Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 565 times)

PippaJane

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Devotion
« on: June 15, 2019, 10:48:51 PM »
Fear Has a Really Big Mouth
Mar 07, 2019 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

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I often try to quiet fear by pretending it doesn’t exist. Clever  I know. But alas, it does exist and that’s not always a bad thing. To the contrary, it can actually keep us safe in proper context. When my house was struck  by lightning and lit with fire, fear sounded an emotional alarm, insisting that I escape and fast. In this instance, fear was good. It kept me safe.  In many instances, however, fear is not good. I’ve found that while it’s natural to be afraid at times human, even it’s best to not allow feelings of fear to consume and control large spaces of real estate in my heart. In Psalm 56, David handles the intersection of his fear and faith nicely.  In Psalm 56, captured by the Philistines in Gath, and in Psalm 57, hiding in a cave to escape the pursuit of Saul, David sifted through honest feelings of vulnerability and desperation. I imagine his reality was one of shaky hands, pulse raging wild and brows soaked in sweat. Yet fear was silenced as he made the powerful decision to redirect his emotions toward a more productive, more faith-filled response when David chose to trust God.  By choosing to trust God in the hiding and in the chains, David’s fear shifted to faith.  Faith shuts the mouth of fear. 

“When I am afraid, I will trust you.” (Psalm 56:3, CSB)

“You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know: God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9, CSB)

These weren’t just flippant statements or memorized verses. These were sturdy declarations. Deliberate choices made by a deeply determined worshiper. The kind of choices that change and calm a frantic heart. The kind of choices that speak peace to anxiousness. The kind of choices we can make when we’re afraid. The kind of choice we can make when fear screams loud within.  Bring it. Fear is a liar. We can choose faith, knowing God is for us. Decision made.

PippaJane

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2019, 10:57:10 PM »
Show, Don’t Just Tell
Mar 08, 2019 | Arlene Pellicane

Today's Truth

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  Proverbs 14:23

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I’m going to stop wasting time on TV.  I am going to lose twenty pounds.  I would like to help the poor.  I’m going to show my kids I am the boss once and for all.  I’ll apply myself at my work starting tomorrow.  Do any of these sentiments sound familiar?

At some point, we get frustrated and fed up and make an impassioned vow to change.  Like when my forty-something-year-old face breaks out with acne because I ate way too much chocolate the day before, I promise “No more chocolate until Easter!”

But alas, just a few days later if I’m given chocolate or find a secret stash at home, I’m prone to forget my words and eat dark, delicious chocolate instead.  It can be hard to back up our words with actions! Yet words without supporting actions are weak and powerless.  Today’s key verse reminds us that it’s hard work that results in profit, not just mere words, no matter how poetic or persuasive.  “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Hard work on one side of the equation. Mere talk on the other.  Now for many of us, talking is easier than working! But talking, without working, will make men and women poor, both financially and spiritually.  It says it this way in Proverbs 10:4 (NKJV), “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”

Do you know someone who talks big but works little? 

Now isn’t it funny that we quickly judge others based on their actions (I can’t believe she didn’t show up to volunteer!).  But we judge ourselves based on our intentions (Well, I was planning to go but something important came up). With others especially those closest to us, we demand justice.  With ourselves, we tend to apply mercy.  So, let’s take a moment today to take inventory of our talk and our walk.  Do we follow through with our commitments?

Do we work or do we just talk about how much we work? 

If I profess to be a Christian woman, do I act like one?

Does my calendar, social media, bank account, credit card bill, and movie collection confirm or contradict who I say I am?

Now don’t get carried away. This isn’t meant to make you a crazed, work-oriented, legalistic person. Go back to the equation addressed in today’s proverb: hard work on one side, mere talk on the other. This is about ditching grandiose speeches and empty promises and foolish words. It’s about embracing hard work, good habits, faithfulness and diligence. Diligence means “careful and persistent work or effort.  I read this saying in a Bible commentary about today’s key verse: “The stirring hand gets a penny.” Nowadays, not very many people are willing to stir anything for just a penny. We’re into “get rich quick” schemes and “3 easy steps” to whatever solution we need. But the way you get ahead in life is by being willing to put in a good day’s work – whether that’s at home, in your career, or your personal life.  Hard work may not be popular or easy to market, but it truly is the pathway of growth and success.

PippaJane

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2019, 10:19:37 PM »
When the Storms Come
Mar 11, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

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The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He feverishly prayed for God’s rescue, but with every day that passed, his hope weakened. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little  hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.  One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. Everything was lost. Stunned with grief and anger, the man cried, “God, how could you do this to me!”

The next morning, he woke to the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” the weary man asked.

“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

Storms are for our good. When a storm hits, I usually look for the nearest exit, hoping to escape the high winds. I am more than willing to give up my seat in a rocking boat in exchange for tranquil waters and blue skies.  I don’t like pain.  I dread uncertain times.  When life spirals out of control, I often withdraw from friends and family in an attempt to hide. Stress can paralyze me and make it difficult for me to function normally. Small tasks become huge mountains as the clouds gather and the winds pick up speed. To think that storms are for my good is a stretch to say the least.  I know you have repeatedly heard and maybe even taught the truth that we are strengthened by our storms. Honestly, there have been times when I felt as if I would explode if one more person told me to praise God for my storm. Looking back, however, there is absolutely no doubt that my greatest growth has come during my most fierce life storms. Each storm has become a spiritual marker, a testament to the sufficiency and faithfulness of God. It is from those markers that a powerful life is shaped and molded.  Storms will come. Storms are a reality of life. We will either become storm survivors or storm statistics. The choice really is ours to make. We can stop telling God how big our storm is and start telling the storm just how big our God is. The key to enduring storms is to embrace each one that comes, knowing it contains and can yield a seed of victory.

PippaJane

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2019, 09:25:30 PM »
Facing the Future or Fearing It?
Mar 12, 2019 | Kathi Lipp

Today's Truth

Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Luke 12:33-34

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When I was a young adult, I would often tell myself, “When I become really successful, I will give away so much money! I will support orphans and the needy. I need to work hard so that in my later years, I can do a lot  of good in the world and for God’s kingdom.”

At the same time, I was in a constant battle: me verses my stuff. My home was stuffed to the brim with things I bought and used (or not).  I would try and try to declutter, but everything in my house, to me, was completely essential. Maybe not right now; I couldn’t get rid of anything that I might need, someday. It seemed wasteful to have bought the heart-shaped muffin pan, use it once, and then give it away. (What if, five years later, I had another child who wanted little heart shaped cakes for Valentines day?) My entire house was brimming with “what ifs.”  So as my house kept bursting at the seams, my plans I had to care for the poor never magically happened. I knew the next step was to earn more money so I could serve the poor and buy a bigger house so that we weren’t always so crowded, and I could concentrate on loving others well. Right?

Isn’t this what the world tells us?

All of this was faulty, future thinking. Instead of doing what I could, in the moment, to serve those right in front of me, I kept saying “someday.”  About my clutter.  About my helping the poor.  And at the root of this future, faulty thinking was fear.  When it came to clutter, “What if I need it someday?” is the cry of the fearful heart. Because for the fearful heart, what we once decided would be “enough” to start helping the poor, “enough” to have in our homes, will never be enough.  The only way we will have enough in our homes, enough to help those who need the help, is to get to the place where we trust the God who has already given us so much.  It took me well into my forties to believe really believe that I could get rid of the “extra” in my house, the “just in case” in my house, without fear. Have I given away a few things I needed again?

Occasionally. In those instances, I’ve had the peace of knowing that my extra was being used by someone else who needed it, and I could, if I really needed it, buy or borrow those items again.  But the most exciting part of this journey has been the ability to help people not “someday” but right now.  Instead of selling our couch that was still in wonderful shape and people had offered to buy from us, we were able to give it to a single mom who just moved to our community.  And when our friend was raising funds for clean water in Africa, I had a piece of jewelry (given to me by someone who was no longer in my life) that I was able to sell for money to help build a well.  I would rather carry these acts in my heart than extra stuff in my house.  Don’t let your abundance be what you put your trust in. Instead trust your abundance to God.

Lost Soul

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2019, 09:54:41 PM »
Are You Emotionally Crippled?
Mar 13, 2019 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

“Woman, you are released [set free] from your infirmity!  (Luke 13:12 AMPC, note added)

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I was riding down the crowded streets of Mexico City in a cab when I saw her. She measured about four feet high, back curved, bent at the waist at a ninety-degree angle, and fingers gnarled and twisted shut. Like an  upside-down chair, her face was parallel to the dirty sidewalk. Feet. Dirt. Trash. That was her view of the world. She shuffled alongside our car as we inched through the congested traffic. I saw her, but she did not see me. She could not see me. She just saw feet.  Sharon, look at my daughter, God seemed to say. When you read about the woman with the crippled back, never again see her as a character in a story. See her as you see this woman now. Flesh and blood. Real and relevant. My daughter. Your sister.  God reminded me once again that the women we read about in the Bible were real people just like you and me. We must never forget that. Today, let’s look at the woman with the crippled back in Luke 13:10-17. And while we might not be able to relate to being crippled physically, most of us can relate to being crippled emotionally. We see feet people passing by going about their busy lives. We see dirt the mistakes we’ve made through the years. We see trash the pain inflicted on us by others and many times by our own poor decisions.  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Rest for our souls. Isn’t that what we all want?

Like the woman with the crippled back, we may have “a spirit of infirmity,” a sickness of the soul. That is an interesting way to explain her illness. More than just a crippled back, her spirit was crippled as well.  Linda Hollies, in her book, Jesus and Those Bodacious Women brings this point home.  “There are many spirits that can cause you to walk around in a bent over state. They might be your color, your gender, your age, your marital state, your family, or they could be abuse, injustice, resentment, oppression, despair, loneliness, your economic state, or even a physical challenge. It makes no difference what has hurt you in the past, it makes no difference how old you were when the trauma affected your life, and it makes no difference what your wealth, position, or status is. For the evil one comes to steal, kill, and destroy and each one of us is a candidate for being bent and bowed.”

Bent and bowed. The weight of the world on our shoulders. Little by little. Day by day. Heaviness too difficult to bear. A spirit of infirmity.  Crippled by shame, fear, pain, disappointment, depression, poverty, insecurity, inferiority, inadequacy, broken dreams. Satan, the one who orchestrates the spirit of infirmity, wants to cripple us into inactivity so that our walk becomes a shuffle. Our voice becomes a whisper. Our vision becomes a blur.  Who put the chains on this woman in the first place?

Jesus said Satan had her bound (Luke 13:16). In reality, all sickness was ushered into the world when Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie over God’s truth and ate the forbidden fruit.  For the thirty-three years that Jesus walked the earth, He was in a life-and-death struggle with evil. John tells us that the reason Jesus came was to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8). The battleground is the world and humans are the pawns of the evil one. Note the language: “locked up” and “set free.”  This is about much more than physical healing. It is about spiritual freedom. And when Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” it was.

Now, because of Jesus’ victory over the enemy through His death and resurrection, we are more than conquerors through faith in Him
Don’t miss this. Jesus said, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”

There are those words again set free. The words paint a picture of chains and manacles falling from a prisoner’s shackled body. Another translation says it this way, “Woman, you are released from your infirmity!” (Luke 13:12 AMPC).

The irons of oppression that held her prisoner to this crippled frame gave way and fell at Jesus’ feet as He unlocked the chains that had her bound.  Jesus came to set us free, and that freedom comes in many forms. Whatever Satan is using to bind you, Jesus came to free you. Free from and free to. I can’t say that enough. For far too long we’ve looked at freedom only in terms of what we are free from. But freedom encompasses so much more than a shedding of chains. Jesus set us free to live the abundant life by being all that He has created us to be and accomplishing all that He has planned for us to do. Setting her straight (literally) was only the beginning for her.

PippaJane

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2019, 09:34:06 PM »
Permission to Speak Freely
Mar 14, 2019 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.   (Psalm 55:22, CSB)

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I like to filter things. Get the junk out. Keep it pure. I have a filter for water on my counter and on my refrigerator. I replace them regularly. It makes me feel safe.  My fondness for filtering often flows over into the prayers I pray. I search for cleaned up words when I talk to God. Unconsciously believing He’ll like me better if my thoughts, emotions and desires run through a “good-Christian-girl” screen. It makes me feel safe.  Then I see David all up in the mess with God in Psalm 54 and I’m challenged again.  David prays unfiltered. He’s brutally honest with God. In a way I admire but hesitate to emulate. He doesn’t clean up his God-talk. He spills it. Sediment and all. I see this in the Word and my heart breathes.  We can speak freely even when our hearts grind with grit because Jesus is our freedom. We can enter into the dirt of others because He has entered into ours.  It’s good for me to drink filtered water and to filter the words that leave my mouth in conversation, but the words I speak to my Lord don’t need filtering. God can handle my honesty: good, bad and ugly. He needs me to relinquish the ugly in order to transform my heart. There are lessons to be learned in the filtering and un-filtering. In the freedom and in the restraint.  David wrote Psalm 55 in another time of distress.  God, listen to my prayer and do not hide from my plea for help.  2 Pay attention to me and answer me.  I am restless and in turmoil with my complaint, 3 because of the enemy’s words, because of the pressure of the wicked.  For they bring down disaster on me and harass me in anger.  (Psalm 55:1-3, CSB)

He prays that God would show him mercy, talks of his sorrows and fears. He asks God to take action, assuring himself that God would, in due time, take care of business.  But I call to God, and the Lord will save me.  17 I complain and groan morning, noon, and night, and he hears my voice.  18 Though many are against me, he will redeem me from my battle unharmed.  (Psalm 55:16-18, CSB)

He comforts himself with the hopes of divine rescue, and then points others to trust the Rescuer. His heart burns with the ache of things not being as they should laments the reality of broken life.  Finally, David assures himself that God will make all wrong right in the end.  Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22, CSB)

God lovingly sustains each weary heart that calls to Him, and picks up the heavy end of our burdens to lighten the load.  And He holds tight to His own so they won’t shake.  What a powerful, beautiful, strong picture of His love.  In the shelter of His everlasting arms, we can pray unfiltered, ask hard questions and seek comfort from a God who understands pain, knows all and loves perfectly. We can trust Him.

PippaJane

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2019, 09:51:46 PM »
The Gentle Whisper of God
Mar 15, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Be still and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10, NIV)

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It is totally true that we have to learn to get still and quiet in order to hear from God. This is why God tells us in the Psalms:  “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

I love the story of Elijah the prophet who is waiting to hear from God about the man who will replace him and carry on the ministry. (Elijah’s story is found in 1 King 19.)  Elijah asks God to speak to him. Elijah goes through a great storm but God does not speak in the storm. He experiences an earthquake but God does speak in the earthquake. He sees a great fire but again, God does not speak in the fire. Elijah finally hears God in a still, small voice in a gentle whisper.  God will use a 2 x 4 to get our attention when nothing else works. But He prefers to get our attention through a still, small voice. We must learn to get quiet in order to hear the gentle whisper of God’s Spirit.  If you have established a daily time with God, you have no doubt discovered the reality that the minute your body gets still, your mind and heart kick into high gear. Your mind brings up all the things you have to do, while your heart reminds you of all the things you are worried or concerned about. One of the challenges of being still is dealing with these issues.  Within the Quaker faith, there is a great deal of teaching about the concept of “centering down.” It is a way of dealing with the mind’s desire when we get still to push us towards reflection and thinking. The point of what I call “chair time” or time alone with God is not to reflect and think but to clear your mind and heart so you can hear from God.  I have developed my own practice out of what I have learned from the Quakers. I call it “spinning off.” Here is how it works for me. The minute I try to get still, my mind (my intellect) kicks into gear and reminds me of all kinds of things:
What is still on my “to do” list?
What do I need to get done tomorrow?
What did I forgot to do today?
What about the bills that I still need to pay?
Is there enough money in our bank account to pay those bills?

The heart (my emotions) does the same thing. The minute I get still, my emotions take over and bring to mind:
That recent hurt or loss
Anything I am worried about
My friends who are struggling
How tired I am
How depressed I am
How frustrated I am

What is happening between the mind and the heart is actually counter productive. You are trying to get still to hear from God. And yet your mind and heart are racing ahead, not wanting to sit still at all.  This is where spinning out comes into play. Picture yourself trying to center down trying to get to the place where your body, your mind, and your heart are still so you can hear from God. I start out by praying, “Jesus I want to hear from You today. Help me to center down. Help me to spin off any distractions that come to mind.”

Then, as I get still, something will pop into my head or my heart. I think about it for a moment, make a plan to deal with it later, and then spin it off. I literally picture it leaving my mind or my heart and spinning away. When the next worry or thought or hurt comes, I do the same thing.  I often think through phrases like these to help me spin off:
“I can’t fix that right now I will deal with it later.”
“I am concerned about that but God, I trust You with it.”
“I do need to get that done but not right now.”
“I do need some time to process that but that is for another day.”

My experience is that when I learn to practice centering down by spinning off the thoughts from my head and the feelings from my heart, I get still enough and quiet enough to hear that still, small voice of God.

Lost Soul

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2019, 11:22:01 PM »
Stop Looking Around
Mar 18, 2019 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Don’t turn to the right or to the left.  (Proverbs 4:27, CSB)

Friend to Friend

Knowing her soul was filled with sorrow, I sent my girlfriend a few texts with links to worship songs, hoping they would cushion her grieving heart with comfort. A while later she responded. Listening and worshiping. I  have death certificates and head stones here, but we know that he has eternal life and the glory of God all around him. For that, I will ever praise the Lord.  The funeral had passed, but the sting of the death was still fresh and fierce. At the hand of a tragic, senseless accident, her young-adult son was gone in an instant. Shockwaves of horror ripped through the community, leaving thousands with a raw reminder of the frailty of life.  One treasure in the darkness of this horrific loss is this: my friend grieves with hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) She and her family lament knowing full well that the ashes of death for a believer transition to the perfect beauty of God’s presence.  Faith in Jesus breathes hope. Life eternal.  Faith in riches wealth things of earth breathes hopelessness and death. And sadly, many among us place earthly treasures above the unsearchable greatness of God. The Word speaks directly to this in Psalm 49.  “For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.” (Psalm 49:10)

It’s said there are two things no one can avoid: death and taxes.  Psalm 49 gets a bit icky by tabling the uncomfortable topic of the unavoidable date we all have with death. The questions that rise in my heart as I read Psalm 49 are ones of trust. Will I trust in my position, my possessions, and myself or will I trust in God?

Will I trust that God really is who His Word says He is?

“People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.” (Psalm 49:12-13)

I’m reminded to stop looking around at the blessings or wealth of others.  “Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.” (Proverbs 4:27)

Ain’t no Uhaul following a hearse, right?

Worldly prosperity versus godly prosperity?

Trust in yourself or trust in God?

As believers, we can trust that God will redeem every ounce of pain when our last day comes. And when that happens, we won’t care anymore about the trappings of this world. We will finally be at peace.  Those who misplace their trust in wealth do not know this hope.  With this in mind, let’s keep our eyes on what matters and live boldly today to share the wonder of grace with all we meet.

Lost Soul

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2019, 11:41:57 PM »
A Winner in God’s Eyes
Mar 19, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.  (John 15:5, NCV)

Friend to Friend

Who says dreams don’t come true?

My son grew up with one dream in mind to play college football. That dream came true. Jered was the starting fullback on his college football team thanks to an academic and  football scholarship. (Of course, I taught him everything he knew!) When college football scouts from all over the country began to recruit Jered, I discovered it was quite a process. Football scouts keep track of the statistics on high school players, watching certain ones for three and four years. College coaches show up at high school games to talk with high school coaches and watch their potential players in action. Letters start filling the mail box along with promotional material for their college football programs. Then the phone calls begin.  When the players are high school seniors, the process becomes even more intense. The college scouts request game film highlights, academic transcripts, detailed applications and teacher recommendations. They meet with the high school players themselves, inviting them to visit the college campus for a weekend. After months of “courting,” the final phase begins. The students narrow down their college choices as the college scouts do the same. At some point, each one makes a choice and the dance is over. During the entire process, both the college recruiter and the student athlete have one thing in mind making the best choice because both want to be on a winning team. Life is much the same.  If I were running the world, I would assemble a team of winners, choosing the smartest, brightest, most experienced, most talented, wealthiest and most successful as members of my team. But there is a God and, thankfully, I am not Him.  God has written a different plan for the most important invasion of all time. It is the plan of invading Satan’s territory Earth and retaking it under the banner of His son, Jesus Christ. And just look at His choice of recruits for the job the weak, the poor, the broken and sick, the lonely and defeated. God chose the most ordinary people to accomplish the most extraordinary deeds.  Why would God choose flawed people to do His most important work?

The answer is a very simple and yet profound spiritual principle.  God’s power shows up best in broken people.  Do you want to be used by God?

I have good news. God wants to use you. In fact, He will use you because that is His plan and has been all along. When we pray for the Lord to use us, we are asking Him to do something He already wants to do. Perhaps our prayer should be, “Lord, make me usable.”

Only He can fully prepare us for service. It is not our ability that the Father is concerned with it is our availability. Today, celebrate the truth that God chose you for His team and even now is preparing you for the game of life.

heartbroken

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2019, 08:24:14 PM »
The Invitation
Mar 20, 2019 | Guest Writer

Today's Truth

You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.’  (Psalm 27:8, ESV)

Friend to Friend

When I was a little girl, I loved my Grandpa Dick. He lived a few hours’ drive from us. When we set out for Grandpa’s house, I could hardly wait to be in his presence. As familiar landmarks appeared that told me we  were getting closer, my impatience grew. When we would drive into the driveway of his house, he would always be in the front yard waiting. He would run to the car, pick me up and say, “Here’s my girl” and twirl me around in his joy at seeing me.

That’s how God responds to you every time you turn His way. Arms outstretched, ready to twirl.  In our relationship to the Father, He is always the initiator and we are always the responder. The Father is always reaching out for us, wooing us, drawing us. We never have to engage in an activity or ritual to get His attention. His attention has never wandered from any one of us. Before time began, He had already settled His heart on you and laid the groundwork for your salvation.  When you and I feel drawn in God’s direction, it might feel like our own instinct. When we decide to call to Him, it might feel like our idea. When we find ourselves inclined toward Him, it might feel as if we are seeking Him out. However, in reality, every time we have any impulse to pursue the things of God, we are responding to His invitation.  We often complicate prayer, thinking we need to find a way to convince Him to care about our needs, or to notice our plight. We imagine there is a certain format He demands or a particular emotion He expects before we can come to Him in prayer.  Might it take the burden off you if you know that you don’t have to woo God because He is wooing you?

Would it lessen your anxiety to know that God is calling you to pray, and that He inviting you because He loves you and wants you to delight in Him rather than feeling anxious about whether you measure up?

He pulls you into His presence and invites you into His activity through prayer because of His exuberant, lavish, joyous pleasure He takes in you.  The inclination you feel toward God right now, in this very minute, is God calling you? Right now, God is saying, “Child, come talk with Me. I’m here for you.”

All you have to do is respond.  Just say yes. You will find His open arms waiting.

heartbroken

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2019, 08:33:57 PM »
Got the Right Compass?
Mar 21, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

Friend to Friend

In 1804, the British ship HMS Apollo was leading a convoy of 69 merchant vessels to the West Indies on a route that put them parallel to the coasts of Spain and Portugal, about a hundred miles from land. A storm  arose on Sunday, April 1. Even though it was April Fools’ Day, the captain was unconcerned because his compass assured him he was well into open sea. But in the wee hours of the morning, the ship wrecked against the jagged rocks of the coastline.  Jolted from their hammocks, the crew ran to their posts and tried to save the ship from the cold sea. The waves crashed over the hull, flooding the ship from above amid the screams of shipmen still below.  As night gave way to dawn, the surviving crew were amazed to find themselves not a hundred miles from land, but wrecked against the Portuguese coast, which was littered with the debris from many of the other ships in their convoy. Of the sixty-nine vessels traveling with HMS Apollo, forty were wrecked, some with total loss of life. It was one of the greatest disasters in the history of British maritime shipping.  The captain of HMS Apollo faced court-martial, but he was acquitted when it was learned that the fault was not with him but with the ship’s compass.  Because the Apollo had taken on a large iron tank, the magnetism of the compass was thrown off just a little just four degrees and the error accumulated day after day. As leader of the convoy, the captain had unwittingly led the others to shipwreck because his compass was defective.  Unfortunately many of us are living shipwrecked lives because of a defective compass. The Bible is the only compass we can count on for accurate and precise directions that enable us to navigate the treacherous waters of everyday life with confidence.  Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

We can always trust the Word of God. If that is true, then why do we constantly doubt God?

When a storm hits, why does our default emotion tend to be fear instead of faith?

You may have heard the familiar old Chinese saying, “There is a good dog and a bad dog fighting within each of us. The one that is going to win is the one we feed the most.”

The same is true when it comes to faith and doubt. We weaken our doubt by strengthening our faith in God. The Word of God feeds the new nature God gives us when we surrender our lives to Him. As that new nature grows stronger, the old sinful nature becomes weaker and as that old nature becomes weaker, our faith in God grows stronger.  A steady diet of the Word produces a strong faith. Read the Bible each day. Memorize a verse of Scripture each week. The more of the Bible you have in your heart and mind, the stronger the compass of His truth grows.  Now is the time. Check your compass.

PippaJane

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2019, 08:22:17 PM »
Our God of Second Chances
Apr 03, 2019 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  Luke 15:20 NIV

Friend to Friend

Perhaps one of the most memorable and heart-touching stories of grace and forgiveness is recorded in Luke 15. It’s what we’ve come to know as the Story of the Prodigal Son. This young man demanded his inheritance while his  father was still alive, spent it all on riotous living, and found himself dirty, destitute, and despairing. As despicable as pigs were to Jews, this young man took a job taking care of pigs and eating their food just to stay alive. But then he had an epiphany.  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death. I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father” (Luke 15:17-20).

And where was his father?

He was panning the horizon, hoping for a sign that his boy might return home. Don’t let the depth of that sentence pass you by. The father was PANNING the horizon. Looking. Waiting. Praying.  It is easy to think that God is dispassionately sitting on his throne just waiting for us to come groveling back to him. That’s not the picture Jesus paints at all. The father was panning the horizon. Searching. Pacing. Expectant. That’s how much your heavenly father loves you. There’s nothing passive about it.  While “he was still a long way off” (verse 20), the father spotted his son on the horizon. Filled with compassion, he picked up the edges of his robe and ran. He didn’t wait for his son to come to him, grovel at his feet, and beg for forgiveness. No, as soon as the father caught a glimpse of his son, he dashed toward his boy, smothered him with kisses, and welcomed him home.  If you remember, not everyone was happy when the prodigal son returned. His big brother resented the fact that he got another chance. And you know what?

There will be those who resent the fact that we get another chance as well.  “Big brother won’t mind if you come back as long as you hang your head and wear your shame. But when God has the audacity to give you a little dignity back and you dare lift your radiant face to heaven in liberated praise, big brother may be appalled!  It’s pride that can’t celebrate with a prodigal-come-home. Folks who won’t celebrate are still kidding themselves into thinking they did something right to be loved by their Father.”11

I say, let him be appalled. Nothing makes some people angrier than grace. Big brother is invited to the party too, and it’s his decision whether or not he wants to join in the celebration. I’m just glad he’s not the one in charge.  Jesus was telling this story to a group of Pharisees while others also listened in. The typical question asked when telling this story is, are you the prodigal son or the big brother. But here’s where I want you to hang your hat today. Jesus loved both. The prodigal and the big brother. The sinner and the Pharisee. You and me. He pans the horizon looking for all to come to Him. And when we do He says: Let the party begin!

PippaJane

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2019, 08:33:01 PM »
Get Over Yourself, Already!
Apr 04, 2019 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border...”  1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV

Friend to Friend

Years ago I worked with a woman in Nashville named Cindy. She was a no-nonsense publisher for a major music company. Each month she listened to the songs I wrote and gave honest, constructive feedback that required this  songwriter-chick to have thick skin and wear big-girl-panties. She was salt and light to me in the work place, but not in ways that I expected or necessarily appreciated at the time.  I didn’t always love what she had to say.  Total honesty?

She. Scared. Me. Silly.  I wrestled with her strong, bristly opinions while at the same time grew from the pruning of her wise, professional words. She challenged me toward greater excellence and she wasn’t afraid to speak difficult words of truth.  One thing I will never forget: as she listened to the new songs I wrote, she regularly insisted that I was a “worship leader/worship writer” instead of a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) writer/artist. Drove me bananas because I was SURE I was a CCM writer/artist.  Over the years, Cindy and I became friends and eventually, I came to realize that she was right. I am a worship leader and worship writer. And it’s not only who I am, it’s who I always was. Even when I didn’t know it and insisted otherwise.  Cindy died in her early fifties.  Cancer stole her from us.  A few nights before she went on to be with the Lord, a large group of Nashville’s finest songwriters gathered at her bedside to celebrate her life that was salty and bright for Jesus. To thank her for her impact, share stories, and sacredly sing her to the other side of glory. A knot held my throat captive as I watched the gathering online via video. What a legacy. Cindy poured wisdom into so many people, she said and did things that caused others to think big thoughts about God, and spurred them on toward excellence.  She lived a life of influence because she was intentional about being salt and light in my life and in the lives of many others.  I want to die like that.  I want to live like that.  Don’t you?

In the Bible, a man named Jabez asked God for all the influence God would give him. Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

Jabez wanted to live with impact to the max.  He pleaded to be a difference maker. I’m right there with him.  We all have influence. The question is will we use our influence to sway our friends toward an awesome movie or will we influence them toward our awesome God?

Will we choose to live in a way that causes our unbelieving neighbor or co-worker to want to hear more about Jesus?

Will we teach a young wife to understand how to respect her husband, or help a young mom realize that God is honored when she nurtures her demanding, thankless children?

Will we help the weary parent of a prodigal see that her child’s rebellion is not her failure and not her child’s final faith chapter?

It all begins with a choice.  If we want to be women of impact, we need to live with our eyes wide open to God-opportunities.  We need to get beyond our own agendas and move in the direction of HIS agenda.  It is not about doing more of what you are already doing it is about listening to the whispers of Jesus in the middle of the grocery store, or at the nail salon, or in your cubicle, in the next pew, in your living room, or classroom.  Being a woman of impact is not about doing more each day, it’s about living to be led by Jesus with the days you’re given.  It all begins with a choice.  If we want to be women of impact, we need to live with our eyes wide open to God-opportunities. We do that when we get beyond our own agendas and ask God what HIS agenda is. Let’s ask God to bless us and enlarge the borders of our influence for Him today!

Lost Soul

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2019, 08:11:54 PM »
The Gift of Giving Part 1
Apr 05, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Luke 6:38, NIV

Friend to Friend

My requirements for a car are simple and few. It has to run. And it has to have both air and heat. I don’t like car payments. Cars are not my “thing.”  onsequently, we have bought many used cars and have even been given a few  cars over the years. We drive them until they die. And then God provides another car.  A year ago, the car I was driving died. Since it was the beginning of summer and Dan was scheduled to have a month sabbatical in addition to his month of study and vacation time, we decided to wait on making a car decision. We could make it a few months with one car or in our case, one truck.  I had one last speaking engagement to do for a friend, but since the event was within driving distance, we decided to combine it with a trip to Texas to visit family. It was one of those events the Lord told me to do for free. The church was small, and the friend was starting a women’s ministry in a small Kansas town that had literally been blown away by tornadoes several years earlier. I really wanted to help and encourage her in any way that I could.  The plan was simple. Dan and I would drive his truck to Wichita, Kansas and fly to Texas to visit family for several days. We would then fly back to Wichita and drive to Greensburg for my event and then drive home. Simple right?

Not so much.  When we got to the Dallas airport, we discovered that our flight to Wichita was booked for 10:00 pm instead of 10:00 am. You need to know that my husband has booked hundreds of flights over the years and never made that mistake. Since I had to be in Greensburg that night, we rented a car and drove to Wichita where we turned in the rental car and climbed in Dan’s truck.  About an hour down the road, the air in Dan’s truck went out. It was a hot summer’s day. The temperature in Dan’s truck began to climb. When it reached 92 degrees, I began to boil.  I am already calculating how much this “free” event is costing. Yes, I am very human. I have severe back problems. We had already stopped twice between Dallas and Wichita to buy giant bags of frozen peas. They really do work well as ice packs. So my back is killing me, I am sweating like crazy, and well let’s just say that I am not a happy camper at this point of our “free” event trip.  We found an auto parts store in a small town and decided to see if they could help us. It is 4:50 pm on Friday afternoon. Maybe all the truck needs is Freon! The store owner comes out, raises the truck hood, shakes his head and says, “Freon is not gonna fix that!”

Evidently some belt had shredded which meant some rocker arm had frozen. As I said, cars are not my “thing.”  With a smile, he said, “Pull her around back, and we will see what we can do.”

I am thinking he can’t do much. The store is about the size of my kitchen and sits in a town in the middle of nowhere. I am such a giant of faith!  But I did manage to eek out a prayer, “Lord, please send angels with the parts we need!”

Only a few minutes had passed before the store owner came walking toward us with a grin on his face. As he blew the dust off of two boxes, he said, “Well, what do you know? I do have those parts.”

God came through!  And then the whispers of the enemy also came through. I could only imagine how much the parts and labor would cost. The expenses for this “free” event continued to add up. A rental car two giant bags of peas and the now repaired air conditioner on Dan’s truck.  When the parts were installed and we were ready to leave, the store owner handed Dan the bill. A look of surprise or maybe shock covered Dan’s face. I couldn’t bear to ask until we got in the truck and drove away.  “How much was it, honey?” I asked.

Dan smiled and said, “About a fourth of what I expected it to cost.”

We drove in silence for a few minutes basking in the perfect provision of God for every need of our lives even when our faith is pitifully small. You just can’t out-give God.  Don’t miss the rest of the story in my next devotion. As my Mama used to say, it is a “humdinger!”

Lost Soul

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2019, 08:26:26 PM »
The Gift of Giving Part 2
Apr 08, 2019 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

I will provide for their needs before they ask, and I will help them while they are still asking for help.   Isaiah 65:24, NCV

Friend to Friend

Despite a very shaky start, the weekend could not have gone any better! (If you have not read yesterday’s devotion, stop where you are. Go back and read it now!)  Dan and I finally made it to Greensburg for my speaking event and checked into our hotel only to discover that the air conditioning in our room did not work.

1.   Did. Not. Care.
I was so tired that I literally climbed into bed and pleaded with my sweet husband to just deal with it. He did. I vaguely remember the maintenance man kicking the air conditioning unit in our room, and the unit coming to life. Go God!  And God was all over the event from beginning to end. I totally forgot about my hurting back the minute I began to speak. Every time I gave an invitation, women flooded the aisles. I talked and prayed with woman after woman all seeking God and His power to redeem, heal, and restore. It was an amazing day!  I even managed to forget about the fact that this “free” event had gouged an unexpected hole in our finances. I shakily chose to trust God.  The next day I spoke for the church where my friend and her husband pastor. I noticed her look of concern when I hobbled in and assured her that I would be fine. I then turned to Dan and quietly pleaded, “Do you have a sermon in your pocket?”

He smiled and said, “You’ve got this, honey.”

I did not care for his faith in me at that moment. But when I got up to speak, God did indeed come through again. It was a precious service and a time of eternal business with God.  On the way home, Dan and I talked and laughed about the whole weekend from the minute we stepped up to the airport counter to the air going out in his truck and that funny little auto parts store. We then celebrated all that God had done in the lives of the people who came to hear His Word and were forever changed through His power.  “Oh, did you check your money pouch?” Dan asked.

I had honestly not even thought about it. I had only brought a minimum number of books and CDs to sell and really did not expect much.
And that was my problem my pitiful expectations my meager faith.  We serve a God who can do a whole lot when we expect Him to. When I counted the money, I could not believe it. We had just enough to cover all of our expenses for the whole weekend! We partied all the way home!  But there is more.  When we got home, pulled in our driveway, and opened the garage door, Dan said, “Uh, honey, I think you need to go in the garage.”

Now that was strange. Dan had just told me to stay put while he unloaded the truck and opened the door. Yes I had a frozen bag of peas that still had a little life left in it. But I got out of the truck and went in the garage and promptly started screaming!  There sat a 2004 silver Honda Pilot. The car was in mint condition. The dealership papers said it had new tires, a new transmission, and a new timing belt. The car was a lease and had been perfectly maintained. And it had a third row big enough for all of our grandchildren!  The note on the windshield said it was a gift from the men in Dan’s fireside group. Three months earlier, they had noticed the absence of my old car and asked Dan about it. That’s all.  And now the note read, “It is unacceptable for our pastor’s wife to not have a car. We want you to know how much we love you.”

And there were no names except for the one man who had to title the car. I had no idea who to thank.  Oh, but I did.  My Father had worked through the willing hearts of some precious men to meet a need in my life. So I named the car Gracie. And every time I get behind the wheel of Gracie, I am reminded that no matter how hard we try, we simply cannot out-give God.  I want to live my life with open hands, dusty feet, calloused knees, and rolled-up sleeves. I want to be a generous giver. I may not have much money, but I can give what I have. I can give my time and energy my love and concern a listening ear and a caring heart. I can give my life.