Cryptic Jesus

by Julie Zine Coleman

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.   Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB

The town was several days into the wedding feast. The food and wine had flowed in abundance, provided by the groom’s parents. But then the wine ran out. And Mary, in concern for the hosts’ embarrassment of not having enough, went to Jesus, who was in attendance with several of his disciples. “They have no more wine,” she anxiously informed him. She knew him better than anyone, as only a mother knows her child. He had always shown himself to be wise and capable. Maybe he would have an idea to help their hapless hosts.

But his response was not so warm and fuzzy as we might expect. In fact, it gave me pause as I studied this passage for a book I was writing. He replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”

Some commentators suggest Mary was overstepping her bounds, and Jesus was drawing a line in the sand. But would Jesus treat his mother with such callous disregard, especially in light of the concern she had just expressed for the wedding hosts? Not likely: Jesus actually rebuked the Pharisees for neglecting their parents (in light of the fifth commandment: Honor your father and mother). It is inconsistent to think that Jesus would turn his back on Mary when he qualified others’ disregard for their parents as erroneous.

A closer look at the story provides a different purpose to Jesus’ puzzling words.

The literal translation of his response is “What to me and to you?” It was an idiom of the time. Other idioms are common today, like: “he has a chip on his shoulder”, or “to rub someone the wrong way”. We don’t take the words literally, but understand the meaning behind the metaphor.

So what then was Jesus doing with his cryptic response?

It is helpful to compare this conversation with another mother, the Syrophoenician Woman (Matthew 15:21-28). She also came to Jesus with a request: that he would deliver her daughter from demon possession. He also refused her at first. Then he gave a reason why he should not help, just as he did at Cana. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:24, 26 NASB).

What turned the tide in both conversations? Expressions of faith. The Syrophoenician Woman said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27 NASB). Jesus commended the Syrophoenician woman for her great faith. He then granted her request.  

Same with Mary. She told the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it” (John 2:5 NASB). With this instruction, Mary was expressing faith in Jesus. She trusted him to work things out in his perfect way, in his own time. And as he did with the Syrophoenician woman, Jesus responded to her faith with a miracle.

Jesus’ initial refusal in both accounts were really a means to an end. He drove both women further in their trust relationship with him. His puzzling words were merely a way to move them forward. The wine he provided through his first miracle was of superior quality, better than anything the hosts had already produced. Faith was the conduit for God’s abundant blessing.

Hebrews tells us: “Now faith is the assurance of things not seen…and without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Hebrews 11:1, 6 NASB). When we ask in faith, we are acknowledging that God is capable and powerful enough. But we are also submitting to his good and perfect will, which might not necessarily align with our request. We are trusting him to do the best thing, no matter how that might look in light of our specific desire.

Trust is what God wants from us. We tend to think that our actions are most important to God. But how well we behave or how many accomplishments we achieve for him cannot be the basis for any request. Jesus miraculously changed water into the very best wine. It came through someone choosing to trust him, no matter what he did.

Trust in the integrity, wisdom, and goodness of our capable God. He will always do the best thing.

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

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at her new website JulieZineColeman.com and Facebook.

Many Christian women are torn between the church’s traditional teachings on gender roles and the liberty they experience in secular society. But what if the church’s conventional interpretations aren’t really biblical at all? Julie’s new book, On Purpose, releases today!! It is a careful study of the passages in the Bible often interpreted to limit women in the church, at home, or in the workplace. Each chapter reveals timeless biblical principles that actually teach freedom, not limitation.

Join the conversation: What is the biggest challenge to your ability to trust God?

Red Alert

by Patti Richter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Were you out in the wind?” I asked.

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

“Did you stand at the rail?”

“Yes.”

“Were other people by the rail?”

“No. But it was fine.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in God’s Time

by Karen Wingate

A long line stretched up a flight of stairs toward Customs at the Dulles International Airport. Wearily, I checked my watch. We had less than two hours before our next flight, the second of three flights that would bring us from Austria to home in the States. My aunt caught my action and shrugged. “It’s the airline’s job to get us where we need to be. If we miss a flight, they’ll get us on the next available flight. We will get home.”

I’ve thought about her words many times since then. I’ve realized how often I get tense over time: reaching a destination, waiting for dinner guests, worrying that someone’s tardiness will mess up my schedule. The problem is that I’m on my time clock and not God’s.

He knows what He has planned for me. He knows my future and my destination. It’s His job to get me where I need to be so I can accomplish the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11). So, if I put him in charge of what He has promised to accomplish with my life, I don’t have to stress over the timing. Whatever He wants me to get done will get done.

I wonder if David stressed over schedules snags like I do. God had promised through the prophet Samuel that one day, David would be king of Israel. Samuel had even anointed him with oil, a sure and certain sign that this was God’s plan. Yet the current king, Saul, chased David over wadi and wilderness for what Bible scholars believe was a twenty-year period.

Did David ever wonder when and if this king thing would ever happen? Did he fear for his life? Or did he grip the memory of that special day years ago that promised someday he would be king of Israel? Perhaps that’s why David was able to act with such calm when he had the chance to kill Saul twice (see 1 Samuel 24 and 26). He knew God had promised he would be king. It was God’s job, not David’s, to get David to the throne at the time of God’s choosing.

If it was true for David, it’s true for the rest of us. I need to have the attitude that I fit into God’s schedule; it’s not my prerogative to ask Him to fit into mine. When I take that perspective, it changes how I approach situational snags. God has promised to get me safely home to Heaven at the time of His choosing. He has promised in the meantime to never forsake me and to give me good work to do in His name.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Your time snag might be God’s redirection, asking you to align yourself with His plans for you for that day. That time crunch may lead you to intersect with someone who needs an encouraging word or the salvation message of the Gospel. He may be sending you to an oasis where you can spend precious moments with Him. Or He may have a growth lesson for you as He challenges you to trust Him in a new and different way.

So, when things don’t go according to plan, we can relax, knowing God has the master schedule and it’s His job to get us where we need to be. It will all work out in the end.

The next time you think you might be late to a dental appointment, your spouse is late from work, or your child makes a mess at a time when you don’t think you have the time clean up, relax. God will work out the timing. And He’ll use the intervening moments to magnify His purposes in some pretty amazing ways.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is karen-wingate.jpg

About the Author: Karen Wingate, author of With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind, loves to see the world, whether on a short term mission trip to Austria, a visit to her grandson, or the mountains surrounding her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Karen writes for the Proverbs 31 ministry’s Encouragement for Today devotional and blogs at www.karenwingate.com.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51T6PG-MXwL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Discover a world you’ve never seen before in the pages of With Fresh Eyes: 60 Insights into the Miraculously Ordinary from a Woman Born Blind. You’ll find hope and wonder as you take a fresh look at what God has done and what He has promised to do for each of us.

Join the Conversation: How have you seen God work through a recent time scheduling snag?

Embracing the Future

by Rebecca Barlow Jordan

As January rolls around each year, I always hear the term “embrace the future.” Because God wired me with a positive personality, I’m usually eager to do that. But some seasons present greater challenges than others. How do you embrace an unknown future?

Since life in the last couple of years has resembled a roller coaster, it’s easy to wonder if the ride will ever end. I’m not alone. Some are emerging like ants from their underground tunnels, still spinning and reeling with pandemic emotions. Losses hang in the air like early morning fog, and we may be asking God to heal our wounds and remove any unwanted baggage that’s weighing us down.

At the beginning of each year, I usually spend intentional time with God simply to re-evaluate and invite His perspective on my life. This year is no exception. I’m asking God to sweep away any foolish mistakes, wrong decisions, or any harmful habits I might have collected in the past year that cloud my vision and prevent me from seeing the beautiful opportunities He is preparing for me.

Embracing the future means I’m choosing to leave the past behind. I refuse to beat myself up or second-guess any mistakes and misconceptions. Instead, in my prayer to God, I’m asking: “Lord, like the yard art in my backyard, would you recycle those into beautiful, positive lessons I can learn, actions that will propel me forward, not backward?”

And He is doing that. But God is also teaching me the value of remembering. I will not make idols of good things from the past, of accumulated credentials, or God’s surprise blessings amid uncertainty. Those tracks of God’s faithfulness will continue to humble me and lead me into a questionable future with joy and trust in the One who is good and who works all things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

I don’t want to let the past define me. Instead, I’m asking God to use it to refine me. As long as God gives me breath and life, I can choose to believe the best and let His hope influence my attitudes for the present and in the future. God is still the God of the impossible, and He not only wants to transform me daily, but He promises to finish the work He started in me (Philippians 1:6). That’s a truth I want to remember and celebrate daily.

Will that be easy? No. Some days I may question what to do, or ask Jesus what He is doing. But I know that faith keeps going, reaching, and believing that Jesus is in control. For me, embracing the future means welcoming whatever Jesus wants in my life to make me more like Him.

As I close my evaluation time and my prayer to God, He reminds me of one more thing. While forgetting the past and remembering the past and present are so important, God’s Word also whispers to me to reach forward and keep my eyes on the right goal—Jesus. When I do that, He will help me discover the life for which I was made and uncover the purpose for which I was created.

One day, hearing His “well done” will make “embracing the future” all worthwhile.

One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

About the author: Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a day-voted follower of Jesus who helps others find intimacy with God. She is also a bestselling author of eleven books, and winner of the Serious Writers 2021 Book of the Decade. With the pen of a poet and the heart of a disciple, Rebecca encourages others from years of Bible study and teaching experience, in over 2000 greeting cards and other inspirational books and articles, and through her website and blog at rebeccabarlowjordan.com, visited by guests in over 170 countries.

Join the conversation: What does embracing the future mean to you?

Though Resolutions May Fail

by Patti Richter

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

It usually happened every year around the end of January; I had to acknowledge my failure to keep those well-intended New Year’s resolutions. When I finally reckoned with my poor track record—the rabbit-like start, tortoise-speed progression, road-kill finish—I decided to quit making resolutions.

For years, I believed my annual objectives were superior to my husband’s simple, very practical goals (such as “replace all weather stripping”). Yet by year’s end, his list faithfully emerged from his top desk drawer with a bold checkmark beside each entry. My own list remained hidden from view, deep in the belly of an overstuffed journal.

Though I no longer trust my lofty aims for self-improvement, I still appreciate the idea of a fresh start. In his book, The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan points out the benefit of looking ahead to new days. He says the past might be beyond repair, but we have the future, “vast, unbroken, pristine, radiant.”

A new year is like a door to the unknown, which leads to surprises, including some unpleasant ones. But what happens if these challenges find us February-weak instead of January-strong? Limping instead of running.

While most of us distain weakness, God values this condition as more pliable working material than our self-confidence. Especially when we come to admit our powerlessness to change ourselves or our circumstances. According to 2 Corinthians 12:9, we will find God’s power available when ours fails.

This makes me think of a recent shopping trip to a big-box store. A sudden power outage left me standing at my cart in total darkness. Then, behold, the store’s generator—unseen and unappreciated until now—took over and saved the day (and thousands of pounds of refrigerated items).

The Old Testament is full of stories of men and women who experienced God’s power despite their weakness. Many of them are honored in the New Testament’s “Hall of Faith,” as chapter 11 of Hebrews is sometimes called. In forty verses, this chapter commends those who “conquered kingdoms… stopped the mouths of lions… escaped the edge of the sword…” (vv. 33-34 ESV), not by their own might but by faith in God.

Abraham appears in this chapter because he “obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8 ESV). The others mentioned endured challenging circumstances not unlike ours today: family strife, relocations, sinful influences, childlessness, poverty, affliction, and so on. Yet, through faith, they “were made strong out of weakness….” (v. 34 ESV).

Acknowledging our dependence upon God is a cure for the kind of willful determination that keeps us from experiencing his power. We can instead emulate those by resolving to embrace the singular goal they had in common: Live by faith.

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation: What are ways that you keep your faith strong?

Trust the One Who Knows

by Nancy Kay Grace

On New Year’s Day, when changing the calendar on the fridge, I uncovered a familiar magnet.

Once hidden by pictures, coupons and notes, the revealed message resonated in my head and heart as if I read it for the first time. The magnet featured a quote from Corrie ten Boom:

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

A new year brings new challenges. Every day will be an opportunity to trust God with our fears and problems.

Trust. A simple but powerful word. It is the belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, or effective. We put trust in someone who is greater than us. What better source of trust is there than the all-knowing God? When we can’t see through the darkness, His presence is with us. He sees the beginning and the end, the first days of the new year through its closing hours.

Consider these 5 assurances to trust our God in the new year:

  • God sees the whole picture of history. We see only our present and have an understanding of the past, but God holds the future. He knows how all of history fits together. “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals the deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:20-22 NIV).
  • God is aware of His creation. The Creator cares for each of us, His workmanship. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” Hebrews 4:13 NIV He is involved in every detail of the world around us.
  • God is the great comforter, the God who is “with us.” “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows my way” (Psalm 142:3 NIV). We are never alone.
  • When we trust in God, we gain peace. His peace stabilizes us in uncertain situations. “He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).
  • Our strength may wear out, but God’s strength is ever present. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped” (Psalm 28:7 NIV). He is strong enough to carry us through. We can rest in the sovereignty of God’s grace. Whatever 2022 holds, always look to the Lord. He is soooo trustworthy—he has been in the past and will continue to be trustworthy in the future.

These five assurances show us Who to trust in these changeable times. Which one do you need the most?

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

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is the speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about God’s grace. Her website, blog, and GraceNotes newsletter sign-up are found at www.nancykaygrace.com. As a cancer survivor, she writes about hope, perseverance, and God’s grace. Nancy enjoys hugs from grandchildren, playing worship songs on piano, hiking, and travel.

Join the conversation: What do you know about God that helps you trust Him?

Who to Believe

by Linda Rooks

When I read an article in the newspaper saying certain foods we had all considered nutritious for years were now considered toxic, I was alarmed. The scientific certainty of former studies had been undisputed. We had relied on their veracity. Now they were saying the exact opposite.

At breakfast, I reasserted my confusion. “I don’t know what to use in my cooking now,” I said to my husband. “I don’t know what is healthy and what is not.  They’ve always said . . . .”

“Who is they?” he said.  “They say this. They say that.  But then it all changes. They change.” Even who we consider to be experts – that changes too. “

I said, “Yes, I guess there’s only one thing that we can always count on as being true: God’s Word in the Bible. It doesn’t change.”

As I thought about his comment and my response, I realized how that applied to all of life. It’s so easy for us to rely on common beliefs, the current thinking about something, scientific findings, and “what they say . . . .”

But there is only one thing we can always count on as being absolutely true, and that is God and His Word.  When we see one kind of truth coming from the world and another truth coming from God’s Word, which one should we believe?

Paul is clear about the answer. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (I Corinthians 3:18-19 NKJV).

Even the evidence in archaeological findings attests to the truth of God’s Word and triumphs over doubters of its accuracy. In the early 20th century, critics mistrusted the Bible’s historical reliability, regarding much of the Bible as myth. But little by little, archaeologists began to discover cities and artifacts that proved the existence of previously disputed biblical accounts and locations. The Hittite Empire, referenced 40 times in the Bible, was generally considered a myth by critics until 1906 when Hugo Winckler uncovered 10,000 clay tablets that documented the lost Hittite Empire. With each new revelation, critics have been forced to seriously reevaluate criticism of the Bible’s historical reliability.

Whether it is about morality, how to live life, who God is, history, or even science, the Bible trumps the world’s wisdom. The world with its changing theories, beliefs, histories, morals, and philosophies cannot be depended on. But God’s Word “is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV).  If we build our life on the world’s theories alone, there may come a time when we look back to see we have built our life on sand. But when we build our life on the rock of God’s truth, everything we build will stand.

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete” (Luke 6:47-49 NIV).

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

About the author: Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her earlier book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, and Home Life. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

Join the conversation: What do you count on to keep your world in order?

When You Need a Good Night’s Sleep

by Edie Melson

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 NIV

I rolled over, repositioned my pillow and tried to will sleep to come. But my mind was my enemy. The thoughts crowding my brain circled like vultures, diving with sharp claws and ripping away the fabric of sleep. The worst thing was that I couldn’t pinpoint the exact source of my insomnia. There were lots of reasons for me to be stressed, but no single one appeared to be the ultimate culprit. 

Finally I gave up, grabbed my Bible and settled into the recliner downstairs where my tossing and turning wouldn’t disturb my husband’s rest. I thumbed through the book of Psalms—my go-to place when I’m searching for a cure—and that’s when I found this verse highlighted. 

In the past I’d used it to pray while our son was away on deployment. That night I initially dismissed it as not really relevant to my current situation and continued to skim through Scripture. When those words wouldn’t leave my mind, I turned back. 

Could this passage be more pertinent than I’d first thought? Two words stood out: peace and safety. Peace was definitely something I needed. Safety, however, didn’t seem to fit my struggle. I couldn’t pinpoint any specific fears. I prayed, asking God to share His insight.

What He answered has stayed with me. He pointed out that I really was afraid—of many things. I was worried about not measuring up, not getting everything done, not being able to continue at my current speed of life. As each fear exploded into my mind, it felt like God whispered His provision over it. As He spoke, that particular worry vanished. I went through the entire list and when my mind was quiet, I found myself ready for sleep.

I learned that when I let my fears take up residence in my mind, they grow and multiply, pushing out the peace of God

Taken from Soul Care When You’re Weary, Bold Vision Books.

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

About the author: Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41A8ARHsOoL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Connect with her on http://www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.

Join the conversation: What do you do when you cannot sleep?

The Arm of the Lord

by Doris Hoover

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  Isaiah 53:1 NIV

I slipped on a wet rock, falling forward with my baby daughter in my arms. I knew I was going down and would get banged up in the fall, but I would not let her get hurt. I cupped her head with my hand and protected her back with my bent arm. The slam, though excruciating, was of secondary concern. My first reaction was to look at my baby’s head. My arm and hand had kept her safe.

Today, that same daughter has a toddler. For his birthday, he got a little trike that can be pushed like a stroller. He pedals down the street with a huge smile on his face, thinking it’s all him. He’s oblivious to the fact that his mother’s arms are helping to push him.

The arms of mothers and fathers are powerful appendages used for good. With them they soothe, help, discipline, and willingly suffer pain to protect and provide for their children.

Similarly, yet with extraordinary means, God’s arm is used for good in our lives. It’s the means by which the Lord accomplishes His purposes. The arm of the Lord protects, delivers, and saves His children. On the cross, it was even laid bare and bruised, absorbing the pain and shame and suffering that we deserved.

Our Scripture reference asks two questions: Who has believed the message and to whom has God’s arm been revealed? It seems one follows the other—revelation follows belief.

When a friend set off for a weekend retreat, she had barely made it out of her neighborhood when car trouble caused her to return home. The mechanic later told her it was lucky she turned back because the problem could have resulted in a serious accident. She viewed the incident as a revelation of God’s arm of protection. You see, she believed the message that God is able and that she matters to Him. Another person may have simply viewed the incident as good luck. The Lord’s arm is revealed to those who recognize it and honor it.

Just as a mother’s arms are used to bless her children, the Lord’s arms are actively blessing us. We are His children. If we’re not aware of God’s arm working in our lives, maybe we’re pedaling along like an oblivious toddler, thinking it’s all us. Or maybe we’re not believing the message that God is able, and we matter to Him.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV  

Father, open our eyes to always see the evidence of You acting for good in our circumstances. May our hearts rejoice when You reveal to us the power of Your mighty arm.

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41DNkvteFwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What evidence of the Father’s arms have you seen lately?

Take the First Step

by Paula Jauch

O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health and let me live! Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; it is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back. Isaiah 38:16-17 NASB

I truly believe in my heart that we all deserve to find freedom, healing and recovery in this life, but I’ve also learned that not everyone is willing to do the hard work. I don’t want you to think I have all the answers, but what I do know through my own experience of suffering and healing is that God was able to do for me what I was not capable of figuring out for myself.  

Let me explain what I mean by that… For many years I was struggling with so many issues from self-hate, an eating disorder, drinking alcohol, relationships, and financial problems all while going to church. I tried so many things to change or get free—even to the point of going to the altar every Sunday to get prayed over.

What was wrong with me? Why was God not healing me? It didn’t matter how many times I went to church or what I learned in Scripture; I still kept struggling. I was exhausted from wearing a mask and pretending I was okay.

What I eventually learned, as simple as it sounds, was that I had a lot of wounds from growing up with addiction and abuse that needed to be healed. It was going to take a lot more than getting prayed over.

I needed help. I found a trauma therapist, went to recovery programs, and spent time with God. God also brought safe people into my life to love me where I was at in my journey and support me through the healing process.

I needed to surrender all the hurt that I was hiding inside of me and give it to God who was patiently waiting for me to trust him…

I had to learn how to trust God, because with all the people who hurt me in my life, it was hard to believe that God even cared, or that He had a plan for my life.

I had to learn to feel my feelings, even the feelings of anger, and start trusting God with those feelings. It’s about knowing we are not alone anymore, and that we don’t have to walk this journey by ourselves.

I want to encourage you in your faith, to know that you will be able to trust God enough to surrender every area of your life to Him. Please remember it is a process and change won’t happen overnight.

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). When I learned this Scripture, it gave me so much hope. For the first time in my life, someone was telling me that God didn’t want to hurt me.

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

About the author: Paula Jauch is a speaker, Selah Award finalist, AWSA Golden Scroll award-winning author, and podcaster. She is the Founder of the non-profit organization, Paula Jauch International. Her organization supports those who have been affected by trauma and addiction. She speaks from a place of brokenness and healing. Her book, Cross Addicted: Breaking Free from Family Trauma and Addiction offers a hopeful path to recovery for those who are hurting and traumatized. Her other projects include Letting Go of Family Trauma and Addiction devotions on the YouVersion Bible App, and “Exposing Family Secrets,” a chapter in She Writes for Him: Stories of Living Hope. To learn more, follow her on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @paulajauch and at www.paulajauch.com.

Join the conversation: What are you struggling with today?