Humility — The Pathway of God’s Blessing

The selfish inclination of the natural heart instinctively bends toward pride. By humility we will experience the pathway to God’s blessing.

While in a church service yesterday, I sensed there was a spiritual opening in the ceiling. An opaque or translucent cover sealed the opening. On the cover was written the word “HUMILITY.” I knew God was showing me the church’s access to God’s blessing was the pathway of humility. Humility also protected the people within the church from any attacks the enemy would attempt to forge against this faithful body of believers.

I know I haven’t even begun to understand the power of humility. My battle to overcome pride is unrelenting. Two things stop God’s moving among us: pride and bitterness. We find the antidote by embracing the opposite: humility and forgiveness.

This familiar verse comes to mind when I think about humility.

“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Proverbs 16:18

Nobody approaches life intending to self-destruct (becoming crushed, broken, or fractured) or fall (to come to ruin).

With Us

God longs for us to walk in harmony with Him — working with us, in us, and through us by the Holy Spirit. Humility guarantees this synchronized ebb and flow in the Spirit.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
‘God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.'”
James 4:6

Imagine for a moment a beautiful white stallion running free and wild with mane and tail flowing in the wind. Though majestic and powerful, its potential remains unrealized. Only when the stallion willingly submits to a rider’s direction will the beauty translate into directed force and channeled potential.

We resemble that stallion. Holy Spirit is the rider. Humility allows the Spirit to flow through us as instruments of divine healing, anointed teaching and preaching, creative release, and so much more. Surrendered under the Spirit, we effortlessly move in His rhythm, directed by the whisper of His breath, without the need for bit or bridle.

Obedience contains a key aspect to consistently walking in humility.

Character and Behavior

Humility goes beyond attitude, infusing character and influencing behavior.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12

Notice how humility plays a central role within these character traits. Humbleness marks the lives of those who have conquered pride and haughtiness. Any attitude of superiority or egotism must bow for us to live in genuine humility deliberately and consistently.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Ephesians 4:1,2

God calls us to love in a way that stretches beyond emotion, doing whatever benefits and seeks the best for another person. The Passion Translation says, “live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior — a life that expresses gratitude to God.”

Holiness

One dictionary defines humility as “a state or condition of being holy, including piety, saintliness, blessedness, devoutness.” The more we choose humility, the more we resemble our Lord.

This passage illustrates it best.

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”
Philippians 2:6-8

When every natural tendency strains toward self-promotion, let’s remember Jesus’ extreme submission to the Father. He humbled himself, surrendering everything for the love of God and others.

Walking in the steps of our Master beyond question includes following the path of humility. Even when the path of humility requires us to bend uncomfortably low.

Let God Lift

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
James 4:10

Just as Jesus humbled himself, God calls us to humble ourselves.

Jesus told His followers,

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. but if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty”
Matthew 23:11-12 MSG

Every self effort to “lift” ourselves to a higher profile or position will ultimately lead to a fracture, falling or failure. But as we lower ourselves, He will ultimately lift us up making our lives “count for plenty.” Isn’t that what we all desire — our lives counting for plenty? His effortless lifting flowing with ease and filling each of us with peace?

Because Jesus lowered Himself to the extreme, God raised Him to the extreme.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”
Philippians 2:9

Blessings pour through the open door of humility. Often, they are tangible and definable. More often, they come in the subtle transformational changes within and around us. A beautiful piety and devoutness to Jesus becomes increasingly evident in everything we do.

Revival

Revival naturally flows from the stream of humility — first personally and then corporately.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

Wherever we find people walking in humility, praying and seeking God’s face, turning from sin, and walking in forgiveness, God moves! Revival occurs. The trickle of His Presence turns into a fire consuming everything that opposes Him.

Do you long for revival? Humility breaks through the translucent curtain, allowing God to flow freely into our midst, turning hearts radically toward Him.

It starts with me! It begins with you! May we cast aside the garments of pride and conceit, choosing instead the pure garments of God’s glorious humility. As we do, we will experience the blessing of God flowing into and through our lives in dimensions we never believed possible, making them truly count for plenty.

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A Time for War and a Time for Peace

Time for War

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” but is there a right time for war? If so, when, why, and how do we take our stand?

King Solomon wrote,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time for war and a time for peace.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,8

The older I get, the less things appear worth fighting for — either to fight to win or to risk losing. Battles must be chosen wisely and fought strategically. Whether as willing or reluctant soldiers, God has enlisted Christians into a much larger engagement than we often realize.

Jesus forewarned His followers that satan, who was bent on destroying Him, would also engage in formal military combat against us.

Only two territories exist — the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness. No neutral ground exists. Though defeated, satan continues guerilla warfare to discourage and sidetrack the children of God.

Paul called his spiritual son, Timothy, onto the battlefield when he said,

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
2 Timothy 2:4

Faith

It is a fight our Commanding Officer, Jesus Christ, already won for us. Because we win, it is a good fight!

“Fight the good fight of true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you. which you have declared so well before many witnesses.”
I Timothy 6:12

Paul writes this instruction near the end of his long fought battle of true faith. Second Corinthians 11:23-28 vividly describes Paul’s combat: imprisonment, countless beatings, often near death, five times forty lashes minus one, stoned, three times shipwrecked, night and day adrift at sea, frequent journeys, dangers of river, robbers, from Jews, Gentiles, and false brothers, in the city and in the wilderness. Then add toil and hardship, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure, plus the daily pressure of caring for the churches.

Paul encourages Timothy to fight the same way — not with traditional weapons of war, but with courage, dedication, and standing for true faith.

Believing and trusting in Jesus Christ eternally secures our place in heaven, but few people will fight for a belief! To fight the good fight of faith, we need a deep-seated conviction — a conviction for which we are willing to risk our lives. When faith is threatened, it is time for war.

Marriage and Family

My husband and I recently celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We have fought many battles to reach that milestone.

Although we both have an aversion to engage issues head on, we have learned that for a relationship to not just survive, but thrive, is to fight for what is most loving, most honorable, and most life-giving in our relationship.

The Bible offers solid advice.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18

Flies hang around garbage. It is a fact of nature. Everyone within relationship must be willing to deal with their own pile of refuse — garbage attitudes, garbage goals, garbage agendas, garbage emotional triggers . . . At times, I am shocked how much garbage I willingly drag around!

But when people lack willingness to tackle their own issues, peaceful co-existence becomes extremely difficult or even impossible. Whatever depends on me, is mine to correct with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The faint of heart shrink back, blame, and avoid. The courageous enter the battle and grapple with issues that threaten the integrity of relationships such as marriage, family, and friendships.

To protect these important relationships, we must discern the time for war.

The Internal Battle

Often, our greatest battles come from within.

Again, Paul defines this battle so well:

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
Romans 7:21-23

Every Christian fights this war “within” — the war between our carnal nature and the Spirit of Christ. The battle continues until we enter heaven’s gates in ultimate triumph.

With all our hearts we desire to please and obey our Commanding Officer, Jesus. Yet our selfish nature demands its own way. At times, we boldly hold the winning line. While at other times, we succumb to old patterns!

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death! Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7:27

Since Christ has already triumphed, He carries us through to victory. No matter how it appears at the moment, He will ultimately deliver us from this conflict between our sinful nature and the holy desire of the Spirit within us.

Every day is a time to war this strategic battle. Just as Jesus’ win became ours, our wins become the encouragement for others within the ranks.

A Time to War

Every campaign narrows down to the fight between good and evil, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. Whether the battle openly shows up in our relationships or hides deep within our hearts, we must continue to fight, not in our own strength or through natural means, but through Jesus Christ.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-4

The moment we pick up earthly weapons, we lose our grip on divinely powerful ones. God equips us with something far more than angry words, manipulative tactics, or military might. He gives each of His followers powerful spiritual weapons in our arsenal.

As we fight, staying in tune with the Spirit, both internal and external strongholds must crumble and fall. Ephesians 6:10-18 more clearly defines our weapons. They are worth repeating here:

Entire books have been written on the significance of our spiritual weaponry. When it is time to war, let us confront with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God — implementing each through fervent prayer.

Victory

Jesus engaged in the bloodiest altercation ever fought. He came forth victorious. Because He overcame, rising triumphant over the horrendous onslaught of satan, death and hell, we, too, face every adversary from victory’s side.

Today, we come to Him not for victory, but from victory!

Rise up, saint of God. You are mighty for the task! It is time for war!

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Give Praise to the Lord

Expectation begins to rise when we choose to give praise to the Lord. For every difficulty we face, we have even more reasons to praise God. Many people, including myself, have learned how to spiritually press through humanly insurmountable roadblocks. Some things we continue to contend for in prayer. At other times, we have witnessed doors open before us and bridges form under our feet. Where there previously had been no way through, God made a way.

This isn’t an unusual phenomenon known only by a choice few. Every Christian who consistently prays, seeks God’s direction, and waits for His answers experiences His hand at work in inexplainable ways. Some might mistake it for coincidence. People of faith know their God!

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah12:4

In this single verse, the writer encourages us toward action. After looking more closely, I notice the four calls to action: say, praise, proclaim, and make known. Each action rests upon “what he (God) has done.”

May we pause our busy lives for just a moment to consider what God has done within our families, communities, and faith centers.

You Will Say

Whatever we look for, we will find. If we look for good in someone or something, we will discover it. Our attitude either negatively or positively colors our world more than we might realize.

Yesterday, my husband and I shared a bit of what God has been doing in our lives. As we spoke of God’s goodness, those listening were encouraged. Soon others shared what they also see God doing recently. A few shared about things they continue to pray for with faith.

“The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful
than we will ever be able to comprehend.”
– A.W. Tozer

Through Holy Spirit direction, biblical authors encourage us to press beyond silent, heart-felt gratitude to verbalize our praise.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, His love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:1-3

When hearts overflow, praise naturally comes forward. “You will say,” Isaiah wrote. As we speak, thanksgiving and praise activates both within and around us.

Praise

Often the frequent use of a word causes us to overlook the significance of its meaning. “Praise,” or in Hebrew yadah, means to acknowledge, to praise, to give thanks, to confess, or to cast. It represents the act of acknowledging what is right about God through praise and thanksgiving. Yadah’s heavenward recognition is sometimes structured within corporate worship. Often, yadah flows as personal expression.

Someone once said, “Give praise where praise is due!” Good advice, I think.

We should publicly recognize the people and organizations among us who work hard. However, the grandest accolades belong to the LORD. He is worthy of all adoration, honor, glory, and praise.

Praising God doesn’t always come easily. Life’s pressures often weigh heavy on us. We worry. We fret. God knows, understands, and cares deeply for us in the midst of struggle. Perhaps, it is in these times more than any other, that the transformational power of praise really shines the brightest.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

Amidst severe oppression, the psalmist commanded himself to give God praise. He shows us that praise is a decision of the will. As we begin to praise, we welcome God into our circumstances allowing Him to shift spiritual atmospheres within and around us. The enemy quickly loses his position.

Proclaim

The word proclaim comes from the Hebrew, qara, meaning to proclaim an announcement. When we proclaim we make a verbal declaration about something. Proclaiming resembles a flashing message on a neon sign or a broadcast over a loudspeaker. Proclaiming commands everyone to pay attention.

The more we proclaim and declare His active participation in our lives, the more we see His hand at work.

Many and varied opportunities have opened for ministry over the summer — at a Bible camp, in churches, and during a city-wide gathering. In every occasion, I have witnessed God answer prayer at a level I have not seen for many years, if at all. People have powerfully experienced the presence of Holy Spirit moving through healing, deliverance, words of knowledge, and the prophetic.

Jesus quoted these words from Isaiah,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”
Luke 4:18

Jesus still proclaims good news to the poor. He still proclaims freedom for prisoners. He still gives sight to the blind and sets the oppressed free. Through willing human hands and voices, He moves and speaks.

A great hunger for God is rising in our nation and in the nations around the world. God is on the move! Give praise to the Lord! Proclaim His Name!

Make Known

Isaiah combines two words for “make known.” The first word, yada, means to know, learn, perceive, discern, experience, confess, and consider. It means to be skillful at making something or someone known. I, too, easily forget even the good things God does around me.

One of the practical ways, I stir up my memory is through journaling, or keeping a record, about how I’ve seen God move in my life and in the lives of others for whom I have been praying. I want to remember! Somehow, writing things down helps to solidify them in my memory and improves my recall of them in the future.

Isaiah calls us to skillfully “make known among the nations what he has done.” At no other time in the history of mankind has this been so easy to do. Whether in person or through the internet, we have opportunity to converse with people of all nationalities. The fluid movement of people from one nation to another creates a wellspring of opportunity to make Jesus known among the nations.

In the prayer tent during a praise gathering, we had the privilege of making God known to peoples from First Nations communities and many immigrant nations. What an honor! Give praise to the Lord for what He is doing. Today, people groups from virtually every nation are being reached with the Gospel.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
Hebrews 13:15

Fruit of our Lips

As we give praise to the Lord, it becomes the fruit of our lips. Sweet, nourishing, and enjoyable!

In every season, may we each “through Jesus . . . continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.”

Let’s take a few moments to acknowledge God’s goodness. Let the answers to prayers already received build anticipation for those yet to come. He hears our every cry and holds every prayer precious. He is not slow to come to our aid. His ways and timing are perfect.

Through prayer or songs may the atmosphere of our homes radiate with worship. May today be a “that day” moment when . . .

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah 12:4

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5 Ways to Overcome Adversity — Part 2

We all face various levels of distress, trouble, and hardship. Today, we look at five ways to overcome adversity, no matter the source.

Yesterday during prayer, I saw a vision of a paved, mountainous road completely covered with huge boulders. Many people attempted to navigate the road, pain-stakingly climbing over boulder after boulder. Fatigued and weary, some had already given up. Their garments hung torn from their frail bodies, exposing scaped arms and legs. Then I saw sand being poured out over the boulders, filling in the crevices between the rocks and making the road smooth. Although the boulders remained, the road became easily passable.

Through the vision God showed me the plight of many people — weary from struggle, battered from their efforts, and on the verge of giving up. Perhaps, you face similar circumstances. The road ahead seems too rough and your strength too little.

From Genesis to Revelation, we read of many people who also faced insurmountable odds. Their examples continue to speak encouragement to us all.

#1 Stand in Battle

As Christians, we fight a real battle against a real enemy who attempts to slow or stop our progress. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy at every level. As Christ followers, we position ourselves with others on the battlefield, not on a relaxing sunny beach.

Paul encouraged young Timothy,

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
2 Timothy 2:3-4

Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:9-13, and Luke 4:1-13, all record Satan’s attack on Jesus to destroy His mission before He even began. Jesus stood His ground. His only weapon was the Word of God.

“Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Matthew 4:11

Luke uses the Greek word apeste for “left him,” meaning “retreat, desert, or remove.” I love that! Jesus stood His ground until the enemy turned tail and ran! Immediately, angels moved in to minister to Jesus. As the devil fled the scene, God figuratively poured sand over the rugged road for Jesus to walk upon.

May we learn from our Master and stand upon the unchanging Word of God as we, too, overcome adversity.

At the end of his life, the mighty warrior and military leader, Joshua, declared,

“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Joshua 23:14

#2 Persevere

In the vision, some people were sitting on the rocks their heads bent in defeat. Others were standing on the boulders. They appeared to be immobilized — uncertain whether to go back or move forward.

Most of us have heard or seen illustrations of people giving up just before they uncover a treasure, or on the edge of breakthrough. But when we are the ones broken and weary, perseverance seems trite or even cruel.

“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”
2 Timothy 2:5

Every successful athlete undergoes strict training. Few, if any, athletes enjoy the discipline required. They all look to the end goal — “the victor’s crown,” a gold metal, a personal best, public recognition, or reward. And so, they persevere through arduous training, preparing themselves physically and psychologically to excel.

Perseverance perfectly describes both athletes and Christians, who give continued effort to achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

As we overcome adversity through perseverance, God pours more sand upon our path, smoothing our way.

#3 Choose Joy

Jesus again becomes our prime example.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of fath. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:2-3

No one will ever undergo what Jesus endured. Words fail to define the fullness of what He bore as He carried the weight of every sin committed to set humanity free and declared righteous before Holy God.

How did He do it? With joy! In joy! Through joy!

During times when my boulders, though small by comparison, seemed insurmountable, as I chose joy, God poured sand upon my path, creating a way to press through rough territory and eventually overcome. Joy is a choice — a decision of the will. In Christ, joy becomes a viable option.

Paul wrote to a church under extreme persecution the following words:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4-8

#4 Focus Forward

In the vision, the people near the beginning clawed their way up the rocks inch by inch. While further along, others took giant leaps of faith from one boulder to another. I feared they would miss the mark and become wedged between the boulders. Yet, they moved with a capacity beyond natural ability. More often than not, as they lept forward sand filled the chasms between the boulders. Even their misses weren’t fatal. Solid ground appeared beneath them, enabling them to more easily ascend the boulders.

Along this stretch of road, no one looked back. They all focused forward. They experienced God’s supernatural intervention enough to increase their faith for what was ahead.

No longer focused on the boulders, their gaze fixed on the bigness of God. Rather than the adversity, they looked to the God possibility ahead. Perhaps, these are the ones Jeremiah spoke about,


“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.”
Jeremiah 24:7

#5 Take Courage

As more and more sand filled the gaps and covered the rocks, the boulders became completely concealed beneath the sand. The road, once cluttered and impassable now became level. Not smooth black pavement but soft pliable sand softened the travellers’ footsteps.

These now walked unhindered with confidence and boldness. They knew, beyond a doubt, God enabled every step. He was with them.

As Joshua assumed leadership, replacing Moses, Moses commanded him,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you not forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 21:6

To overcome adversity, we must possess an abiding assurance and an unwavering awareness, that God is with us. The same miracle-moving God who parted the Red Sea walks with us. God, who empowered people of old to overcome, works the impossible on our behalf. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us.

Overcome Adversity

In the vision, the forerunners, those who were making the most progress, encouraged those who followed as they pressed ahead. The weak drew strength from the strong. The fearful found hope in the courageous. Confused travellers regained direction from the focused leaders.

No matter what “boulders” you are attempting to overcome, may Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians encourage you.

“My heart is always full and overflowing with thanks to God for you as I constantly remember you in my prayers. I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know him through your deepening intimacy with him. I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling — that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of highest honor and supreme authority in the heavenly realm! And now he is exalted as first above every ruler, authority, government, and realm of power in existence! He is gloriously enthroned over every name that is ever praised, not only in this age, but in the age that is coming!”
Ephesians 1:16-21 TPT

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Overcome Obstacles and Adversity

Both triumphs and trials teach us many spiritual lessons. With a teachable attitude, we can overcome the obstacles and adversity in our path. Whether it takes a lengthy process or it comes quickly, may we all grow stronger through the difficulties we face.

Every time I read this passage of Scripture, I seem to consider it carefully for several days.

“He (Jesus) saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
Mark 6:48

I meet people daily who feel they have been “straining at the oars” to the point of exhaustion. Although they believe that God strengthens and guides them, they also believe He stands aloof, oblivious to their struggle and disinterested in helping. The winds of physical illness, financial lack, personal attacks, and a multitude of other things blow against them.

Can you relate?

God desires that we uncover key concepts through this passage that will assist us.

Following Jesus

Christians sometimes hold a misconception that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior the rest of our lives will be heavenly bliss here, now, and forever. But the disciples of Jesus obeyed Him completely, yet the storm hit with fierce force.

“Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. ”
Mark 6:45

At first, I thought the disciples made a mistake by going “ahead” of Jesus. But out of full obedience, they followed and trusted His instruction.

“After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.”
Mark 6:46

As day turned to night and darkness settled over the landscape, Jesus prayed. The disciples leaned into the oars and rowed. All night long, Jesus prayed and the disciples strained. Miles from shore and through thick darkness Jesus “saw” them “straining at the oars.”

The word straining comes from the Greek word meaning “to examine as by tortue or torment, buffet as of waves.” The darkness, the straining, and the wind presented a test — a means by which the character and convictions of the disciples would be examined.

Praying Jesus

Jesus didn’t cause the wind to blow against them. But while they were being tested, Jesus used the circumstances to reveal their hidden beliefs. So, He prayed.

During our obstacles and adversity, just like theirs, Jesus prays we will overcome. He intercedes with the Father on our behalf. He wants to see us rise to the challenge and learn strategic lessons to equip and prepare us. Our God never sleeps or slumbers.

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one, Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Romans 8:34

I remember watching my little children struggle as they learned how to feed and dress themselves. Often, the results were messy and the effort led to frustration. Eventually, however, they developed the necessary lifeskills.

Jesus could have spoken a word, stilled the storm, and stopped the wind. Instead, He watched and prayed. All during the night, however, the disciples missed what we often miss. Jesus knew something they still did not yet understand.

Coming Jesus

“. . . Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified . . .”
Mark 6:48-50

Why would Jesus come to them, but be prepared to walk right past them? Has this passage perplexed you as much as it has me?

Yesterday, my husband and I had lunch with a physician and his beautiful wife. He shared how, as a physician, he cannot help anyone without their permission. God works the same way! He will not impose Himself upon us, even when it is for our good.

Although I perceived my children needed help, they, too, often refused my assistance. They stubbornly tried to overcome obstacles on their own. Sometimes with success, other times stopping in defeat.

How often Jesus comes to us with the very help we need. Yet because He comes in a way we don’t expect, we would rather shrink in fear than give Him permission to enter our tottering “boats.”

I AM

Then Jesus spoke surprising words into their frustration and fatigue.

“. . . Don’t yield to fear. Have courage. It is really me. I AM.”
Mark 6:50 TPT

The same words God spoke to fearful, exhausted Moses, He spoke to twelve fearful, exhausted disciples. “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.”
Mark 6:51a

The wind tested the disciples ability to overcome not just this obstacle but every future adversity. They failed the test miserably,

“for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”
Mark 6:52

What does the miracle of the loaves have to do with wind, waves, and straining at the oars?

Jesus Miracle

Every miracle contains a message.

The miracle of the loaves and fish occurred only a few hours before the storm. Jesus blessed and broke the bread and fish. Then He divided it, giving portions to each of his disciples (Mark 6:41-44). The disciples then broke the bread and fish as they divided it, giving portions to 5,000 men plus women and children.

Jesus possessed power and authority over natural elements. He empowered and authorized His disciples to do the same. They contained within themselves the power and authority of Christ to influence outcomes.

The disciples completely missed the message of the miracle! They saw Jesus divide and multiple, but they quickly forgot how they also had divided and multiplied. Because their “hearts were hardened (Strongs 4456 — like a stone, petrify, stupid, calloused, unresponsive, harden),” they missed the significance of what happened by Jesus through themselves.

Every time we experience Jesus in our lives without it affecting our hearts, we become hardened toward Him. Every time we read the Word of God and our lives remain unchanged, we become petrified toward His voice.

The Passion Translation says, “their minds were dull, unwilling to learn.” Am I willing to learn from His message and His miracles?

Jesus Message

With grace, Jesus invited them, as He does us, “Stop fighting the wind! Stop straining at the oars! You speak to the wind! Allow courage rather than fear to motivate and control. Take hold of and release all that I have given you, and you will prevail. You possess the authority to overcome all obstacles and adversity. Soften your hearts to My voice, to My way, and to My will.”

Could it be that simple? Sometimes it is.

I have experienced futile, sleepless straining. Until prompted by Holy Spirit, I arose in Christ’s power and authority.

When we welcome Jesus into our “boats,” co-operating with Him, the wind either stills to a whisper, or God equips us to proceed unaffected by its raging.

Jesus knows every dark trial we face. He knows how we ache under the strain. He intercedes for us to lay hold of the same truth He gave His disciples.

“. . . All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

In times of struggle, they forgot that Jesus had already given them authority (Mark 3:15) over both the spiritual and the natural world (Luke 9:1). As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we possess that same authority. We are overcomers through Him. As long as we strain in our own strength, we won’t get far. But when we learn the message of the miracle, we will overcome all obstacles and adversity the enemy lays in our path.

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Mark 6:50

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Speak the Truth in Christ

When Paul wrote to the churches in Rome, he said, “I speak the truth in Christ.” Do I, like Paul, speak the truth in Christ? If not, what am I speaking? Do my words reflect an accurate or a warped perception of reality?

“I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 9:1

The Holy Spirit works through a tender conscience to bring personal revelation about the matter. How are my words misaligned with the truth found in Christ?

As I read that little phrase this morning in Romans, I paused and mediated upon every word. “I . . . speak . . . the truth . . . in Christ.” I’m not sure if the Holy Spirit halts you like He does me, but this morning was just such a day.

I couldn’t help but ask, “Do I?” The honest answer came, “Not always!”

The writer of Proverbs refused to be silent about the influence of our words. “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life (10:11),” and “the tongue of the wise is health (12:18).” Then 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

God clearly desires us to understand that our words contain the hidden potential to bring life and healing.

Powerful Words

Many seniors occupy the condo where we live. Often their conversation turns to physical alignments plaguing their aging bodies. Although I try to add light to the conversation, they will often return to negative banter.

In talking about our attitude, John Hopkins say,

“What is clear, however, is that there is definitely a strong link between “positivity” and health. Additional studies have found that a positive attitude improves outcomes and life satisfaction across a spectrum of conditions — including traumatic brain injury, stroke, and brain tumors.”

I recently read about a heart specialist who refuses to perform surgeries on patients with a negative attitude, saying, “Too many die during the procedure.”

Can words influence our health? Studies show that negative words release catabolic hormones into our bodies that proceed to actually break the physical body down. On the other hand, positive words release anabolic hormones which help to heal and rejuvenate our bodies.

God affirms in the Bible what science is recently discovering.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Proverbs 18:21

Power is the word yad, meaning “in the hand of” or “under the direction of.”

Words of Life

When we speak the truth in Christ, we literally speak words of life over not just our physical bodies, but over destinies as well. It remains critical to our health, both physically and spiritually, to agree with what God says about us?

Is God saying, “You can!” while we mutter, “I can’t, it’s too hard, or that’s impossible?” Is God saying, “You are able!” while we protest, expounding on our inadequacies?”

I find the quickest way to steer the words of mouth into truth is through declarations of God’s Word. Let me use Romans 6 as an example. Paul reminds us that since we have been united with Christ in both His death and His resurrection we are now free from the confines of the past and free to confidently approach our future. He uses the symbolism of baptism to illustrate his point.

With my words, I declare this living reality.

“What shall I say then? Shall I go on sinning so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! Because of baptism I have died to sin in every way and can no longer live according to the patterns of my past. Every old way of thinking, speaking, and reacting has been buried with Him in baptism. I don’t have to eat that, smoke that, think that, say that, or do that old thing anymore. Christ has set me free, totally free, through His death and resurrection!!!
I am united with Christ in His resurrection — no longer a slave to or controlled by sin, but alive to everything that brings life, healing, and hope. My destiny and future is determined by Him alone. Because I am united with Christ, He makes all things possible for me. I have come to obey from my heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed my allegiance. I have been set free from every destructive way and become a bondservant of righteousness. Righteousness reigns within every part of my thinking and behavior. I am alive, forever alive, in Christ!”

I encourage you to read the whole chapter to understand the full message. As you read it out loud, speak it over your life, your family, and your situation. There is nothing magical as we form God’s Word into personal declaration, but something extremely significant occurs as we align our thoughts with His, and speak the truth in Christ.

Accountability

I can’t tell you how often, I have prayed with someone for healing and watched them receive a significant touch from the Lord. Even before they leave, however, negative patterns of speaking begin to undermine what God has radically done for them.

“It comes and goes, you know. Maybe it isn’t God’s will to heal me.” Through words of doubt, they keep the door open for sickness and disease to continue to harass them.

Other times, people receive a healing with thanksgiving and joy. They declare the things God has done with those around them. Their words align with God’s and their healing is secured as they speak the truth in Christ.

God has placed people in my life who hold me accountable by what I say. If I slip into degrading self-talk, usually jokingly, they call me on it. When I set my direction to accomplish a goal, they follow my progress and prod me on if necessary. If I’m attempting to overcome a problem, they make sure I see it through to completion. Accountability also keeps me from speaking careless words.

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
Matthew 12:36

Careless come from the Greek word argos meaning “inactive, unemployed, useless, barren, nonworking, and unprofitable.” Argos represents the opposite of speaking the truth in Christ.

Speak the Truth in Christ

As we speak the truth in Christ our words become action-packed, employing the power of God, useful for His purposes, reproducing godly fruit, working God’s intention within and around us, and profitable for the expansion of His Kingdom.

Just as careless or idle words destroy, God-inspired words build.

Tim Sheets, in his book Planting the Heavens (page 159), says,

” . . . God wants to give us the desires of our heart, but it’s our responsibility to steer our lives toward that desire with our words.”

Jesus repeated the words of Scripture found in Deuteronomy when He said,

” . . . Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

As we speak the truth in Christ, we align ourselves with “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” God’s desire and our heart’s desire come together, steering our lives with God-breathed words.

God-Breathed Words

This is a continual process as we endeavour to match our words with His. Whether our vocabulary needs a minor tweek or a major overhaul, let’s continue to speak the truth in Christ. God alone knows what transformational change might await us as we do.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14

“God fill our mouths with words agreeing with Your words of declaration over us, our families, and our communities. May Holy Spirit guide our use of words so that we may live with clear consciences before You. We desire to speak life-given, kingdom-advancing words. Anoint our tongues as mouthpieces for Your glory and praise. Amen.”

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Jesus Christ, The Source of All Hope

Without hope the human soul withers and dies. The Source of all hope waits with open arms, whispering to the faint and weary, “Come to Me.” The need for hope rivals the basic necessities for food, water, and shelter.

These last few years have drained so many people of aspirations, expections, and ambitions. A loss of confidence in once reliable systems of government, justice, education, and medicine has created a deep void in many people’s lives. Hope has become a rare commodity for a vast segment of our population. The things once believed possible now appear as a cruel mirage.

We have all faced significant losses. Loved ones have gone through the portal of death, businesses have collapsed, and deep divisions have formed within families. The societal cost cannot be overstated.

We have learned again that confidence placed in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ will produce disappointment and discouragement. He alone is the Source of all hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

I have overcome the crushing feelings of hopelessness and despair. For many years, they were my constant companions of gloom. Not any more!

Lost Hope

Recently, someone commented on a post I had written a few years ago. He felt the suffocating reality of hopelessness. On the verge of ending his life, God led him to read the words within the post that pointed Him to faith in Christ. As a result, he prayed, accepting Jesus as His Lord and Savior, and turned his life over to God. The hopelessness lifted as he found his Source of all hope in Jesus.

This morning, another young man contacted me. A short time ago, he too received Jesus as Savior, but he has gradually turned back to old and harmful ways of living and thinking. The hope he once felt has become distant and illusive. God is shining His light on this young man’s path and calling him to return. Both the choice and the consequences of his choice are his.

A long time ago, I too experienced enough of God’s love and grace to embrace it. Yet, the overwhelming circumstances of life and the nagging voices of shame seemed too strong to endure. I too turned from God, attempting to find another way. The choice of going my way led to decades of depression, suicidal thoughts, and deep spiritual darkness.

“May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 33:22

The moment I turned back to God, surrendering completely to Him, His light broke through the fog of despair. He will do the same for you.

Healing Hope

As we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ, the Source of all hope, aspirations, expections, and ambitions become re-centered around and in Him. Renewed hope becomes an unshakable anchor that holds fast through even the most difficult life circumstances.

May Holy Spirit open our eyes wide to know this hope!

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
Ephesians 1:18

The road to hopelessness turns steeply into an abyss. The path out usually takes time, effort, and grace. While there may be an instantaneous and supernatural lightening of grief and despair, at the same time persevering faith will bring us fully through.

Path of Hope

For me, and many others, strategic steps propel us to solid ground where renewed joy and anticipation reign.

” ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’ “
Lamentations 3:24

  1. Consistent prayer, Bible reading, and mediation — There is no substitute for a healthy, vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as we talk with Him and He talks with us.
  2. Supportive Christian community — The potential to thrive exists within a body of believers where honest, open relationships develop. Healthy churches produce healthy people, growing in faith through discipleship training and prayer support.
  3. Forgiveness toward others and the relinquishing of judgment — Past wounds heal only through forgiveness. As we forgive we will also be able to abandon any thoughts of judging those who have hurt us.
  4. Practice humility — Pride will continually hold us in shame and guilt. As we humbly acknowledge our needs before God and other believers, we gain freedom. The supportive structures within church community help us overcome.
  5. Serve — Even those new in their faith will reap the benefits of volunteering in the local church. Others need us as much as we need them. Through acts of service we develop strong mutual friendships, grow in areas of gifting, and become a vital part of a faith community.

Each one of these steps may initially appear overwhelming, but one at a time, little-by-little, they empower us, enabling us to believe and hope again.

Always Hope

With Jesus, hope always wins.

“But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift up their wings[and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]. They will run and not become weary (and) walk and not grow tired.”
Isaiah 40:31 AMP

At first, the truth of this verse may sound like a far reach. The more we allow it to seep into our spirit, the more it becomes our practical experience. Today, God extends renewed strength and promise to us. In Him, broken wings are mended, becoming strong enough to soar. Weariness falls away and faint hearts find courage to hope again.

Whether the loss of hope originated through broken relationships, addictive behaviors, financial pressures or any other cause, Jesus is the Source of renewed hope. In every area, He brings us to victory.

I pray that today a fresh wind of hope sweeps into your soul, dissipating every lie of the enemy that speaks contrary to God’s truth. May you hear the whisper of God calling you to Himself. It is not too late. You haven’t roamed to far from Him. His good plans for you haven’t changed.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus Christ, the Source of all hope, holds a future filled with hope for you. May God give you the courage to reach out and receive it.

Blessings, my friend.

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God’s Grace — Surpassing, Superabounding Grace

God’s Grace — His supernatural, surpassing, superabounding grace is available for us all. Today, is a day of grace.

The local news channel told how a venomous snake hitched a ride several hundred miles in the undercarriage of a Ferrari. The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake ranks as the most venomous snake in the regions. After the Ferrari was parked back in the showroom, the snake decided to explore its new surroundings.

Can you imagine the shock of the employees when they returned the next morning? Yikes!

Veterinarians returned the snake to its rightful habitat, employees resumed showroom routines, and all ended without incident. The account started me thinking about what might be riding along unnoticed in the undercarriage of my life. Would people be shocked if they knew?

I know of few “rattlers” like insecurity, pride, unforgiveness, and critical judgment that slither up in unwelcome fashion at unpredictable times. Hopefully other useful attributes like confidence, humility, diligence, graciousness, and mercy slide out from hiding as well.

Without exaggeration, I hate snakes! I also hate the sin and its ugly components which incessantly slither through the undercurrents of life. But God’s grace surpasses and superabounds over it all!

This morning I read this encouraging passage from the Amplified Bible:

“But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and surperabounded.”
Romans 5:20b

However great sin becomes, grace surpasses, increases, and superabounds more. Praise the Lord!

God’s Grace

As Paul writes to the Roman church, he quickly shines the spotlight on what everyone desperately tried to ignore.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

In fact, Paul went into great detail to demonstrate how prolific sin reigns. He clearly states no person, nor any group of people, stands clear of indictment. No one meets God’s standard. Paul doesn’t end the conversation there, however. He immediately offers hope — the single but sturdy thread of hope found in Jesus Christ.

Listen to the whole passage:

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:24

Righteousness

As we honestly look at ourselves, we recognize we possess no righteousness of our own. Yet for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God declares them righteous because of what He has, not we have, done.

To be righteous simply means to be in right standing with God. Apart from Jesus, it is impossible. In Him, righteousness becomes completely possible!

Someone once explained “justified” as being “just as if I had never sinned.” The definition may not form a complete understanding, but it captures the essence.

God desires us all to experience His righteousness.

“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace: its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
Isaiah 32:17

Nobody merits God’s righteousness through a good life filled with good deeds. Matthew encourages us to prioritize seeking God’s righteousness.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

By God’s grace, He extends righteousness to us through Jesus Christ.

God’s Grace

Though God’s grace stands available “to all,” not “all” will receive it. Not everyone will acknowledge their need of God’s grace. Sadly, not everyone seeks it.

The Amplified Bible calls God’s grace “unmerited favor.” Other definitions include God’s life, power, and righteousness given by unmerited favor. Grace is translated from the Hebrew word chanan or the Greek word charis. It means “a state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a focus on a benefit given.” Even here the definition falls short unless we also consider the inclusion of God’s love and mercy.

We call it God’s grace because grace is not just what He does, but who God is. God is gracious!

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all: he has compassion on all he has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

Out of the overlow of God’s goodness, He extends His grace and compassion “to all he has made.”

Through Jesus

Paul explains that God’s grace flows through the channel of faith — faith in Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Romans 10:9-10

We access God’s grace through a verbal declaration of faith in Jesus Christ that honestly professes the belief of our heart. It is a simple but profound transition that I certainly don’t fully understand and cannot fully explain — a supernatural transition of God’s overflowing, superabounding mercy, love, and goodness.

Thank God

Maybe you have received this transition of God’s grace into your life decades ago. Perhaps, you first experienced it only yesterday! It doesn’t matter. Let’s thank Him for doing for, and in, us what we could never do for ourselves. The deadly snakes that once road on our “undercarriage” hide no more. God’s grace has come.

Perhaps this is new to you. If so, simply tell God in your own words what is stirring within your heart. Seek His grace by declaring your faith in Jesus Christ, even right now. We don’t need fancy words or scripted prayer. Just honestly tell God your desire to know His grace personally.

As we appreciate and enjoy God’s grace, it will transform our lives!

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Celebrate With Me! Summer Reading GiveAway

Celebrate with me! Today, I share God’s accomplishment in my life with you through a Summer Reading GiveAway. Who would have thought when I published my first book five years ago more would follow? Not me!

Celebration time! A Name Above All Others, a coloring book devotional based on the names of God will soon be available. To celebrate, other authors who write and publish in the same genre, are collaborating with me for a Summer Reading GiveAway. Yahoo!

“The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126:3

The Winner is Salena from Ontario, Canada!

The Summer Reading GiveAway, a value of $200, includes contributions from eight amazing authors. Celebrate with me as I introduce these wonderful collegues to you. Their insight and inspiration adds flesh to this reading package for author signed copies!

Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Ann-Margret Hovsepian is an author and illustrator in Montreal with over 25 years of experience as a freelance writer. She serves as Managing Editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog and on the board of the Evangelical Press Association.

Ann-Margret contributes Restore My Soul, an interactive devotional to the Summer Reading GiveAway. Restore my Soul celebrates our unique creativity and to connect us with the ultimate Creator. Find refreshment in short reflections on Scripture. Be inspired as you color accompanying illustrations created for meditation and prayer.

For more about Ann-Margret, check out her website, ann@annhovsepian.com

Barbara Fuller

I first met Barbara at Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship Fall Conference about three years ago. Later, I gained further appreciate for Barbara while participating in a virtual study she wrote.

Barbara Fuller, a native of Nova Scotia, served as a pastor, missionary, ministry director. Most recently, she has written four books in the Inlight Bible Studies series. She is currently working on a memoir and another Bible study. Barb lives in Kamloops, British Columbia and she loves spending time with her six grand-darlings. She also enjoys traveling, reading, and walking on beaches, preferably with her dog Toby. Learn more at www.barbarafullerauthor.wordpress.com

You may purchase Always With You and other Bible studies from Barbara at barbarafullerauthor@gmail.com

Carol Ford

As a published author, Carol shares her Christian faith in her writing and speaking. Two of her short stories have been published in the Hot Apple Cider series — My Mother’s Gift and My Forever Home 1948. Carol speaks on the topic of her adoption and birth family reunion, and shares God’s blessings and protection throughout her life.

Carol Ford is one of the five authors of As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers. As the Ink Flows tackles issues such as what it means to be a Christian writer, how to improve your craft, and what to do when the ink stops flowing onto the page. The layout of the book allows you to focus on God’s Word and prayer for guidance in your writing. It also gives you an opportunity to practice the technique modeled in the chosen Scripture passages. The “Let the Ink Flow” pages provide the incentive to try something different and to be inspired and confident to use your God-given talents.

Individual writers, songwriters, groups, and spiritual leaders will all benefit from the entries. Find it here on Amazon.

https://carolfordassociates.wordpress.com/

Carol Harrison

I personally benefited from Carol Harrison’s teaching and inspiration during a local presentation at an Inscribe Christian Writer’s Workshop.

As a speaker, published author, and storyteller, Carol Harrison passionately mentors people of all ages and abilities to help them find their voice and reach their fullest potential. She shares from her heart, telling stories from real life experiences and God’s Word to encourage people and help them find a glimmer of hope no matter what the circumstances. Carol believes we need to continuously grow in our walk with God. She lives out her storytelling passion by speaking at women’s events and retreats, Bible Camps as well as school assemblies and church events. Carol is a wife, mother of four adult children and grandmother to twelve. She makes her home is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. You can find more information on her website at www.carolscorner.ca 

Carol’s book Nuggets of Encouragement contains 50 short devotionals. God speaks through the ordinary events of our lives, stories we hear, verses we read, and a variety of experiences too. Like pebbles in a creek waiting for someone to discover an interesting shape, the author searches for nuggets of gold in everyday moments of life. She shares the encouragement she mines from those moments with the readers through these short meditations. 

CJ Hitz

CJ Hitz and his wife, Shelley, enjoy sharing God’s Truth through their speaking engagements and their writing. They enjoy spending time outdoors running, hiking, and exploring God’s beautiful creation. CJ and Shelley reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I highly recommend Christian Book Academy, where CJ and Shelley mentor and train thousands of Christian authors to reach their potential in Christ.

The Summer Reading GiveAway includes CJ’s book Manna From Heaven: 21 Days of Nourishment for the Soul.

Kim Louise Clarke

Kim writes devotional travel memoir stories to reflect her love for Christ, in humourous, informative, and inspirational ways. She loves travelling with her family, and lives with her husband in Calgary, not far from the airport. You can read about her two published books, set in Paris and Thailand, at www.kimlouiseclarke.com

The Summer Reading GiveAway includes Kim’s book, The French Collection: Moments with God in Paris. In this series of devotions, the reader travels through Paris with the author on her vacation and her journey of faith. Six days are spent exploring some of the city’s lesser-known sites, in anticipation of meeting up with her daughter for another three days of sightseeing. Together, reader and author become familiar with the fascinating history and culture of the city of Paris. Certain moments stand out above all others from the vacation. They are more intense, or more amusing, sometimes more embarrassing, or even more fearful.  Kim turned these moments, developed around the sights and history of Paris and wrapped in Scripture, into The French Collection.

Marcia Lee Laycock

Marcia Lee Laycock is a popular speaker, a prolific free-lance writer and author of poetry, short stories and award-winning books. Her devotional column, Home Words, goes out to hundreds of readers world-wide. Marcia published six books of fiction and four devotional books. Her work has been endorsed by notable Christian authors, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia’s writing has also been broadcast on CBC Radio.

I participated in Marcia’s online workshop called Devotions of Distinction. So beneficial!

Marcia’s book, Spur of the Moment, contains a collection of short devotionals that will open your eyes to the reality of God in everyday life. Written in an anecdotal style, the stories all point to the mercy and grace of God.

For more information on Marcia, check here.

Summer Reading GiveAway

Lastly, my two new additions: A Name Above All Others and the companion journal find their way into the Summer Reading GiveAway. They include 31 short devotions and inspirational coloring pages, drawing attention the several of God’s names. The benefits of considering God’s names and nature cannot be overestimated.

Devotional Coloring Book
A Name Above All Others Journal

Find the devotional here at Amazon.ca. Or the journal, here!

To celebrate with me simply sign up! The variety of writing styles from these various authors will nurture your faith and refresh your spirit. I feel honored to be connected with authors who have all inspired and motivated me to improve and continue in the craft of writing and artistry.

Congratulations Salena!!!

The Wedding at Cana — Jesus Revealed His Glory

Today we look at Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana without becoming sidetracked by peripheral issues. Recently, we discussed this passage at a small home group meeting. They helped unlock some aspects of the miracle I had previously failed to notice. Hopefully, I now see a greater piece of God’s heart. Here at the wedding, Jesus revealed His glory through His first miracle.

We may easily become lost in the symbolic imagery of wedding feasts, motherly medling, water and wine. Cana means “reed,” and comes from the verb, to twist together. Even here we see symbolism of humanities fallen condition for which Jesus willingly came.

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee, Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.”
John 2:1

Who doesn’t love a wedding? Families and friends gather to celebrate the beautiful remaking of two unique individuals into one covenant relationship. Weddings connect us with people we rarely see and help develop new relationships that otherwise would have had no opportunity to form. We leave tired, happy, stomachs full, cheeks aching from laughter, and hearts filled with thanksgiving.

A word-by-word study of the John 2:1-12 would benefit each of us, but today, rather than zoom in, we will take a panoramic view of the occasion.

New Wine

As a former alcoholic, I am all to familiar with the negative affects of liquor. When Jesus turned water into wine, He made new wine — a wine unlike any previous wine. No aging or fermentation went into this brand of wine.

Biblically, new wine prophetically speaks of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2:13, onlookers laughed and mocked.

“But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.'”
Acts 2:13 ESV

Inside and outside the church, people thirst for something more. They have tasted the old wine the world offers and have come away lacking. Jesus revealed His glory by offering everyone new wine — again prophetically pointing to the Holy Spirit.

Many prophets today are hearing God say, “A new era is here! This is the season of new wine. You are about to encounter Me as you never have before.”

At the wedding in Cana, Jesus revealed His glory. Through a supernatural sign, He showed the power of His worth, His weightiness, greatness, honor, and splendor. Yet few recognized Him. Most were too caught up in the events of the day to see or understand that the King of Glory came to celebrate with them, hang out among them, and bring them joy.

A Dream

Though the author of this dream remains anonymous, the dream carries a wonderful message.

Imagine you and the Lord Jesus were walking along the beach together. For much of the way, the Lord’s footprints go along steadily, consistently, rarely varying the pace. But your footprints are a disorganized stream of zigzags, starts, stops, turnarounds, circles, departures, and returns. For much of the way, it seems to go like this, but gradually your footprints come more in line with the Lord’s, soon paralleling His consistently. You and Jesus are walking as true friends!

This seems perfect, but then an interesting thing happens. Your footprints that once etched the sand next to Jesus’ are now walking precisely in His steps. Inside His large footprints are your small ones; you and Jesus are becoming one.

This goes on for many miles, but gradually you notice another change. The footprints inside the large footprints seem to grow larger. Eventually they disappear altogether. There is only one set of footprints; they have become one. This goes on for a long time, but suddenly the second set of footprints is back.

Zigzags all over the place. Stops, starts, gashes in the sand. A veritable mess of prints. This time it seems even worse! You are amazed and shocked. Your dream ends. (Tim Sheet, Planting the Heavens, Destiny, pg 33)

The Meaning

You pray, “Lord, I understand the first scene with the zigzags and fits. I was a new Christian, and I was just learning. But You walked on through the storm and helped me learn to walk with You.”

And He spoke softly, “That is correct.”

“And when the smaller footprints were inside of Yours, I was actually learning to walk in Your steps; I followed You very closely.”

And He answered, “Very good. You have understood everything so far.”

When the smaller footprints grew and filled in Yours, I suppose that I was becoming like You in every way.”

He beamed, “Precisely.”

“So Lord, was there a regression or something? The footprints separated, and this time it was worse than before. Zigzags, gashes in the sand, turns every which way, circles.”

There is a pause as the Lord answers with a smile in His voice, “You didn’t know? That was when we danced!

The Dance

In the beginning when God made humanity, He came every day, without fail, to walk with them, talk with them, laugh with them. God loved to be with them, hanging out together. God and man dancing in relationship!

For thousands of years, the gap of sin separated God from His deepest longing — to be with us! Now He came disguised as a carpenter. He came to a wedding, bringing new wine in abundance! He sat among them, listening, laughing, playing, and enjoying their face-to-face company.

Tears flow as I catch but a glimmer of the Father’s heart to be with each one of us.

Jesus came with the new wine of the Holy Spirit — not just a little, but gallons upon gallons upon gallons. More than we need! More than we could ask or hope for!

“And do not get drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life, but be filled with the Spirit.”
Ephesians 5:18 NLT

Greek scholars and Bible commentators point out that the Greek present imperative tense is used for “be filled.” It has the connotation of a continuous replenishment, an ongoing state of being filled.

“And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 4:31

Always More

As they prayed, a continuous replenishing of the Holy Spirit poured into believers. As they prayed, Jesus revealed his glory through the Holy Spirit.

Are you thirsty? Do you long for new wine of the Spirit to be poured into your life? Is your heart stirred to dance with Jesus?

For this reason Jesus revealed His glory! So that those who were empty would be empty no longer! So that all who are thirtsty would be fully satisfied.

“O Jesus, we declare our love for You! May our lives become a messy swirl of swoopes and twirls, dancing with abandon in Your presence. May our times of sitting with You become supernaturally normal, encountering the wonder and greatness of who You are in ways we never have before. Lord, stir our hearts with fresh awareness of Your delight for us and longing to just hang out with us. You need no special occasion to celebrate Your pleasure in being with us. Today, we welcome You into our reedy, twisted ordinary. Fill us! Fill us again and again and again! Pour into us the overflow of Your joyous Presence through the Holy Spirit. Captivate our hearts again, Lord. Forgive us for losing the big picture of Your love within the miniscule mundane of the now. May we celebrate You as much as You celebrate us! Oh Lord, fill our hearts with Your new wine! Saturate us! May we encounter You in new ways in this new season, discovering Your glory.”

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