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.

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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).

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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. 

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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?

Persuaded

by Julie Zine Coleman

I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12 NASB

The supply of wine had been depleted. Not one drop left. And the party was still going strong.

Mary shuddered at the embarrassment the oversight would bring on the hosts. She instinctively turned to her son to relate the news. He would know what to do. But Jesus seemed impervious to the problem. “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” He queried. “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4 NASB).

Unfazed, Mary turned to the servants. “Do whatever He says,” she simply told them. And Jesus turned the water into wine.

This story has its puzzling moments. But one big question towers over the rest: why would Jesus refuse to help, even going so far as to state His reason for not helping, then turn around and do the miracle anyway?

There were other times Jesus refused to perform miracles. We are told in Mark 6 that in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus “could do no miracle there except that He lay His hands on a few sick people and healed them.” Why? “He wondered at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6 NASB). Several times, religious leaders and then Pilate asked Him to perform. Jesus flatly refused, for they were merely “seeking a sign from heaven to test Him” (Mark 8:12 NASB). They had not asked in faith. The miracles were not meant to create faith; they served merely to confirm it.

Faith is a necessary component to any request we make of God. Jesus would not perform a miracle without it.

When two blind men asked for healing, Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” When they affirmed their trust, Jesus gave them their sight (Matthew 9:29). He asked a father to confirm his belief before ousting a demon that controlled his son. Why? “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NASB). In these and many other cases, belief in Jesus’ mercy and power was required before Jesus would help them. 

When faith is expressed, God responds.

Mary’s instructions to the servants at the wedding of Cana were brim-full of faith. Whatever he says, do it. She trusted Jesus would do the right thing. Jesus responded by turning water into the finest of wines.

The Greek verb pisteuo, translated as believetrust, or to have faith often carries the qualifying connotation of being persuaded or convinced. The Greek lexicon defines it as “to cause to come to a particular point of view or course of action.” Trust results from what one has found to be true. Mary knew Jesus as only a mother can know her child. He lived in unfailing obedience to His heavenly Father. What she had observed of Him in the past persuaded her to trust Him now.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He demonstrated His power and faithfulness to them over and over, first with the plagues, then the crossing of the Red Sea, with provision of water and manna, and the dramatic giving of the Law. In short, He was teaching them to trust Him. But the months they spent in the desert experiencing His faithfulness apparently weren’t enough for the message to sink into this “stiff-necked” people. They balked at entering the Promised Land, refusing to trust God for His provision.

God ironically gave them what they wanted. They would never go in. But their children would. So God spent the next 40 years proving to the new generation just how trust-worthy He was, teaching them the truth of His goodness and power. And when it came time to go into the land, they were ready to follow Him anywhere. Truth is foundational to trust.

Trust doesn’t come naturally to us. So God brings along hardship, times when we struggle to perceive His presence or guidance, times when everything seems hopeless or overwhelming. We hate those times and dread their appearance into our lives. But He will use them to give us a deeper understanding of just how faithful He is. We will emerge from the darkness with a better capacity to trust Him. And the conduit of trust opens the way for His blessing and mercy.

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

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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 unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God taught you to understand His faithfulness?

The Proverbs 31 Woman: Pipe Dream or Personal Challenge?

by Lee Ann Mancini

The beautiful description of a virtuous woman laid out in Proverbs 31:10-31 sounds totally unattainable. She is the perfect wife, has her own business, plants a vineyard, is busy day and night, gives to the poor, makes and sells clothing, has a great sense of humor, is wise and loving, never says anything ugly, her children adore her and grow up to be awesome.

Good grief!  I am exhausted just reading those verses. There are many times when I feel like a Marvel Comics superhero to just survive until bedtime. Forget about being winsome and industrious and wise and generous—on those days, sanity is my highest goal. 

When life feels messy even chaotic, when making a simple decision is nearly impossible, or remembering where you put your cell phone makes you want to cry, being a Proverbs 31 woman is more of a pipe dream than a realistic challenge. Yet our hearts yearn to be that virtuous, awe-inspiring woman who is adored by her children, loved and respected by her husband, and admired by those who know her. 

From where did this How-to-Be-a-Perfect-Woman list in the Bible come?  Not surprisingly, King Lemuel’s mother—like all of us mothers of sons—wanted him to choose a wife wisely. So, she provided him with her version of a modern-day “Godly Woman Infographic.”  When we look through that checklist of perfection, all of us can find things that we do well. And we certainly have no problem recognizing those things we wish we did better or more consistently—or even at all.  But how can we ever attain the lofty goal of becoming this Proverbs 31 virtuous woman? What is God telling us He wants from us in this Scripture passage?

We are loved and cherished by an amazing Heavenly Father. He wants us to cling to Him for everything we need. He wants us to trust Him to provide that. He wants us to believe He has our best interests at heart. God wants us to live in the knowledge that He has a specific plan and purpose for our lives and will walk with us every step of the way. When we do that, we can recognize that being a virtuous woman means being a woman who loves God and seeks to serve Him in all that we do. In ALL that we do: cooking, cleaning, working, playing, raising kids, caring, loving, forgiving, learning, resting, praying, and worshiping Him. When we live out Matthew 22:37, becoming a Proverbs 31 virtuous woman is no longer a pipe dream or a personal challenge, it is who we become through the perfect and faithful love and grace of Almighty God. 

“Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’”  Matthew 22:37 (NET)

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

About the author:  Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.

Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! Her podcast, Raising Christian Kids, is available on all major platforms. Her 10 -15- minute podcast will empower and equip all who are raising the next generation to have a strong foundation in Christ.

 Join the conversation: To what characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman do you relate?

Changing of the Guard

by Michele McCarthy

The ambulance was already headed to the hospital when he called me. He pressed me to go get his car. Only dad would be more concerned about his car than the fact he was in an ambulance. I assured him I’d retrieve his car, but right now I needed to know the hospital to which he was headed and why. He told me he’d fallen at a restaurant, and when he saw the angle of his foot, he knew something was broken.

An unexpected call from your elderly dad from within an ambulance is a tad unnerving! Yet I felt the peace of God settle over me. We had grandbabies for the weekend. My husband took over their care as I punched my sister’s number and headed out the door. Even as I drove to him,  I prayed for Dad’s healing and cast my cares on the Lord.

Dad had fractured his hip, and surgery was scheduled for the next day. His surgery went well. But the medicines wreaked havoc on a man of 89, who rarely took a pill his entire life. From his recovery forward, he had fits at night, believed he was being held captive, and was tormented with foot cramps.

During his eight days in the hospital and three weeks in rehab, he only managed to take a few steps. Progress hadn’t come as we thought it would.

In a matter of minutes on that fateful day, I had been thrust into being responsible for the man who parented me well. The changing of the guard. Roll reversal. My highly active, rental-property-working dad needed significant help. It is a situation most of us will face at some point in our lives, but not easy for either party. I was determined to remain a child who honors her parent.

Since he wasn’t walking yet, after rehab, we transferred him to an assisted living facility. His mind never seemed to recover from the trauma or the meds. He talked of his childhood hometown and a Mexico work facility. He thought he saw his great grandmother and wanted to introduce my grown boys to their great, great, great grandmother.

He hadn’t been there but a few weeks, when I felt the Lord tell me to bring him back to his home. The calm and peace I felt assured me it was the right decision. After phone calls, meetings, and paperwork, we brought him back to his freshly scrubbed, rearranged, and restocked house. Happy to be back in familiar territory and in his own chair, he seemed like he was on the road to recovery. He was less confused and making progress.

Everyone faces the unexpected. Many face far worse than an elderly parent’s broken hip. In fact, we are promised there will be troubles in this life. But when we put our trust in God, when we trade our yoke for the one Jesus gives, we find rest (Matthew 11:28). Fear and worry have no place in a heart that trusts God.

Before I understood my identity in Christ, my full inheritance, and the abundance of His love and goodness toward me, finding rest and peace felt elusive. They felt more like a denial of reality. But now peace is a place where I dwell—anywhere and anytime. Like Jesus, I can sleep through the storm and proclaim, “I trust you Jesus for direction and answers. Thank you for the good You will bring out of this situation.”

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NASB

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

michele mccarthy

About the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

In Michele’s new book Aunt Ida Clare, Rosalina is not quite sure what to think of their new babysitter. Aunt Ida is quite the sight. Rosalina’s Daddy calls her flamboyant. Aunt Ida Clare shares the purpose behind speaking life-giving words to an unsuspecting brother and sister. She is positively the best thing to happen to these impressionable children.

Join the conversation: Have you learned to trust God in other kinds of trying situations?

Calming the Storms in Your Life

by Kathy Howard

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39 ESV

The forces of nature regularly demonstrate their power in our world. Tornadoes topple high rises like a toddler flattens block towers. Tsunamis sweep over cities, burying them beneath the waves. Mankind is powerless against the funnel cloud and the rushing ocean. But there is One who has power over all these forces and more.

One night on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus gave His disciples a glimpse of His kingly glory by demonstrating His power over the natural world. After a long day of teaching, Jesus needed rest. As soon as the boat pushed away from the shore, Jesus laid His head on the cushion reserved for guests and quickly feel asleep. (See Mark 4:1-21 for the full story.)

Away from the safety of the shore, a storm hit with fury. As the boat filled with water, even the experienced fishermen feared for their lives. But Jesus slept on. To the disciples it seemed as though Jesus did not care. But the big storm was an opportunity for Jesus to reveal something about Himself they did not yet know.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39 ESV

Only the Lord of all creation (Colossians 1:16-17) could calm the storm with a word. Only the God of the universe could speak peace to the tumultuous waves and still the whipping wind. “Peace! Be still!” The winds and the waves obeyed Him. Immediately the howling wind was silent. The thrashing sea became like glass.

Anyone would be afraid in a similar situation. Yet, after Jesus commanded the storm to cease, He asked the disciples why they feared, why they failed to trust Him to care for them.

The disciples had heard Jesus’ authoritative teaching. They had seen Him heal broken and diseased bodies. But they had not seen power on this level. Trembling with fear and awe, they looked at each other. They thought they knew this man, but Jesus blew away their assumptions during the violent storm. What else did they not know about Jesus? This One who had authority over nature?

Storms of difficulty often hit our lives too. They rush in, often popping up quickly like that storm on the Sea of Galilee. We have little power to stop them.

When trouble comes, we may react much like the disciples in the storm. Fear may rise. Doubt about God’s concern for us may push in. And though He rarely works in the way we might expect, He will always work for our ultimate spiritual good and His own glory.

Every trial is an opportunity for God to teach us more about Himself, to reveal Himself to us in a new way. Each difficulty and struggle open the door for God to display His power in our lives. Trust Him to do what only He can do. He sees. He cares. And He is able.

This post was adapted from Kathy Howard’s new devotional book “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark.”

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

About the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught the Bible in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. Kathy, who has a Masters of Religious Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, is a devotional and Bible study author. She also writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her husband live near family in the Dallas/Ft Worth. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. Kathy’s new book, Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark, is available now!

Join the conversation: What have you learned about God in a storm?

Stuck in a Rut

by Sandra Kay Chambers

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Tired and emotionally drained, I decided to skip one of the afternoon sessions of the women’s retreat and go for a drive in the country. I needed a break, and I also wanted to take photos of the countryside with my new camera. The overcast sky and rain reflected both my emotional and spiritual state. Since my move ten months ago, I couldn’t sense God’s direction in my life or in my writing.

Proverbs 3:5-6 was one of my favorite Scripture verses. I could quote it by heart. But did I really believe it was true in my current situation? Sometimes we can believe something in our head, but it still needs to work its way down into our heart. That’s where I had been for the past several months–desiring to trust God, but stuck in a rut of emotional ups and downs.

I hoped my drive in the country would offer an escape from the turmoil I felt. As I rounded a curve in the road, I saw a picturesque farmhouse and quickly swerved the car off onto a grassy area. I grabbed my camera and stepped out of the car onto wet, muddy ground. After taking several shots, I tried to get my car back on the road, but my tires spun hopelessly in the mud. I put the car in reverse, rocking it back and forth, but the more I tried to free the car, the deeper the ruts became.

I had no idea where I was, and I had no cell phone service. I decided to walk to the nearby farmhouse, hoping to use their phone. As I approached the house, three men in coats and boots headed my way. “Saw you get stuck,” one man said. “Maybe we can help.”

The three men tried to free the car with several pushes, but nothing happened.  Then I looked down and noticed I had the emergency break still on! Feeling rather stupid, I released it and put the car in drive. With another push, the car surged forward back onto the road.

I offered to pay the men, but they refused, smiled and waved me off. As I looked back in the rearview mirror, I saw all three men wiping off the mud that had flung backwards onto their clothes. Tears welled up as I realized God had been standing behind me for the past ten months, allowing me to spin my spiritual tires, throwing the mud of my complaints and doubts at Him.

He patiently and lovingly waiting for me to take off the brake, so He could help me out of my rut. With tears now streaming down my face, I confessed my lack of trust in Him, thanked Him for lifting me out my spiritual rut, and asked Him to set my feet back on His path. No matter where or why we have gotten stuck in our spiritual lives, God has promised in His Word to make our paths straight, lead and guide us if we trust Him with our whole heart.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, and set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:1-2 NIV

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

About the author: Pray Often—Inspire Others—Create Beauty. Helping Christians develop a creative and joyful prayer life is Sandra’s passion. She has served as Prayer Coordinator at two churches, leads small group Bible studies, speaks on the topic of  prayer, and teaches an online class at Be a Disciple based on her book, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet (How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life). You can follow Sandra on her author website and her prayer blog.

Join the conversation: Are you in a rut?

Last Minute Miracles

by Christina Rose

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NLT)

It took years of falling flat on my face by doing things my way that made me realize that God’s ways are far better, yet they often require patience. The waiting time purposely stretches our faith to build our confidence in Him.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”  (Hebrews 11:1 ESV).

When God called me to leave my home in California a few years ago and move to Florida to care for an elderly aunt, it required huge faith. I assumed this obedience would lead to a great reward, yet instead, it led to more testing. I was frustrated and felt like the puppy who performed the trick and never got the treat. I couldn’t understand what God was up to.

One day I was racing through Costco, checking things off my list. I was grumpy that everyone seemed to be dawdling and in my way, like they had nothing better to do than wander around the aisles looking at stuff.  I breezed past a man and his young son whom I overheard say, “Wow Dad, that lady’s in a big hurry.”

The dad responded, “Yep, she must be from California.”  

I went for a walk on the beach and tried to relax. I was finally beginning to see what the treat was. My high-pressure, 13-hour workdays in California had been ripped out of my hands, and now God was trying to show me a better way, if I would just let him. I then realized how blessed I was to be strolling along the crystal white sand and turquoise waters of Siesta Key Beach.

As I learned to let go and trust God’s daily plan for me, I began to see how many blessings He planned for me along the way. I also began to see that if things didn’t happen when I wanted, it usually meant that something better was on the horizon. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 ESV).

I am now in Denver, continuing to grow in faith along with the rest of the world, as we face the global pandemic and political unrest. bible stories of last-minute miracles can give us hope as we wait for God’s plan to unfold. Last minute miracles are miracles that happen when faith is almost or completely lost. They happen in the nick of time, beyond expectations or feasibility. They show us that God has a perfect plan and is never limited by time and space.

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they became trapped between the sea and the pursuing army. At the last minute, God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross and once they were safely on the other side, he closed the sea over the Egyptian army thus destroying them.

When Jesus arrived at the home of Jairus, his young daughter had already died, yet Jesus told the little girl to wake up to show the glory of God. She was fully restored back to life to the amazement of everyone around them.

When Jesus was called to heal Lazarus, who was gravely ill, he purposely waited for days to arrive. “But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4 ESV).When Jesus arrived at the tomb, Lazarus had been dead for four days, yet he raised Lazarus from the dead. He walked out of the tomb, fully restored to life, and all the people were amazed at the glory of God.

There is no substitute for the peace that comes from knowing that God has it all figured out and all we need to do is trust Him. While we may not understand the testing and it may seem long and severe, these times can be merely a setup for God to perform last-minute miracles that will amaze and bless us all.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression,   you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  Isaiah 43:2 NLT

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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever done a last minute miracle for you?