98% Right 1/7/2022

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by Staci Stallings

First, I was a student back in the day, and back then, I got a variety of grades. Most of my grades were in the A-range—90 and above.  Not all. Just most.

While my grades were 90 and above, I was still often disappointed when they weren’t a 100%. And if I didn’t get a 100, I knew two things—one, I should have worked or studied harder, and two, the 90 or above grade would average out high enough that I would be okay.  It worked. I eventually graduated at the top of my class.

Fast-forward a few years and I became a teacher. For many of my students, they were not interested in getting grades at the 90-or-above level.  They were simply interested in passing (70%) or passing high enough to play sports (75%). This drove me a little nuts because, honestly, I knew most of them were capable of much higher levels of work, but they were simply not willing to put in the effort.

However, their mindset wasn’t something I could fix, and although it did make me feel less-than-100%, without an actual grade to go by, I didn’t have a scale-measure of just how far from 100% I was or how to increase my “grade” to a higher level.  Oh, I tried, but I don’t know how successful I was.

The other day, now being an author, I realized something about myself and particularly my writing.  While I strive for that 100%, it is nearly impossible to reach.  And a “grade” in the 90’s doesn’t feel like an A.  If it’s not 100%, it feels like the readers think I’m not even trying.

Think about it.  Out here in the writing world, to get a 100%, I have to write a 400+ page book with no errors or even perceived errors (you see, not all readers are English majors, and some have actually been *gasp* taught wrong themselves!).  Some of those readers who are “grading” my work are those 70% students I had in high school.

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that.  In fact, I’m quite glad they are reading. But one of the most frustrating things is writing with no good way to have a conversation afterward. Because some of them decide to write reviews, and some of them decide to mark a book down, sometimes way down, and they write things like, “This book was filled with erors.”  (sic)  They get the names of characters wrong. They complain there were “so many” errors, but at times you are left with the impression that the errors they “found” weren’t errors at all.

This is not to say my books are 100% right.  A long time ago, God (thankfully!) freed me from my obsessive need to always be 100% right (i.e. perfectionism syndrome).  He very graciously explained to me that my worth with Him is not predicated upon how perfect I am.  It is merely a reflection of how perfect He is.

However, I’m not going to say these reviews never hurt. Unfortunately, I cannot go back to the reviewer as I could a teacher and ask why.  I cannot go back and explain or even ask for clarification so I can “fix it” next time. Worse, very often what one reviewer will mark me down for is in direct contradiction to what another praises.

All I get is the feedback that the book wasn’t perfect, and everyone moves on.

I will tell you that even an author whose aim is 98% accuracy, it’s not always easy to deal with not being completely perfect.

Interestingly, I am coming to learn in the last week or so how well my characters reflect this very dynamic.  Not all of them are still in school. Many are years removed from it.  Not all were stellar students, but all are dealing with a world that “grades” them and always finds them lacking.

For example, Sage Wentworth in “Mirror Mirror” is the golden girl who is the envy of all the girls in a small town. So envied, in fact, that the others see no harm in tearing her down. Why? Because she’s perfect, and they can’t stand how “close to perfection” she is.

Of course, Sage isn’t perfect although she’s desperately trying to be. Worse, the barbs and criticisms go far, far deeper than anyone knows. Oh, she’s learned to smile through them and put on a good face, but behind closed doors, it is a very different story.

And now, at the end of August, “When I’m Weak” will debut, featuring Sage’s sister, Jaycee who has grown up now but is still fighting those same demons.  Funny how when I think about this book now about to go out in the world, I get a little trepidation in my chest.  Readers liked Sage so much, will they like Jaycee?  Will they even give her a chance? Will they like that we leap forward in time?  Will they judge her as harshly as she is judging herself?  Will they be upset that the story isn’t quite as long as the first one or that…? Okay, you can fill in the blank.

Maybe I’m a weird author, but every time I put out a new book, I get that same “have to breathe it down” trepidation. This isn’t about some math formulas that I don’t really care about. It’s not about some names and dates of long ago happenings.  For me, this is right here and right now. Important on an eternal scale of hoping readers get what I’m trying to say, and important on a 98% right isn’t perfection scale.

Letting go of the second doesn’t always make dealing with it easier. It is a step-for-step process—remembering to keep my eyes on Him and not on the “erors.”

How about you, in your life?  Does getting life 98% right bother you too? I know it does Sage and Jaycee, and I feel like they can’t be the only ones.  I guess in that way, they are a reflection of the author whose name is on the cover of their stories.  I don’t know that to always be the case, but I suspect it is more times than not.

So, dear readers, I do hope you like my stories. Just know, they came from someone who wanted a 100% but probably didn’t get there.  That’s the “other side of the conversation” you probably don’t hear very often and the one I’ve been wanting to say for a while now.  Now, maybe that I’ve said it, I can move on and just write.  That would be nice.

Mirror Mirror – Buy from Amazon

When I’m Weak – Buy from Amazon

Mirror Mirror When I Am Weak

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight Live and Have Faith Book 30 – Book 42 1/6/2021

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

Live and Have Faith Book 30 – Book 42

by Robin Cocks

Live and Have Faith Book 30 - Book 42

If you enjoy reading holy scriptures and short stories, you might like reading this set of stories.
1. Live and Have Faith Book 30 I Will Help
A young boy’s prayer is answered after he does a good deed.
2. Live and Have Faith (LAHF) Book 31 Be Still
After experiencing some troublesome situations, a man is still.
3. Live and Have Faith (LAHF) Book 32 First
When a couple put others first, they receive a blessing.
4. Live and Have Faith (LAHF) Book 33 One
One person’s goodness influences another.
5. Live and Have Faith (LAHF) Book 34 One More
An elderly man helps a student.
6. Live and Have Faith (LAHF) Book 34 too Another One.
An educator helps.
7. Live and Have Faith (LAHF) Book 35 Everyone
A group of volunteers contribute.
8. Ordinary Guy Live and Have Faith 36 Keep on Praying An Additional One
A specialist helps a student.
9. Live and Have Faith Book 37 Only One
A school employee receives help.
10. Live and Have Faith Book 38 One X One
After others pray for him, a student earns an “A”.
11. Live and Have Faith Book 39 One Away
A boy is disappointed after his school closes.
12. Ordinary Guy Live and Have Faith 40 One Day
A boy is content with his new school but notices something odd.
13. Live and Have Faith Book 41 One + One 2nd Edition
This book is about boy’s second day of school.
14. Ordinary Guy Live and Have Faith Book 42 One By One
A leader’s influence changes a school.

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CrossReads Short Takes: The Allegiance of Jesus & Thee Will I Cherish

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CrossReadsShortTakes

CrossReads Short Takes

The Allegiance of Jesus

Why is Peace Misunderstood?

by Claire Krulikowski

The Allegiance of Jesus

Peace has been misunderstood. Peace is active, not passive, and the energy of peace is powerful. Unleashing that power enables us to transform our lives and world–as Jesus taught and demonstrated daily.

Has your life, the world, become too complicated? Too agitated? Too hurtful? If so, then it is because we have all forgotten our divine Source and have been regularly, habitually,, instructed to believe in the opposite. That instruction has compromised awareness of our soul’s call causing us to choose survival tactics over thriving practice. But, are our beliefs, insecurities, fears, anger, and wars more worthwhile than believing in and living the principles Jesus taught and exemplified?

The principles expressed within The Allegiance of Jesus are founded on the question, “To whose authority do we owe our allegiance?” The information provided may challenge many preconceived concepts you’ve held for the whole of your life. Ultimately, it is meant to inspire you to create life anew by living the wisdom and power encoded within your soul.

So, do you believe Jesus was serious or not?

This inspirational book offers readers insights into the truth of peace; reviews five reasons people actually fear peace; explains the shattering awareness people began to experience hearing from Jesus about a God of love and witnessing acts of healing; offers potent reconsiderations about the nature of our material reality; summarizes how the various books in the Bible were selected for inclusion; the potential transcribing issues and political and religious issues over the centuries that have re-shaped the societal message and image of Jesus.

Most importantly, this book rouses every reader to look within and feel new potential for their life. Read The Allegiance of Jesus: Why is Peace Misunderstood? and feel a sense of destiny stir

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Thee Will I Cherish

An Inspirational Amish Love Story

by Joyce Daley

Thee Will I Cherish

David and Naomi Bontrager have a secret. To protect their adult children, Daniel and Anna, they agree to leave their Amish community in Buck Mill, Ohio, and become Englisch. The siblings, however, find it impossible to stay in Eastern Ohio after their parents’ shunning. So Daniel and Anna move to a small Amish town a few hours away in Western Pennsylvania. Rumors of their family’s scandal, however, chase them across the state line and some of the Elders of Levity, PA, are none too pleased to have Daniel and Anna settle in their community. Will their parents’ shame prevent the siblings from finding love and acceptance? Or will each of them, with God’s grace and guidance, find a new life with the person of their dreams?

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 1/4/2022

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Verse of the Day

January 4 2022

Scripture

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1 NIV

Devotion

Our verse of the day is an admonition addressing a group of people in the Galatian church. They were trying to convince the church that in order to be saved they must do more than just have faith in Jesus Christ. They must also obey certain commandments of the Mosaic Law. This kind of thinking, let’s call it “faith-plus thinking,” has been common in Christian circles through the ages. In order to guarantee salvation, some have felt the need to add a list of moral stipulations to faith in Jesus Christ. They think that a person can’t be saved if they violate whatever stipulations they have added to faith.

The Apostle Paul will have none of this kind of thinking. His whole point in writing to the believers in Galatia- was to show them that it is by faith alone that we are saved (Galatians 2:15-16). We do not earn salvation by obedience to law. We are given salvation through faith in Christ. To believe that it is necessary to obey a set of laws in order to be saved is to submit oneself to a yoke of slavery to those laws.

Christ set us free from the yoke of the Mosaic Law and any other law that people may try to set up as a condition of salvation. In Christ we are free. It is for freedom that we have been set free, not for slavery. Therefore, since we are free in Christ, we must live as if we are free in Christ. We must stand firm in the freedom we have been given through Christ and not fall into the trap of faith-plus thinking. We must not let ourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery to a set of laws.

None of this means that we have a license to sin. Later in Galatians, Paul tells them they should not “use your freedom to indulge the flesh” (Galatians 5:13). This means that we are saved by faith, not by works of the law.

Since it is for freedom that we have been set free and not for slavery, let us stand fast in that freedom and throw off any yoke of slavery we may have taken upon ourselves.

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Resolve to Love 1/3/2022

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by Precarious Yates

So many people are seeking a word for the new year. A blessing. An encounter. Me too. I’m yearning for it…yearning the way that a wanderer in the desert would yearn for a well.

It’s not bad to want things from God. Yet He wants something from us too. But He will not demand something from us without giving us the ability to give it

Have you ever kept a New Year’s resolution? I think I kept one. I made the resolution to drink lots more water, and I kept that resolution for a few years. (Come to think of it, I should pick that up again…)

There is one resolution we can make where we can never go wrong, the resolution to LOVE, but we can also never keep it on our own.

If we can never keep it on our own, why bother?

We bother because we are not meant to go through this life on our own. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18). God sent His Holy Spirit to help us. And He does!

Throughout the New Testament, we are commanded to love:

Romans 12:9-10

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection.

John 13:34
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

And so many other verses!!

In Deuteronomy it says that we shall love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is not just a command, it is a prophecy! You shall! You will be enabled to love like this by His Holy Spirit!

We can resolve to do this, but we don’t have to do this on our own. In fact, it’s better and more effective if we don’t.

Happy new year and God bless you!
Precarious Yates

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

Links:

Facebook Amazon Author Page

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Falling Down and Getting Back Up 12/31/2021

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by Staci Stallings

One of the things I find interesting from an omniscient point of view is being able to take a step back and see trends in my writing. I know there are other authors who plot out ideas. I’m not one of them. I write where the Spirit leads me, and it’s often only when I go back and look at where I’ve been and the ground I’ve trod in my writing that themes begin to take shape.

A theme that’s recently been spinning through me and my writing is the idea of what happens when life really takes a hard whack at you. I’m talking about when you have a dream burning inside of you, and then something happens to take that dream away… forever.

What happens to your life?  What happens to your choices?  What happens to your relationship with God? What happens with you?

Do you shut down? Find a new dream? Do you change, and how do you change?

Recently I met a young cousin of mine who was incredibly good at soccer. She loved soccer. Her mom was her coach. They are an athletic family already, and soccer was one of their outlets. And then the accident. The ball went one way, her knee went the other.

And life would never be the same.

I had a chance to sit and talk with her for a while at a family reunion, and it was interesting to hear from a 12-year-old’s perspective this life-dynamic of how do you deal with life when it changes so drastically? As I listened to her story, I couldn’t help but remember some of my characters who had also gone through life-altering injuries.

One of the things I think is completely strange is how in my head, there are memories of scenes, memories of feelings, of raw emotion that I never actually lived through.  One of them is a scene from my newest release, that comes out tomorrow, “When I’m Weak.”

The basic story picks up fourteen years after “Mirror Mirror” left off. We are plunged into Jaycee’s world (you know Jaycee, the one you couldn’t STAND in Mirror Mirror?).  Well, 14 years later, Jaycee is still as hard-charging and stubborn as ever. Her outside world has changed. She’s moved on from her small town upbringing. But inside, she’s still just as Jaycee as ever.

However, one thing readers of Mirror Mirror will notice instantly is that Jaycee hasn’t ended up where we might have thought she was going, and the central question of “why” begins to snake around the corners.

In the midst of her “now” story, there are flashbacks to how she got where she is today, and it is one of those flashbacks that is as real to me as if I had lived it. Funny, how life works like that. Bringing past and present, real life and imagined life altogether in me in ways I cannot put into words nor explain.

What I do know is I have learned and I’m learning that one of the most central issues of our lives is this idea of what do we choose to do when we get knocked down, how do we get up, do we get up, who helps us along the way, and who loves us long after our life has been altered from its previous state?

I can’t explain any of that, but I’m learning that I write about it every day. I love my job!

Hottest Home Improvement

About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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CrossReads Book Spotlight: Journey to Joy

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book Spotlight

Journey to Joy

by Anne Perreault

Journey to Joy

Can she find joy where there has only been defeat and dishonor?

Tricked into indentured servitude, Joy Richards finds herself working for an abusive innkeeper. Her life is so destitute, she feels God has forsaken her. After one last desperate cry to God, a kind stranger steps in to take her away.

Can she trust this new circumstance?

Andrew Lloyd-Foxx abhors injustice. He can’t walk away from it. When he steps in on the young woman’s behalf, his own life is turned upside down. Burdened with his own loss, he has no room for anyone else.

Will the journey prove too difficult?

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CrossReads Short Takes: A Mustard Seed & Dwelling

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CrossReadsShortTakes

CrossReads Short Takes

A Mustard Seed

(A Woman Like Me Book 1)

by Sadie Cuffe

A Mustard Seed

What if you asked God to shake up your life and, when He did, you lost your friend, your marriage, and your faith? Susanna Jacobs longs for a change, but she can’t put her desire into words. According to her friends, she has it all: a devoted, if workaholic, husband, a beautiful independent-minded daughter, a successful business. But something’s missing.

As Susanna struggles to find the missing piece, God dumps a thrown-away Bible into her lap. From the moment she touches the red cover, Susanna’s intrigued by the name Joanne written inside the flyleaf. As she searches for this mystery woman to return the Bible to its rightful owner, Susanna travels down an increasingly dark and dangerous path.

A Woman Like Me/A Mustard Seed begins the story of every 21st century woman, bridging the gap between contemporary realistic fiction and personal faith. Walk in the shoes of one of us for a year. Live and breathe in those 365 days threaded with smiles and tears, woven in strands of ordinary moments, life-changing opportunities, and gut-wrenching self-revelations. An excellent read for book clubs and Christian women’s circles, A Mustard Seed is packed with intimate scenes from a slice-of-a-woman’s-life we all share as sisters. It’ll keep you hopeful and heart-broken with every page turn.

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Dwelling

Dwelling

Jesus said He was going to make ready a dwelling place for you (John 14:2-3). But where is His dwelling place? In heaven? In your heart?

The answer is both.

Dwelling explores the transformational experience received through deepening relationship with Christ. Using imagery, symbolism, story, and an abundance of Scripture, and combining the best knowledge in neurology and psychology with impassioned Biblical analysis, Dwelling leads you into a deep dive of personal exploration and growth in faith, taking the reader by the hand and leading them to the path of partnership with Christ to prepare for His indwelling.

While other books might offer a list of steps or suggest simplistic answers to complex issues, Dwelling faces those issues head-on, without fear, and challenges you to look in the mirror and acknowledge the hard work you and Jesus must do together to achieve holiness and live in the Kingdom of God.

In Dwelling you will:
Discover the path to your new dwelling
Learn how Jesus prepares your heart
Challenge your old ways of thinking, feeling, and acting
Establish a new foundation built on oneness with Christ
Rebuild new patterns using God’s materials
Anchor yourself in the pillars of love, faith, and freedom

Through these truths, Dwelling enlightens both believers and nonbelievers in how to live in the Kingdom of God now.

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Know the Truth 12/28/2021

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by Suzanne D. Williams

There is only two sides in life. The TRUTH and the LIE. The Word of God is TRUTH, and all else that does not agree with it is a LIE. There is no gray area. (Jn 17:17)

I had a reason recently to encounter the LIE. I saw plainly its affect on my life and how I’d given into it. Let me tell you, first, that, contrary to what we might think, the LIE is not ugly. Not at all. What makes the LIE a LIE, what makes it DECEPTION is its resemblance to the TRUTH. It SEEMS RIGHT but leads to death. (Pr 14:12) The LIE is deceptive words dressed up in fancy clothing.

What does the Word of God say? The apostle Paul, in reference to “false apostles” plaguing the church at Corinth, made the statement: “For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2Co 11:14)

Our enemy, the devil, knows just enough to pull his ruse off, and unfortunately, many inside the church, who are supposed to know better, fall for it. The LIE looked good, like FRUIT meant to make us wise, but its taste brought death. (Ge 3:6)

How are we meant to avoid it then? If the LIE is so convincing, how do we know it from the TRUTH?

One powerful Scripture gives us the answer. Jesus in John 8:31-32 said, “If ye CONTINUE IN MY WORD, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall KNOW THE TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free.” The key to freedom from the LIE is to CONTINUE IN THE WORD.

You are what you eat, and you are what you think. There’s a reason we are told to “cast down imaginations” and to “take captive” any thoughts fighting against God’s Word in us. (2Co 10:5) The LIE will destroy us if we embrace it. We can’t just think whatever we want and accept anything that floats through our heads but must say a very loud NO.

NO, I will not think about that. NO, I will not be like that. NO, I will not accept that.

And our NO is enforced by our knowledge of the TRUTH. We stay in the WORD, reading and meditating upon it. It becomes our LIFESTYLE. I get up thinking about God’s Word. I sit down for breakfast with Scriptures on my mind. I read and worship and pray; I declare grace over my day before I get dressed. While I’m in the car, I’m rolling TRUTH over in my mind and, here’s a huge key – I listen to the HOLY SPIRIT speaking in my spirit man. (Jn 4:24)

I practice hearing TRUTH because hearing the LIE and trusting in it were what got me in this mess.

My mother tells the story of a woman who spent her days reading Acts 10:38. She read it over and over and over again. Then one day, she was in the grocery store, and the clerk read off the price of her purchase. “That will be ten thirty-eight.”

The woman, without thinking replied instantly, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Her response was automatic because Acts 10:38 was planted deep within her.

The more we plant the TRUTH in our hearts, the more we will uproot the LIE. I admit that, at first, after realizing you’ve been duped, there’s a time of confusion. After all, how do you trust yourself now? THE TRUTH IS you cannot. Your TRUST is in God, as Father, as Word, as Spirit, to guide you from here on out. (Jn 16:13)

There is an awesome moment when you see yourself as totally inept under your own strength, and you finally know how much you depend on God. When He becomes the GREATER ONE and the STRENGTH inside you is solely Him, you will realize how powerful the TRUTH really is. (1Jn 4:4)

Because the TRUTH defeated the LIE once and for all at Calvary, and herein is our victory. Not in what we deserved, nor in our own striving against sin, which is pointless, but in that God’s overwhelming love for us made His Son, the WORD and the TRUTH, Savior of the world. (Jn 1:1)

Read the author’s testimony.

Fearless

Fearless

Published by Becky Combee Ministries, Inc.

www.beckycombeeministries.com

Reader reviews: “Beautiful, inspiring” ~ “Wonderful encouragement” ~ “Redefined what fearless meant to me.” ~ “Very inspirational” ~ “Warm, compassionate, outstanding”

What does it mean to be fearless? And how to I get there? Where is the way out from hopelessness and despair?

Once crippled by fear, Suzanne Williams shares her personal walk out of the darkness of fear into the health, peace, and freedom promised in God’s Word.

For more information, visit Suzanne at www.suzannedwilliams.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne D. WilliamsBest-selling author, Suzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors. She is co-founder of THE EDGE.

To learn more about what she’s doing and check out her extensive catalog of stories, visit http://www.feelgoodromance.com or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SDWAuthor.

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Verse of the Day and Devotional 12/27/2021

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Verse of the Day

December 27, 2021

Scripture

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, ‘Let me not look on the death of the child.’ And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. – Genesis 21:15-16 ESV

Devotion

Take a moment to read the first 21 verses of Genesis 21. Sometimes we get the impression that people who trust Christ, read their Bibles, pray, and attend church live calm and peaceful lives amid the turmoil around them. But the biblical data really does not support that conclusion. Like Sarah, Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael, we find our lives in a constant test of stressful choices. Many of these force us back to total dependence on God. And such is the life of faith.

With Isaac’s birth came laughter that had not permeated through the tents of Abraham for years. Laughter is a theme carried throughout this eventful baby shower. In fact, Isaac’s name means ‘laughter’ in Hebrew. This indeed was a time of rejoicing for everyone. But quickly, rejoicing turned to mocking (v. 9). Ishmael may have been mocking as a result of an older sibling, adolescent mentality, but it is also possible that he was old enough to realize that all his hopes of inheritance were dashed because of Isaac’s birth. That, along with so much other baggage in the tense relationship between Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar, made Sarah’s demand for Abraham to “Cast out this slave woman with her son…” such a stinging rebuke and an unspeakable grievance on Abraham’s part. Under God’s direction, Abraham sent Hagar and their son Ismael away, and she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba (v 14).

And so, we come to the two verses in our verse for today. Hagar and Ishmael’s physical resources are used up with no foreseen possibility of replenishment. Their emotions are depleted. Their thoughts and actions portray attitudes of complete defeat. There are no words from either of them, only wails and weeping from both. What we are left with is the reality that, during periods of pleasantness, rejection and trouble rear their ugly heads, and we are left wondering how we got there!

The rest of the story tells us God provided bountiful resources that met Hagar and Ishmael where they were. There is God’s presence. He hears their cries for help (Ishmael’s name means ‘God hears’ in Hebrew). He even calls Hagar by her name! There is God’s peace. He knows how each of them are feeling and calls for them to “fear not.” There is God’s provision. He calls for Hagar to “look up” and see the well provided for refreshment. All of this means He will sustain His promise toward them.

This story is not shared as a nicety of how God worked in the past, but as a marker for how we can respond when up against the troubles of this life. Through our faith we affirm the presence of God, we rest in the peace He gives through His Word, and we ask and seek His provision for the resources needed to carry us through. The pathway of such faith is not easy, but in faith we believe it is bountifully available.

By Bill Niblette, Ph.D., Bible League International Staff, Pennsylvania, U.S.

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