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Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

I have this in a frame over my desk…

But recently, I read a devotional that reminded me we have a gentleman God who knocks and asks to enter into our lives, our souls, and our thoughts. The writer asked if our daily Bible time had become bone dry? Were we praying for the Holy Spirit to join us and reveal the meaning to us?

I thought about how many times I yawn as I sip my coffee, crack open my Bible, find the passage of the day, read it, and then check it off my to-do list. My feelings would be crushed if I knew readers treated a book I wrote in this manner.

When did I lose the idea that this is a love story?

I truly believe “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)  I have known times in my life a passage has pierced my heart with the truth of it’s message as if God reached down and typed it onto the page.

Perhaps you have as well.

We are blessed in the western world to have the Bible in so many places and in so many translations. It is on my coffee table, on my bookshelf, in an app on my phone, and bookmarked on my computer. Framed verses scatter the walls of my apartment. Some are taped to my desktop monitor and secured with a magnet on my fridge.

I am surrounded by the Word, hemmed in, armored. Do I take that for granted sometimes? I confess. Yes, I do.

Forgive me, Lord. Speak to me anew. Enter in…the door is open.

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Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

I spoke with my insurance agent about renewing my policy. As she clicked away on the keyboard at her end I heard her frustrated sigh. “Sorry, this computer keeps wanting to take me where I don’t want to go.”

I’ve been there. Click and a screen appears that I didn’t expect, or a pop that tells me a new password is required (and I have to rack my brain to recall it), or requesting the answer to a security question. Or my favorite, READ ERROR 404. Argh.

After a few more huffs into my receiver, she acted surprised. “Oh, here we are. It got me to the screen I needed. I didn’t think about going this route.”

courtesy of Facebook posting – no artist noted.

It made me think though how often these digital incidences raise my blood pressure…

Then God whispered into my heart,”How often do you react the same way when I detour your plans?”

Lately, God has been yanking me out of several comfort zones, and I haven’t wanted to go!

But the truth is, rerouting is a part of life. Abram was called to leave his homeland. The Hebrews had to relocate to Egypt during a famine , as did Joseph with Mary and the baby Jesus. Jesus rerouted his followers through Samaria, a land where no good Jew would venture back then. God rerouted Paul in his ministry when he wanted to go to Asia.

Today, believers are often rerouted as well. We are constantly in the battle to die to self and live for others. To go against the grain of self-centered secularism and show hospitality,

sacrificial love and forgiveness.

Where has God rerouted you, perhaps dragged you against your will? How did it turn out? Probably pretty well, despite the doubts, hardships, and stumbles. Sometimes He  has to takes us where we never thought we’d go so He can teach us, comfort us, correct us, or grow us.

At times our faith walk can be a drag…in a good way.

 

 

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One hour. 60 minutes. One 24th of a day. We cherish it when it comes to sleep time. We become anxious if we have to wait that long. And often we waste it on things like TV, social media…even worry as we pace the bedroom floor in the moonlight.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:26

Jesus asked the question. How do we answer? If worrying doesn’t consume your time, substitute another phrase – by being proud,  by being angry, by being revengeful, unforgiving, caught up in a video game, vegged out on Netflix…yep, I am stepping on my toes, too.

Yes, we all need down time, but during that time can we spare an hour of talking, reading and listening time with our Lord?

Tonight, Jesus will face his fate with blood sweat and tears. He will kneel face down in the dirt among the scraggly olive trees and cry out to His Father. And His disciples? Snoozing. He’d asked them to stay awake and pray for one hour.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter (Matthew 24:6).

They didn’t, and when the soldiers came, they fled. They didn’t have the strength to stand and stay because they hadn’t been bolstered by God-time.

Are we any different?

Will you carve out an hour today, or tomorrow on Good Friday, to reflect (and thankfully praise God) over what Jesus did for you?

 

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But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  2 Peter 3:18

This is hardly a new observation, but it is something I observed anew…perhaps because God wanted me to be reminded of this simple truth.

I bought a planter to grow “cat grass” because it was less expensive than purchasing the planted ones already growing in the pet store. My always-indoor beasties need grass every now and then to aid their digestion, but no access to it other than what I bring to them. To keep them from chomping on my house plants, I give them their own.

The kit arrived, containing a planter, four small mulch discs, and a packet of grass seeds – rye, barley, wheat, and oats. The instructions said to place a disc into one of the planting squares and add water. Wait ten minutes. Then make a well in each square, plant the seeds, and cover them with the damp soil. Place it in a diffused sunny place and keep the room temperature at 68 degrees or above. In 3-4 days, my cats would have grass. Easy enough.

Still I was skeptical. How long had those dry seeds been in the packet? No expiration date on them. They could be years old and I wouldn’t  know. Sure enough, by the end of day two, tiny shoots of grasses began to emerge from the mulch. It worked!

You see where this is going. Jesus told parables about seeds. We’ve read them, heard many a sermon on them. So, what did God remind me?

First, that seeds can lay dormant for a long time, but with the right elements (water, nutrient soil, and sun) they can suddenly sprout. Same thing goes for people. You may think you have had no influence, but given time and the right circumstances, what was lying dormant can begin to push through.

Second, follow instructions and leave the rest up to God. Put aside skepticism. I didn’t know if I could trust this manufacturer to produce a product that would do as it claimed. But I do know my God keeps His promises. If He says it will happen, it will.

Third, in order for me to grow, I need three things – the Son shining gently in my heart, the Word to be a nutrient for my mind, and the Living Water soaking my soul with faith and trust. Eventually what God has planted in me will begin to grow so I can be of service to others in need.

Speaking of instructions…The Lord told me to write this. So I am obeying. Maybe because you needed reminding as well? Seeds planted.

 

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Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on”  (Exodus 14:15)

I am soon moving to a new apartment, so I figured it is a good time to weed out what I have and decide if I need it or if someone else can use it. As I sort, I’ve noticed a few yucky things have been hidden from my view. Dust between books in the bookshelf, dust bunnies clinging to the baseboards behind large furniture, and tufts of lint lurking behind the fridge and washer/dryer units. And I thought I kept a clean house!

And of course, there will be the desire for new things in the new place to replace some of the old. New dish towels in the kitchen or drapes in the living room. Perhaps a throw pillow or two to match the new decor.

And, I shouldn’t assume the furniture will fit the exact same way as it did in my old place. I need to be open to a lamp ending up in the bedroom instead of the living room, or an end table that always sat next to a chair being across the room by the sofa.

God brought to mind that perhaps He moves us out of our comfort zone so we can find the areas we have yet to clean in our souls. Stuff we have hidden from ourselves, and perhaps from Him…or so we think. Until we move, it won’t be revealed.

And He may want us to take on a few new things as well. Things not needed before. Or perhaps what we have will end up in a different place in our lives, similar to an end table or a lamp changing rooms in a new locale. We need to be flexible knowing things may not be the same as they were before. Some of our gifts may not fit where we thought they would.

Moving into a new ministry or situation is also a time to reevaluate our talents. Is there something we should give up and let someone else to do instead? Perhaps a leadership role has grown a bit stale, and another person needs to be stretched into it so they can grow and bring in new ideas. Maybe putting out the hymnals or setting up the potluck dishes, which we have done for ten years, is just what a new person in the congregation needs to do to make them feel they are contributing.

Moving is scary, unknown and, to be honest, a hassle. However, it is necessary now and then so we can get a different perspective and take inventory of our lives. And the best thing is that God goes before us, and with us, in the process. He knows where everything will fit.

Soon the new place we end up will begin to be a tad more comfortable and familiar. We will wonder why we stressed about it in the first place.


My passion is to help people find God moving in their world. One way is being a digital missionary, writing and editing for The Life Project.  Click on it to find out more. Last year we touched over 4 million lives over the internet. This year, our works are being translated into French, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic so we can reach even more souls with the Hope of Christ.  If you want to  find out more, or perhaps become involved in this vital internet ministry through praying, volunteering to be an online mentor or writer, or contributing financially, contact me though the comments. Thanks.

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Do you use filters? We have become more and more conscious of the contaminants in our environment.

I have a filtered water jug in the fridge. My cats’ drinking fountain has a filter. My coffeemaker has a filter.  My AC unit has a filter. My car’s air system has a filter.

Sometimes, my brain has a filter…it’s called the Holy Spirit.

A lot of world enters into our heads each day. It seems more and more of it is contaminated with the sludge of negativity, hatred,  intolerance and selfishness.  As believers, we are not to ignore it but face it head on so we can help others clean up their act. However, we need to filter a lot of it’s influence out in order to remain pure.

In my first novel, Focused, a middle aged woman is disgusted with her life. Slowly God uses a new pair of glasses to help her “see her life differently.” He begins to help her filter out the negativity and concentrate on the blessings.  I start it off with this quote from Paul:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—focus on such things.  Philippians 4:8 (emphasis mine).

Filters are a good thing, especially in today’s world. We also need one for our souls. If we truly believe God can use all things in our lives for good, no matter how horrid they appear now, then we must filter out the bad so we can focus on that goodness. We have to see the situation through His purity, not the impurity of humanity’s view.

Into our souls pours our life experiences  experienced though our five senses, like water from a tap.  What we see, hear, touch, smell and taste all pours down the pipe. But after the filtering, out comes God’s purpose to refresh and renew us. We want to stay that way, right?

Today, we can become tempted to cloister in our churches with faith-filled brethren where it is secure and safe, and clean…we hope. Not always the case, is it?

This is not the time to cower but to boldly step out into the smog of unrighteousness. They have been drinking in the world’s sin for too long. They have forgotten what pure, clean water tastes like.

He wants to use us as a filter of influence. Be assured, if that is what He is calling you to become, He will  cleanse you constantly if you yield to His Word and Spirit. It’s called being in the world, but not of it.

Don’t let the muck of the world stick to you. Filter it out by constantly removing the sin in your own life through prayer, meditating on His Word, meeting with other believers, and worship.

Then, like the water in my jug, you will be ready to pour yourself out to a thirsty world dying for the Living Water from the purest, cleanest, deepest Well.

 


My passion is to help people find God moving in their world. One way is being a digital missionary, writing and editing for The Life Project.  Click on it to find out more. Last year we touched over 4 million lives over the internet. This year, our works are being translated into French, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic so we can reach even more souls with the Hope of Christ.  If you want to  find out more, or perhaps become involved in this vital internet ministry through praying, volunteering to be an online mentor or writer, or contributing financially, contact me though the comments. Thanks.

 

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Have you ever had a spiritual high, only then to slide into the valley at lightening speed?  You  come home from a fabulous spirit-filled retreat and discover the water heater burst and flooded the house, or the entire family contracts the stomach virus, or you get an IRS audit notice in the mail. Why Lord? Couldn’t You have let me feel great for just a while longer?

Jesus understands. The same thing happened to Him:

 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness… (Mark 1:9-12)

At once…bam. Why?

Perhaps because our faith is forged in trials.

Perhaps so His human pride wouldn’t swell.

Perhaps because God knows we cannot exist on emotional highs.

If there were not valleys, would we appreciate the mountain tops? Jesus never told us becoming a believer meant an easy road where the potholes would vanish. Far from it.

What comforts me is the last part of Mark 1:13…

and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Emphasis mine).

What have I learned?

First, God prepared Jesus. He gave Him the spiritual high, the encouragement, and the faith to head into the wilderness, knowing it was coming. He gave Him His purpose- You are My Son, with you I am well pleased. 

Second, God never left Him. He sent angels to minister to Him.

Because of His experience on earth as a human, Jesus understands the slippery slope off the mountain into the valley. He gets the fact that life is tough. He knows that evil can chip away  our armor of faith.

But He is God, too. He knows when those “Oops” are going to come for us. He will prepare us for them, and guide us through them. Even in the wilderness, we can find His blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

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