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?

Pasture Time

by Terri Gillespie

Commit whatever you do to ADONAI [the LORD], and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3 TLV

This verse used to confuse me, which eventually morphed into frustration. Why? Because not everything I dedicated to the Lord succeeded. My family members’ salvations, the jobs I had hoped for, friends and families’ health, the books published (or unpublished), speaking engagements…and the list goes on.

Interestingly enough, to commit means to carry out a plan or pledge or bind ourselves to a certain policy. To dedicate what we’re doing to the Lord is more like investing our time and effort to His cause or plan.

You know what that sounds more like? Relationship.

The greatest architect in the world is only as good as his listening ability. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the building is, if the building doesn’t function in the way that the client needs and requests, the project is a failure. Because ultimately, the architect doesn’t own the building, it belongs to the client.

King David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). When David felt a passionate urge to build a “real” dwelling place for Adonai, he sought out the prophet Nathan for advice and guidance (2 Samuel 7:1-3). Notice that the David who had spent his boyhood alone on the hills worshipping and praising God, gaining great wisdom and insights, didn’t even go to the Lord himself. Where was that special bond and relationship David had?

David may not have spoken to the Lord, but the Lord sure spoke to Nathan that night:

But it came to pass the same night that the word of ADONAI came to Nathan saying: “Go, tell My servant David: Thus says ADONAI: Are you to build Me a house for Me to dwell in? Since the day that I brought up the children of Israel from Egypt to this day I have not dwelt in a house, but have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. In all My journeying among all the children of Israel, did I ever speak a word to any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’” (2 Samuel 7:4-7, TLV).

Okay, then. Adonai scolds David for presuming he knew what the Lord of Hosts wanted. Adonai reminds David that He was the one who raised David up to be king—from a pasture of sheep.

But then, our Heavenly Father has compassion on David’s well-meaning intent, and gives the ultimate prophecy that He would make David’s name great, because from his lineage would come the Messiah, Jesus (2 Samuel 7:8-11).

What?! David would not be remembered for building a temple that would eventually be destroyed three times, but for his offspring, the Son of David, Yeshua—His Body, His Temple, that atoned for our sins and then rose from the dead in three days—could never be destroyed!

What is David’s response? He goes straight to Adonai in worship, praise, and gratitude (2 Samuel 7:18-29). He went back into relationship with the Lord. He went back to the “pasture.”

Perhaps, this is our reminder that those well-meaning plans we “commit” or “dedicate” that don’t work out may need some serious relationship time. While seeking wise human counsel is a good thing, it isn’t a substitute for seeking God’s direction.

Let’s go back to our “pasture” and listen. GOD may have an even better plan.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is terri-gillespie.jpg

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: How do you work at staying connected with God?

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).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is terri-gillespie.jpg

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).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is terri-gillespie.jpg

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?