Who Holds the “Watch”?

by Terri Gillespie

Do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16 TLV

Have you ever watched children playing? There are mostly natural sharers—who willingly sacrifice their toys to be able to play with someone else. Then there are those who don’t understand the value of sharing. They hold that toy so tightly, maybe to the point of fighting the other child to keep what is theirs.

I was in the company of four young sisters last year. Three of them were fascinated with my watch. I allowed the eldest, who was five, to wear it first. She was careful—actually, she was quite clever figuring out its functions. She undoubtably would have worn it for some time, except her younger sister fussed about a turn.

But older sister wasn’t quite finished with her time.

When I suggested she share my watch with her sister, she said she didn’t want to.

But after staring at the watch a few seconds, she then willingly and sweetly placed the watch on her sister’s wrist. Oh, how I wish I could have peeked inside that young brain to see how she came to that decision in such a short period of time.

I’ve been thinking about that; how tightly I hold onto things. Not just physical things, but time—my private time. Because as an introvert, I need time away from people to recharge. It is too easy to become stingy and not share my time much at all.

In verse 14 (TLV), the writer of Hebrews reminds the Jewish believers,

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the one that is to come.”

Let’s think about that. If this is not our “city”—our home—then all this “stuff” really isn’t ours to begin with. We certainly can’t take it with us.

As I think about the tug-of-war that happens with children when they want the same toy, I wonder how often I do that very thing. How often do I want to take credit for an idea—when the Creator of the Universe is the Author of all great ideas? What about my home? Do I hold that too tightly? Or realize that I am but the responsible steward, and that it should be shared through hospitality?

I have a friend who taught me the phrase, Hold things lightly. Isn’t that great? Because when we hold things lightly, there is no tug-of-war. No squabbles over who holds “the watch.”

Like the older sister, she knew the watch wasn’t hers, and that I had shared it with her. So, when I asked her to share—even though it was a sacrifice to relinquish the fascinating toy—she did it. And when I thanked her and praised her for sharing, the sweet smile and hug was precious.

So, next time our Heavenly Father wants us to share our “watch,” it’s okay to acknowledge that it is a sacrifice, but it is more important to remember the watch is His.

This article 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 book, Really Bad Hair Day won the 2022 Golden Scroll for Contemporary Novel of the Year.

Really Bad Hair Day (Book 3 of The Hair Mavens series) The Mavens bring their sense of style of really good hair out into the community and to the homeless. But as much as the ladies want to help others, they discover they need help, too or they may lose a maven. And, yes, the final book answers whether or not Shira and Jesse get married.

Join the conversation: What seems like a sacrifice for you to share?

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Cold Feet?

by Terri Gillespie

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces shalom [peace], who brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 TLV

Are you gifted in sharing the gospel? Not me. I’m a seed spreader that occasional comes across a ripe harvest. I mean there needs to be a neon sign pointing to the “plant” saying, “Ready for Picking!”

So, imagine my surprise one blustery evening when I found myself serving as a tour guide for my church’s Christmas event. This included presenting the gospel at the end, in front of the living nativity—baby, camels, goats, donkeys, and more.

The unique display consisted of a series of fifteen, twenty-foot-high murals depicting Biblical scenes. It began with Genesis—Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, their expulsion, Noah, and Abraham. Then on to the Gospels—Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Since I was one of the volunteers who helped paint each mural, the powers-to-be felt I should be one of the guides. Being intimately tied to the murals, I knew the story. At least that was the theory.

With over ten thousand white twinkle lights and spotlights pointing up to each mural surrounding the church, we weren’t difficult to spot from the highway. Maybe even outer space. It wasn’t long before the parking lot filled, with a line of cars waiting.

My first group consisted of several families. (As I recall, the families didn’t know one another.) Holding the script in my shaky gloved hand, we stood in front of the Garden of Eden mural. Before I began, a child asked, “Mommy, where are their clothes?” 

Uh oh. While each picture was indeed worth a thousand words, there wasn’t time to explain all the nuances of holiness vs. sin to children. Great. Our beautifully scripted message was too complicated. I shoved it into my coat pocket and spoke from my heart, and then I answered their questions as best I could.

By the time we reached the crucifixion scene, there was a quiet reverence. I tried not to be nervous, knowing the big spiel was approaching after the resurrection and ascension murals. My nervousness wasn’t due to talking about salvation but related to making the message clear to the group—simple enough for the children to understand.

As we arrived at the nativity scene, the holy peace grew. We stood in silence at the sight before us—as lifelike as that night in Bethlehem. When I asked who would like to pray, they all raised their hands or murmured, “Yes.”

Don’t ask me what I said afterward because I didn’t follow the script. Words came from the Holy Spirit’s move on my heart, and from my own wonder at what our Heavenly Father’s Son did for us poor naked sinners—for me.

Some of us cried—me included. From there, another guide shared about the church and asked if the families had a church home. So, I went back to the beginning—literally, you know, the Genesis mural—to another group awaiting the journey.

As an author and artist, I could see and understand the story and was so grateful that Abba had given me a platform to share His Good News.

As redeemed children of the Creator of the Universe, we are called to be ready when the time comes to share this Good News. Are we ready for the journey? It may be easier than we think.

Get those beautiful feet moving!

Father, I want to share the Good News of Your Son’s redemption for us, but sometimes my feet are anything but beautiful. They’re stuck in my own fears and self-consciousness. I don’t want to have cold feet when the time comes. Holy Spirit, please hose off that muck and help me get moving. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

This article 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 book, Really Bad Hair Day won the 2022 Golden Scroll for Contemporary Novel of the Year.

Really Bad Hair Day (Book 3 of The Hair Mavens series) The Mavens bring their sense of style of really good hair out into the community and to the homeless. But as much as the ladies want to help others, they discover they need help, too or they may lose a maven. And, yes, the final book answers whether or not Shira and Jesse get married.

Join the conversation: Have you encountered an unexpected opportunity to share the gospel? Please share!

Chazak!

by Terri Gillespie

Be on the alert! Stand firm in the faith! Be men of courage! Be strong! Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 TLV

The last several years, I’ve joined the ranks of souls who choose a word for the year. In 2021, one word rose above the others: Chazak! Chazak is Hebrew and can be translated several ways, the most common is: Be Strong!

It became my word for 2021, but sometimes, we just need to dwell in that reality a little longer than 12 months. I sure did.

“Have I not commanded you? Chazak! Be strong! Do not be terrified or dismayed, for ADONAI [the LORD] your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b TLV

I guess, the main reason Chazak was pushed into 2022, was that 2021 was a very difficult year.

Bob and I were asked to help two Messianic rabbis (Jewish rabbis who believe that Jesus/Yeshua is their Messiah) re-establish a congregation in our little town. Hubby and I had worked and worshipped within the Messianic Jewish community in Philadelphia for twenty-five years. We knew both rabbis very well. Rabbi Scott and Rabbi Eric had both planted congregations nationally and internationally. What an honor.

We sent out an invitation to possible interested folks to meet and discuss the viability of this new work. Over fifty showed up. Many families with children. They unanimously agreed to begin this new congregation—immediately.

Of course, we were incredibly blessed and pleased, but we needed a bit more time to pull things together. Rabbi Scott’s congregation was just outside Atlanta, a few hours away, and Rabbi Eric’s congregation was in Pensacola, FL.

We would meet twice a month with the rabbis alternating leading the services until we could find a fulltime leader. The first service was the end of June of 2021, with Rabbi Eric. Rabbi Scott gave the message in July.

Two weeks later, Rabbi Scott admitted himself into the hospital with COVID. August 13th, our dear Scott was gone.

As well as losing his best friend, Rabbi Eric’s congregation suffered several unexpected deaths due to COVID and other unusual occurrences.

For Bob and me, not only were we devastated by Scott’s passing and understood that Eric needed to be with his congregation, but we were also now on our own.

Chazak?

When Joshua spoke Chazak to the Children of Israel, Moses had died, and the leadership of millions of people were in his hands— at a historically pivotal moment. The Children of Israel were finally going the enter “The Promised Land.”

But GOD reminded Joshua, that while his mentor, Moses, was no longer with him, the Creator of the Universe would be.

Back to today’s verse written to the Corinthians. Paul exhorts the believers strongly. For the first time in Israel’s history, the Jewish people were going to the nations. Not like Joshua to conquer the land, but to be emissaries of the Good News. Then Paul moved on and these new believers were tasked with this holy mission.

GOD’s words to Joshua and Paul’s words to the new emissaries saw Bob and I through some crazy challenges—still does. But today, our little congregation meets weekly with a new shepherd who truly cares for this little flock.

Chazak may be my word again for 2023. But whether it is or isn’t, I know where this exhortation comes from . . .

Paul’s seemingly simple good-bye blessing, carries thousands of years of history and meaning. My word to you today is my blessing to you: “Chazakchazakve-nit chazek” (Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!)

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 book, Really Bad Hair Day won the 2022 Golden Scroll for Contemporary Novel of the Year.

Really Bad Hair Day (Book 3 of The Hair Mavens series) The Mavens bring their sense of style of really good hair out into the community and to the homeless. But as much as the ladies want to help others, they discover they need help, too or they may lose a maven. And, yes, the final book answers whether or not Shira and Jesse get married.

Join the conversation. When has God called on you to be strong?

Breakthrough Listening

by Terri Gillespie

Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger—  James 1:19 TLV

Apparently, not much has changed since those two souls were kicked out of the Garden. We’re even now still slow to listen. At least I do. How about you?

With more venues to “listen” and “speak” than ever before, have you noticed the dark funky cloud of anger hanging over the world lately? Have we contributed to that cloud? Have our fuses shortened to the point we blow up at the least offense?

Are those offensive folks responsible for our anger? Or could we be responsible for others’ anger?

As followers of our Savior, we’re going to offend some folks. No getting away from that. However, do we have to leave the offense there to fester? What if we at least attempted to listen—even if we vehemently disagree, and feel completely justified in opposing their beliefs, words, or actions?

The problem with vehemently opposing someone is that we end up mimicking the inappropriate actions of those who come against us.

“Loved ones, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:11 TLV

When someone cuts me off while driving, my default response is anger. I might even honk my horn. Sad to say, when someone cuts us off while hubby is driving, I have been known to reach over and try to honk out of offense for my husband! Instead, all I did was amp up the anger in our vehicle.

Guess what, self-righteous indignation is not a Biblical principle. What Scripture does say is:

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness is like a filthy garment, and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away, like the wind. Isaiah 64:5[6] TLV

So, now that our self-justified—and most likely wrong—behavior is defined, how do we listen? Truly listen when we know we’re right and someone else is wrong?

Breakthrough Listening. Well, that’s what I call it. It’s taking my offense out of the mix and trying to find common ground to truly communicate—not react. It’s the opposite of finding a quick biting retort.

Keys to Breakthrough Listening can be:

  • Listen to be able to process what the other person is saying — or attempting to say.
  • Pray to hear what common ground to build on, without compromising our faith and integrity. (BTW, that’s also listening.)
  • Pray for wisdom. (Also listening.)
  • Ask the person questions for clarification.
  • Then speak.

When words abound, transgression is unavoidable. but whoever restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19 TLV

When we finally do speak, try to avoid “building a clock,” rather than just telling the time. In other words, address the simplest theme of common ground, before ever approaching the disagreement. Don’t overcomplicate with so many words that muddy the real issues.

Then repeat the process: listen to their response, be slow to speak, stay calm.

… for human anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God. (Proverbs 10:20 TLV)

If an impasse persists and the other party only gets angrier, we must depart in shalom—in peace—as best we can. Someone who doesn’t offer us the same respect we show them, most likely won’t listen — at least not yet. Walking away is not a compromise to our faith. And it’s not our job to defend God. Because the last time I checked, He can take care of Himself. I’m sure glad about that.

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 book, Really Bad Hair Day won the 2022 Golden Scroll for Contemporary Novel of the Year.

Really Bad Hair Day (Book 3 of The Hair Mavens series) The Mavens bring their sense of style of really good hair out into the community and to the homeless. But as much as the ladies want to help others, they discover they need help, too or they may lose a maven. And, yes, the final book answers whether or not Shira and Jesse get married.

Join the conversation. How do you show someone you are truly listening?

Writing Our Own Michtam

by Terri Gillespie

In a day when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. Psalm 56:4 TLV

Today’s verse is categorized by David as a michtam. In Hebrew, a michtam is a special type of psalm. The word is only used 6 times by David and generally recounts his scariest experiences, where his life was in immediate peril and only a miraculous intervention by God could save him.

That oh-so-important context truly deepens the meaning of today’s verse. David shares how he felt when captured by the Philistines — his old enemies. Even in his fear, David goes back to what he knows. Worship. This reminds us of a simple, but important truth.

We can cower in our fear and be paralyzed or take those fears to our Heavenly Father. Maybe it’s time to shed our need-to-appear-holy masks and be real. 

No matter what our circumstances, our Father isn’t intimidated by our emotions — He gave them to us. He just wants us to bring them to Him and not try to hide them. Joy. Fear. Anger. Doubt. Pain.

You have recorded my wanderings. You put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:9 TLV)

Abba knows we are dust (Psalm 103:14), He knows everything that causes us pain. I think sometimes, we try to hide our pain because we think God will be disappointed in us. Or people will think our faith is weak. We aren’t strong enough. Didn’t have enough faith. Or GOD isn’t strong enough.

David lays it all out there: expresses the pain and doubt and anger. Then, what does he do? He goes back to what he knows. His vows (vs. 13) and his experiences of God’s deliverance in the past (vs. 14), so that he can say — in his pain and fear — these words:

In God—I keep praising His word—in God I trust, I will not fear. What can mere flesh do to me? (v. 5)

He repeats this statement of faith later (v. 10-12), with more enthusiasm.

I wonder. Since most of us aren’t being chased by Philistines or threatened by real giants, what would our michtam look like? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I’m being chased by a hoard of troubles. Can we take that fear and uncertainty and turn it into worship? Write our own michtam?

I am afraid and feel abandoned by those around me, Abba! They taunt me, and it makes me angry. I feel betrayed. There’s nothing I can do! Yet there is! God, I praise You! I trust You! So, I don’t have to fear. Flesh can torment me, but my spirit is Yours for eternity.” –a Michtam of Terri, when she was afraid of the pain in her body and the disappointment of others.

Let’s not be captured by the scary “giant” but take our fear and pain to our Heavenly Father, turning it to worship. At least, let’s try. And keep trying. Because the more we try, the easier it will be to pause and “write” our michtam.

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 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: Can you try writing a psalm or michtam of your own today? I would be honored if you will share it.

Monday Morning Blahs

by Terri Gillespie

ADONAI [the LORD] delights in those who revere Him, in those who trust in His lovingkindness.  Psalm 147:11, TLV

Ahh. Mondays. For many, it is the beginning of the workweek. The weekend’s relaxation or fun activities are but memories and posts on social media. Time for the drudgery of work, eat, bed, then repeat. All the while counting down until the upcoming weekend.

That’s one perspective of Monday—or whenever your workweek begins.

Did you know the Scriptures only have one day of the week with a name? Shabbat — the Sabbath. According to the Bible it’s the seventh day of the week and begins Friday at sundown and ends sundown Saturday (Genesis 1:5; Leviticus 23:1-3).

What about the other days of the week that we’re accustomed to? The names of the seven days of the week in most Latin-based languages come from the Roman calendar, which related each day with seven celestial bodies considered to be gods: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. There are other pagan influences that sneak into the names, too.

But according to ancient Jewish tradition, each day of the week is more like a countdown to Shabbat. Sunday is known as “Six Days to Shabbat”, Monday, “Five Days to Shabbat,” and so on.

That simple act shows not only a reverence for God’s very first Biblical festival (Genesis 2:2-3; Leviticus 23:3), but joy and anticipation. Shabbat. A festival celebrated every week. Which is cool.

My parents had friends who were Orthodox sheliachs—emissaries or messengers—from Israel. Yossi and Michal and their children were sent to America to encourage the Jewish community to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel. It was shortly after the Yom Kippur war, and, well, the locals were not interested. In fact, they ridiculed our new friends and treated them poorly.

Surprisingly, Yossi and his family became good friends with our family—Christians and Gentiles. As a result, they welcomed us into their world and taught us so much about the Biblical feasts. Especially Shabbat.

Once Shabbat was over—on our “Sunday”—Michal was already planning for the next Shabbat. Everything from menus, cleaning, and what fun activities and lessons to teach their children about the love of God. Each day of preparation was special and readied their hearts, minds, and homes for the upcoming festival.

There were no “blahs,” just excitement and discovering new ways to honor the LORD and bless their families, at the next Shabbat.

Now that’s a paradigm change. Every day before Shabbat is an anticipation to rest in the LORD, to praise Him, to fellowship with family and loved ones. We’re not only revering the celebration but revering our Creator — our Abba. This could include walks or visits to the beach to take in God’s creation. Reading. Games. Bringing a meal to someone in need.

According to today’s verse, GOD delights in us with this shift in our priorities to Him. We delight Him!

Have you ever noticed it is difficult to doubt our Father and praise Him at the same time? We can share the whirlwind of our concerns from the week, but our landing place — our resting place — can be praise and celebration in Him.

Praise takes us out of our heads and turns our minds to reverence and trust that He’s got whatever is troubling us. No matter how many times it takes to remind us, our Heavenly Father has us. Perhaps that’s why He set up a weekly reminder—the Sabbath.

And when we rest and praise and worship and celebrate His festival and His family, the Creator of the Universe smiles. I like that.

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 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 do you make the Sabbath special in your family?

Run! Don’t Walk!

by Terri Gillespie

The Name of ADONAI [the LORD] is a strong tower. The righteous one runs into it and is set safely up high. Proverbs 18:10 TLV

When hubby, our daughter, and I lived in the Seattle area, my folks came out for a visit. My dad who was a serious workaholic, took a whole week off to visit. Which was a miracle in of itself.

Showing mom and dad around the area was a treat, but one of the highlights was having brunch at the Space Needle. The food was divine. The views from our table equally as magnificent. And since the restaurant part of the Space Needle rotated, we had multiple vistas to enjoy with our delicious food.

However, what was the most profound moment for all of us was going outside to the observation deck. The perspective was very different. Yes, we still saw the beauty of Puget Sound and the sky, but we could look down. Toy-like people and buildings and amusement park rides were below us.

The air seemed fresher—definitely more invigorating. The winds blew my daughter’s waist-length hair straight up in the air. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but it felt safe high above whatever was going on down below. Peaceful—even with the mighty winds.

In today’s verse in Proverbs, I love the image of our Heavenly Father being a strong tower. For a long time, I assumed the optimal time to run to the tower was when things were really bad. My “enemies” were advancing upon me. I needed to hide.

Actually, things don’t have to be bad before we hightail it to Him. To climb that tall tower.

Yes, we have a choice to run to the LORD at the first sight or sign of danger, fear, anger, need, want, loneliness, longing, temptation, desire, destruction — well, you get the idea. But we also can run to that tower to simply get a fresh perspective on life—our Father’s perspective. To be with Him.

We can separate ourselves in His quiet sanctuary and call on Him, or we can try to figure out problems with our relationships, work, children, etc., on our own based on our limited understanding—what is in our purview.

The world always looks different from a higher viewpoint, most certainly our Creator’s perspective. At that height, we see both the beauty of His Creation and the panorama of His opportunities for our life. We can leave the tower refreshed and with purpose. Or, just leave renewed.

So, when we encounter a problem or challenge, run — don’t walk — to our Father who is in heaven. Our strong, high, beautiful tower. Or just run to His “tower” to be closer to Him.

Dear precious and mighty Father, sometimes we forget we don’t have to figure everything out on our own. We jump into the fray around us, when we could be coming to You, our strong tower. Help us to come to You first when decisions and troubles arise, so we don’t have to run when things are really bad. And, remind us that we can run to You just because. Thank You. We love You. In Jesus’ Name. 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, because of His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, released in October. https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/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 is the last time you went to “the high tower”?

Those Pesky Expectations

by Terri Gillespie

. . . But you will receive power when the Ruach ha-Kodesh [the Holy Spirit] has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and through all Judah, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8 TLV

Picture the scene. Jesus is saying His farewells to His followers on the Mount of Olives. He exhorts them then leaves them with the most incredible blessing—the Holy Spirit—and a mission that will change the world.

What is their response?

So when they gathered together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (vs. 6 TLV)

Oy! Remember how the disciples thought Jesus was there to set them free from the Roman oppressors? Yet, He told them,

“. . . you heard from Me. For John immersed with water, but you will be immersed in the Ruach ha-Kodesh [the Holy Spirit] not many days from now.” (vss. 4b-5 TLV)

After everything Yeshua did — His miracles, death, and resurrection — they still asked Him when Israel would be theirs. When would their Roman oppressors be defeated?

Can you imagine our Messiah shaking His head, telling them it’s not for them to know when, only the Father knows? Then wondering how these guys still missed the bigger picture (vs.7)?

Why?

The followers of Yeshua still held tight to the expectation that the Messiah had come to defeat their oppressors. Like the Maccabees and their small army who miraculously defeated Antiochus IV Epiphanes. A huge army who had invaded Judaea and desecrated the Second Temple in Jerusalem, they thought Jesus would do the same to the Romans. Then He didn’t.

Instead, He did amazing miracles.

He told them He would die, which He did.

He told them He would rise from the dead, and He did.

He told them He was going back to His Father, and He did right in front of them.

The disciples read into all that: He was their conquering King here to set them free. But those pesky expectations almost caused them to miss the true reason Yeshua did all those wonders. To fulfill an even greater purpose — redemption for the world! Not just the Jewish people. And then Jesus is telling them they would receive an amazing gift, a powerful gift, the Holy Spirit to accomplish that mission.

“Really?” The disciples probably thought. “But what about the Romans?”

“Tsk,” we may say. “Those foolish disciples.” But, really, are we any different?

I have a writer-friend who loves the word, “pesky.” I’ve grown to appreciate it. Pesky can be things, creatures, and/or people who annoy or are bothersome. Not inherently evil, just distracting. Frustrating.

Do we have pesky expectations? Things we’ve had an iron-grip on and won’t let go. What we’re certain God told us, or promises in His word we’ve interpreted for our situation?

Another friend of mine says frequently — to me — to hold things lightly. I believe that applies to our expectations, not just things. Because holding too tightly means we become so focused on our expectation, we may miss what God is truly showing us.

If we hold anything tightly, we should hold tightly to our faith in our Heavenly Father. That He is a good Father who loves us, He has blessed us beyond measure, and that ultimately, His will is our desire.

Fortunately, our legacy was assured when those followers — still in awe, and most likely confused — walked away from the mountain and waited as Yeshua had instructed them. A few days later, the Holy Spirit came, and the Father’s purpose continued.

Right now, we may be confused and discouraged that our expectations are unfulfilled. Hold them lightly. Instead, focus on our Father, His Son, and the incredible gift of His Holy Spirit. Then watch for the true gift He has for you.

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

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 2021.

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. Twenty years later, they discover one another through a televised baking competition. But will rivalry and secrets break them apart again? https://authorterrigillespie.com/terri-gillespie-books/sweet-rivalry/

Join the conversation: With what pesky expectations do you struggle?

Are We Out of Uniform?

by Terri Gillespie

Put on the full armor of God, so that you are able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11 TLV

My husband was in the Navy. During boot camp, he was taught basic life skills, but they also did a lot of marching, practiced certain fire prevention, and did damage control drills. They also learned to move as a unit. Bob would tell you it was boring, sometimes brutal and frightening, and always leaned toward repetition.

Many times, he questioned the logic: learning how to properly salute and to step aside when an officer went by. But once he finished boot camp and schooling, he discovered that his responses to difficulties were easier because he had been trained—what to do had been drilled into him. They became second nature.

A part of that training was his uniform. From head to toe, every component of his uniform had function. Each day the sailors and officers received orders from the captain what the uniform of the day was. Any part of that uniform that was missing – even the belt around his pants or the wrong shoes – meant he was out of uniform.

We can get caught “out of uniform” when spiritual battles happen. Do we rush into battle so quickly we forget to wear the complete armor hanging in our spiritual closet by the spiritual front door? Perhaps we grab the sword or shield but forget the helmet or breastplate. Without the complete uniform, we’ll be ill-equipped for the battle no matter how large or small we might think it will be.

Without the full accoutrements, we are “out of uniform.”

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10 TLV)

Perhaps we need a “spiritual” boot camp to be battle-ready. Like Bob, even if he was headed to the ship’s mess hall for a meal, he wore the full uniform. And because of that and his training, he was always ready for “battle.”

Our “spiritual” boot camp can be practiced each day.

He was accountable to keep his uniform clean and pressed — which was difficult with the type of work Bob did. But, it kept him purposeful in how he dressed for each day and how he cared for his uniform.

Each piece of GOD’s armor serves a purpose. Like the sailor or soldier, one piece missing means they are out of uniform, and in battle that part of their uniform could save their life. We must also be purposeful in maintaining our spiritual uniform.

Our battles can be spiritual and physical. Illness, wars, abuse. Whether spiritual or physical, being in uniform protects us and those we fight alongside.

By the way, thank you to all our military and first-responders. We are grateful for your service and that you wear the uniform of honor.

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: How do you maintain your armor?

A Different Type of Hoarding

by Terri Gillespie

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19 TLV

Guess what? I found out that I hoard of a different type. There are hoarders in my family, so I get a bit freaky when I think I’m gathering more stuff than I should—you know that moment. The moment when you think, “I can find a place for it.”

But, the hoarding I’m talking is spiritual hoarding of earthly treasures. It may sound like an oxymoron but stick with me.

In today’s verse, Jesus continues His “Sermon on the Mount” in chapter 6 (the Sermon encompasses chapters 5-7). Really, the context of verse 19 is the first twenty-four verses of chapter six.

It’s not just about treasuring treasures like property, commerce, jewels, etc. But the meaning of earthly treasures in this verse is much broader when taken in context.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before others to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (vs. 1 TLV).

To advertise our good works is a form of storing up treasure for ourselves — we’re getting that attention for our altruism. Rather than the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing (Matthew 6:3), we’re pointing out our worthy deeds.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!” (vs. 5 TLV).

Glitzy piety — oh, don’t get me started on that one — only grabs the attention of those around them, not our Father. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good “praise party”, just so long as the focus is praising the LORD not the tech and special effects. Corporate worship is powerful.

“But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (vs. 15 TLV)

Self-righteousness is another earthly treasure. How does our self-righteousness compare to that of our Father? Filthy rags (Isaiah 64:5). Yikes! That’s like assuming we can be forgiven, but we can’t forgive others because they have offended us. Not good. The Lord doesn’t play that game. Criticism and judgment can fall into that category, too.

“And whenever you fast, do not become sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they neglect their faces to make their fasting evident to men. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!” (vs. 16 TLV)

Another form of ostentatious piety. All that fasting and nothing to really “show” for it. All earthly treasures. What a waste! What are the eternal treasures? Those we can’t see or show off to others.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (vs. 21 TLV).

This is where examining our heart — our motives — for GOD’s work is so important.  The treasures of the heart are humility, gratitude, and a kind and honorable point-of-view. We seek justice for the oppressed. Set our eyes and mind on things that are pure and beautiful. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Live a life of integrity — without seeking attention or praise.

Let all praise and honor go to our Lord and taking none for ourselves. Those are eternal treasures — treasures of the heart.

Why is it important that we store up these heart treasures? Because He first loved us. Before we gave a hoot about our Creator — our Heavenly Father — He sent His Son to demonstrate His love. To atone for the sins separating us from Him.

Really, that’s the greatest treasure of 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, 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: Have you reexamined your heart lately?