Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 4389 times)

Minnie

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #75 on: April 08, 2019, 06:42:11 pm »
Homemaking 101 Help!
Jan 15, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

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As a high school junior, I decided it was time to take Homemaking 101. I can still see Mrs. Johnson’s face as she naively gazed at her new students. Bless her unsuspecting heart! She had no idea the  challenge I brought to that class or to her career as a teacher. For weeks, I muddled through each lesson with a respectable, but less than stellar performance, until we hit the section on sewing. It would prove to be her undoing where I was concerned.  Being the veteran teacher that she was, Mrs. Johnson took a deep breath and doggedly plunged ahead in determination, vowing she could teach anyone to sew even me. I decided to make a blouse, and chose what I thought was a simple McCall’s pattern.  Mrs. Johnson was thrilled with my selection, competent that even I could make a blouse requiring approximately seven straight seams.  The pattern looked so simple and even pretty in the package. Then I opened it, gingerly unfolding and carefully arranging each delicate pattern piece, staring at the foreign documents before me. They were simply beyond human comprehension. I concluded that the pattern was actually a sinister trap of some accomplished but sadistic seamstress, and quickly stuffed the flimsy entrapments back into their package. After all, I was creative. I didn’t need a pattern. I knew exactly what I wanted to make. How hard could it be? Ignorance really can be bliss.  When I presented the completed blouse to Mrs. Johnson for a grade, her eyes widened as she stared in silence at my first and last attempt at sewing. “Interesting,” she muttered, obviously in shock. I made a “C” in her class, a sympathy grade if there ever was one.  And the blouse?

I buried it in my back yard literally.  Since that day, I always make sure I have at least one friend who can sew and the name of two seamstresses on hand at all times. However, in all my years of ministry, I can truthfully say that my inability to sew has never hindered God’s work in my life.  One line of thinking proposes that because I am a pastor’s wife, I should drag out my silver (if I had any) and host dinners and teas for the women of the church. Please know that those of you who actually enjoy these tortuous events have my undying admiration and respect. Seriously!  In our first full-time church, I actually invited the entire church to our home for a Christmas open house. Since there were several hundred church members at the time, I concluded it would take three nights to accommodate them all. Looking back, my only defense is a complete loss of sanity.  My family eventually grew to hate the month before the first open house. They had good reason. I put them all to work, cleaning and scrubbing every square inch of the house. I bought and hoarded food, and threatened to hurt anyone who even thought about infiltrating my “stash.” I even managed to destroy Thanksgiving weekend by insisting that we decorate the house, inside and out, for Christmas not in anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth, but in preparation for the “open houses” to be held the following weekend.  For three years, I tried to be the “hostess with the most-ess” until my husband put a stop to the madness by asking one simple question, “Honey, why are you doing these open houses?”

The answer that popped into my mind and out of my mouth was absurd. “Because that’s what pastor’s wives do!” I feebly responded.

“Where does it say that, honey?” he asked.

Dan went on to set me free. “We have done our last open house. Please don’t ever do anything else as a woman in ministry because you think it fits the man-made profile of a pastor’s wife. Do what God has gifted and called you to do period and never apologize to anyone for doing so.”

I do not have the gift of hosPItality, but in every church we have ever served, there have been women who do and delight in using that gift for Him.   What do you love to do? What energizes you?

What is your heart passion?

What gifts and abilities do others see in you?

What did God create you to do?

Ask Him to make His plan for your life clear. Trust Him with all your heart. Submit your will to His, and choose now to walk through the doors He opens.

Minnie

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #76 on: April 08, 2019, 06:51:18 pm »
When Doors Don’t Open
Jan 16, 2019 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Joshua 1:5

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The morning had been hectic and they were running late because the baby needed a last minute diaper change. Tara needed to get all three kiddos loaded up and to the car pool location quickly, but  for some strange reason the back doors of her van would not open. She tried her clicker. She tried the key. She tried jiggling the lock.  Anxiousness started to well up in her heart.  “You’ve got to be kidding me!” She grumbled loudly while trying to open the back doors of her minivan. “This is NOT what I need right now!”

The kids began to sense the tension and take on the stress for their own.  “What’s wrong, mommy?”

“The back doors aren’t opening and we’re gonna be late! That’s what’s wrong!”

Pressed for time and strongly annoyed, Tara told the kids to get in through the front door and had them crawl back to settle into their car seats. As she started the car she was aware of her agitation and didn’t like it. Taking a deep breath, Tara began to recognize the stress for what it was. She remembered the Bible verse that is written on the chalkboard in their kitchen. Spoken from the lips of Jesus Himself, the words flooded her heart ...  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Yes. They were having trouble getting a few doors open, but it was nothing that Jesus couldn’t help her handle. Calmed and cooled by the red-lettered love, Tara made an empowered decision and a very cool minivan ministry moment followed that went something like this:  “Okay, guys! Here we go!” Tara began. “That was a bit stressful and I’m sorry for raising my voice. I’m not sure why the doors didn’t open, but we aren’t going to let it mess up our day. We can choose to let this situation get the best of us, or we can get the best of the situation by asking God to bring peace to our anxiousness. Remember the verse on the kitchen chalkboard? Jesus said that in this world we’re going to have trouble. Sometimes doors don’t open, but He’ll help us! Jesus told us to “take heart” because He has overcome the world.”

Then, from the back of the van her eight-year-old theologian son piped up and joined the sacred conversation.  “Yeah! And Jesus said that He’ll never leave us or forsake us. God is always with us, mom!”

From. The. Lips. Of. A. Child.  God is always with us.  What had begun as a chaotic and stressful drive to school became a celebration of the presence of God. It was a devotion-on-wheels that began with a door that wouldn’t open. A beautiful memory that started with stress, but was changed by the grace of Jesus, our Overcomer.  Sometimes doors don’t open for us.  We don’t always get the position we want, the response we want, the admiration we want, or the health we want. But with every closed door comes an opportunity of response. When Tara invited God into her frustration and opened her heart to His presence the tension transitioned to peace.  The same is true for you and me when we invite Him into our frustrations. God’s presence releases pressure and brings peace.  A few minutes after the “stuck door debacle” they arrived at the carpool line to pick up the other children. Tara figured she’d try again. She pressed the button to unlock the back doors, and this time they opened with no resistance.  A smile spread across her face as this thought danced in Tara’s mind. If the back doors had opened a few moments earlier, we would’ve lost the opportunity to celebrate God’s peace and our time of sacred conversation would never have happened.  With that in mind she thanked God for the doors that didn’t open as she drove the kids to school.  I don’t always respond perfectly in stressful situations. And Tara readily admits that she doesn’t either. But when we choose to turn our frustrations and disappointments over to God He gives us the grace we need to experience His peace in the midst of pressure.

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #77 on: April 08, 2019, 08:01:18 pm »
Use What Your Daddy Gave You
Jan 17, 2019 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.  2 Peter 3:14

Friend to Friend

Did you know that you’ve got what it takes to do all that God has prepared for you to do?

The Bible says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Pet. 1:3, emphasis added).

But that doesn’t mean we get to sit back on our haunches and do nothing. Peter wrote: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness ...” (2 Pet. 1:5).

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election” (1:10).

“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14)

Theologian Mark Buchanan said it well: “Those who do not make every effort are like the blind man whose sight is restored, but who never adjusts to that. He remains in his old ways, tapping his cane on the sidewalk, rattling his cup at the curb, reading by Braille, groping and shuffling, turning light into darkness, day into night.”

You have everything you need. You’ve got what it takes to do all that God has called you to do and to be. So now, make every effort to do so to take advantage of who you are, what you have, and where you are in Christ.  Don’t waste time comparing yourself to anyone else. Sharpen your skills. Practice your trade. Exercise your gifts. Grab hold of the truth and be on your way.  God had given Moses everything he needed for the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

•   He orchestrated the Pharaoh’s daughter to walk by the Nile at the precise moment baby Moses cried out from the floating basket.
•   He choreographed Miriam to witness the love-struck princess’ rescue.
•   He made sure that Moses was raised in the Pharaoh’s household, learned the Egyptian culture, and mastered the Egyptian language.

This was the Holy Ghost prep school, and Moses was pre-enrolled before he was even born. But when he failed and bailed in Egypt, Moses left bits and pieces of his confidence strewn along the path as he fled into the desert. By the time he reached Midian, it was all gone. And he gave up.  Oh, friend, the devil would like nothing more than to steal your confidence so that you won’t make every effort. Jesus reminds us, “The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy” (John 10:10). There is no more perfect time for him to make his move than in a season of failure.  So remember, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Pet. 1:3, emphasis added).

So now, it’s up to you to make every effort to use what your Daddy gave you!

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #78 on: April 08, 2019, 08:08:31 pm »
The Gift of Forgiveness
Jan 21, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

He (God) is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven.  Ephesians 1:7

Friend to Friend

The holidays have a way of resurrecting old hurts. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the choice to forgive those who have hurt us.  Forgiveness is not easy but it is necessary if we want to experience peace and joy.  Part of forgiveness is releasing the person from the debt we think they owe us. Refusing to do so extinguishes our joy.  Sometimes we just need to let go and cut our losses instead of allowing the weight of an unpaid debt deplete our mental and emotional energy. In other words, we can forgive the debt and set ourselves free.  Years ago, Dan and I decided it was time to sell one of our old junky cars. We had several from which to choose, but one was junkier than the rest. A man who worked for the church said he could fix up the car and decided to buy it.  The man agreed to make monthly payments for one year. No papers were signed because it was a business agreement between two ministers. I know. Some lessons are learned the hard way.  Dan gave the man the car title and car keys. The man gave us nothing. Not one penny.  Dan talked with him several times. “I will make a payment soon,” the man promised.

“Soon” never came.

I was furious not so much because of the money, although it would have come in very handy, but because this man was taking advantage of my husband’s giving heart and ticking me off in the process. I ranted and fumed for several days until Dan said, “Honey, I have decided to forgive the debt on that old car.”

Well, I decided not to, and my anger grew.  A few weeks later, the man quit his job at the church and went to work for a nearby grocery store my grocery store. Almost every time I went to the store, the man was there. And every time I saw him, my anger grew. I finally realized that this whole car situation was robbing my life of joy.  I decided to give him the car. It was the only thing I could do if I wanted peace.  I created a mental scene in which I drove to the grocery store, handed the car keys to the man, and said, “Merry Christmas!”

The plan worked. I forgave the debt and let it go. The most amazing thing happened. I was the one set free. Not one thing about my circumstances had changed. But my heart had.  From that day on, every time I saw the man, I waved and smiled. He began avoiding me, unable to look me in the eyes. God really does have a sense of humor. A few weeks later, I saw the man driving a different car and learned from one of his co-workers that “his old car just up and died.”

Enough said.  Forgiveness is a deliberate choice not an emotion or a feeling. Feelings may or may not follow that choice, but God’s favor certainly will. Honestly, when it comes to forgiveness, feelings are irrelevant, but obedience is crucial. Do not base the validity of what you are doing on how you feel.  If we make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness.  There should be no limit to our forgiveness because there is no limit to His.  Forgiveness is our greatest need and God’s greatest gift.

Raven

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #79 on: April 13, 2019, 09:56:41 pm »
Will God Really Show Up For Me?
Jan 22, 2019 | Kelly Balarie

Today's Truth

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:14

Friend to Friend

There’s nothing worse than believing God for victory, only to experience defeat.  Recently, I prayed and prayed without any change. I praised and worshipped, without a breakthrough. Even now, I need God for everything, yet wonder if He’ll really going to do anything. It feels like…I’m about to be left with nothing. Empty handed.  God, are You really going to come through for me?

God, do You really have this?

God, can I really trust You?

The Israelites trusted God way back then, sort of. As they saw the Egyptian troops chasing them down, they got overwhelmingly terrified. And seemingly angry at their leader Moses.  They griped, “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11-12, NIV)

Slavery was more appealing than trusting God for His victory.  I am like them when I say:  “What have I gotten myself into now, God?  Where are you, God?  Why haven’t you ____, God?”

Moses replied to the Israelites, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV)

I believe God says the same to us:  Do not be afraid.  Stand firm.  You will see the deliverance of God.  You will see God come through.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.  Stillness allows us to perceive God’s goodness. In this, our outlook, our mindsets and our attitudes change. Here, our faith rises. Here, breakthrough happens.  You know, when the Israelites lost faith, God instructed Moses to tell them something. He said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Exodus 14:15)

I believe God is saying the same to us:  Move on from unbelief.  Move on from fearing your battle.  Move on from counting every issue and believing I am not in it.  Move on from your old outlooks.  Move on from your self-limiting beliefs.  Move on from the idea there is no good plan.  Do a new thing.  Train your mind in truth.  Seize God’s peace.  Find life.  Conquer challenges through me.  Defeat doubt.  God has always had a very good plan. From the beginning God’s plan in this instance was that He would get all the glory.  “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  And I will gain glory through.  The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:16-18, NIV)

And so the Israelites moved. The miracle happened. The sea parted.

Raven

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #80 on: April 13, 2019, 10:11:20 pm »
Can I Trust God?
Jan 23, 2019 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love Him.  1 Corinthians 2:9

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I hopped up on the counter at the soda fountain and placed my five-year-old feet on the spinning stool in front of me. Dad sipped on a Coke and talked to the lady behind the counter with the red- and-white-striped apron tied around her waist.  “This is my little girl,” Daddy said with a smile. “She’s a little monkey.”

“Why, Allan, she’s just as cute as she can be.”

For a moment, I thought I was.  I stood in the front yard waiting for the screaming to stop before I went back inside. Dad was drunk again, and Mom was screaming at the top of her lungs. Why couldn’t he see how afraid I was?

Why did he drink?

Why did Mom yell?

Why did they hit each other?

After 17 years of these volcanic outbursts, you’d think I’d be used to it. But they always took me by surprise.  The next day came with many tears and promises. “I’ll never do it again,” Dad said. “I am so sorry.”

But there was always a next time. I couldn’t trust him.  When I became a Christian, I understood God’s amazing love for me. But I wondered, could I trust Him?

Could I trust God with my hopes and fears, days and years?

When you understand the depth of His love, the answer is always yes. Perfect love drives away all fear, kicks it out the door, gives it the boot (1 John 4:18). I love how another translation says 1 John 4:18:  There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection] (ampc).

I could relate to the rejected Jesus and easily accept the indescribable gift He gave. I marveled at God’s love. I truly did. But when it came time to trust my heavenly Father with my hopes and dreams?

That was a different story. For the longest time, when conflicts arose, I became that teenage girl looking in the crowd for a daddy who wasn’t there. Could I trust this heavenly Father  But one day God spoke to my heart in a poignant way. Take your father’s face off Mine, He seemed to say. I am not like your earthly father. I am your heavenly Father.  God is always good.  God always tells the truth.  God wants what’s best for you.  You can trust Him.  It’s easy to trust God when life is good. But when a child rebels, the bank account dwindles, or the biopsy comes back saying the tumor is malignant, we wonder. Is God really good?

We know in our heads that He is, but the heart struggles to believe. The Enemy peddles the lie that God is not good that He’s holding out on us. That’s what He told Eve. God is holding out on you. You can’t trust Him. You will not die.  Then disappointment hits and the devil says, “Told you so.”

Life is filled with disappointments. And it’s during those times of disappointment that the Enemy sows seeds of distrust with thoughts of mistrust. Disappointment and discouragement become the breeding ground for Satan’s lies to take root.  During all the years I struggled with infertility, the Enemy continually taunted me with lies. God doesn’t love you, he whispered. If He loved you He would give you a child. You can’t trust Him with your heart. You can’t trust Him with your deepest longings.  When we lost our second child due to a miscarriage, the Enemy pestered me with more lies. How could God let this happen?

How could He break your heart like this? How could a loving God allow such pain?

Have you ever felt that way?

I think most of us have heard those lies at one time or another. But the truth is, if God says no in one area of our lives, it’s because He has a greater yes in another.  Can you imagine how the disciples must have felt as the stone rolled in front of Jesus’s tomb?

How could this happen?

Where is God?

We thought He was going to restore Israel?

But three days later, when Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to them in all His glory, they knew the answer. God had a greater plan. And God has a plan for you.

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #81 on: April 19, 2019, 06:51:33 pm »
Just Do It
Feb 05, 2019 | Arlene Pellicane

Today's Truth

Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat?’ Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper...’ So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’ Luke 17:7-8, 10

Friend to Friend

It was a battle about feet.  I told my young daughter she needed to wash her feet in the bathtub. She moaned. She groaned. She  complained.  I explained this was a reasonable request that would take two minutes. You would have thought I asked her to clean the entire house from top to bottom.  A few days later to my utter surprise, she didn’t complain at all about washing her feet. Instead she just went into the bathroom, turned on the water, and dunked her feet in.  I exclaimed, “Way to go! You obeyed me right away without complaining!”

I was happy to praise my daughter for her improved attitude and behavior, but when you think about it, she was simply doing her duty.  It really wasn’t that extraordinary. A few generations ago, I doubt a mother would have been surprised or delighted by a child who followed instructions to get washed up. She would have expected nothing less.  We live in a society where children are overly praised for doing their duties. Wow, they cleaned their own plates! Wow, they went to bed when asked! Wow, they said thank you to the server!  As adults, we can have this same attitude. We can expect acknowledgement, praise, accolades and awards simply for doing our duties. Our key verse paints the picture of a normal day in the life of a servant and master. Servants are expected to do the will of their masters or employers. Their work isn’t a favor; it’s a required service. So, if a servant has been working all day tending the sheep, and he comes in around dinnertime, he doesn’t just plop down to rest. His master tells him to make some dinner.  Doesn’t that making dinner part sound familiar?

Luke 17:8-10 says about the master, “Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So, you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Jesus is clarifying our roles. We are the servants and He is the master, not the other way around. When I obey God, I can feel puffed up and proud. I can imagine earning a “Christian Excellence Badge” for inviting a friend to church or making a meal for my family after a long day. But the truth is, I am just doing my duty as God’s servant. The servant of God seeks to obey God’s commands without question and without bargaining for a reward.  Oh, to be this kind of servant!  Friends, when God asks us to do something, let’s just do it. No complaining. No fits. No whining. May we joyfully serve Jesus. He’s a master who’s given us His all.

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #82 on: April 19, 2019, 06:57:42 pm »
I Surrender! Part 1
Feb 01, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends.  Psalm 100:3

Friend to Friend

Shepherding was one of the oldest callings in Israel, even before farming. Shepherds traveled from place to place, living in tents while driving their flocks from one pasture to another. The sheep and their  shepherd lived together every minute of every day. In fact, they were so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.  A shepherd owned and marked his sheep. In some cases, the sheep were even branded, although branding is no longer an accepted method of identification because of the damage it does to the wool. Today, the ears of sheep are pierced with identification tags but for thousands of years, shepherds around the world marked their sheep by notching their ears with a sharp knife. Each shepherd had his own distinctive notch that indicated identity and ownership.  When we come to Jesus Christ in complete surrender and begin the journey of becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ, we are redeemed by His forgiveness, made whole by His grace, and marked with His love through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  Ephesians 1:13 “You were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal; the promised Holy Spirit.”

For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.  I grew up in a Christian home, attending church just about every time the doors were open. I sang all the right songs, spoke all the right words, and did all the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith, and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler.  It was not until middle school that the authentic life and spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God not only as my Lord and King, but I wanted to know Him as my Shepherd, the one who would lead me, provide for me, and love me like no other.  During a special Saturday evening revival service at our small country church, I sat in my usual spot, desperately clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children’s choir. I never missed a service unless I was deathly ill. I was a leader in our youth group, rarely failed to attend a youth activity and often brought friends who were lost, unlike me, of course, and needed to know God. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I had been living a lie.  I clung to that church pew in sheer arrogance and argued that I was a Christian. I must be. Look at all of the good things I had done. I looked liked a believer, talked like a believer, and even acted like I was fully devoted to God but was I? (Don’t miss the answer to that question in my next devotion.)

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #83 on: April 19, 2019, 07:08:31 pm »
I Surrender Part 2
Feb 04, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely, goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  Psalm 23

Friend to Friend

In my last devotion, I described a special Saturday evening revival service at our small country church. I sat in my usual spot, desperately clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God  over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children’s choir. I never missed a service unless I was deathly ill. I was a leader in our youth group, rarely failed to attend a youth activity and often brought friends who were lost, unlike me, of course, and needed to know God. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I had been living a lie. I clung to that pew in sheer arrogance and argued that I was a Christian. I must be. Look at all of the good things I had done. I looked liked a believer, talked like a believer and even acted like I was fully devoted to God but was I really a follower of God?

As I contemplated the answer to that question, a startling certainty hit me like a ton of bricks! I knew all about God and then the deeper truth of that reality followed closely behind. Yes, I had certainly accumulated a lot of knowledge about God, but I did not know Him. It wasn’t enough for me or for God.  I have come to realize that God’s perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with His children. That night, I stood in the darkness, gazing at the star-filled heavens and cried out, “God, if You are who You really say You are, I give everything I know about me to everything I know about You. I surrender.”

I met Jesus Christ that night.  While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered that I still had to deal with life on a daily basis, and I still had to face stressful situations. However, I also discovered who I really was a sheep and being a sheep is awesome!  When I am afraid, Jesus Christ is there to bring peace.  When my heart is broken, the Holy Spirit comforts and restores me.  Even when I found myself in a deep, dark pit of clinical depression, Jesus Christ, my Shepherd, led me from the darkness into the light.  I began to understand the incredible truth that Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, had planned my very existence, prepared a plan in response to his love for me, and even made provision for the payment of my past, present and future sin.  I was wanted, chosen and marked for God.  I no longer had to live life on my own because I now had a Shepherd.  God’s love precedes me, goes before me and surrounds me as I live each day. Knowing that we are loved fosters peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress.  Actually, when you think about it, sheep don’t come across as stressed out creatures. In fact, they seem almost oblivious to the dangers of being a sheep. Sheep don’t seem to worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they will have a place to sleep each night, when the next enemy or thief will attack, or even what the next day holds. When sheep are sick, they simply turn to their Shepherd, instinctively knowing that He will take care of them and comfort them until healing comes.  We need to remember and even revisit the fact that we are all sheep; that Jesus Christ really is our Shepherd and that nothing else really matters.

Willow

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #84 on: April 25, 2019, 10:42:20 pm »
You’re Truly Loved
Feb 08, 2019 | Holley Gerth

Today's Truth

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God  Ephesians 3:17-19

Friend to Friend

I’m a girl who’s serious about coffee. One morning I poured water into my machine, pressed the “on” button and waited for the magic to happen. But my much-desired beverage failed to appear. I began  investigating and discovered somehow the grounds had overflowed the filter and clogged the whole process. I cleared the way and soon I had a hot mug of something wonderful in my hands again.
The lies we believe are a lot like those grounds in my coffee maker. They may seem small and harmless but they can end up totally blocking the love God wants to pour into our lives. So let’s get rid of the lies and get back to the goodness that’s rightfully ours.
As I’ve connected with thousands of women as an author, life coach and speaker, I’ve found the following three lies about love can cause us the most trouble.

1) I’m only loveable if I’m perfect. We often wear ourselves out trying to have hair, hearts and homes that are just right. When that doesn’t work, our solution is usually to try harder. Unfortunately, that’s like pouring more water into the clogged coffee maker. It only leads to a bigger mess. Instead we need to take hold of this heart-freeing truth: “I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved by God” (see 1 John 4:18, Hebrews 10:14).

2) The amount of love I receive is based on what I achieve. Even if we become convinced that we don’t have to be perfect we can still believe love has limits. We then end up living like we’re on a reward system. For every good thing we do, we get a little more of God’s love. When we fail, He takes the love He’s given us away. But God’s love for us is infinite. We can’t do anything to gain more of it, and we can’t lose what’s already ours (see Psalm 103:8-14).

3) If God loves me, nothing bad will ever happen in my life. The reality is that we live in a fallen, broken world where hard things happen. I went through a difficult season and kept thinking of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse in which God promises He has a hope and future for us. I asked Him, “If that’s true, why is this going on in my life?” And I sensed this in my heart, “I had good plans for my Son and they still included a cross.” Jesus was perfect and He still suffered. When we face challenges it doesn’t mean we are being punished by God or He is withdrawing His love from us. It simply means we are not in heaven yet (see Romans 8:35-39).

This month as we celebrate love, “I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). Unlike my little coffee pot, God’s love never runs out. He has more than enough to share with us. And He’s always willing to give us a refill whenever we need it.

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #85 on: May 16, 2019, 08:32:55 pm »
Cooking for Those in Pain
Feb 19, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.  1 Peter 4:10

Friend to Friend

Hamburgers are a regular item on the Southerland summer menu for several reasons.  Hamburgers are inexpensive, easy to prepare, and scrumptious.  Hamburgers can be cooked outside. We live in Kansas where the summer heat can be brutal. Why add to the rising temperature outside by turning on an oven inside?

On one particular hamburger-kind-of night, my husband offered to do the grilling, but he had just gotten home from work and looked like he needed a nap more than he needed to grill anything.  Being the wonderful wife that I am, I said, “Honey, why don’t you take a quick nap while I grill the hamburgers?”

Being the wonderful husband that he is, Dan responded, “I will be glad to do that for you. It really is hot outside.”

I should have taken him up on his offer.  I didn’t want to be in the scorching heat one minute longer than I had to be, so I quickly seasoned the hamburger patties, slapped them on the grill, and headed back inside.  Our daughter met me at the door with our grandson who was looking for his Mimi. That’s me.  When Justus saw me, he smiled and stretched out his chubby little arms for me to hold him. I immediately accepted his invitation and promptly forgot about the hamburgers sizzling on the grill until Danna asked what we were having for dinner.  As visions of charred hamburger patties danced through my head, I made a mad dash to rescue our meal.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the hamburgers were still edible barely but a little charcoal is a healthy addition to any diet right?

I quickly transferred the hamburgers to a plate, closed the lid on the grill, and turned to head inside. My foot caught on the leg of a patio chair. I stumbled, juggling the plate of meat in my hand.  I was not about to give up those hamburgers without a fight!  Instinctively, I reached out for something to break my fall and found the grill with three fingers.  Have you ever had an accident that seemed to happen in slow motion?

I could feel the searing heat followed by the temporary numbness that accompanies second and third degree burns.  Ice! I needed ice and water!

I raced into the house, dropped the plate of burgers on the dinner table, and said, “Let’s eat!”

Leaning over the kitchen sink, I turned the cold water on full blast, hoping it would ease the growing pain. It didn’t.  We tried every pain reliever we had, and finally resorted to soaking the injured fingers in a small bowl of ice water which really did help but when large blisters began to appear, Dan and I headed to Urgent Care.  As the doctor applied a burn cream, I asked, “Will it stop the pain?”

The nurse had taken my bowl of ice water, and I couldn’t believe how badly those three fingers hurt! “It won’t actually stop the pain, but it will help the burns heal and prevent infection. I’ll give you a painkiller for the next couple of days,” she explained.

When she handed me the prescription, I was surprised. It was the same pain medication I had once taken after major surgery.  I am not a doctor but taking pain medication that affects the whole body seems like overkill when only three fingers are in pain. But as the hours passed, I was very thankful for each little pill. Every part of my body was screaming, “Pay attention to the fingers! We hurt!”

The Body of Christ should function the same way.  Instead, we often shoot our wounded and leave them lying in the dirt to find help on their own.  The problem is not always that we are unwilling to help someone in pain. We are simply blind to the fact that they exist. We overlook hurting people because we are in a hurry or because we don’t want to deal with the mess of a broken life.  Jesus Christ willingly gave up Heaven and came to Earth as a man and went straight for the messiest lives, those in the greatest pain  the losers and the misfits.  Jesus felt every pain we have ever felt or ever will feel.  Jesus was misunderstood and slandered.  Jesus was beaten, tortured, and then crucified to pay for our sin.  It must break the heart of God when we so easily toss aside what cost Him so very much the chance to help one of His broken lambs.  Look around you! Someone needs you to see them to really feel their pain and then be willing to do something about it.

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #86 on: May 16, 2019, 08:41:09 pm »
Especially In Scary Places
Feb 20, 2019 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

“This God, our God forever and ever he will always lead us.”   Psalm 48:14

Friend to Friend

I couldn’t help but notice the flying shoes. Strewn across power lines all over El Salvador was pair after pair of dirty, old tennis shoes that had been tied together and strung over the wires that lined the streets.  On the bus, our guide pointed them out. Telling the story that those tennis shoes serve as territory markers for the violent gangs and drug cartels.  They establish boundaries and stake claim to who runs what in particular parts of town.  My heart sifted through the language, economic and cultural barriers that separated me from them. I was stirred to understand more deeply. Distressed by the implications and evil. Moved to do something. To help. To protect.  As we got off the bus in each area, the guide gave specific instructions about what we could eat and drink, the time we had for the stop, the dangers of the area and the challenges the locals were facing. I was grateful for his direction and knowledge. It helped me know what to do and how to respond. Made me feel more confident. More safe. With the guide, the trip was far better than it would’ve been had I tried to explore the region on my own.  Psalm 48 celebrates God’s presence and showcases Him as our Security, Defender and Guide.  A good guide knows his stuff. He’s got the backstory on places you go and is able to answer the questions that come up along the journey.  A good guide stays with you, even in the scary places, and helps you see and understand the history, significance and culture as you pass through new places.  A good guide welcomes your questions, warns you of danger and points out tennis shoes on power lines.  It’s easy to feel lost and trapped by barriers of life that keep us from understanding or knowing which way to go. “For this is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14, NIV)

As I read Psalm 48:14, I breathe in a fresh confidence. God is not just a good guide, but the one and only perfect Guide.  He’s the Guide I need. The Guide that walks with me along the path, offering protection and direction. Our security and peace are amplified when we listen to and heed God’s instructions.

Pip

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #87 on: May 26, 2019, 11:16:41 pm »
Breaking Up With Fake
Mar 04, 2019 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

On high, he summons heaven and earth in order to judge his people.  Psalm 50:4

Friend to Friend

When a skilled jeweler places a diamond under a microscope, he is able to authenticate and determine its value based upon the color, cut, clarity and carat weight of the stone.  Flaws are visible in the testing, and any jeweler worth his salt can easily see the difference between a man-made cubic zirconia and a real diamond that’s been forged in pressure over time.  I like to think I can spot fake from a mile away too. It’s everywhere: the lashes, spray tans, hair color, boobs, eyebrows, puffy lips and high cheekbones. Beyond the substitute beauty efforts, there are a million other ways humanity serves up fake. Passing off that gossip as a prayer request. Praying from my lips, but not from my heart. Harboring anger and holding on to it like an invisible friend that I have every right to have.  God sees straight through fake.  Empty sacrifices are meaningless to Him.  Psalm 50 serves as a powerful reminder to me not to try to pass off a cubic-zirconia-faith to a flawless-diamond God. He leaves no room for insincere worship and makes it clear that He doesn’t want me going through the motions of religion in an effort to please or appease Him. He doesn’t want any part of fake faith. That’s not His way.  Holy echoes call out routine religion. If you’re really my daughter, act like it. Don’t bring me your fake faith and expect that I’m going to pretend along with you. It’s of no value to me. Be grateful. Really. Thank me for every good and perfect gift you have in life. It’s all from me. And be honest in worship. Do what you say you’re gonna do. Include me in your days. Talk with me about your troubles. Let me come along side of you. Recognize me as God and just watch: I’ll show up in powerful ways.  Yowsa! Tell me how you really feel, God.  He wants our honest attention. Our sincere faith.  The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks; he summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.  2 From Zion, the perfection of beauty, God appears in radiance.  3 Our God is coming; he will not be silent!  Devouring fire precedes him, and a storm rages around him.  4 On high, he summons heaven and earth in order to judge his people:  5 “Gather my faithful ones to me, those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”  6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God is the Judge.  (Psalm 50:1-6, CSB)

The holy God of heaven doesn’t want any of us to treat Him lightly. He deserves better. He deserves our genuine thanksgiving, honor and trust. He is faithful, merciful and kind.  Sacrifice a thank offering to God, and pay your vows to the Most High.  15 Call on me in a day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor me.  (Psalm 50:14-15, CSB)

Time to break up with fake faith because grace is free, but it didn’t come cheap.

Minnie

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #88 on: May 27, 2019, 09:21:44 pm »
Come to Me
Mar 01, 2019 | Wendy Speake

Today's Truth

Today’s Truth Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”  Matthew 11:28

Friend to Friend

Since the start of the new year, three words have been ringing in my ears: “Come to Me.” Matthew 11:28 has been hidden in my heart for as long as I can remember, but recently I’ve heard the Lord speak this intimate invitation to me personally, in light of all the things I tend to run to, turn to, “come” to.  “Come to Me.”

As I turn to comfort food: “Come to Me, I’m the Great Comforter.”

As I turn on my computer; “Come to Me, I want to connect with you.”

As I head into Target for a little retail therapy, “Come to Me, let me be your Counselor.”

As I make a phone call to talk through my stress with a friend; “Come to Me Call on Me!”

As I turn into Starbucks for something sweet; “Come to Me, my words are sweet as honey.”

As I scroll through Facebook; “Don’t follow them, follow Me. Come to Me.”

As I open up Amazon Prime; “Come to Me, I’m free and I’ll set you free!”

As I binge watch another late-night TV show; “Come. To. Me.”

“Come to Me.”

There are so many things that I mindlessly “come to” each day so many things that I eat, read, watch, buy, consume.  But God is speaking clearly to me: “Come to me, consume Me, and let me consume you.”

Are you weary and heavy laden? Experiencing a void that social media, food, and shopping simply can’t fill?

Take the weight of it all to the Lord. If you’re worn out, exhausted, running to all the false gods this world has to offer  take it all to Him. He has the shoulders to carry your burdens. The One who shouldered the cross, can shoulder your pain. It’s what He does. Amazon Prime can’t do it. Facebook can’t do it. Brownies can’t do it for you either. It’s not their job. It’s God’s job.  “Come to Me.”

He is able to carry your hurting relationships square on His shoulders. He can handle your fears and your failures. He can carry your sin struggles and your shame. He alone can carry the weight of it all, all the way up Calvary’s hill. And at the foot of the cross, He can lay it down on your behalf. In exchange for those heavy burdens, He offers His light yoke. That’s what He gives us when we give it all to Him.
“Come. Come to Me. Bring it all to Me, and I will give you rest.”

Raven

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #89 on: June 09, 2019, 09:18:23 pm »
Every Storm An Opportunity to Trust God
Mar 05, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

LORD, even when I have trouble all around me, You will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, You will reach down and save me by Your power.  Psalm 138:7

Friend to Friend

My father-in-law was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean when he was caught in a school of jellyfish. Dad was stung twenty-three times. In severe pain and a state of sheer panic, he began to swim furiously, trying to  escape the poisonous sea creatures.  The only problem was that he was not sure which way was up.  Dad was soon running out of air. He prayed asking God for help.  And then a thought occurred to him. His only hope was to stop, relax, and look for the light. As he forced himself to relax, he began to float. And then he saw it the light. With his last bit of energy, he began to swim toward the light and made it to the surface just before he passed out and was rescued.  We often react to a crisis in the same way.  When the excruciating pain of life leaves us breathless, we panic.  We are not sure which way to go.  We are soon paralyzed and in desperate need of rescuing.  And as a last resort, we cry out to God.  When will we learn that crying out to God should be our first response instead of our last resort?

The psalmist promises that God will keep us by His power. The word “power” means “strength and authority.” When we fully surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. He is our power link to God. And one of His most important jobs is to comfort us when we are in pain and sustain us in the storms of life.  I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.  (John 14:25-26, NLT).

Many times, when the storm waves of life hit, we forget every promise we know. That is when the Holy Spirit reminds us that …
•   God is faithful.
•   God will not forsake us.
•   God will never leave us.
•   God is always with us.
•   God will empower us to withstand the storm.

Just as storms in life are a certainty, so is the provision of God.  Life can be messy and bad things will happen, but every crisis and every storm is also an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see the storms of life as He sees them opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms.  In the midst of the darkness, He will point us toward the light. When a huge wave of daily life knocks us to our knees, it is easy to lose our sense of direction. When a storm overwhelms us, we need to stop, look for the light, and swim toward it.