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Devotions

Inspiration, Comfort, Challenge and Care

Season of Thanks

 Let the people thank you, God. Let all the people thank you. --Psalm 67:3 ISV

We teach our children to say "Please" and "Thank you." But, how many times do we use those terms ourselves when speaking to our Heavenly Father? Do we plead, complain and demand instead of asking and saying, "Please?" 

Do we think to say, "Thank you," when prayers are answered?
Do I foster an attitude of gratitude in my own life?

Help me, Lord, have a thankful heart...and give thanks to you for all you do, and who you are in my life.

Hiding Faith or Denying it

Come and listen, all of you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. --Psalm 66:16 ISV

Do we hide our faith, claiming it is private or do we share God's message of hope by telling others what He has done in us, for us, and through us?

Am I ashamed of being and living for Jesus? Isn't hiding my faith the same as denying it? How can I help others if I hide my light due to fear, embarrassment or a claim of being shy? 

Let me tell you what God has done for me....

Doesn't Change Positions

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words won’t ever disappear. --Luke 21:33 ISV 

Many claim that the message of the Bible should change depending on current social and philosophical thought.

But the God of Scripture makes clear that however circumstances and time changes, God's Word, His principles and His promises do not. We can rely on what He said, because it is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Love Means Actions

“Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.” Galatians 6:2 GW

Sometimes this means taking the time to write a note or make a phone call. Sometimes this means a visit or taking someone out. It always means not just saying, "I'll pray." but actually doing it. 

Bearing the burdens of others is not easy or simple and takes time and effort. Do I care enough about others to reach out of my insular world to help the hurting in real and effective ways?

So Hard to Trust

 People, in every situation put your trust in God; pour out your heart before him; for God is a refuge for us. --Psalm 62:8 ISV

Over and over the Scripture tells us God is our refuge. Why is it so hard to go first to Him when things go wrong in our lives? Instead we do everything we can to handle the situation before we go to Him. How different would results be if we trusted that God really does know what He's doing and wants to lead us beside still waters. 

God isn't Blind

He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? --Psalm 94:9 

How often do we do something we know is wrong and chuckle about it? It isn't a big deal. No one knows. Our persona of being a good person is intact. Others can't see into our minds or our hearts. No one saw what we did or thought. 

But our rationalizations go out the window when we acknowledge Someone does see and Someone does know--and our actions grieve Him. We cannot claim to follow Christ, then rationalize that making wrong choices is OK. Either we follow Him or we don't. Either way, He knows. 

If we truly believe God exists, He cares about us and is involved in our daily lives, then what we think, say and do matters. Our actions reveal the true state of our heart and what we really believe. God sees. The question becomes, do I care? Yes.

I'm glad God sees, because even at my lowest I know He cares. He'll forgive when I bow, reach out, stop playing games and follow Him. 

Not So Good at Waiting

You are my source of strength! I will wait for you! For God is my refuge. -- Psalm 59:9 NET

My problem is that while I recognize God is truly my strength, I still like to move on, make decisions without waiting for His answers, His guidance or His leading. I am impatient for the next step. Yet, without Him, I am going to make the wrong one. 

I need to remember to slow down, wait and remember He is my refuge and strength. I'm not going to get too far without Him and the results of my going ahead of His direction are never positive. 

So I will ask, listen, "discuss" a bit....and work at waiting. Gives me time to be thankful and count my blessings. When that leading comes, I'll be ready--heart and mind to move forward to find the blessings in store when I follow Him. 

The Choice to Love

God's love doesn't fail.
The question is is--does mine?
Is the evil I see
Really in my own heart
Because I don't want to 
Extend God's Love in one or another 
Given situation?
Do I allow God's love to prevail
And flow through me
Enriching the lives of
Myself
Spouse
Family
Friends
And more...
Do I chose to love?

Because of the LORD’s gracious love we are not consumed, since his compassions never end. They are new every morning— great is your faithfulness! --Lamentations 3:22-23 ISV 

Sustainer

Cast on the LORD whatever he sends your way, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. --Psalm 55:22 ISV 

God is there even when we hurt, when we're confused and when we are angry.He sustains us when we're too exhausted, too hurting, too overwhelmed to deal with life on our own. When we rest in Him, He turns dark into light and guides us back to wholeness. 

WARMED

In the chill of the morning,
I open God’s Word... 
Read,
Meditate,
Commune with Him,
And know
The warmth of His
Presence
Within.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. --Lamentations 3:22-23 (NAS)

Does God Care?

(The Lord)
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. --Psalm 23:2-3

Sometimes we feel like we're in a howling storm or a desert all alone. We begin to wonder if God is there and, even more important, if He truly cares. Yet, Psalms 23 makes clear that while life's storms and desert times will come, they are not what God ultimately desires for us. 

If we trust and follow Him as sheep follow their shepherd, He will lead us through tumultuous and painful times to a place where He provides rest, comfort, healing and hope.

When I Don't Feel Like Praising

With a free will offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, LORD, because it is good, for he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eyes have seen the end of my enemies. --Psalm 54:6-7 ISV

We often thank God when things are going well or something extraordinary, and positive, happens in our lives. God is real and present in our lives, but it isn't all about fun and games. God often allows choices we make to bear fruit, allows natural consequences of nature or of other people's choices. 

During these times, it is easy to turn from God then and blame instead of praise. If we trust Him, we'll find Christ cares even in the most difficult circumstances and He is in the darkness. He will comfort, bring hope and peace....and direction if we trust, ask, listen and follow. 

But part of it all is finding things for which to give praise even in those dark times. Giving praise, even when we may not feel like it, changes everything--starting with our attitudes. 

What He Offers

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...."

When I put God first in my life, 
I have a guide I can follow and know He will not lead me in the wrong path.
I have a comforter to whom I can go when my heart is breaking.
I have a healer who touches my mind, heart and body and makes them whole.
I have a Savior who died and rose for me that I might have life,
And live forever in the presence of of His light and overwhelming love. 

Truly "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." Psalm 23:1

Obedience

   When he had finished speaking, he told Simon, “Push out into deep water, and lower your nets for a catch.” 
   Simon answered, “Master, we have worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll lower the nets.” 
   After the men had done this, they caught so many fish that the nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats until the boats began to sink. --Luke 5:4-7 ISV 

What struck me about this passage was Simon's willingness to obey. He was probably tired and frustrated over working hard with little return. Yet, Jesus asked him to do something and he was ready and willing to give it a try. 

I hear God speak through His Word and through prayer, but I drag my feet. I wonder if I really "heard" what I thought I heard. What God asks doesn't make sense--as it probably didn't to Simon. Yet, he obeyed immediately and was rewarded far beyond his imagination.

What blessings await me when I not only listen, but also follow where God leads--without complaining and hesitation?



Appreciation

We may not have control of the seasons, but we can appreciate them and thank the One who created the panorama of beauty He unfolds for each one. 

You are the one and only Lord. You made the heavens. You made even the highest heavens. You created all of the stars in the sky. You created the earth and everything that is on it. And you made the oceans and everything that is in them. You give life to everything. Every living being in heaven worships you. --Nehemiah 9:6 (NIRV)

“You are worthy, our Lord and God!
    You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power.
You are worthy because you created all things.
    They were created and they exist.
    That is the way you planned it.” --Revelation 4:11 (NIRV)

Forever

For this God is our God forever and ever. He will guide us until death. --Psalm 48:14 ISV 

God didn't just create and leave us. He's not some distant God who has no personal interest in His creation. He is real, intimate and personal. So many of us are lonely, but we don't have to be. God becomes personal in Jesus who offers peace, life, hope...and joy. He is as near as our willingness to trust and follow Him. 

But He respects my choices, because love is a choice. Why wouldn't I choose this loving God who is with me not just today, but also forever?

Telling Off the Surgeon

I will instruct you and teach you concerning the path you should walk; I will direct you with my eye. --Psalm 32:8 ISV 

Long ago when I first started my journey of joint replacements so I could walk again after spending my teen years in a wheelchair, God showed me this verse before that first surgery. My surgeon's nurse (a friend) was excited when I quoted it to her. I saw it as a verse for my surgeon (a friend and Christian brother.) The road to this first surgery was long and a hazardous for us both.  This was confirmation that this surgery (which was no guarantee) would be OK. 

Ruth told the team about the verse. Jerry, the anesthesiologist, asked about the verse and I quoted it to him. Once I got inside the operating room for that initial surgery, Dr. Ellis said, "I hear you have a verse for me." By the time he arrived, I'd had a shot or two that made me woozy and Jerry was trying to find a vein to start the IV.

I quoted the verse--or so I thought. Evidently I wasn't getting things quite right, including where the verse was found. What I remember was Jerry saying, "She's turning blue and I can't find a vein." 

As I was told later, that wasn't the end of the conversation. Dr. Ellis told me I wasn't quoting the verse right and I told him (he was church chairman at the time) that he didn't know his Bible. From then on, they made sure I was out before I entered the operating room. :). I did provide entertainment though.

However, that verse proved true. God did guide Ken's hands through that surgery and the many to follow. And, after ten years in a wheelchair, I did walk again. I learned that God is faithful even in the darkest of times. He does guide and direct if we're willing to follow. 

Playing Games with Sin 

Matthew 4:10-11 Mkjv Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." Then the Devil left him. And behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Jesus told Satan to go. When we command in Jesus' name things happen. When temptation comes, unfortunately, too many times, we don't say, No!," don't walk away, shut down the TV, computer, phone and don't close the book or magazine.

Sin fascinates and we play games with sin, alowing this and that. We lose our spiritual discernment as sin becomes a barrier between us and God.

The scary thing is, by playing games with sin, we often never realize how far we moved from our source of protection, peace, hope and blessing until disaster strikes and we find ourselves wondering where God is.

How am I playing with sin today?

Human vs Animal Rights 

Matthew 12:12-13 Mkjv How much better is a man then than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then He said to the man, Stretch out your hand. And he stretched it out, and it was restored whole like the other.

We live in a time where being human is often denigrated while animal life is given human, even sacred status. God did not create humans and and animals equal. We are made in God's image. Animals are a creation not on the same level. We are to care for and use animals, but not
deliberately torture either animals or humans. Nevertheless, some animals are meant for comfort and assistance. Others for food and clothing.

Animals, as wonderful as they are, do not have souls. A perspective to keep in mind when animal rights are touted over the safety, health and well-being of a human population.

Mis-using God's Name 

Do I honor God when I misuse His name in casual conversation Oh, my G..." or think it is Ok to shorten the phrase for email and texting OMG? Do most even know that "G" followed by two "Es" is a shortened form of Jesus? 

It is not ok to misuse any of God's names. In fact, what we do so casually, even in certain Christian literature, God calls dishonoring and a direct violation of one of His commandments.

Do I show disrespect to the One I claim to follow by what I allow to flow from my mouth, my pen or allow to flow to my eyes and ears without it bothering me?

Psalm 29:2 Mkjv Give to the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The Difference Christ Makes--Joy

Psalm 33:2-4 Mkjv Praise the LORD with lyre; sing to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with shouts of joy. For the Word of the LORD is right; and all His works are in truth.

Those who think they follow God when they persist in gloom and doom have missed an important key to Christianity. Christ is about love and hope and...JOY! Jesus came to bring joy. Joy because He saves us, joy because He gives us peace and hope and moment by moment fellowship with Him. He is about truth, but His truth brings us back to joy.

Christ isn't about guilt. Guilt should be from something done wrong and should lead us to repent and move on with gratitude and joy for a God who can and does forgive the repentant heart. Hanging on to grief and guilt means we're not allowing Christ to heal and set us free.

Joy comes from freedom of knowing Christ. God's Word is even more clear when Nehemiah 8:10 says,"The joy of the Lord is your strength."

Keys 

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 GW Israel, what does the LORD your God want you to do? He wants you to fear him, follow all his directions, love him, and worship him with all your heart and with all your soul. The LORD wants you to obey his commands and laws that I'm giving you today for your own good.

God wants a people committed to following Him? Why? Because He has a big ego and likes control? Not at all. Verse 13 provides the reason--for our good. God's laws, commands and principles were put into place by a loving Creator who gave us the keys for successful lives--for good lives. 

It is up to us to appropriate those keys of His protection, provision and peace by simply following the principles God set forth in His book for living--the Bible. It starts by accepting, loving and serving Him.

Ticket to Grace 

Luke 7:48-50 GW Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." 
   The other guests thought, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" 
   Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace!"

Even today many fall into the trap of thinking they can somehow "earn" their way into God's favor. Usual methods: Church attendance, church rituals, good works.

But that has never been how Christianity works. It isn't about what we can do, other than admit we are too messed up to save ourselves. Christianity hinges on faith in God's grace, on His unmerited favor. Unmerited. We don't deserve God's mercy or blessing and when we're honest about who we are deep inside--we know that.

Jesus didn't die and rise for "good" people. He died for sinners--those who recognize what Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned." Only as sinners who admit our need and ask Christ to come in, will we find that golden ticket--forgiveness and hope through His amazing grace.

Environmentalism & God 

Deuteronomy 20:19-20 GW This is what you must do whenever you blockade a city for a long time in order to capture it in war. Don't harm any of its fruit trees with an ax. You can eat the fruit. Never cut those trees down, because the trees of the field are not people you have come to blockade. You may destroy trees that you know are not fruit trees. You may cut them down and use them in your blockade until you capture the city.

I care about the earth, though I don't buy into environmental extremism. Still, God wants us to take care of the world He created. I found it interesting that God did not want His people to use a
scorched earth policy when they were at war. He told them not to destroy fruit trees.

That was possible because the ultimate victory didn't come from military tactics, but from obeying, serving and following God.

In many ways, environmentalism has gotten out of hand and many worship nature rather than God. Others have taken over a movement meant for good to promote government control.

We need to respect God's creation, but never worship the creation more than the creator and never use environmentalism to take away God-given freedom. It is a balance that starts with putting God first in every area of life and letting Him direct the rest.

God First in Finances 

Proverbs 3:9-10 Mkjv Honor the LORD with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; and your barns shall be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst with new wine.

We spend money on food, clothes and housing. We spend money, copious amounts of money, on entertainment and other luxuries. God promises blessing to those who put Him at the center of their lives and that means considering Him first in our finances. Yet how often do we give to God the left-overs of our time and money and still expect Him to bless?

We receive as we give. If God is number one, giving to Him that first ten percent isn't a suggestion, it should be our priority--even when we're concerned about finances. God first, in time, worship and finances takes the pressure off of me and puts it on Him. Do I trust God enought to give to Him before paying my other bills?

Waiting for us to ask 

Psalm 91:14-15 Mkjv Because He has set His love on Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set Him on high, because He has known My name. He shall call on Me, and I will answer Him; I will be with Him in trouble; I will deliver Him, and honor Him.

Why is it so hard to turn to God in our need...as though we can handle everything on our own? Who cares about us more than the One who created us and sustains the very world we live in? Without Him, we can do nothing. Why not work with Him, instead of ignoring Him, listening instead bungling through on our own?

God is here. He cares and when we ask Him for help, He becomes our protector, provider, opening the door to inner resources we never imagined. 

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