Friday, June 23, 2017
Endurance. Persevere, remain steadfast, endure trials, tests and temptations - these are all words the different translations use to describe those whom God blesses. I don't know about you, but my patience isn't always as graceful as the word appears in black and white. I sometimes come really close to losing it, but when push comes to shove, I back down and remember who is really in charge. When I think of endurance, I am reminded of those who have undergone cancer treatments that have nearly sucked the very life out of weakened bodies. It's not pretty, but they made it through another day, another week, another month. Perseverance is similar, in that it is a continued effort to achieve something, despite obstacles (even failure). I am reminded of those who have lost parts of their bodies and yet they have somehow found a way to be "normal" again. Most of us will never see that type of continued testing or temptation to that scale, but we do face life's everyday difficulties that are more of an annoyance to our level of comfort. When we compare the reward to the actual test or temptation, it's a no-brainer. We must focus on that reward to help us endure, persevere and remain steadfast - no matter what happens. Lord, whenever I begin to lose my patience, help me to keep my eyes on the reward.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (NLT)
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Importance of prayer. Jesus had a busy schedule to keep. Can you imagine how many reminders and notifications he would have if he lived with an iPhone in today's culture? No matter what was on his agenda for the day, he always took time to have his alone time with God. Now if Jesus Christ, the Son of God, set aside a special time to have a one on one conversation with his Father, how much more so should we take time to keep in touch with the Almighty? Lord, let me always take the time to pray, not in a wish list form, but with an attitude of worship and receptiveness to what you want for me.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Martha, Martha, [Martha]. If you watched television in the early 1970s, you are likely familiar with the popular Brady Bunch show. Middle sister Jan finally has a meltdown when older sister Marcia once again gets all the praise at school. Jan gets fed up and whines that all she ever hears is, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" In the biblical story about Mary and Martha, it would likely have been Martha who complained to Jesus about how little her sister was helping, "Mary, Mary, Mary!" Now while Jesus was definitely not whining about all the attention Martha was receiving, he certainly put the tasks at hand in perspective. We can worry and be upset about many things; most of things are completely out of our control. What good does that do? Rather than worry and stew, Jesus tells Martha, "but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (NASB Luke 10:42). You see, when we make Jesus the priority of our lives and trust in Him completely, all the other matters fall into place. Now that doesn't mean we just sit back with our feet up while others do all the work - we must listen for God's instructions on how best to serve. Lord, let my worries always be put into perspective.
But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and
bothered about so many things;
Monday, June 19, 2017
Moving mountains. One can only imagine what goes through a child's mind as they watch a magician turn a scarf or tissue paper into a live bird or rabbit. The older children are amazed when their teacher is levitated high above the table. So when we are trying to move the mountains in our lives, do we really expect it to happen as if it's a magic trick? Only when things happen that we cannot explain do we proclaim that God has performed a miracle. Our faith is much more than believing in those experiences that are unexplainable. Faith includes a great deal of patience and resistance to "help" on our part. Lord, let my faith be strong and grow deeper daily.
Then Jesus told them, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don't doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Coveting. We often think of coveting as the desire to obtain something new, as when someone we know gets something new. If you think about it, however, it is simply an inordinate desire to have what rightly belongs to someone else. This could even extend to relationships and perceived happiness in addition to traditional "things". From the very first relationship, Adam and Eve, it is obvious that we were not meant to be alone. We crave the companionship of others. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but we must be careful not to allow it to become a source of coveting. Raised in church, we were always taught to be content with what we have. It wasn't that we couldn't aspire to have a better job, or have nice things. It just simply meant that it shouldn't be the focus of our lives. Lord, help me to be content with what I have.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Do you believe? One of my favorite movies is the 1994 version of Miracle on 34th Street. As Kris Kringle is being tried after being falsely accused for assault, the owner of Coles' department store drums up public support by asking the question, "Do you believe?". Of course the question is in regards to Santa Claus, but wouldn't it be great if we could just as easily drum up support for God? We discount many healings and positive outcomes to our own power. I wonder how many of these things, if they happened in biblical times, would have been considered miracles? Lord, let me not put too much credit in my own abilities, but realize that You are all powerful.
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Good gifts. The anticipation is excruciating. The excitement builds and can no longer be contained. The exquisite gifts sit before you as you imagine what wonderful things could be inside. You open the first gift, and while it was not quite what you expected, it was still something new. How many items you receive, nor the cost of each gift does not really matter. While it truly is the thought that counts, no matter how you shake it, if you unwrap underwear, it's probably not going to be your favorite memory. Most parents have a little idea of what their child would like to have. They may not be able to afford the finest gift, but they try to do the best they can. It's because they love that child with all their heart and that smile as they open each present is a gift in itself. Our Heavenly Father knows us much better than anyone. While His gifts may not be valuable according to the world's standards, God wants the very best for us. If you've received an unexpected blessing, take time to smile and thank God for thinking of you. Lord, thank you for the sweet song of the birds this morning!
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
Monday, June 12, 2017
State of readiness. Tyndale Life Application Daily Devotion relates the four types of seeds "different states of [our] readiness [to receive God's message]'". We may typically characterize these as different types of people, but can also apply to our willingness to listen for God's voice at any given time. Do we find ourselves complaining about the current state of affairs? Or perhaps we just simply don't understand why God doesn't hear our requests? It could be that, like Col. Jessup says in the movie A Few Good Men, "You can't handle the truth." God DOES allow us to experience more than we can bear. Scripture is full of those examples. He wants us to get to the point where our reliance on Him is so great that we know only God can help. We must be in a state of readiness in order to listen and obey. Lord, help me to be in a constant state of readiness.
The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!"
Friday, June 9, 2017
Overconfidence. When it comes to getting the job done, we tend to think that more is better. The more people helping means the quicker we can get the task accomplished. Gideon was no different, as he gathered his people to ready themselves for battle. God whittled down the number of soldiers from 32,000 to 300. Now while that may seem drastic, you can imagine that the group went from being overconfident to thinking they surely needed help from a higher power. If you feel overwhelmed by the size of the opposition, rather than finding a volume of people who are on your side to back you up, trust that God has your back. Lord, I know you've got this.
The LORD said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, 'My own power has delivered me.'
Thursday, June 8, 2017
All talk. You may know a few of those people who talk about all the great things they have done, or plan to do. Many may buy into their stories, but if truth be told, reality is far less than their glorious descriptions. If we are not careful, we can get caught up in flowery words and grand illusions of things we plan to do. Without actions, we are simply all talk. Lord, help me to DO your will, and not simply talk a good game.
"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of
Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Devoted to prayer. How often do we tell our problems to someone else, when it would be better to simply get on our knees in prayer? For me, the answer is more times than I would care to admit. When we devote ourselves to prayer, we are literally in a state of mind that is prayerful all day long. As we go throughout our daily routine, we keep in constant communication with the Almighty. Keeping in mind that he is our Creator, the one who knows us best and who knows all sides of the situation, we must trust that He ALWAYS has our best interests at heart. Once we have placed something in God's hands, we must remain thankful that He has heard and anticipate an answer that is far better than our own mind can imagine. Lord, help me to stay devoted in prayer today.
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
Monday, June 5, 2017
Keep it up. Encouragement and support are an important part of our ministry as a Christian. We may use different avenues (personal visit, sending cards, providing an ear to listen, or a should on which to cry, etc.), but it is critical that we keep it up. If you read the entire chapter of 1 Thessalonians 5, you notice that Paul is talking about Jesus' return. As Christians, we should not fear His return, but be an encouragement for others as much as possible right up until the day He returns. I would say that our encouragement and support ends when we take our last breath, but in truth, those who know us should continually find comfort in our words and actions long after we've left this earth. Lord, as we look forward to the day when Jesus returns, let my words and actions always be a source of encouragement and support for others.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.