Forged in the Fire| By Heaven Harris

Did you know that to purify gold, you must heat it up to over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to allow the impurities to rise and solidify into pure gold? Crazy huh? 1800 degrees! I cannot even fathom anything reaching such temperatures. How amazing that when put through the fire, the gold remains in tact and only the impurities fall off and rise to be removed.  

In almost all of my writings, I never try to hide or belittle the season I am currently walking in. With that being said, since my move out of state, just when I thought life could not get much more difficult, and hoping this move was me entering a season of rest and peace, there I was in the midst of what felt like a hurricane trying desperately to destroy me.

I stand knowing that I know my Father’s voice, and I know He sent me here. However, I was quickly losing sight of any idea of the purpose of this move, and quite honestly, I found myself slipping into bitterness wondering why I was still having to walk through such a hard time. I mean, haven’t I had enough?!

How often do you ask yourself that? How often do we feel tested by the flames only to feel like God is turning up the heat?

John 16:33 (NLT) says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

While in my secret place of prayer and crying out, God brought me to the book of Daniel and the story of three brave men who endured the fire in a very literal way. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego loved God fiercely and with hearts ablaze. They had a good life, good positions, and everything seemed to be going in their favor until King Nebuchadnezzar made a decree that at the sound of any musical instrument, everyone would be required to bow down and worship the golden image he created. If anyone refused, they were to be thrown into a fiery furnace to be burned alive.

This was these three men’s test. This is where it was up to them to either fight fire with fire or dance to the tune of the world’s song and forfeit their faith or trust in the One who had yet to abandon them.  They chose the former. They refused to let the world’s song be music to their ears and they refused to bow to anyone who wasn’t the Lord Most High. One faithful decision left them to be consumed by the flames. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response…“If the God we serve wishes to save us, then so be it.” And into the fire they were thrown.  

That sounds about right! How many times are we walking faithfully with our King, and it seems He is bringing on the heat? Sweet daughter, there is a purpose in this.  

“Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city!’”- Zechariah 2:5 (NLT)

The ending to the scriptural story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is this…God rescued them and protected them. The fire of God inside them overcame the fire they were thrown in.

How incredible of the God we serve! These men did not falter. They did not give in. They stood on the truths that their hearts burned for, and they fought King Nebuchadnezzar’s fire with the Blazing Son and prevailed! Amen!

If we stand on the promises that have, in the past, burned up every lie the enemy has thrown at us, God promises to be a wall of fire ALL around us, protecting us from any fiery dart the enemy wants to throw at us.

I leave you with a sweet story: I read years ago in New Day New You written by Joyce Meyer, the story shared was about a cute little teacup, shaped and formed in the potter’s hand perfectly, yet had it’s discomforts.  


“A couple went into an antique shop and saw this BEAUTIFUL, MAGNIFICENT little tea cup sitting high on a shelf. And they fell in love with this teacup. As they were admiring this teacup, it began to talk to them. It said, “You know, I have not always been like this! There was a time when I was not attractive at all. You see there was a time in my life when I was just a hard lump of clay. And the master potter came along, and he picked me up and began to pat and reshape me; and I said,” STOP IT! What are you doing? THAT HURTS!  Leave me alone! And he simply looked at me and said, “Not yet.” And then he put me on this wheel, and he began to spin me around, and around and around! And I got so dizzy and could hardly see where I was going anymore! I was losing it! Everything was spinning around and around, and I felt sick to my stomach. And I said; “LET ME OFF HERE!” and he said: “Not yet!”.

Finally, the day came when I had taken on another shape. All of that spinning around finally gave me another shape. All of that patting and molding and squeezing and pinching gave me another shape. And suddenly – he put me into this FURNACE! It is called the first firing. And ‘twas SO HOT in there! Oh, I could not believe how hot it was. I thought, “I can’t stand this! I’m going to DIE in here! ‘GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! Don’t you love me?? Why are you leaving me in here?’ You see, the oven door had glass in it and the master would just look in his eyes AND HE WOULDN’T LET ME OUT!! But he would just smile at me and say, ‘Not yet!!

FINALLY, the oven door opened, and he took me out – set me on a shelf and I thought, ‘Whew! Thank God that is over!’. Then he began to paint me all over with this stinky paint! Changing my color from gray to this pretty blue that I am now! And I said: ‘This stuff STINKS! It is choking me! I don’t like this smell! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!’ He would just say: ‘Not yet!’.

Then he put me back in a SECOND oven. It is called the second firing, and ‘twas TWICE as hot as the first oven! And I thought, ‘Now, I will DIE in here for sure! This is the end of me. This will finish me off! GET ME OUT OF HERE! I CAN’T STAND IT! I CAN’T STAND IT! Really – I am telling you – I can’t stand it! This is going to kill me! GET ME OUT OF HERE!’ And he would just look through that glass and say: ‘Not yet!’

Then one day the door finally opened – he took me out and he put me up here on this shelf to let me cool off. After I cooled off, one day he came by and he handed me this mirror and I looked at myself and I could not believe how BEAUTIFUL I was! I could not BELIEVE how I have CHANGED! Why, I did not look anything at all like that old gray clay that I started out to be!

Now, I am this beautiful, little, delicate teacup! And EVERYBODY wants me now! But there was a time in my life when NOBODY wanted me; NOBODY liked me; NOBODY paid any attention to me! They just kicked me around; walked on me.  But now- I AM SPECIAL!”

If God is whispering to you, “Not yet,” know that His delicate hands have an intricate plan, and the final result will be more BEAUTIFUL than you could ever imagine.  

Life Is Not a Race| By Jasmine Beard

We live in a world that is super fast-paced. So long dial-up internet, buffering, and anything that brings the slightest inconvenience. We now carry the internet in the palm of our hands and can get any fancy restaurant to deliver us meals to our home.

I have often considered myself a runner. Not in the athletic way (although that is a goal in 2019), but just in a life sort of way. I have often wanted to pass through circumstances and situations in my life, skip chapters, peek to the next page, or to the end of the book.

I often say, “I am not in a competition with others, but in a competition all on my own.”

However, something I have noticed while running is that I miss things, I overlook things, and I forget to catch my breath and appreciate where I am, who I am with, and the journey we call life.

When the Bible talks about Jesus traveling, it never mentions that he ran somewhere. Think about it. He walked, and walked, and sometimes took a boat or a donkey. But never ever ran (atleast to my knowledge).

Jesus was not anxious as I can sometimes find myself to be, he did not worry about tomorrow, when His arrival time was, or what others were doing or saying about Him.

He simply walked. He walked the path God had paved for Him since the creation of the earth. Jesus had a certainty and a trust in God for where His life was headed and the miracles He could do without Him being in a hurry.

I think my nature to plan and run everywhere is because I sometimes think I have something to prove naysayers wrong and push my potential to its peak. Instead of fully relying on God in my life journey, I can at times rush to accomplish what my mind is set on.

This is a ploy from the enemy. He loves to see us run, gasping for breath, and losing stamina. If we run and even walk in our own strength, it is vain. We are instead to walk with God and allow Him to be the light unto our paths, no matter the pace we are going.

Jesus walked many places and was never in a hurry. The death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:1-41 (read here) reminds me of Jesus’ lack of urgency.

When Jesus got word that Lazarus (a dear friend of his) was sick, He did not urgently run to his aid. He trusted the word of the Lord and chose to wait and then walk.

John 41:4-11 (NLT) says,

4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”

5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,

6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.

7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”

9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world.

10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

Wow, not a sense of panic or a desire to run in urgency. Jesus did not allow other people’s anxieties, thoughts of/for Him, or urgencies to cause Him to rush God’s plan to bring resurrection life back to Lazarus. He simply walked at the pace He felt led to and let God lead His path.

Maybe you are in life, and you feel less accomplished than most. People tell you you need to hurry up, that you are losing time, or maybe these are words you speak to yourself. I want to encourage you today to pause, wait, and walk. Walk the path that God paved for you since the creation of the earth. No competition, just you and God, walking this life journey out together.

All Who are Thirsty| By Jasmine Beard

IMG_6919This is a picture I took a couple months ago of the Great Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking, I know. As I opened the cabin doors and walked onto the balcony, I was awestruck at the majesty of God and His splendor.

As I gazed into the skies and saw the glorious mountains and trees, I envisioned God crouching down from the Heavens whispering into my ear sweet whispers from Heaven.

His words are like honey to my soul. The very sweetness of Him quenches the longings of my soul and every inkling of my Spirit.

How I long to be in awe of Him all the days of my life into eternity forever and ever. I dream that He picks me up in the palm of His hands sweeping me away into the clouds of His majestic being. I am dancing in the glory of His beauty and drinking from the palm of His hands for the rest of my days.

This picture reminds me of the Samaritan woman at the well.

She came to the well for a drink of water for she longed to quench the thirst of her body. Unaware, she met Jesus who did not want to only quench the thirst of her body, but of her soul as well.

“…But if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life.” John 4:14 (TPT)

In that same way, Jesus met me, and it is because of this that I am able to see His majesty, to see His glory, and to drink from His cup.

After I dance with Abba in the clouds, He gracefully places me back down to earth. I look around, and I no longer see the beauty and splendor that I saw before. I see brokenness, dirtiness, and darkness all around me. Nothing in me wants to stay and be back on Earth, but God tells me,“go forth and love my people and tell them of this majesty you have found and this water that never runs dry.”

I once saw a picture of myself at a well. The depth of this well was deeper than I could ever hope to see. Then I saw a picture of a wide well, and God instructed me to never be a fat well.

This picture may seem funny to you, and it is a bit funny to me as well. However, that picture is packed with so much meaning..

If we are fat wells, it means that we have no depth to our reach. We just take up excess space. However, if our well has depth, we can bring nourishment to barren land.

Jesus does not show us His splendor or allow us to drink from His cup just for our nourishment. If we just continuously receive from God but never pour out, we become essentially a “fat well.” However, if we instead allow God to fill us deep into our soul and allow others to drink from the well inside of us, we become a deep well.

‘“All at once, the woman dropped her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, ‘Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be be the Anointed One we’ve been waiting for.’ Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.”’ John 4:28-30 (TPT)

The Samaritan woman dropped the very water that would quench the thirst of her body because she had found drink for her soul. Today, be a deep well bringing the same gushing fountain that has quenched your soul to God’s people.
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Tidal Waves| By Stephanie Cain

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Over the last year, almost every area of my life has been stretched, prodded, or flat out attacked – especially my faith. A few days ago I was watching my son play in his walker corner when I had a flashback. A few years ago my husband’s family decided to go to the beach together. On that day, the water was rough – not enough for red flags but enough that children did not leave the shallows. However, as adults, we ventured out to chest height and jumped into the tidal waves as they rolled in.

One time I did not jump soon enough, and the wave swept over me. Suddenly, I was tumbling under the water with no clue what was up or down. My feet found the ocean bottom, and I pushed up, gasping for air as soon as the next wave rolled in. I was immediately toppling under the water again desperately trying to find the surface for air. This happened two more times until finally my husband caught me and helped me stand. It was such a scary experience that I stayed in the shallows after that.

Where I am now in life feels a lot like that beach. As soon as I find my footing and catch my breath, a new wave is rolling in on top of me sending me spinning again. However, Jesus reminded me of something He did while here on earth.

Mark 4:35-41 chronicles the time when Jesus and His disciples were in rough waters because of a storm. Jesus spoke to the storm and said “Peace! Be still!” The winds and waves obeyed him and stopped. Jesus reminded me that He does not just calm physical storms, but He can calm the waves in our lives. If we listen to Him as He speaks through the Holy Spirit to us, “Peace! Be still!”, we will see the waves that were engulfing are now a soothing ripple. This is not to say that we will not have storms. Of course we will! There may be times in our lives that the winds and waves are so loud and big that you can’t hear the Lord’s still, small whisper of peace.

Another time in Jesus’ ministry (Mark 6:45-52), His disciples were in a boat rowing against the wind. This time, rather than calm the wind with His words, the Lord walked on top of the water. He invited Peter onto the water with Him, and as long as Peter kept His eyes on the Lord, He walked over the waves too. This is HUGE! In those times when we cannot hear Jesus speaking peace in our situation, we look to Him and trust Him for every step onto the waves.

In my life, that looks like this:

A problem arises. I see no possible solution. Anxiety swells. Rather than allowing it to topple over me I say, “I can’t see a way, but I trust you Lord. I know you have a plan, a purpose, and it is for my good.” Take a deep breath. Move forward with my life one step at a time.

My hope is that these words encourage you today. Whether you are in the storm of life or not, I pray that you keep your eyes focused on Him because walking on the water is a much bigger adventure than hiding in the shallows.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17