Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Holy Spirit. In Dr. Jeremiah's Turning Points devotion entitled Secret Hero, he talks about how we try so hard to be self-sufficient. "Although we delight in helping others out of our strength, it takes a giant swallow of our pride to accept help." Ouch, did anyone else feel their toes getting stepped on? We want to use our God-given abilities to figure things out for ourselves that we often fail to seek help from this "Secret Hero", the Holy Spirit when that is truly in our best interest. We often sense there is a need, but we don't particularly know what to pray for and need someone to intercede on our behalf. When you reach this point, don't give up or try to do it on your own, just allow the Holy Spirit to help. Lord, send your Holy Spirit to help those times when I am particularly weak today.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Monday, October 30, 2017
In the past. Paul's words to the Philippians about "value" were things he had accomplished. In other words, they sounded good on his resume... at the time. I remember reading an old resume and wondered how I could have considered those things so important at the time. Of course, like so many others, I tried to do my best at whatever task was at hand - whether it be for work, at home or in church. In reality, any special training has long since been replaced by new technology and ideals; my children are now grown and I now have grandchildren; and I attend a different (larger) church where they have no idea what roles I held for years. We can do our best, but it doesn't matter much, except for at that very moment. In the end, my relationship with Christ is the only thing that truly matters. Lord, let me not get caught up in doing "things", because they are basically worthless when it comes to what You did for me.
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
Friday, October 27, 2017
Joy. As I child, we were taught a song about joy, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy... down in my heart...". Paul spoke about having joy whenenever he prayed for those in Phillipi. As we get older, the harsh reality of life can creep into our hearts so much so that it shows up in our faces, words and actions. It would seem to others that we have lost that "joy" of which we used to sing as a child. Small children, in particular, can be brutally honest. Do they avoid us altogether? Or ask why the corners of our mouth turn down? Or maybe they just tiptoe around us so they are not met by our Oscar-the-Grouch-type growl. If most of your prayer requests seem particularly difficult, follow them up by immediately thanking God for those prayers that have been answered, and even the small blessings in your life. Lord, help me to show that I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy... down in my heart!
Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Do you believe? As we approach the Christmas season, no doubt there will be many signs, cards and such that state, "I believe." Normally, the statement or question does not go into detail about "what" you should or should not believe, but perhaps it stirs up a deeper question within the soul. With that said, it is not just enough to say you believe, as James 2:19 reminds us that, "Even the demons believe - and shudder!" Maybe a better question to ask ourselves would be, "Do my words and actions reflect my belief that God is who he says and will do what he says he will do?". When we place our entire trust in God, we must allow him to take control of whatever situation. Then we must keep our hands OUT of it. This is not easy and something I must pray about every day. Lord, I DO believe you are able to do this, and that you WILL do it!
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes, Lord," they replied.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Sing from the heart. To my ears, there is nothing sweeter than hearing a child sing a song, especially when they don't realize you're listening. Sometimes the lyrics are a little off, but that often adds an element of joy to an otherwise familiar tune. Jesus often suggested that we should have child-like qualities in our spiritual lives. I remember as a child singing, "Bringing in the cheese," as opposed to "bringing in the sheaves" as the old hymn was written. I could relate more to the cheese, than sheaves. As we approach the season of giving thanks, let us sing often and sing from the heart. Lord, you have blessed me beyond words, let my heart spill forth in music and song as a way to show you praise (and maybe give you a little smile as well).
speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
No doubt. As we were studying the story of how God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a child despite their old age, we also discussed how God asked Abraham to sactifice his son. We know that Abraham had faith, but someone pointed out that he even told the servants that "we" will come back to you. He had no doubt that God would provide a way for that to happen. Perhaps he thought that God would rise Isaac from the dead? Whatever the case, Abraham's obedience proved his faithfulness to God. I don't know about you, but it seems that I constantly ask God to forgive my doubts as I often attempt to help God out. What happens is that whenever I stick my nose into something that should have remained in God's hands - it turns into a bigger mess than before. Lord, help me to have faith that you WILL take care of the issue at hand.
He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Monday, October 23, 2017
Greed. The word "greed" in Luke 12:15 comes from the original Greek word, pleonexias that translates as covetousness. Merriam-Webster defines "greed" as a selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed. Covetousness, according to the same source, is marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another's possessions. Either way, it makes me question whether our household of two really needs to purchase toilet paper in bulk at our local Sam's Club. While preparing for emergencies is not a bad thing, we must be careful not to want more of something than we actually need. Stockpiling things, or never getting rid of unused items could be considered greed, which we are warned to be on guard against. In response to a comment from someone in the crowd, Jesus gave a parable of the rich fool. You see, if we are not careful, the focus of our attention turns from helping others towards "gathering" to satisfy our own selfish desires. Lord, help me to guard against all kinds of greed.
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."
Friday, October 20, 2017
Be willing. For the most part, people pretty much do what they WANT to do. I remember hearing this a long time ago and have discovered it to be correct. It's probably because, good or bad, they have enough desire and drive for that thing, regardless of the situation. People who have no money, somehow come up with a way to take a nice vacation, or buy something extravagant. Others who may be in a bad relationship find a way to make it work. We often see only the short term solutions to our problems and forget to look ahead. Rather than focus on those things that seem important to us at the time, we should ask that God give us a willing spirit to do HIS will. Lord, grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Follow the Spirit. During the month of October, many decorate their yards and homes for Fall and/or Halloween. Pumpkins are probably the most popular decorations, but you might also see scarecrows, spider webs and ghosts. We may not believe in ghosts and ghouls; however, part of our Christian beliefs include the Holy Spirt as part of the trinity. The Holy Spirit is not a ghostly image that hovers just above the ground rattling chains, but it is an important presence in our daily routine. Most of us have never seen God face to face, and none have met with Jesus while he walked on the earth. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us, not just spiritually, but in every walk of our lives. Lord, help me to follow the Spirit's leading in EVERY part of my life.
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Wait for God. One of my favorite VeggieTales songs, "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" has been playing in my head. (This could be due to having toddlers in the car listening to the CD.) Our current bible study, Seamless by Angie Smith, focuses on how the entire book ties together as she revisits some familiar stories. As Joshua prepared to take the city of Jericho, he may have questioned God's plan to use marching and blowing of trumpets rather than typical weapons. As I thought about that, it made me realize just how often we might assume something without waiting on God. To be sure God wants me to at least shoot an arrow or capture a guard or something? Nope, just march. When we wait for the LORD, watch for him to do something amazing. Lord, you know I'm not a patient person, but help me to WAIT for your instruction.
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Who is my neighbor? Many grew up hearing Mr. Rogers sing his television program's theme song, "Won't you be my neighbor?" Today's children can now watch Daniel Tiger carry on that tradition. While the program's neighborhood was make-believe, the values behind the idea of being a neighbor are real. An expert in the law asked Jesus regarding who is the neighbor referred to in scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Our neighbors aren't necessarily those who live in close proximity, but are those who provide help in times of need. They are sometimes people we may have considered someone we should avoid. Have you missed out on being a blessing to a neighbor? Lord, show me ways that I can help my neighbor, regardless of where they reside.
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
Monday, October 16, 2017
My words. I heard someone comment, during a television interview the other day, "Those were their words, not mine." The intention was not to offend the guest being interviewed, but to stir up a controversial conversation. It made me think of just how open people are these days on social media. We tend to be quick to get up on our soap box without realizing how it might sound to others. As a Christian, it should be our goal to please God, and not to offend others or to persuade them with our own interpretation of scripture. Lord, may my words and thoughts today be pleasing to you.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Jealous God. Most often when we think of jealousy, we think of sibling rivalry or something to do with a romantic interest. We can covet another's success or wealth, and if we're not careful it can destroy us. So why, then, is it okay that God is a jealous God? Scripture tells us that his very name is Jealous. Because God loves us so much, he is not willing to share us with anyone or any thing. He wants us to be devoted to him. His desire is not so that he can control us, but so that we will serve him willingly. Lord, I will worship no other gods, you are my Lord and Savior - and that's reason enough.
You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a
God who is jealous about his relationship with you.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Parents. When we reach adolescence and well into our teen years, we often rebel against our parents. We demand our independence and insist that we will be nothing like our mom and dad. Reality arrives when you correct your own child and you hear a familiar voice that takes you back to your own childhood. Perhaps there is a reason for that - we did listen, even though we didn't like to obey and often pretended as if we didn't hear. Proverbs 1:8-9 reminds us to listen to our parents and learn from them. They didn't get to where they are by accident. We might even be raising a child just like us, so it could be that mom or dad is getting their wish! Lord, parenting is difficult - let my words and guidance to my grown children be kind and helpful.
My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don't neglect your mother's
instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain
of honor around your neck.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Even before that. Don't you find it amazing that before you were even born, God had a plan for you? I cannot count the number of times my plans either fizzled out or turned out less desirable than anticipated. Some of us are planners - we have our schedules filled weeks, months and even years in advance. When something happens to change those plans, we either become flexible or face disastrous results. Ask any mother of an infant or toddler what they did with all their time before having kids and they might laugh as they remember how much of that time now seems as if it were wasted. Our plans change, but how are we measuring up with God's plans for us? Lord, help me to understand the plans you have for me.
But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Accept discipline. I can certainly relate to a toddler who is devastated by a time-out. There are times when it feels as if God is putting me in a time-out chair for what seems like a very long time. "Yes, I've learned my lesson," are my cries, but God knows better. Sometimes the punishment seems harsher and the duration much longer than expected. It's during those times when we should learn to "Be still and know that [He} is GOD" (Psalm 46:10). We search for answers in so many of the wrong places, and from people who give less-than-satisfactory advice. Often their advice comes with a hidden motive. When we become still and listen, really listen to God's counsel and accept the discipline that comes along with it (even if it means letting go), we are on the path of true wisdom. Lord, help me to listen to your counsel and accept whatever discipline is necessary.
Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your
days. Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Revere Him. A question was posed to me recently regarding a difference between sacred and holy. I answered based on the wording alone, but when the question was asked in a slightly different way, it made me stop and think about what those words really mean to me. I'm sure that was part of the purpose. The original Hebrew word "tiara" used here does translate as "fear". While most of us would not consider that we are afraid of God, we do have a great respect for his authority and power. For those who believe that God does exist, I'm not sure they quite completely get just how He works. They go to him only when they have a specific need that they cannot handle on their own. Scripture tells us we are to "Keep his commandments, listen obediently to what he says, serve him - hold on to him for dear life!" (MSG). Lord, I do fear you, not in a way that makes me run from you, but that draws me closer to you for security.
It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
Friday, October 6, 2017
Plans thwarted? It's a common occurrence for our own plans to get derailed on a regular basis. We have an agenda, even if it's only in our heads, but it doesn't always follow-thru as we go about our day or week. Some tend to over-schedule or plan their activities. Perhaps their thinking is that if they get a few things checked off their list, it will give them some sense of satisfaction. While we sometimes fail miserably with our own plans, we can rest assured that God's plans can never be thwarted. When we align our plans with those of God, we will never fail. Lord, let my plans, intentions and follow-thru align with yours.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
The right time. Scripture tells us that God's salvation is available to everyone. It is sometimes difficult for me to understand why some ignore this priceless gift. Often they feel they are not ready to give up their current lifestyle. For some, they are having too much fun and don't want to be restricted in any way. Others seem to always teeter between disaster and some sort of success. They are all seeking for something to fill a void, but whether it be financial success, personal relationships, or some other addictive substance, they will search in vain until they find God. For those we pray that God continues to speak to them, if not through us, then by more effective methods before it's too late. Lord, I pray that those who are searching for something to fill a void find true salvation at just the right time.
2 Corinthians 6:2
For God says, "At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed, the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Never brag. So I was on a roll, getting many things accomplished, even those items that were not on my to do list. Then as if a switch was flipped, I fell ill. I'm not sure if it were a bug or what, but it was a stern reminder not to brag about the day to come. Like a ton a bricks, I was faced with an overwhelming sense that I needed to stop and rest. A bracelet reminds me to "Be still and know that I am GOD" (Psalm 46:10), but I had failed the "be still" part. I turn my day over to God each morning. Now I must trust Him to guide me through each step of the day. Lord, help me never to brag about what I'm going to do, but only about the many things you have done in my life.
Never brag about the day to come, because you don't know what it might bring.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Not our place. Maybe it's just me, but each voting season I get concerned when pastors or other Christian leaders begin telling us how we should vote. I realize most of them are simply trying to educate us on important issues, but at what point does it become a type of domination? We must understand that, although called by God for their service, these men and women are human. They have personal experiences that drive their own actions and opinions. Paul was careful in giving advice to those in Corinth. We cannot and should not tell others how to put their faith into practice; and we must recognize when others are attempting to push their own opinions onto us. Lord, help me to worry less about what others believe and stand firm in my own faith.
2 Corinthians 1:24
But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.
Monday, October 2, 2017
The LORD's battle. Perhaps you can relate. So many times I take on battles that were not meant for me personally. I listen to the well-meaning advice of others and step in when I should have simply left it on the altar. Those times when I forget to check with God before first making a decision, it seems that my efforts only make matters worse. There is often a fine line between living up to our own responsibilities and stepping over that line, interfering with God's plan. It's almost as when I was a kid, with my toes just shy of the "line". Why is it that we want to get as close as we can to that "line" without getting ourselves disqualified? I must remind myself not just daily, but several times a day that this battle is God's. After all, I've given it over to him and I must allow Him to handle it in his way and timing. Lord, help me to remember that this is your battle.
1 Samuel 17:47
"This is the LORD's battle"