Still, their ancestor’s name represented great shame for the sons of Korah:

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you murmuring within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, for the salvation of His presence. (Psalm 42:6, TLV)

That wording is amazing: “for I will yet praise Him, for the salvation of His presence.” The same presence that destroyed their ancestor became the sons of Korah’s salvation.

In Psalm 42:12 (TLV), one of the sons of Korah says: “for I will yet praise Him, the salvation of my countenance and my God.” Because of God’s presence in the sons’ lives, their countenance has changed.

Could these sons, who took ownership of their identity as descendants of Korah, still have experienced ridicule and mistrust by association? Maybe. Ancestry within the Jewish culture is very important—think of all the “begats” in the Bible. They could have said they were sons of Levi or Kohath, but they held on to Korah’s name.

Many of us carry the stain of our families’ sins–our parents, children, or even a spouse. Or perhaps our own past was stained with sin. Possibly sins that warranted some ground swallowing.

Our Heavenly Father is all about redemption. Long before the Word became flesh (John 1:14), God sought those whose hearts were turned to Him. He is slow to anger and rich in love and mercy (Joel 2:13). We may have repercussions for the sins of the past, but through Jesus our Father can redeem even that for His glory and our growth.

Let’s learn from the sons of Korah who, with the Lord’s help, rose above the shame of their past to overcome and excel. They are a beautiful tribute to God’s salvation and a reminder of His great love. Lessons for us all.

Father, I don’t want the stains of the past to color my future. Help me to walk out Your love for me because of Your Son. Amen.

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 again? 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: Have you allowed the sin of your past to color your future?

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 Moment of Revelation

by Terri Gillespie

“Yet even now”—it is a declaration of Adonai—”turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping and lamenting.” Joel 2:12 TLV

Have you ever dressed or put on your makeup in the dark or without a mirror? We think because we know ourselves so well, we might need a bit of adjusting in the light of day, but all in all we’ll be fine. But take it from me, after over sixty years of knowing my body, without that magnifying mirror and bright lights, I would be a mess.

That’s a lot like sin.

In today’s verse, God tells us to turn to Him with all our heart.

The term “Day of the LORD” is sprinkled freely throughout Joel. This phrase can mean two things. One is the day of judgment.

Blow the shofar in Zion! Sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all living in the land tremble—for the day of Adonai is coming—surely it is near! Joel 2:1 TLV (emphasis mine)

The other type of “Day of the LORD” is the day of repentance and redemption and GOD’s restoration.

I shall restore to you the years that the locust, the swarming locust, the canker-worm and the caterpillar have eaten— My great army that I sent among you. You will surely eat and be satisfied and praise the Name of Adonai your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you. Joel 2:25-2 TLV

Judgment, repentance, redemption, and restoration.

Because of His love, our Heavenly Father longed for our redemption before He spoke the world into existence. He gave His only Son up as a sacrifice, not so we could do what we wanted as His redeemed children, but so that we would heed the declaration of Adonai and turn to Him. It’s a clarion to His people.

So, what in the world does getting dressed and putting on makeup in the dark or without a mirror have to do with the Day of the LORD? It’s this: when we turn away from the LORD, even for a second, we’re in the dark trying to live a life while veiled. Everything we think we’re doing accurately is, in reality, a mess.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the LORD is the Spirit and where the Ruach Adonai [Spirit of the LORD] is, there is freedom. But we all, with unveiled faces beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory—just as from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 TLV

Once we looked in the mirror in the light, we realize just how off we are. Even when we think we’re unredeemable, especially at that moment of revelation, we can turn to Him in repentance and have the veil lifted. With His forgiveness, we can stand before Him blameless.

“ … so that in the Day of Messiah you may be sincere and blameless, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Yeshua the Messiah, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:10b-11 TLV

If you’ve stepped away from the LORD, simply turn back. Our Father is right there like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15). Our Father will run to us. He will run to us with joy.

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. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

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: modern-day Ruth and Naomi stories set in a hair salon.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been surprised by walking into the light?