The Root that Pushed Through

by Terri Gillespie

When the wicked thrive, wrongdoing increases, but the righteous will see their downfall. Proverbs 29:16 TLV

Have you ever seen a thin blade of grass find its way through concrete? It seems impossible, but as a homeowner, I can tell you it’s not only possible, it happens frequently. How about a mystery plant or those tiny seedlings from the maple tree breaking through the sidewalk? How is that possible?

Concrete contains microscopic cracks invisible to the naked eye. Plants have new cell growth at the tips of their roots. As the plant grows, so does the root system. God gave these roots sensitive tips that have the power to seek the path of least resistance for growth. Those microscopic cracks become the open door for plants growing beneath your sidewalk, patio, or driveway.

Once a plant’s roots discover a minuscule crack in the concrete, they force their way into the slab. Even small weeds and seedlings have the power to displace concrete using potential energy from root growth. Over time, the plant’s continued growth can crack, break, or buckle the surrounding concrete—at which point you may see the plant break through the surface.

God’s truth is like that little plant and the hard concrete is like those in the world who have turned their back on that truth. Nothing can keep His truth from springing forth. So, if the Creator of the Universe can create a tiny seed with enough power to push through concrete, then how much more, can we His children be a voice in this world?

These days we see a lot of “concrete” that scoffs at our little seedlings of truth. At times it may feel like they have buried us alive in hardness. The world may think themselves clever and firmly in control with what they think is a solid barrier against God’s truth, but a single little seedling of His truth can break up the hardness.

Therefore he told me, “This is the Lord’s message to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6 NET

What is your blade of truth? What is the seedling of truth that you are passionate about—that He has planted in your heart? God’s love? His redemption? His reconciliation? His forgiveness?

This isn’t about religion, or doctrine, or the finer points of our faith journey. This is about the core foundational truth that changed us. That which caused our hardness to break, so that life could spring forth. The root that pushed through and turned us to Jesus, who brought us to His Father.

Is that truth evident in our writing, our social media, and our conversations?

Sometimes, we might surrender and think there’s no way to break through. We mustn’t give up because the victory may already be growing and ready to push through. When that crack presents itself, our little root will find the doorway to get through. Are we ready to speak in love and wisdom?

So brace your minds for action. Keep your balance. And set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah. 1 Peter 1:13 TLV

May we watch for the seedling that springs forth and be prepared to share the truth that set us free.

About the author: Award-winning author and speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest book, Sweet Rivalry, releases in late 2021. http://www.authorterrigillespie.com

Join the conversation: Have you seen truth break through the hardness? Please share!

The Skirmishes Go On

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

“O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?… Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:55, 57

Once only inhabited by a small Japanese civilian community of sulfur miners and sugar farmers, the island of Iwo Jima became a stronghold of pivotal importance in World War II. As the war progressed, Japan evacuated its citizens from the island and prepared for the inevitable Allied forces invasion. A huge number of bunkers, hidden artillery, and an amazing eleven miles of tunnels were in place by 1944. Twenty-one thousand soldiers were at the ready when Allied forces began firing on Iwo Jima.

On the fourth day of the battle, the first objective was captured: Mount Suribachi. Five marines and a Navy corpsman were photographed raising the American flag at its summit. That moment is now immortalized in the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, VA.

Once the high ground was secure, the invasion slowly moved northward. Very heavy fighting continued. The Japanese fighters considered surrender dishonorable and most tenaciously fought to the death. But the Allied forces eventually took the airfields and remainder of the island. A month into the invasion, the island was officially declared secured.

Even so, over 3,000 Japanese troops remained in the island’s maze of caves and tunnels. For many days afterward, still more American lives were lost as they worked their way through the tunnel system routing those that refused to surrender. The battle may have been won, but the enemy continued to fight, determined to take in their death as many with them as possible.

While the Allied victory was a great triumph, Jesus Christ won the greatest victory the world has ever witnessed. The Son of God, after three days in the grave, rose from the dead. No longer are we under condemnation for our sin. It was dealt with, paid for, and cast from us as far as the east is from the west. The victory is already ours because Christ has already won.

The enemy has been soundly defeated. Satan’s future final demise is already recorded in the Bible, when he is cast into the lake of fire to suffer torment for eternity (Revelation 20:10). It is just a matter of time before God finally ends his reign on earth.

Yet while victory has been recorded with indelible ink, the skirmishes still go on. While we were given new life at our salvation, we still struggle against our old sinful nature which relentlessly demands satisfaction, and we fight the enemy ever-tempting us to sin. Paul described him as “the prince of the power of the air…the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2 NASB). Peter warns “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NASB).

The war may be over, but the fighting continues on.

These skirmishes are a part of the life we live until Jesus returns. In fact, God has carefully equipped His soldiers to fight the good fight (Ephesians 6:10-18). Satan may have lost the war, but he is deadly serious about taking as many down with him as he can before his reign of destruction comes to an end.

We may even lose some of these skirmishes, especially when we attempt to fight in our own strength. But it is important to remember in those moments of depressing defeat: the war’s victor has already been determined. The Good Guy won. Our hope is not in the circumstances of this world. It is in the future God has prepared for us, “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4 NASB)

Nothing that happens to us on earth will impact the surety of our salvation. The victory belongs to the Lord.

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The Skirmishes Go On – insight on walking with God from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie 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 walking her neurotic dog. 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 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: Have you been involved in a skirmish lately? Please share!

Rusty Mailboxes, Aching Bones, and the Overcomer

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 ESV

My parents lived in the house where they raised my brother and me for almost 50 years. When we moved onto Dianne Street, I was eight and my brother was just five.

When my parents’ health severely declined, we moved them closer to my brother. But, during the last few years they have lived there, every time I make the four-hour drive to visit them, I am keenly aware of the passage of time and the toll this physical life takes on physical things.

For instance, once when I was there for a visit, I noticed the mailbox. I mean, I really took note of it. It’s the same mailbox they’d had for decades. The same one I mowed down with my mother’s Lincoln when I was a young driver. The post wedged under the car and Dad had a hard time getting it free. But even then, Dad didn’t replace the box; he just replaced the narrow iron post I had mangled with something a bit sturdier.

The day we moved my parents’ belongings, I studied that mailbox. It displayed the wounds of standing unprotected for decades at the end of the driveway in all kinds of weather. Although the numbers, 6413, still bravely cling to the side, rust dominated the exterior, and the lid didn’t quite close all the way.

Time has marked my parents as well. Joy and grief. Success and failure. Fullness and loss. Just like anyone who lives in this world for very long. Dad went to heaven late last year and Mom suffers with the last stages of Alzheimer’s. I miss my father; and though my mother is still here physically, we feel we lost her years ago.

Some days I wish I could change things. Or turn back the clock.

Yet God graciously reminds me that none of this takes Him by surprise. He well knows the effects this broken world has on His children. Sin has subjected this physical world and all that live on it to decay. We all groan inwardly while we eagerly wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises to His children (Romans 8:20-25).

We can replace rusty mailboxes with new ones, but they would soon rust again. The world would still get the last word.

But, praise God, the world does not get the last word in my parents’ lives. Or my life. The world does not have to have the last word in your life.

God gets the last word. The victory will be and is His, for everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. His victory is our victory. We are overcomers! 

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Kathy HowardAbout the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight booksKathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, http://www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagramor Pinterest

In 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, author and fellow caregiver Kathy Howard offers encouragement and wisdom on giving your parents the kind of care that pleases God, providing the honor and respect that will allow them to maintain their dignity.

Join the conversation: What challenges are you facing lately?

 

 

The Aroma of Christ

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

It was a grim scene.

Travel back in time with me as we watch Joseph and Nicodemus take the body of Jesus from the cross that fateful Friday afternoon. It must have taken valuable time to convince Pilate to let them have Him before sundown, but they managed. Nicodemus carried seventy-five pounds of myrrh and spices with them to prepare the body. It was an offering worthy of a king—a dead king.

Imagine the tears they shed, as they silently and gently lowered his broken body to the ground. Evidence of the abuse He had suffered at the hands of his accusers rendered Him almost unrecognizable, covered with blood and filth, swollen from wounds and intense suffering. Still they loved Him so much.

Time was running out before the Sabbath began. They didn’t have time to prepare His body like they wanted—like He deserved. But at least there was an unused tomb in the garden close by. They took Him there and did what they could with hands of love.

They tried to cover the stench of death with herbs and linen, but can you imagine the odor inside that dark, cramped tomb? The sickly-sweet smell of myrrh combined with the overwhelming stench of blood and torture must have seeped into their noses, hair and clothing. When they left, they brought the odor of despair with them as they gathered with the others to observe an empty Sabbath.

Move ahead to Sunday morning, that Resurrection day. Mary Magdalene has breathlessly returned with the news that someone has stolen Jesus’ body. As the disciples race to the tomb, a part of them must dread what they’ll find. But John enters that resting place of the dead to discover that Jesus’ body isn’t the only thing missing.

They see the empty grave clothes and spices, but the air is decidedly different. In a place so recently redolent with the stink of death, there is only the aroma of life.

Jesus led the way to triumph over sin and death. He replaced our odor of death with an aroma of life. Now it’s up to us to follow Him, and lead others to join us in that same walk of victory.

“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 NASB

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Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter

Edie’s latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, offers a solution to our busy lives and struggle for peace. Sensory involvement deepens our relationship with God and gives rest to our souls. Through thoughtful devotional readings and prayers, tap into your creative side. Warning! This book may become dog-eared and stained. Draw in it. Experiment with your creative passions. Learn the healing power of play. Allow God’s power to flow through opportunities for creative expression.

Join the conversation: What part of the resurrection story has struck you during this Easter season?

A Predetermined Victory

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When surveyed about the 20th century’s most memorable sports moment, Americans most often cited the 1980 Olympic hockey game between the United States and the USSR. Steve and I watched the game with friends by the fire that February evening. The match had actually taken place earlier in the afternoon, but ABC made the decision to delay its airing and announcement of the score until the evening, so fans could enjoy it during viewing hours.

The USSR came into the Olympics favored to win the gold.  They were a force with which to be reckoned. No one expected any team to pose a threat to them on their way to the top.  Yet as the game wore on, it quickly became apparent that the U.S. was going to give the Russians a run for their money. It was a hard-fought contest. Finally, in the third period, for the first time in the game the Americans pulled out ahead with a shot into the goal, making the score 4-3. Ten minutes remained left to play.

When the TV station cut to a commercial, I left to get a drink. While I was absent, the local news channel did a promo clip of the news show which would immediately follow the game. Someone made a big mistake.  To thousands of viewers on the edge of their seats, waiting impatiently to see the final ten minutes, the newscaster announced: “More on the exciting USA 4-3 victory over the USSR at eleven!”

I heard the room erupt in anger from where I was in the kitchen. The suspense and thrill of victory had been eclipsed by the premature announcement. The game was ruined for those who now knew the end. Of course, the TV station apologized profusely after realizing their mistake when the news aired at 11. But the damage had been done. So while I continued to be blissfully ignorant and on the edge of my seat until the end, my fellow-viewers remained passive. Knowing the outcome made all the difference.

The anxiety evaporates if we already know the ending. I know someone who always reads the last page of a new book first. She says she enjoys the book more when she doesn’t have to deal with the suspense.

As Christians, we are in a contest of sorts. Scripture tells us we fight a war on two fronts: against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6) and against our own sinful flesh (Romans 7).  We discourage easily and give in more often than we should. It is easy to do in light of what we see around us. Just channel surf through what’s available on TV; the shocking lack of moral standards is evident within minutes of watching. Truth is now relative and no more a black and white absolute. Human life has become cheap, as we see murders on a daily basis in the news.

Satan gives all appearances of winning the war. We often don’t seem to fare any better on a personal front, either, as time and time again our lusts and ungodly desires lead us by the nose and we sin and sin again. It can seem hopeless. We seem to be fighting a battle we can never win.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58 NASB)

We too easily forget that the outcome is already written in indelible ink. The victory is already ours because Christ has already won. “When you were dead in your transgressions,” Paul wrote the Colossians, “He made you alive together with Him . . . having canceled out the certificate of debt . . . having nailed it to the cross, having disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:13-15 NASB)

Author Chip Ingram put it this way his book, The Invisible War: “When we fight, we’re not trying to win. We’re enforcing the victory that Jesus has already secured. In His power, we are invincible.”

Knowing the end score should make all the difference in how we live. Jesus conquered sin and death with His resurrection! Victory has already been determined. The Good Guy won. Knowing this, we can face the enemy without and within with confidence. The battle belongs to the Lord.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                                         1 Corinthians 15:57 NASB

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A Predetermined Victory – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie 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 walking her neurotic dog. 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 look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What does Jesus’ victory mean to you?