Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 16 times)

Anon

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Devotion
« on: June 11, 2018, 08:45:22 PM »
Daring to Rest in this Wild, Busy World
May 15, 2018 | Holley Gerth

Today's Truth

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:6

Friend to Friend

The sparrows sing from branches, perhaps telling of love or war, winter ending, hope and the weather. I come to our patio table, the one with the wide khaki umbrella, and take a seat in my favorite woven chair. I  have raspberry tea in front of me, a book in my hand. I am reading Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller.  Shelly says rest is a gift, a blessing from the heart of a loving God. And yet even in this moment of quiet I fidget, tap my toes, swing my legs, put a hand up to shield my eyes and search for the red-headed woodpecker tap-tap-tapping like the thoughts in my head.  It’s so easy to be endlessly moving, distracted, slow to settle into peace even on the rare occasions where it’s right in front of us. “How are you?” we’re asked.

“Busy,” we often answer with a sigh.

Yet, perhaps, we also secretly feel a bit of relief. Because surely “busy” must mean we are worthy. We are wanted and useful. But busy doesn’t have to be the boss of us.  “Shame is the fear of being unlovable,” says Shelly.

And to fight this fear we might fidget with another project, hustle for another compliment, raise our hands to shade our eyes and scan the horizon for proof that we’re enough. I have lived this and I am learning to lay it down as one does any addiction. There are still withdrawal symptoms sometimes. Like this afternoon when the glory of creation is all around me and I’m invited to join it, to just be, but instead I only want something productive to do.  In the holy Scriptures I read, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

It’s the word seated that echoes in my mind and heart. To be seated is a position of rest and dependence. When it comes to the eternal parts of us, the ones that will outlast all the laundry and the cartons of milk in the refrigerator, the striving is already over.  I think when Jesus said, “It is finished”

He meant it not just about His work but ours too. Oh, yes, of course we will act out of love all our lives. But when it comes to the try-hard treadmill of our own efforts the “off” button has already been pushed. As humans in a busy, broken world we’re forever discovering how to let all of ourselves sit down so that every part of who we are, from our souls to our painted toenails, are in alignment for a bit.  We think when we are working hard and wearing ourselves out that we must be most reflective of heaven. But it seems this is not so. Even when we are in motion on the outside, we can live like we’re sitting down on the inside. In other words, we can place our confidence in knowing we’re loved, chosen, and God is working all things together for our good. What He has done, what He is still doing, can be the “chair” we set our whole selves upon.  The birds call to each other and I wonder again what they’re really saying. Perhaps it is simply this: “God took care of us yesterday. He is taking care of us now. He will take care of us tomorrow.”

And I pray, quietly, that I will live and rest and set myself in the center of this truth too. Like a woman who has found her true home. Like I’m in my favorite woven chair on the patio. Like a sparrow on her nest, singing the story her heart has known all along.
Isaiah 40:31  ... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Anon

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 09:22:49 PM »
You are Worth More Than a Herd of Pigs
May 16, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Friend to Friend

An African tribe gathered round to listen to the story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed man recorded in Luke 8:26-33. The ministry, Faith Comes by Hearing, provided the tribe with an audio Bible and a digital  playback unit for them to hear the story in their own language.  Jesus and his disciples sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!”

For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.  The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.  The tribal community was stunned when they heard this story. They knew the value of one pig, much less an entire herd. Why would Jesus do that?

Why would He allow their entire income to be destroyed?

Many questions stirred among the listeners. Then the wise chief spoke. “Perhaps Jesus is showing us that one human soul is worth more than an entire tribe’s economy.”

I was silenced by his answer. That passage has been mysterious to me for many years, but God revealed the truth to an African chief hearing the story for the very first time. That chief understood just how valuable we are to God.
Do you realize how valuable you are to God?

You are worth so much that He gave His one and only Son just for you.
Isaiah 40:31  ... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Anon

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2018, 11:03:23 PM »
Listen Up!
May 22, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  James 1:19

Friend to Friend

It had been a very long and extremely hard day. My husband’s grandmother had died, and we had just returned from her funeral. Trying to establish a sense of normality for our two young children, I  unpacked suitcases, started the laundry, and spent some time playing with Jered and Danna. After a dinner during which Dan and I tried to lighten the atmosphere with silly bantering, we got the kids ready for bed.  Dan and Danna headed to her room for one last game of “Pretty, Pretty Princess” before bed. (And let me just say that you have not lived until you have seen Dan Southerland in a tiara and pink plastic earrings!) Jered and I settled in his bedroom to read books, play with his Hot Wheels, and just talk. We prayed together and Jered climbed into bed. I gave him a kiss and a hug and tucked him into a blanket, a nightly ritual of creating a “Jered-ito.”  As I turned on his nightlight and started out of the room, Jered’s question stopped me in my tracks. “Mama, do wrinkles make you die?” he asked.

Ordinarily, I would have dismissed his question as a childish ploy to delay bedtime, but in a rare moment of wisdom as a mom, I sat on the edge of our son’s bed, took his hand and asked, “Son, what do you mean?”

Jered smiled and replied, “Well, Grandmother died and she had sooooooo many wrinkles.”

Dan’s grandmother battled pernicious anemia for many years. The illness itself and the medications she had to take for that condition had left her skin damaged and very wrinkled. “Yes, honey, Grandmother was sick and had a lot of wrinkles. I still don’t understand your question.”

After a moment of silence, Jered said, “Well, at dinner tonight you and daddy were joking about who had the most wrinkles, and I just need to know if wrinkles make you die.”

Wow! Over the years, I have thanked God so many times for the Holy Spirit who prompted me to stop and really listen to our son. We talked for a long time about the fact that wrinkles don’t make you die, but we also talked about the fact that Grandmother Lois was in Heaven and did not have any more wrinkles. And that she was well and no longer in pain. It was one of the most meaningful conversations Jered and I ever had about life and death and the fact that when we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will go to heaven where Grandmother Lois will be waiting for us.  I have had to learn how to listen really listen. For years, I used the time someone was speaking to formulate a clever response. Oh, I looked into their eyes, but I didn’t really see them. I heard their words, but I did not really listen. I failed to hear what was behind the words the hurt and pain or the confusion and questioning heart.  I now work hard to realize that every person God sends my way is really seeking His listening heart at work in and through me.  I try to look for the pain hidden in each word.  I pray for wisdom to respond in a way that will promote restoration and encourage healing.  Listening by definition means “attention, with the intention to understand.” James says we should be “quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19).

Talking is sharing, but listening is caring.  Take a tip from creation. Ears aren’t made to shut, but the mouth is. Put away your sermon, save your advice, and just listen. Sometimes the best gift we can give is a listening ear.  A little girl was eating breakfast with her Daddy. They were on a date spending some special time together. He was telling her how wonderful she was and how proud he was of her. After he had done what he thought was a sufficient job, he picked up his fork and began to eat. His daughter put her hand on his arm and stopped him with these words, “Longer, Daddy, longer.”

He didn’t eat much food that day, but a little girl’s hungry heart was fed because her father was willing to listen.  Are there any hungry hearts in your life that simply need someone to listen?

I am convinced Jesus was an amazing listener. Children loved Him and longed to spend time with Him. Hurting people were drawn to Him. People from every walk of life sought Him out. He always made time to listen to those in need. We need to do the same.
Isaiah 40:31  ... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Anon

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2018, 09:02:17 PM »
The All-In Mom
May 23, 2018 | Arlene Pellicane

Today's Truth

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.  2 Timothy 1:5

Friend to Friend

When my daughter Noelle was three, she would exclaim “I LOVE blueberries!” or “I LOVE tortellini!”

Now at 11, she LOVES penguins. She draws penguins, buys penguins, has penguin themed birthday  parties, and dreams of penguins. It’s obvious by looking in her room or backpack that she really is crazy about that flightless black and white bird.   In the same way I can spot Noelle’s zeal for penguins, I wonder if she can tell I love Jesus. Can she see from my life that I’m an all in mom for Jesus?

Does she know I’m not just a casual fan of Jesus; I’m a die-hard follower?

I believe these questions matter because a mom has incredible influence over the faith of her children.  Consider Timothy in the Bible. Our verse today reveals that Timothy’s faith first lived in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. What a wonderful gift those ladies gave a vibrant faith passed down from generation to generation. Those women shaped Timothy’s spiritual life and he became the protégé of the Apostle Paul who called Timothy his “beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2).  In Acts 16:1, we are told more about Timothy’s family upbringing. His mother was Jewish and a believer but his father was an unbelieving Greek. Even though Eunice didn’t share Christian faith with her husband, she was able to witness to her son about Jesus. Her transformed life must have made quite an impact on young Timothy.  Lois and Eunice were all-in moms. It reminded me of this illustration I saw at children’s church. If you put just a few drops of food coloring into a gallon of water, slowly but surely that dye works its way through all the water. There’s not a pocket of water that can remain unchanged. In the same way, following Jesus should penetrate and impact every area of life.  We are surrounded by little disciples who are watching us. Whether you have a toddler at your heels or a teen hiding out in the bedroom, they are observing you. Your children are checking to see if what you say matches what you do and who you are. By the way, you don’t have to be a mother to influence the lives of children. As an aunt, friend, Sunday school teacher, or coach, you can make a huge difference in the faith of a child.  Are you letting Jesus into every area of your life?

Is the Holy Spirit free to move wherever He wants, transforming you daily by the renewing of your mind?

There is a warning to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV), “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm neither hot nor cold I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

It’s time to be all-in for Jesus. Your children and others in your life are watching to see if your faith is genuine. May others know through our lives that indeed, we do LOVE Jesus!
Isaiah 40:31  ... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Anon

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2018, 09:31:00 PM »
If You’ve Messed Up, You’re in Good Company
May 24, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him”  1 Corinthians 1:28-29

Friend to Friend

Many women are living in silent defeat, comparing themselves to other women who likewise are living in silent defeat. I was one of them. I’m not a good mother. I’m not a good wife. I’m not a good  Christian. I’m not a good witness. I’m not a good housekeeper. I’m not a good decorator. I’m not a good cook. I’m not a good.  One by one the petals fall from the beautiful flower God created us to be. Like ticker tape, our fragmented pieces of confidence scatter over the streets as the parade passes by.  Unfortunately, I wasted many precious years held captive by the Enemy’s lies before I held up my chained hands to God and said, “I’m ready for You to cut me loose.”

Consider this:  Jacob was a liar.  Moses was a stutterer.  David was an adulterer.  Rahab was a prostitute.  Esther was an orphan. Balaam’s donkey was well, a donkey.  And yet God used each one of them to further His kingdom. You’re in good company. See, God doesn’t call us because we are particularly gifted or talented. He uses us because we are obedient and dependent upon Him. He doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.  Gideon is another one of God’s chosen leaders who argued that he wasn’t good enough. One day he was threshing wheat in a winepress when an angel of the Lord came to him. “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior,” the angel announced (Judges 6:12).

Now, first of all, you don’t thresh wheat in a winepress. You thresh wheat in an open field by throwing it up in the air. The wind blows the chaff away and the grain falls to the ground. So what was Gideon doing in the winepress?

He was so terrified of his enemies, the Midianites, that he was hiding. And yet, when the angel of the Lord came to him, he addressed Gideon as “mighty warrior.” No wonder Gideon said, “Pardon me” (6:13,15).

As soon as God called Gideon to greater things, Gideon began making excuses, allowing his insecurities and inadequacies to set limitations in his life. Gideon argued, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (6:15).

But God looked beyond Gideon’s insecurities. He knew who Gideon could be if he trusted in God’s power to work through him. Author Renee Swope wrote: “God wasn’t limited by Gideon’s limitations, and He’s not limited by ours either. He didn’t want Gideon to depend on his own strength. God wanted Gideon to depend on His strength. God was going to conquer the Midianites, but He invited Gideon to join Him.”

What about women in the Bible?

When you turn the pages from the Old Testament to the New Testament, you can tell something is going to be different for women. In the Old Testament lineages, women were rarely mentioned. However, in Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, five women are listed in the lineage of Jesus. Of course, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is there a teenage girl from Bethlehem. But who are the other four?

Tamar, who had an incestuous encounter with her father-in-law.  Rahab, who had been a prostitute in Jericho.  Ruth, who was a foreigner from a cursed people group in Moab.  Bathsheba, who had an affair with King David. I’m so glad these women were listed. This shows us we can never go so far away from God that His grace can’t reach in to save us, and then use us. Each of these women would have probably thought they weren’t good enough if they had known how God was going to use them in His kingdom. What a beautiful example of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

No matter what mistakes you’ve made in your past, first of all, know you’re in good company. Secondly, know that God loves using mess-ups who fess up and then step up to do mighty works for Him.
Isaiah 40:31  ... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.