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    Articles, devotionals, short stories, and other written expressions by ChristianWriters.com members

    Yvonne Antoinette

    A Tin Cup

    By Yvonne Antoinette, in The Reading Room,

    devotionals

    Cups come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I stay away from glass cups having six children and living in an area where we do the dishes outside. Mostly we have plastic cups with a few ceramic cups here and there. The ceramic ones have at least one chip in them.
    Recently, I found some beautiful pink and blue hard plastic cups in which I was quite excited over for our morning porridge. Then I found these great tin cups to use to hold the toothbrushes for the kids as they brush their teeth outside.
    The tin cups were such a deal I bought fifteen. Since we do our dishes outside we wait until the morning to do our supper dishes. Thus leaving us short on cups for the morning. So having these extra cups has made my life a little easier.
    It is interesting the things the Lord uses to speak to your soul. Our Lord is very simplistic in many of His commands. The one I thought of today is the one where He states for those who give a cup of cold water to the least of these you have done it to Him.
    We think giving water is so easy to do. How could the Lord really care about giving of water? I am confessing to you my own selfishness. Almost every day there is someone knocking at our gate asking for water.
    We are blessed to have a spigot for running water outside the house along with a huge storage container for the collection of rain water.  We live in a very poor village for the majority of people this is not true. Not only do they have to go and fetch their water, they usually only have a few containers to collect water in.
    I wish I could say I open my gate with open arms and let them freely take water. No my selfishness kicks in, my wanting privacy and whatever other excuse there could be. I am thankful I have now allowed people to come and collect water for their needs but it came with a huge rebuke to my heart.
    Another rebuke to my heart is even more selfish. My husband and I have a program at our house for the students of our families in the afternoons. Many times the children want water to drink.
    I cannot have them drinking the water out of the spigot since it is not safe to drink. Plus I did not have enough cups. I mean really, how selfish could I be. It would not have been that difficult to have the cups washed before supper. It is only fifteen children.
    To make myself feel better I told them to bring an empty bottle of sorts and I would be happy to give them water. So big of me. Most of these children eat once a day and I am worried about cups.
    Well today, as my husband was tutoring them and I was working at my desk one child asked if she could run home to get water to drink. At first I thought surely if she was in class at school she could not run home. Then I realized at school they probably drank from the spigot and risked getting parasites or typhoid.
    Then I remembered my fifteen new shiny tin cups. So I pulled them out and poured each one water. The Lord rebuked me as this one little boy sucked the water down so fast out of his cup. My thoughts wondered how he could be so thirsty. He downed the second one just as fast.
    As I collected the empty cups and the children chattering so satisfied for just having had water my thoughts went to my own selfish heart. It is so refreshing to receive a cup of cold water probably because when you really need one it is not something people usually offer to give you.
    You see in giving of ourselves we find it has to be what we give, when we want to give and how we want to give. God keeps it simple. Because simple is where love is really shown.

    Jean Chamblee
    devotionals

    As I lay in bed early this morning and listened to the school bus go down the street in the pre-dawn hours, picking up neighborhood children……I thought about them, and about the events of yesterdays shooting in Las Vegas.
    I thought about the following scripture and was stirred in my heart:
     
    Ephesians 6:10-13   “ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’
     
    We live in a dark world.  There is a battle going on that life tries to blind us to until something happens that jerks us back into “Kingdom realities”.   We are called to fight.  We have an enemy - a cruel one. (John 10:10 “. “ The thief (satan) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  His whole purpose against humanity is destruction. 
     God has given us tools to battle with.  Through the redemptive work of Christ, His truth and His Spirit -  we can be victorious - though the battles can be fierce.  (2 Corinthians 2:14
    “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…)
     
    The enemy constantly tries to lull us to sleep to these truths.  Because he knows if we awaken to truth and our God given authority to pray in Jesus name….that he’s gonna lose ground and be defeated.  I think he still believes he can win against Christ and judgement day will never come.
     
    I was pricked in my heart about these kids and how that since my children are now grown…..I seldom think to pray for the schools and for protection and revival to break out there like I used to.  God forgive me!  And all of us, as we have not taken our place in praying for our neighborhoods, families, cities, states, and nations.   At least not to the level that God desires from His sons and daughters.  Wickedness has flourished in our nation and we have not battled it out enough in the spirit realm with the name of Jesus on our lips.  He has given us authority to pray in His name and that is a powerful thing.
     
    As I prayed this morning I felt to say it out loud.  IT’S A CALL TO ARMS.   I pray this will inspire you to join me in “doubling down”  on our prayers for our fellow Americans and be aware of all the other assignments the Lord may lay on our hearts.
    2 Corinthians 10:3-5
    “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…”
    Cry out to God in prayer.  Pray in Jesus name.  Let this take priority over lesser things.  This is a true war.    Mark 4:23 “ If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    Yvonne Antoinette
    devotionals

    Many times we wonder how things work in our lives. Faith, time, circumstances, questions all come into play. One major thing we do not always consider is the motives or genuine responses from our heart. This could be because sometimes we do not really recognize what is in our hearts. We see this played out in Luke chapter one with regards to Zechariah’s response and Mary’s response to the messages delivered to them by Gabriel. 
    Zechariah was righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all commandments and statutes of the Lord. (Luke 1:6) He served the Lord in the capacity of a priest in the temple.
    Mary was a virgin and betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David. We know she is favored by God since Gabriel says to her. “Greetings oh favored one, the Lord is with you.” We do not read much of her testimony of who she is and what she believes or her character. We trust all those things are there though we do not read of them as we do Zechariah.
    When Gabriel the angel appeared to Zechariah he was troubled when he saw him and fear fell upon him. (v.12)  In verse twenty nine we read Mary was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  To both Gabriel answered “Do not be afraid.” He continued with each one declaring what would happen about the children born to them.
    It is in the response to Gabriel we see where confusion can come to play. Both Zechariah and Mary answer Gabriel the same. Or do they? We know by Gabriel’s response to Zechariah there was something different in the rendering of their conversation.
    Both Zechariah and Mary question Gabriel.   Zechariah’s question is “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Mary asks, “How will this be since I am a virgin?”
    Both sound almost like the same question. They ask how shall this be and give the reason for the impossible.  We see by Gabriel’s response the tones of the answers must have been different. The part of our hearts which could be doubtful, or just questioning. The balance between faith and reality or faith despite reality.
    Gabriel answers Zechariah reminding Zechariah who he is and that he, Gabriel stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak to him and to bring the good news. Then he states Zechariah will not be able to speak until the words be fulfilled because he did not believe.
    To Mary, Gabriel explains how it will happen and continues to give her even more information about Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife to encourage her in the confirmation of what he is telling her.
    Maybe a key in their answers is Zechariah wanted to know how this would be, yet Mary just asked how this will be.  Is our element of faith in the knowing or in the being? Somehow in Mary’s response there seems to be an acceptance of wat was said even though she did not understand how it would be.  Zechariah’s response seems to not accept unless he knows how it will be.
     So how do we respond to words given to us by the Lord? Are we questioning with doubt and unbelief like Zechariah? Or do we question with fascination in trying to determine what these things spoken mean?
    I am sure Zechariah was being very practical in the impossible. Which would be more impossible? A man and woman having a child in their old age?  Or a virgin, remaining a virgin having a child?
    Let us remain in the fascination of who God is and all the impossibilities He indeed can bring to pass.  

    Yvonne Antoinette
    devotionals

    Luke 1:12 “Do not be afraid Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son.”
     
    God remembers our prayer. We know He hears them. We know He answers. We have all heard the yes, no or wait theory. Many times the yes is clear or the no is clear. Any other prayer request is placed in the wait category. Sometimes we assume an answer was no due to hearing nothing as well as circumstances changing to make the request near impossible. Of course God loves to manifest Himself to us in the impossible, or what seems to be for us but not for Him.
     
    I am sure Zechariah thought his prayer request was a no. He probably actually stopped praying about having a child years ago. As he states in Luke 1:18 “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 
     
    This is why I find the statement in verse twelve so amazing. “..for your prayer has been heard..” Think of all we have prayed over the years. Maybe there is a prayer we assumed was a no or a wait, but will yet be answered. Praying for the salvation of so many loved ones, yet years go by. Hopes and desires of our youth not yet fulfilled.
     
    Be encouraged brothers and sisters for our prayers have been heard.

    Inspired2write
    other

    The storms of life come. Each storm has its own name. The storms of illness, lack, rejection, financial need, family problems, and failure are just a few. Some storms last longer than others. There are powerful storms which can threaten our very lives. 

     
    Each year it seems someone we know or we ourselves experience the storms of life. Unlike a natural storm, sometimes a storm of life comes without warning. There could be much damage when a storm finds you unprepared.  The damage may be financial.physical and emotional.  You may look composed on the outside but ravaged on the inside, depressed and battling feelings of hopelessness. Asking yourself what did I do wrong. There is a deep sense of disappointment in God and others who may not have assisted you.  In your heart there is anger and resentment towards those, who you feel may have contributed to the stormy situation by their actions or inaction. 

     
    Have you just come out of a situation that felt like a storm? You feel as though you have been battered. The storm may have ended but it has left you torn apart and burdened, devastated, almost ready to give up.  You are tired, weary, overly anxious, stretched beyond your capacity. You feel you do not have the strength to bear anything. You think you will either crumble under the pressure or just explode. You want to throw in the towel. You are overwhelmed.

     
    For some, the storm is still raging. You want to be rescued.  You are getting impatient waiting for help. It seems to you like no one notices your need. When is someone going to help me, they have forgotten about my plight, no one cares about me. You say to yourself as tears fill your eyes and stream down your cheeks. The storm has overwhelmed you.

     
    You have weathered many storms in the past but this storm which you are presently experiencing is the worst. You feel as though your strength is gone. For most of your life, you have had to endure storms. You are overwhelmed.

     
    You experienced a storm because you ignored the warnings. You blame yourself. It is time to forgive yourself. The storm has beaten you. Don't you dare beat up yourself too. 

     
    You have lived by all life's rules and the precepts of God, yet a storm came and devastated you. It is a fact that kind, loving and God-fearing people also experience storms. No one is exempt from the storms of life, so we must do our best to be prepared.

     
     You complain that others have recovered from the same storm that hit you and moved on with their lives, but you are still in ruins. I urge you to avoid the comparisons. No more self-pity. The one who calms the boisterous winds and raging seas also gives strength to withstand a storm and regain what you have lost. He is reaching out to you. Jesus is speaking peace to you.
     
    Severe weather conditions like storms and hurricanes are very scary, even the disciples of Jesus, skilled fisherman panicked during a  storm. Jesus was with them in the boat during a storm, but he was sleeping. Peter awoke him frantically saying Lord are you not concern that we would perish. Jesus answered why are you so afraid. Jesus identified the real issue, the main reason they panicked and were terrified even though he (Jesus)  was with them. They were so afraid because they had little faith. This was not a condemnation.  

     
    Little faith when exercised can help us achieve certain things. But little faith panics during the storms of life. Little faith loses hope quickly. Little faith doubts God's love. Therefore we need to keep increasing and growing our faith. I hasten to add that we cannot manufacture faith as it is a function of our relationship with the Lord. Faith comes from God's word and will increase by God's word. Faith is not a positive feeling or emotion. It is more than being optimistic. Our faith must be anchored to God and his word. Faith is trust and confidence in God's character. Faith is seen by our actions. Faith is not only about hearing the word of God. Jesus said if you hear my words and do them (put them into practice) you will be like a wise person who built their house upon a rock, so when the flood waters rose and the winds beat violently against the house. The house did not fall because its foundation was on a rock.  
     

     
    Beloved, we must not be afraid. For the storms of life will come. Our Lord is our shelter in the times of storm. Jesus gives us peace in the midst of the storm. Our God is a very present help in the time of trouble.  Let us place our trust in the Lord. The writer exhorts in Isaiah 26:4, "Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God we have an everlasting rock." 

     
    The Palmist in Psalm 61:2 said, "When my heart is overwhelmed (faint) lead me to the rock that is higher than I". He declares to God you have been a shelter for me. 

     
    Come to the Yahweh who is the Rock. Come find shelter and safety for your soul.  He will give heed to your cry and your prayer.

     
    Don't despair. God is with you.

     
    By Tesse Wilson 
     
     

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