CrossReads Weekly Devotional: For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given 12/4/2023

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by Precarious Yates

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9‬:‭6‬

Christmas: such a wonderful time to celebrate the best of the best. There is so much beauty, an extra touch of kindness from strangers, and a warmth from family and friends that’s unparalleled most of the rest of the year. The season is beautiful because of who we celebrate. For unto us a Child is born. The birth of a child is a time of joy and happiness. The birth of this Child brought the angels into the skies, filling the air with music that captured their wonder and awe. 

He is so kind that He allows the celebration of His birth to bring joy even to those who don’t acknowledge Him. Yet Christmas serves as a reminder to those who don’t know Him that they need to return. 

The government will be upon His shoulders. He is the only one who knows how to govern with fairness and righteousness. We can trust in His leadership. We can trust knowing that He is committed to us, individually and collectively. He is committed to the best for us. What He started He will bring to completion. He came as a Baby so that He could die for you and me and give us everlasting life in Him. He was committed to His mission and fulfilled it. This is the one who has the government on His shoulders. 

His name is Wonderful. The angels knew this. They is why they filled the skies with song. They knew what glory He had with the Father. They knew how Wonderful He is. God gives us a glimpse so we can seek more. And here’s the amazing truth: the more we seek, the more we will find. Jesus Himself promised this. 

Counselor. What an amazing truth that we have a Counselor so ready to listen to us. It won’t cost a penny to talk to Him, and His counsel far exceeds our expectations. As Counselor, He teaches us how to counsel others. His goal is for us to be whole and restored into loving relationship with Him and others forever. 

Mighty God—Jesus is so capable and powerful. How beautiful it is to meditate on His majesty, especially at Christmas time, the time that celebrates when He, although God, clothed Himself with flesh through the Holy Spirit. 

Everlasting Father. He grants us that place of relationship with Him. We’re part of His family—forever!

Prince of Peace. There won’t be strife forever. He will come again with His peace, both to fill us and to fill the world. Maranatha! Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Merry Christmas and may God richly 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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In the Temple, Part I 12/1/1023

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by Staci Stallings

There are certain stories in the Bible that I’ve heard all of my life, and for some unknown reason I don’t “get it” for a long time.  Then suddenly new insight breaks through, and WOW!  I’ll never read or hear that story the same way again.

One of those stories is the finding of Jesus in the Temple, found in Luke 2:41-50.

I don’t know if you remember that one, so let me set the scene for you.  Mary and Joseph have traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.  They traveled with friends and relatives.  When the Feast was over, they packed up to go home.  Then a day’s worth of travel later, they realized something–they forgot Jesus!

Being a mom, I can imagine the panic as they ran from relative to relative, trying to find their son.  But he was not among the caravan.

Of course, they made haste back to Jerusalem to find him.  The Bible says that it took them three days to find Him, and when they did, He was in the Temple sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions.  Mary was frantic and asked why He had done this to which Jesus responded: “Why were you searching for Me?  Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Now before you jump to judging Mary and Joseph, I want to ask you a simple question:

How many times have you left Jesus “in the Temple”?  Have you ever walked out of the church doors and “forgotten to take Him with you”?  Have you ever been struggling and struggling, traveling and trudging and suddenly wondered why God feels so very far away?

Have you ever gone days or even months without talking to Him and verifying that He’s right there with you?  Have you missed His presence, or worse, missed His absence in your life?

I think we’ve all been there.  Even the very Christian among us have gone to church on Sunday and shown up at work on Monday with criticisms and hurts heavy in our hearts.  And oh, how lonely the journey can be when you “forget” to bring Jesus along!

But there is good news in this story.  You see, Mary and Joseph didn’t shrug and press on.  No, they went back to get Jesus!

At first, they clearly didn’t know where to find Him as it took them three days to located Him, but Jesus gave us all the answer of where to find Him… in the Temple!

Does Jesus feel far away from you?  Go back and get Him, in the Temple!  Does life feel panicky and worrisome?  I guarantee it’s because you’re missing His presence.  Seek Him out.  Don’t press on, figuring you don’t have time to go back.  You do.  In fact, going back is the only way you will ever learn to go forward again.

Take those three days if you must.  But if you don’t have three days, then take three minutes.  Breathe, and go back “to the Temple.”

In the next part, I’ll show you how to do just that.

The Greatest of These is Love

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: One Silent Christmas Night 11/30/2023

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

One Silent Christmas Night

(A Festival of Carols Book 1)

by Scott R. Rezer

One Silent Christmas Night

2012. Broken in mind and body by the second of two tours in Afghanistan, Army veteran Nicolas Arrington returns home to Pocono Falls, Pennsylvania, several days before Christmas. Unsure if he can pick up the pieces of his life following his grandparents’ deaths, he is plagued by the painful memories of his past, until an old ornament and an unbelievable miracle one silent Christmas night sets him on the path of hope and renewal for his life… and possibly a second chance at love.

1944. The Ardennes Forest, Belgium. American soldier Joseph Stonebridge and his 28th Division are pinned down by the advancing Nazis, and forced to retreat toward the city of Bastogne at a terrible cost. As Christmas draws near and the siege of the city tightens, citizens and soldiers alike must unite in one of the coldest winters on record and find the courage to survive until help arrives—if it arrives in time before the Germans. But in the midst of darkness, light shines that much brighter, and enduring promises of hope are made.

A dual-timeline story that reminds us of the power of love and family, even when life seems paralyzed by its darkest moments.

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CrossReads Short Takes: Emergence & Christmas Brides of the West 11/29/2023

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CrossReads Short Takes

Emergence

How to Experience Beauty and New Life in Dead and Dark Places

by Mistie House

Firstplace winner in ABR’s Book Excellence Award Contest for best in Christian Faith and Living Category/Genre, 2022.

Using Scripture and her own personal testimony of transformation, Mistie offers women tangible tools on how to escape the chains linking you to your past so that you can be free to arise and emerge into the creation you were born to be.

“In her inspiring and profound Christian non-fiction work, Mistie House shares her moving story and leads others to discover their purpose and identity in Christ. Mistie House captures the reader’s heart through her powerful insight and uplifting words. She intersperses her story with practical biblical lessons about finding new hope and freedom regardless of one’s past.

The work paints a lovely tapestry of God’s plan for us; a plan to redeem what has been destroyed, give new life and execute his eternal promise of salvation. From the enthralling classic stories of Snow White and The Secret Garden, the work examines how God’s truth shines through darkness revealing the enemy’s deception.”
-Edith Emunah for Artisan Book Reviews.

Discover the undying, unconditional love of God—and experience beauty and new life in your story.

“Jesus is greater than our enemy. He can redeem, rebuild, renew, restore, and deliver us from anything the enemy takes from us.” –Emergence, Mistie House

Happy endings aren’t limited to fairytales.

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Christmas Brides of the West

by joi Copeland

Christmas Brides of the West

A Christmas Home for Hannah-Briggs Blackwood is stuck between a rock and a hard place. While ranching is in his blood, and he loves it, he has to meet one requirement to take over the BW Ranch: get married and produce at least one grandchild within five years of his mother’s death.

When Hannah Gallagher’s mother dies giving birth to her, her no-good father leaves her with her mother’s parents. They didn’t have much, but they loved each other. . Reluctantly, she agrees, but she does everything she can to make sure the groom-to-be won’t pick her. After all, who would choose a barely educated woman who only knows how to grow vegetables and shoot squirrels for supper? And then her life turns upside down when she receives a letter asking for her hand in marriage. Doubts assail her as she gets ready to leave the only home she’s ever known.

Will Hannah and Briggs discover just how much they need each other? Or will life’s challenges become too much, with the only solution of Hannah returning to her grandfather and Briggs losing the family ranch?

A Christmas Escape for Elizabeth– Elizabeth Baker’s life looks nothing like she hopes. When her mother suddenly dies, Elizabeth grieves her passing as well as evades the inappropriate passes of her stepfather. She has to get away from him and decides to ask her dearest friend, Hannah, for help. Can Lizzie escape her stepfather’s advances before it’s too late? And if she does, can she ever trust another man again?

Mack Douglas sees his best friend, Briggs, and his new wife, Hannah, on a daily basis. While he doesn’t begrudge their happiness, he has no desire of his own to get married. To be shackled down for the rest of his life? No thank you! When Hannah implores his help on behalf of her friend, he can’t say no.
Will Lizzie and Mack be able to find common ground and build a marriage worth fighting for? Or will their marriage end before its even had a chance to begin?

A Christmas Groom for Grace-Grace Johnson grew up in an orphanage. When a fire breaks out and destroys the orphanage, there is no place for her to stay long term. The director suggests Grace become a mail-order-bride. Grace struggles with leaving. The orphan girls have become like sisters to her, and she hates the thought of never seeing them again. What other choice does she have but to say goodbye and move on with her life?

Preacher Pete Tucker’s been lost ever since his young wife, Susannah, died in childbirth three years ago. With taking care of his son as well as the church, he struggles with keeping it together. When Pete’s friends suggest he gets remarried, he balks at the idea, feeling it would be a betrayal to the only woman he’s ever loved. But when his son almost gets run down by a wagon, the least he can do is put an advertisement in the paper, making it clear he’s not looking for a love match. When Grace Johnson arrives in Mountain Springs, Colorado as an answer to his ad, Pete discovers he may be in for more than he bargained for.

Will Grace be able to find the family she’s always longed for? Will Pete allow love to enter his life once more? Or will they have a marriage of convenience?

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End of Trail 11/28/2023

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by Suzanne D. Williams

THE MAP POINTED THE WAY, told of every road crossing, all the rivers and streams, that place where you’d go through the valley. The map depicted the mountains and gave them a name. It showed the cities along the way. Yet lost amidst the trees, I questioned its validity and opted for a shortcut which seemed to head there quicker, except spinning in place, sometime later, east looked like west and south and north were amazingly close together.

When Jesus sent the Comforter to live in us, to be our Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby (John 14:16 AMPC), His intention was to provide us with the map. And not just the map but the Mapmaker, the One who’d traveled the entire distance and knew every rock and rill. Within us would be His temple, our hearts His altar, and communication between us and Him unending, forever. There’s no reason to ever get lost. Even if we can’t read the map and have no idea how to make out that map-instruction thingy, we have Jesus and the Spirit and our heavenly Father at our side.

We detour all the time. We take our own advice, or our best friend’s advice, or our parent’s advice because it seems right and it sounds good, when what we ought to have done was to sit down and worship and pray and get the directions straight. “But Aunt Jo said if I did this and then switch here for there, I’d arrive on time.” God is gentle. He is kind. And patient and longsuffering. And never off track. If we’d have asked, we’d have gotten a soft no and saved ourselves the rocks in our shoes. Because we didn’t, we’ve lost sight of Him, and the map is wrinkled and a little wet.

The tears in our eyes resemble the fog in our gaze. The love in His outweighs our mistakes. He cleansed us of it anyway. What we didn’t deserve, having the map, He provided at His own expense and included with it all the left and right turns we would ever come up against. And the resets. Those times when we’d follow the owl’s prolonged tones and lose our own. Even struck silent, He’s ever leading and making footprints with bright-shiny arrows that we can follow, His touch tender, His voice a whisper, His strength greater than anything sent to push us aside. 

Because sometimes there’s the wind and occasionally the rain, but God’s got an umbrella big enough to cover us all. And then other times, He simply smiles and says to jump in the puddles because the road that we’re on might be clay where we’ve started but will one day become golden and lead straight home. 

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” (Psalm 37:23) 

About the Author: 

Suzanne D. WilliamsSuzanne D. Williams, is a native Floridian, wife, mother, and photographer. She is the author of both nonfiction and fiction books.

www.feelgoodromance.com 

www.suzannedwilliams.com 

Facebook – suzannedwilliamsauthor 

Twitter – @SDWAuthor. 

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CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Faith’s Checkbook: Heavenly Alchemy 11/27/2023

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FaithsCheckbook

by C. H. Spurgeon

“Your sorrow shall be turned into joy”   (John 16:20).

Their particular sorrow was the death and absence of their LORD, and it was turned into joy when He rose from the dead and showed Himself in their midst. All the sorrows of saints shall be thus transmuted, even the worst of them, which look as if they must forever remain fountains of bitterness. Then the more sorrow, the more joy. If we have loads of sorrow, then the LORD’s power will turn them into tons of joy. Then the bitterer the trouble the sweeter the pleasure: the swinging of the pendulum far to the left will cause it to go all the farther to the right. The remembrance of the grief shall heighten the flavor of the delight: we shall set the one in contrast with the other, and the brilliance of the diamond shall be the more clearly seen because of the black foil behind it. Come, my heart, cheer up! In a little while I shall be as glad as I am now gloomy. Jesus tells me that by a heavenly alchemy my sorrow shall be turned into joy. I do not see how it is to be, but I believe it, and I begin to sing by way of anticipation. This depression of spirit is not for long; I shall soon be up among the happy ones who praise the LORD day and night, and there I shall sing of the mercy which delivered me out of great afflictions.

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My Most Personal Story Yet: Behind the Story of “Whisper If You Have To” 11/24/2023

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by Staci Stallings

Some of you know me or know of me.  Others may never have heard the name Staci Stallings until this very minute, and that’s okay.  In fact, part of me likes not being known. One thing I do know is this:  my readers probably know me better than most people who have ever met me in person—they just don’t know how well they really know me.

In my writing, the “real me” that I don’t show many people in real life often comes out.  Many times that happens in very subtle ways that most people would never catch, and that’s good for me because although I’m not the mysterious type, I don’t normally shout from the rooftops who I am and why—except in my writing if you know how to read between the lines.

In real life, it takes very little for me to choose to help you.  However, it takes moving the Grand Canyon to China for me to feel comfortable enough with you to really let you in to my world.

That is why my one of my newer fiction releases “Whisper If You Have To” has been such a step off the sheer side of an emotional cliff for me.  When this book came up in my heart and spirit to write, I didn’t want to.  I didn’t want to be that real, even on paper, even if no one else would ever read it.  I didn’t want to “go there.”

Trying not to spoil it, “Whisper” is about a young girl who, although she has different talents than I did, is very similar to me when I was that age.  She is driven by forces she doesn’t really see or understand.  She is constantly trying to be “enough” and knowing she will never measure up. She pushes herself harder than anyone should ever be pushed and then berates herself for not doing and being enough.

Worse, she has a secret that her family literally moved from their previous home to avoid and move on from.  It is in that secret that readers will come to know many things about me and my heart.  The details are different, but I have lived through what Alison has gone through in the book.

In fact, there are a couple of points in the book that her confessions and “going there” are as much me as her.  The fear, the confusion, the not knowing where to go from here—those thoughts are my thoughts, those feelings are my feelings.  And that scares me more than you can ever know.

When I first wrote this book, I gave it to two very, very close friends to read telling them that they were probably the only two people on the planet who would ever read it.  They read it and loved it, but couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to put it out.  That’s an easy one to explain.

It’s because I don’t want to let anyone in that far… especially people who might take my heart and twist it because the book doesn’t fit their preconceived notions about how this type of story should go.  The details are different, but many things in the story are exactly how things “went” when I was dragged through this very same fire.

I cannot tell you more as that would spoil the story, but I will tell you… this one was hard to write.  Many tears went into every page.  I will also tell you that this one was even harder to publish, and I did so with great fear and trembling, and praying that others will be gentle with me because my heart is still very fragile in this area.

This one is me, and only because God is giving me the courage to reach out to help others going through this same fire am I even willing to put it out there.  It’s in His hands now as it probably always was. I just hope that in your hands it gives God the space to teach you to love on a deeper level as the events in my own life did me.

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: Lily 11/23/2023

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CrossReads Book Spotlight

CrossReads Book spotlight

Lily

Christmas Quilt Brides, Book 10

by Janice Cole Hopkins

Lily

Lily Brandt was glad when her father decided to move the family from Duluth to a farm in Iowa. She didn’t want to keep encountering her former fiancé and his new wife. But would Iowa turn out to be any better with her sister’s flirting and the handsome new neighbor’s quiet ways? She hadn’t gotten over Calem’s rejection yet, so she wasn’t ready for a new relationship, and she had her grandmother’s quilt to remind her to be cautious.

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CrossReads Short Takes: The Hope of Christmas & Uncharted Redemption 11/22/2023

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CrossReads Short Takes

The Hope of Christmas

(Christmas Holiday Extravaganza)

by Carol James

The Hope of Christmas

Cameron Blake has everything a man could want. Or so it appears. But in the dark of night, the contents of an old manila envelope remind him that the one thing he truly wants is beyond his reach.

Kristin Hansen returns home after a messy break-up. While her parents think she’ s returned to recuperate after surgery on a broken arm, she’ s actually escaping from an abusive relationship.

When the pastor of a local church recruits Kristin and Cameron to supervise the building of the church’ s float for the upcoming Christmas parade, their hidden secrets are exposed. Cam sees in Kristin what he truly desires… but knows he can never have.

As Christmas nears, can Kristin help him find the thing that’ s eluded him all these years? The one thing his heart truly desires? Hope.

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Uncharted Redemption

(The Uncharted Series Book 2)

by Keely Brooke Keith

Uncharted Redemption

When her past keeps her from love, she needs the hope of redemption.

Mandy Foster spends her days building musical instruments and her nights avoiding the discontent that plagues her after sundown. She’s learned how to guard her heart with skillfully played songs and flirtatious smiles.

Levi Colburn is building his house outside the village—across the road from Mandy. Though he’s been in love with Mandy since childhood, she rejected him once and has been unattainable to every man in the village ever since. When Mandy’s life is in danger, it’s up to Levi to rescue her.

But will she accept the tender care of the one man who truly loves her?

Uncharted Redemption weaves past and future in a faith-filled story of life in a hidden land. You’ll love this Christian historical romance with a futuristic twist, full of mystery and suspense. Perfect for fans of dual timeline stories and time travel romance! If you enjoy the rural setting and wholesomeness of frontier romance and Amish fiction, you’ll adore Uncharted Redemption.

“The appeal of simpler times and lost innocence combined with the adventure of a new undiscovered Land is hard to beat.” —Amazon reviewer

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Faith’s Checkbook: Hunger Satisfied – November 21, 2023

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FaithsCheckbook

by C. H. Spurgeon

“For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness”   (Psalm 107:9).

It is well to have longings, and the more intense they are the better. The LORD will satisfy soul-longings, however great and all-absorbing they may be. Let us greatly long, for God will greatly give. We are never in a right state of mind when we are contented with ourselves and are free from longings. Desires for more grace and groanings which cannot be uttered are growing pains, and we should wish to feel them more and more. Blessed Spirit, make us sigh and cry after better things and for more of the best things! Hunger is by no means a pleasant sensation. Yet blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. Such persons shall not only have their hunger relieved with a little food, but they shall be filled. They shall not be filled with any sort of rough stuff, but their diet shall be worthy of their good LORD, for they shall be filled with goodness by Jehovah Himself. Come, let us not fret because we long and hunger, but let us hear the voice of the psalmist as he also longs and hungers to see God magnified. “Oh, that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.”

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