Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 1945 times)

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Mystique

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2017, 04:35:32 PM »
Tuesday, June 06, 2017   

Stillness is Hard but Priceless
Nicole Johnson

Today’s Verse
“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”  Mark 6:31–32 (NIV)

I’ve never talked to anyone who thought that getting still was a bad idea or practice. But most people must think it is a good idea for someone else, because only a handful of people set aside the time to do it. Despite the struggle, once I arrive, the value of being still is worth far more than the challenge of all difficulties put together.  We call something priceless when it cannot be replaced. We call something priceless when its worth exceeds the value of money, because money cannot provide it. Stillness (the process of sitting quietly in my own room) has brought things into my life that could not have come in through any other door. These are things I possess, but they are not “possessions.” They could never be purchased and their value in my life is irreplaceable.  Here are three of them:
1.   A deeper knowledge of self
2.   A deeper knowledge of God
3.   A created center of calm

Grumpy Grandma

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2017, 10:05:15 PM »
Friday, July 07, 2017   

Pockets of Celebration
Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Today’s Verse
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”  Genesis 2:2–3 (NIV)

I went back to Genesis and read the story of creation again, falling in love especially with the phrasing in The Voice translation:  Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning. That was day six. So now you see how the Creator swept into being the spangled heavens, the earth, and all their hosts in six days. On the seventh day with the canvas of the cosmos completed God paused from His labor and rested. Thus God blessed day seven and made it special an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day. (Gen. 1:31—2:3)  Savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. An open time for pause and restoration. Thus God blessed it. And God rested.  Blessed. Rest. Pause. Restoration. Savoring. Beauty. Appreciation. Goodness. These are the ways the purpose of Sabbath is shown to us. What if we celebrated Sabbath through these ideas? What if these were the touchstones for creating a Sabbath practice in our home?

In his book God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God, pastor Ken Shigematsu writes, “The golden rule for the Sabbath is to cease from what is necessary and to embrace what gives life.”

We began to embrace what gave us life instead of what made us productive. Keeping the Sabbath, albeit unconventionally, we created pockets of time to celebrate rest, creation, and each other throughout our week. And miraculously, these little pockets of celebration spilled over into our attitudes and habits, helping us to take down our idol of exhaustion, burning it in a fire of repentance, allowing a more whole way of living to rise from its ashes.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2017, 10:07:27 PM by Grumpy Grandma »

Grumpy Grandma

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #32 on: November 30, 2017, 10:12:58 PM »
Monday, July 10, 2017   

The Wrong Question
Jocelyn Green

Today’s Verse

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1–5 (NIV)

The common refrain among time-starved, noise-saturated, overworked Americans is, “How can I achieve balance?”

We’ve been asking the wrong question. Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us to pursue balance. Your purpose in life is far bigger than that. Jesus said that being his disciple requires us to deny ourselves, to lose our own lives so we can find life in him (Matt. 16:24–25).  As we follow Jesus, with our crosses on our backs, we aren’t balanced we’re leaning, hard, toward our Savior, whatever that may look like in our current season of life.  If we define balance as a state of equal attention given to equal priorities a static, even keeled division of time Jesus himself was not balanced. Sometimes he feasted, sometimes he fasted. He preached to the multitudes, but also escaped from the crowds to pray alone. And yet soon before he was arrested and crucified, Jesus said to the Father, “I have brought glory to you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

No, Jesus was not “balanced” but he was passionate and complete, because he did the work the Father gave him to do.  Balance is not our goal. We are free to lean in whatever direction God is calling us. Whether it’s a time to build or tear down, to run or rest, to raise small children or start a company, we have the freedom to order our days accordingly and without guilt. In reliance upon God, we each can lean into the current season of our lives, understanding that other seasons will follow.

Grumpy Grandma

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #33 on: November 30, 2017, 10:19:40 PM »
Tuesday, July 11, 2017   

Freedom to Focus
Jocelyn Green

Today’s Verse

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 4:10–11 (NIV)

“Excuse me?” I managed to squeak out.

I had just explained to a woman that my existing commitments prevented me from accepting a leadership position for a local girls’ organization.  “I said I forgive you,” she repeated. “I forgive you for this, because Jesus forgave me for my sins.”

Hmm.  God does not require us to say yes to every request for our time and energy. It’s not a sin to know and communicate our limits. It’s not a sin to prioritize and make choices that best align with God’s purpose for ourselves and for the health of our families. Before adding another commitment to our lives, as good stewards of our time and energy, we can calculate whether we have the resources to see it through. We can consider whether that opportunity is something God would have us spend our time on.  The instructions in 1 Peter 4:10–11 make clear that we get to use our own gifts, not someone else’s. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 12, we see that the body of Christ works for one purpose God’s glory even as we each have different roles to play. When we recognize which season of life we are in (including its limitations), we can more easily see the most pressing work laid out for us as well as the tasks that don’t fit within this frame. Understanding that our work was prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10), and that we are to work at it with all our heart (Col. 3:23), we can be confident as we focus our time and energy with discernment.

CabbagePatchKid

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #34 on: April 07, 2018, 08:35:11 PM »
Is Your Past Still Tripping You Up?
Feb 15, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  Philippians 3:13

Friend to Friend
It spoke to me as I strolled down the check out aisle of Marshalls that day. The wall art that was featured on an impulse-buy rack.
Amen! I thought.  The message?

Simple: “Don’t Stumble On Things That Are Behind You.”

My mind reeled, and I thought hard about this seemingly simple directive that points to a habit that trips so many of us up: looking back. Allowing the past to deter and diminish our present and our future.  The Apostle Paul had a difficult past to contend with. His early years were spent learning laws and tormenting Chris followers. Then he met Jesus and everything changed for him. He chose to move forward as the new man he’d become.  Instead of wallowing in the muck of condemnation, he stepped into the grace of Christ with determination. With a fresh mission. He wrote a heart-felt message similar to the wall art in his New Testament letter to the believers in the church of Philippi. That familiar, challenging passage.  I want to know Christ yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14, NIV)

Many of us know this section of scripture, but it’s important for us to realize that the conversation doesn’t end there. What Paul says next is a game changing statement:  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:15-16, ESV)

I want to be mature. I want to think this way. Don’t you?

I want to hold true to what I’ve attained in Christ.  It’s the way of life!  I read this and I begin to realize that what Paul is really saying is something to this effect: Let it go, people! Move on. Greater things await you. Don’t look back. It’s no good for you. You won’t gain any traction on the plans that God has for you. If you choose to look back then you need to grow up because that is not where your promise lies. If you are mature in your faith you will believe the gospel. When you are forgiven.  You. Are. Forgiven. Believe it. What Jesus did for you and me covers anything that we lay at His feet. Fully.   I’m reminded that it’s time to move forward. That it’s time to fix my eyes on what is ahead, not on what is behind. That God’s mercies are new every day.  Clearly this press on message is not about sweeping un-confessed sins under a rug and pretending they don’t exist. When we stumble when we sin we can’t just forget it and move on. We are to confess it to the Lord, and ask Him for forgiveness.  Grace meets us in the asking and settles it with God. Because of this we can move forward in His grace. Even when life is complicated and messy.  And it’s not about locking deep heart wounds in a secret compartment of your heart. The Bible invites us to take our aching, angry, abused, or offended hearts to Jesus so that He can give us the rest we long for. Healing for our heart wounds.  The reward of faith is freedom in Christ. The past has no hold on us.  Grace fixes the gaze of the believer forward.  So the next time I’m tempted to look back at a failure or an old heart wound, I will remember the wall art wisdom from Marshalls and choose not to beat myself up, not to re-hash that painful conversation, not to blame that person not to stumble on things that are behind me.  Instead I will reach for grace. I will reach for Jesus and call to Him for help.  And in the reaching I begin to take my place among the mature in faith.

CabbagePatchKid

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2018, 08:44:15 PM »
How to Melt a Cold Shoulder
Feb 14, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”  Ephesians 4:32

Friend to Friend
Have you noticed that it is difficult to feel romantic with your man when you’re mad at him? It’s almost impossible to feel like giving him a big hug when you have anger, bitterness, and  resentment in your heart. The solution to melting the cold shoulder and cold heart begins with forgiveness. Ouch!

C.  S. Lewis said this about forgiveness:
“You must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough. As regards my own sin it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought.  But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine percent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one percent guilt which is left over. To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian character; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Paul said it this way: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV).

Lewis also wrote, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Forgiveness can be especially difficult when the one who hurt you is the man who promised to love and cherish you all the days of your life. But what is more difficult is to have a strong marriage without forgiveness.  In no way does forgiveness mean turning a blind eye to a problem that needs attention. Pornography, alcoholism, drug abuse, and a plethora of other addictions must be addressed and dealt with for any marriage to survive and thrive. A wife is not doing her husband any favors by allowing such behavior to continue. To ignore such behavior is to enable sin to continue and deposit droplets of poison into a man’s soul. However, keeping a record of wrongs is like allowing termites to destroy the foundation of the marriage.  I recently received an email from a woman who was still bitter over a statement her husband made to her cousin ten years ago. She and her husband were preparing to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary, and she was dreading it because of his careless words a decade ago. She wrote, “Please pray that God mends this title piece of my heart that has fallen to the ground.”

The word title was a typo she meant to type little. To me, it was telling. Friend, we can allow our husband’s little shortcomings to become the title of our story, or we can forgive and write a new storyline.  The first step to forgiveness is prayer. The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies. I hope your husband is never your enemy, but I can assure you, on some days he may feel like it. So let’s follow God’s instruction and pray for him. It may not turn your husband’s hardened heart to putty in your hands, but it will melt the hardness of resentment in your own.

CabbagePatchKid

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2018, 08:59:03 PM »
Simply Trusting
Feb 13, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God!  Proverbs 3:5-6

Friend to Friend
After a long and tenacious conversation with the orthopedic surgeon, I finally resigned myself to the fact that shoulder surgery was in my near future. I had managed to separate my shoulder and  a Southerland does nothing half way. Oh, no! I even looked it up. And I quote, “Surgical intervention when treating a separated shoulder is very rare and only performed in the most severe cases.”

I was a severe case, which was evidenced by the amount of pain I was in, but refused to admit. I had endured said pain for 10 days until I finally gave in and went to my general practitioner who promptly sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. I said, “Fine! I will go, but I am not having surgery.”

Famous last words.  The surgery was scheduled and all of the necessary tests were run. I asked my prayer team to pray. I asked my sister’s prayer team to pray. Our church was praying. We were ready!  Dan scheduled time away from the church office to take care of me and had even arranged for us to stay at a friend’s cabin for a week. Our son, daughter-in-law, and their four beautiful children were living with us at the time. The kids ranged from 9 years old down to one year of age great kids but still kids.  As Dan and I drove to the hospital, we talked about how good God had been to work everything out in such a beautiful way.  Remember that statement.  When we arrived at the hospital, I was checked in and prepped for surgery. The kind nurse with the nice sleep medicine was just about to give me a sedative when the lab technician stepped into the room and said, “You might want to wait on that.”

I did not like her tone of voice.  The head nurse read the blood work report, looked at me with sad eyes, and broke the news. “Mary, your potassium is way too low for you to have general anesthetic.”

Surely I had heard her wrong. “What was that?” I asked.

She repeated herself and the news slowly sank in. No amount of begging or pleading changed her mind.  I got dressed without a word and headed for the nearest exit. Dan was saying something about this being God’s plan and that I wouldn’t want to be in a surgical room if God didn’t want me there. I didn’t want to hear it! I had a plan and that’s all there was to it!  Being the mature believer that I am, I cried like a baby all the way home. And then I got angry! They told me to quit taking all of my supplements two weeks before surgery and I did. Potassium is one of those supplements, so this flaw in my plan was their fault!  It took me quite a while to settle down. And then I began to ask God what in the world had happened and why?

Silence. Well, there must be some important reason like the doctor was too tired or some evil nurse planned to take me out. Nothing.
I finally gave up and that is when I heard Him whisper, “Mary, when are you going to learn how to fully trust me, to rest in My perfect plan for your life, and just be held?”

I honestly did not know the answer to that question. I have been a follower of Christ for so many years and still don’t have this lesson learned. I have come a very long way from when I was an insecure and timid believer but not far enough.  I finally took a deep breath and prayed, “Lord, please forgive me for my lack of faith in You and in Your plan for my life. I don’t have a clue why this surgery has worked out like it has, but I trust You. I just simply choose to trust You. I know You love me and have only the very best for me. So instead of trusting men and circumstances and even my most well thought out plan today I trust You.”

The lump in my throat and the knot in my stomach both dissolved. My heart settled and my soul was at peace. Two weeks later I had the surgery and everything went beautifully. God’s plan may very well have been to remind me that when I trust Him, His perfect plan will always rise. I have to learn to celebrate when my plan doesn’t come together but God’s plan does!

Pippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #37 on: May 05, 2018, 09:19:42 PM »
Serving Your Husband When You Don’t Really Feel Like It
Feb 21, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other” Romans 12:9-10

Friend to Friend
Carley and Dan are a couple who have gone the extra mile not to go the extra mile. They constantly keep score as to who put a new bar of soap in the shower last or who replaced the toilet  paper roll last or who opened a new tube of toothpaste last.  “It’s sort of a contest to see who can use the smallest sliver of soap or use the last drop of toothpaste,” Carley boasted.

The contest, as silly as it may seem, boils down to who is going to serve the other. Imagine how adored Dan would feel if Carley began to get out a new bar of soap before the sliver war began or replenished the toilet paper before it was totally out.  If you want to try a contest in your home, how about seeing who can out-serve the other! The apostle Paul encourages: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:9-10 NLT).

When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17), it wasn’t simply an act of kindness. He was actually fulfilling a need the other people had refused to meet. It was customary in those days for the host of a dinner party to have a servant wash the guests’ feet. There were no Reeboks or Nikes in those days. Men and women wore leather sandals as they walked the dusty, often muddy, roads of the Holy Land. Nothing felt better than to sink callused, throbbing feet into a cool basin of water and rinse away the cares of the day.  However, at Jesus’s last supper with His disciples, no servant was available to wash the guests’ feet, and no one volunteered.  So God made man wrapped a towel around His waist and did what no one else was willing to do. He washed the disciples’ feet.  Afterward, He sat down and said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15 NIV).

In Philippians 2:4, Paul tells us to look out for the interests of others, not just for our own. “Look out for” is from the Greek word skopos, from which we get the words telescope and microscope. It means to pay close attention. Whether we are using a telescope to get the big picture or a microscope for close examination, the wife of your man’s dreams pays close attention to his needs, desires, dreams, joys, and sorrows. She looks closely at his heart and thinks of ways to serve him.  Serving doesn’t mean the bondage of slavery. As Jesus put on the towel and served His disciples, He proved to us conclusively that God’s kind of serving love flows from choice, not coercion; from strength, not weakness; from gladness, not guilt.  Jesus said, “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).

It may be entirely possible for you to serve your husband and not feel you are receiving anything in return. However, your heavenly Father is always watching, and the measure you use to bless your husband will be used by your heavenly Husband to bless you in return.

Grumpy Grandma

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2018, 09:51:45 PM »
Be Held
Feb 22, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast  1 Peter 5:10

Friend to Friend
The sounds of voices in the distance crept through my drug-induced fog. People talking, hospital beds clanking the sounds of the recovery room all slowly but surely helping me wake from  surgery.  I had separated my shoulder. The orthopedic surgeon explained that he not only needed to get my collar bone back in the right place, but that I had torn muscles, tendons, and nerves that needed to be repaired. In other words, surgery was my only option unless I wanted to live with excruciating pain and have a crooked collarbone for the rest of my life. When I asked the surgeon why he couldn’t just pop it back into place like they do in the movies, he burst out laughing. Final answer?

Surgery.  “Mary, can you wake up for me?”

The fog slowly lifted, and I saw my smiling husband standing over me. Then I heard his voice. “Honey, the surgery went great. The doctor said there was more damage than he anticipated, but that he was able to repair all of the muscles, tendons, and nerves and move your collar bone back into place.”

Great news!  I tried to move the wounded arm my right arm and yes, I am right-handed. Nope! I could not move it. My shoulder and arm were tightly strapped to my body. The nurse saw me trying to move and warned, “Mary, don’t move that arm not for six weeks. You will be in this immobilizer sling to help prevent you from moving not to mention the pain you will feel if you try.”

Now there was some good news.  The more I woke up, the more I did not like the immobilizer sling. It was not only a normal sling, but it was also attached to a foam bump firmly planted between the sling and my body. “Why is this big foam thing necessary?” I asked.

The nurse smiled and said, “Your arm has to stay in a certain position in order for it to heal correctly.”

At that precise moment, the profound truth of the nurse’s words did not register with me. Oh, they got through physically but the deeper truth did not hit me for a couple of weeks.  We have to stay in a certain position before God in order for our heart and soul and mind to heal correctly.  Pain and trials are a certainty of life. We will all be broken and wounded at some point. Your job is eliminated. Your husband is having an affair, or your teenage daughter is pregnant. Financial pressure suffocates dreams, or the betrayal of a trusted friend inflicts a wound so deep and painful that you long for that valley of death. Each day is thick with fear, and your heart is filled with disbelief. The valley may suddenly be before you in a time of loneliness or in the shock of a dire medical diagnosis.  While valleys may come in all shapes and sizes, one thing is certain valleys will come. That being said, we must ask and answer the question, “How can we deal with the valleys in life?”

We must respond with faith.  Don’t let that word faith frighten you. You have faith. You walk into a dark room and flip a switch, knowing that the light will come on. You sit in a chair, knowing it will support your weight. You buy a ticket and board a plane, trusting that aircraft to get you to your desired destination. Yes, you have faith. It is just a matter of where you place that faith that makes all the difference in the world. When you place your faith in God, a world of possibilities and impossibilities opens up.  Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Are you discouraged afraid desperately trying to find enough energy to simply breathe?

God knows. He sees you. The perfect place for you to find healing is in His arms. Be at rest. Be held.

Grumpy Grandma

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #39 on: May 06, 2018, 10:49:21 PM »
Living The Dream
Feb 23, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Friend to Friend
As I walked into the pink and purple bedroom to tuck in my little rosebud, she sat up in bed and began braiding her hair. She’d been waiting for me. News was bubbling in her heart that she simply  had to share. Through twists of hair, she began, “Mom! I know what I want to be when I grow up!”

“Well, tell me, Kennedy!” I replied, completely smitten with her 8-year-old enthusiasm.

“I want to be a beautritionist!” She gushed.

“A beautritionist?” I questioned, both amused and enamored.

“Yes, mom! I want to be a beautritionist!”

“That completely rocks, girlfriend! I’m so excited for you! Do you mean that you want to do hair and makeup and help ladies look beautiful?”

“Yes!”

“Excellent!” I replied. “I think the word you meant to use was beautician, but I love the word you made up! The reason I love it is this: you combined two words, beautician and nutritionist. A beautician helps people to look beautiful on the outside by fixing hair and make up. A nutritionist helps people to be healthy and well on the inside. So, your new word is incredible because a beautritionist would help others to be healthy on the inside and beautiful on the outside! Yay! Fun! I want to be a beautritionist too, Kennedy!”

We giggled as I tucked her in snug as a bug in a rug and prayed for the Lord to help us be the women He created us to be inside and outside.  Downstairs, as I wrote in my journal about the exchange, it occurred to me that Kennedy was really telling me that she has big dreams in her little heart. She wants to make a positive impact on others. To matter. To live days filled with beauty and significance. She wants a life that’s the motherload of greatness.  She wants what we all want.  An incredible life.  We want it all. Everything God has for us. But we feel trapped by messy, earthy things. By kids that talk back, jobs that drain us, schedules that leave us stressed, and marriages that are far less than what we had hoped for or expected. We’ve stopped believing that life is the stuff of little-girl-dreams because way too often life hurts us. Others fail us. We fail ourselves. We flounder. We disappoint. And let’s face it our failures our sins affect our peace and our people and often keep us from the best things God has for us.  Reflecting on Kennedy’s fledgling desires, I’m forced to be real about the stuffed-down dreams in my own heart. I breathe deep. I’m sobered by the distance between where I am and where I long to be. I want to be a beautricianist too. I want to rise above average. I want to do more. Be more. Believe deeper. Love better. Worship wholeheartedly. Fly higher.  I find myself wondering how sitting in carpool lines, going to work, prepping healthy dinners that my family doesn’t necessarily appreciate, and hushing sibling squabbles will get me there. I want to be set free from all of these strivings that leave me sucking wind.  I want to live beyond ordinary. Don’t you?

Here’s the good news: God does too. He wants you and me to have a full, beautiful life in Him, through Him, and for Him. Truly. The Bible tells us so. God offers us joy, but not the world’s joy; peace, but not the world’s peace; power, but not the world’s power; love, but not the world’s love. God’s plan is a good plan for us, not against us a plan that is filled with hope and a future. His is a plan that leads us directly to His presence in worship, and, ultimately, to a deep and intimate relationship with Him.  And just like God spoke vision and life to the weary prophet Jeremiah thousands of years ago, His Word speaks vision and life to us today, and every day, reminding us of the beauty available to all in Christ. A beauty that brings Him glory.  That’s the ALL God wants us to want.  All of Him.  The power and plan that God has for you is revealed in His Word:

In Christ, you are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
In Christ, you are forgiven and made righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
In Christ, you are a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
In Christ, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1)
In Christ, you are justified and have peace with God. (Romans 5:1)
In Christ, you are his workmanship created to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10)
In Christ, you are chosen and made holy to proclaim his excellency. (1 Peter 2:9)
In Christ, you are a child of God. (John 1:12)
In Christ, you are a fruit bearer. (John 15:5)
In Christ, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 1:22)
In Christ, you are to be his witness to the world. (Acts 1:8)
In Christ, you are given a spirit of power, of love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
In Christ, you are equipped to live out his Word. (James 1:22)
In Christ, you can choose peace over anxiety. (Philippians 4:6)
In Christ, you can boldly approach God in prayer knowing He hears. (1 John 5:14-15)
In Christ, you can be content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether in plenty or in want and do all things. (Philippians 4:12-14)
In Christ, you are an overcomer. (1 John 4:4)

This list goes on and on. The promises of the Bible can and should fuel all that the Lord has for us.  Hear me, friend: this isn’t some fluffy, rah-rah Christian pep rally. I know many of you are going through difficult and painful challenges. Life throws curve balls that can leave us gasping for breath on any given day, at any given moment. I’m right there with you in the ditches of reality. God’s ways do not always make sense. They don’t always feel good. At times they even sting fiercely, but one thing is always true: the great life He intends for us to live begins and ends with the Word. The Word made flesh: Jesus. And though we remain broken and impacted by an imperfect world, we can rise above and get through anything in the power and hope of God, for His glory.
So, answer this: are you ready to be a beautritionist? Ready to live the dream?

His dream?

Everything God has for you is yours for the asking.  Are you asking?

Pippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2018, 10:06:10 PM »
When It Feels Like God is NoWhere
Apr 24, 2018 | Elisa Pulliam

Today's Truth
The Lord will work out His plans for my life for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for You made me.  Psalm 138:8

Friend to Friend
If you would have told me twenty years ago that I would one day find myself in a weekly dance class again, I wouldn’t have believed you. Back then, I was still grieving and fussing over the way my knee injuries disrupted my  dreams and stole my passions.  My mom enrolled me in my first dance class when I was three and by the time I was 10, I was fitted for my first pointe shoes. Although tap and jazz were more my thing, those pointe shoes represented so much potential until a series of knee dislocations and a failed surgery ended my dream of becoming a Rockette. I buried my sorrow as I went on living my “Plan B” life, until that night when I had another freak dislocation while gallivanting around Paris during a rendezvous weekend while studying abroad in London. I lay on that cold, foreign, isolated x-ray table, screaming at God for the first time, ultimately believing He was the cosmic killjoy of the universe. The “It’s not fair!” tape played over and over again in my head as I had to make the trip back from Paris to London and hobble around on crutches, missing classes and having to forgo a hiking trip to Wales.  Have you ever felt like God has been more about the business of re-routing your life rather than ordering it?

Do you feel like there is a roadblock at every turn?

That just when things are getting good, something else happens and it looks like God is no where in sight?

When I thought God was NOwhere, He was actually NOWhere.  God was there with me throughout all those freak accidents. He was there with me in London and Paris. He was wooing me towards Him, but it took another trial to make me look upward from that x-ray table.  In that forced slow down, I had a showdown with God.   He showed up in my life when I was at my lowest, utterly broken, disillusioned, and desperate. That is when I came to meet Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I didn’t end up at the foot of the cross all put together and with all the right answers. I showed up in need of a Redeemer and Rescuer the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Through the pain my eyes were opened. The blinders fell away. And in Christ, I found life anew.  What a gift to discover that God takes us at our worst and transforms us into His best.  No, my dreams of dancing with the Rockettes never came to be. But twenty plus years later, I somehow have enough strength to shake it up in a dance class squeezed into a schedule packed with all the things God has ordained for me like telling others about the transforming power of Jesus and the hope we find in Him not only on this earth where suffering is real and loss happens everyday but an unshakable hope and the promise of eternity is for those who declare that Jesus is their Lord.

CabbagePatchKid

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #41 on: June 20, 2018, 10:10:23 PM »
Are You Too Busy To Serve?
May 31, 2018 | Jessica Smartt

Today's Truth

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  Luke 10:33

Friend to Friend

Four months ago, my friend Ashley moved away. I have missed her terribly. It wasn’t until this week that it hit me why her friendship is such a gift. Simply put, she has time for me.  I guess I don’t just mean time to talk on the phone, to chat over coffee, or meet up for play dates. It’s more than that; she has the mental and emotional space to love well. She’s not so stressed and consumed with her own life that she has no time or energy for anyone else. On the contrary, she has the capacity to be a good friend to pray for me often, to remember my appointments and concerns, to process and think through my questions and decisions.  I feel like this sort of friendship is very rare today. Most people (myself including) are so busy, so full, so preoccupied with our own plans, ministries, projects, and schedules.  But when I think to Scripture, I am deeply convicted. We should never be too busy to serve! Think back to the story, or perhaps read it in its entirety in Luke 10. Those who passed by the Samaritan were they not “important” people, on the way to “important” work?

I’m pained wondering how many people I pass by because I am “on a mission” simply too consumed with my own life to stop and help.  I do a lot of good work. My life is jam-packed, in fact, with noble projects and important events and all the things that I accomplish. But are these things interfering with my ability to stop and help someone in need?

Am I too stressed, too busy, too overwhelmed, too distracted to be a true friend to the people in front of me?

Think about Jesus. The Lord of the Universe, The Savior of the World! And he had time to talk with little children, to dine with sinners, to pause and heal the crippled. I heard someone once say, “Jesus was never in a hurry.” I don’t know that we can fully confirm that! But from the overall theme of the Gospels, it does seem to be the case that when people in His path needed help, He could stop and help without acting bothered or inconvenienced.

CabbagePatchKid

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #42 on: June 20, 2018, 10:21:47 PM »
I AM is the God Who Fills in Your Gaps
May 30, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”   2 Corinthians 12:9

Friend to Friend

When I was six years old, I skipped off to school with a new box of crayons, a Swiss–polka dotted dress, and fresh hope that I would be smart. But first grade only confirmed my greatest fear. I was  “not enough.”  As soon as my first-grade teacher held up that initial spelling flashcard, I knew I was in trouble. We lined up our miniature wooden chairs in a row like a choo-choo train. The teacher held up a spelling flashcard for us to identify the word. If we missed the word, we had to go to the caboose. I spent most of the first grade in the caboose. I just couldn’t spell to save my life. For some reason, I especially had trouble with the word “the.”  I’ll help her, my teacher must have thought. She made me a nametag that read t-h-e, and I had to wear it for two weeks. Students came up to me and asked, “Why are you wearing that tag?” “Is your name ‘The?’” “You must be stupid.” “What’s wrong with you?”

Well, I learned how to spell the word the, but that’s not all I learned. I learned I wasn’t as smart as everybody else, and once again, not enough. And even though I ended up doing well in school, many times I’ve still felt like that little girl in the caboose of the spelling train.  Moses was a man who felt he wasn’t good enough. When God spoke to him through a burning bush and called him to lead His people out of Egyptian bondage, he had a big case of the “not good enoughs.”  That’s when he had a one-sided argument with God. Moses told God he was the wrong man for the job. He wasn’t brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, eloquent enough, charismatic enough, or confident enough.  At one point, Moses said, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-14).

Moses was 80 years old when he had his argument with God at the burning bush. But even the weakest knees in the hands of I AM can become a mighty force to be reckoned with.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that you too, at one time or another, will struggle with feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy just like Moses did. And the underlying statement feeding the sense of worthlessness is “I’m not __________ enough.” You can fill that blank in with any number of qualities.  But here’s what we need to remember: Whatever we feel we are not, God is. He is the God who fills in our gaps; He is I AM who fills in our blanks.

•   When we say, “I’m not strong enough,” God says, “I AM.”
•   When we say, “I’m not wise enough,” God says, “I AM.”
•   When we say, “I’m not bold enough,” God says, “I AM.”
•   When we say, “I’m not smart enough,” God says, “I AM.”
•   When we say, “I’m not good enough,” God says, “I AM.”

Once we let go of the lies that we are not enough and take hold of the truth that we are more than enough because of Jesus’s presence and power in us, then we will be set free from paralyzing insecurity and be on our way to experiencing courageous confidence to do everything He calls us to do. It’s time to get out of the caboose and sit up front with the Chief Engineer.  You want to know something amazing?

One of my greatest weaknesses as a child was spelling words. And now that is what God has called me to do today write with words. I stand with Paul who lamented about his weakness: “But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

That’s what happens when we allow God to fill in our blanks. He turns what we perceive as our greatest weakness into our greatest strengths.  What is God calling you to do today?

In what areas do you feel that you’re not enough?

Oh friend, because of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross, and His power in you, you are more than enough! Don’t forget it.

Mrs Baggins

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #43 on: June 29, 2018, 11:03:43 PM »
I Wanted Her To Be Fine
Jun 27, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  John 1:4

Friend to Friend

I wanted to hurl my screaming alarm clock into an abyss. The warmth of my cozy covers and the safety of sleep beckoned my heart to stay, linger and forget what lay ahead of me that day. On that  afternoon, I would sing for the funeral of a precious eighteen year-old family friend who had died in a tragic car accident.  Her name was Macie.  She was a girl who lived life to enjoy life.  She babysat my kids and would often catch a ride home from church with us. She always had a spring in her step, a hug for a child, a kind word on her lips, and a sweet smile on her face. To know Macie was to love Macie. So, as you can imagine, my heart ached intensely when she died.  The sorrow messed with me.  It was heavy.  Everything about her death seemed wrong. She was so young. So vibrant. So loved.  I yearned to turn back the hands of time and somehow alter the course of Macie’s demise. I wanted her to magically appear at the service and tell us that it was all just a big misunderstanding. That she was fine!  I wanted her to be fine.  I wanted her to be alive.  My angst eventually gave way to peace as I remembered that she was fine because she was alive in the perfect presence of God. The late Barbara Johnson said, “You never know when your time is going to expire, so remember: as you add years to your life, it is more important to add life to your years.”

Macie only lived on this earth for eighteen short years, but she added life to her years when she surrendered her heart to Jesus Christ a year before her death. I imagine that she now skips along streets of gold, worships God whole-heartedly, and loves on the two babies of mine that are in heaven. She always loved taking care of babies.  The Spirit of God and the confidence of Macie’s salvation consoled me, yet I still had to choose to praise God through my grief.  In the sadness, I had to choose to bless the Lord for His plan. Even though His plan didn’t line up with my expectations. Even though those plans left many hearts heavy with ache. God’s grace enabled me to see rays of light in the dark loss because Macie had professed her faith in Christ and was prepared to meet Him when she breathed her final breath.  Adding life to your years is all about Jesus.  In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”

We can all know hope and peace in Christ.  “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)

Jesus came to give you a life that’s full in His forgiveness, bound by grace and freedom.  Do you know that kind of forgiveness?

Let’s live today in the fullness of Jesus in response to His grace and goodness.  Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Let’s determine to live each day filled with purpose, praise and thankfulness as we worship God and point others to Him in love.  It was a sad day when we said goodbye to Macie. After leaving the graveside, I went home, hugged on my children and loved on my husband a bit more than normal. Her death reminded me just how precious life is and how important it is to add life to my years.  It’s important for you too.  Live in the moment. Love your people well. God has a plan for your now.

Mrs Meldrew

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #44 on: June 30, 2018, 09:07:31 PM »
What Difference Does He Make?
Jun 28, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever the Spirit of truth.  John 14:16-17

Friend to Friend

If you were going off to war, and knew you’d be put on the front lines and probably wouldn’t be coming back home to your family, what would you tell them?

Think of the final instructions you’d  give your children, the affirmation of your love you’d whisper to your spouse, and the words of endearment you’d share with your friends.  Jesus was in that very situation as He shared His last meal with the disciples in the upper room. All along, He had given them clues about how His earthly life would end and the purpose for His brief life here on earth. But they didn’t understand. They refused to believe their king would be anything other than worshiped as He had been when He rode into town on the back of a donkey and was hailed with palm branches and praise.  I imagine during their last meal together, Jesus went through a mental list of what He needed to tell His friends before He went to the cross. John records those precious moments in John 13–17. Those words are some of the most endearing of Scripture and ones I read time and time again. I encourage you to read those chapters and place yourself in that room with Jesus, for you, dear one, are one of His disciples, and the words Jesus shared with the Twelve are meant for you as well.  Let’s look at one word of comfort and instruction regarding a special parting gift Jesus was leaving His trusted friends. He said:  If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them (John 14:15-21).

Did you catch that the Holy Spirit had been with them, but now He was going to be in them? What difference do you think that would make in someone’s life?

What difference has that made in your life?

After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and transformed a bunch of bungling cowards into powerful, prophesying preachers. They commanded the lame to walk, cast out demons, preached to the masses, confronted angry crowds, and laughed in the face of death.  They changed the world.  On that glorious day at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell on the worshiping believers, a new day was unleashed for the church. The Holy Spirit now resides in every person who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 8:9). The Spirit of the living God has empowered us with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-22).  Then why don’t we exercise that power?

Because we don’t believe.  In developing countries, it is not unusual to hear of miraculous healings, signs, and wonders, and even the raising of the dead. No one told them those things don’t happen anymore. Praise God for that! They believe in the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives and expect God to show up when they call on His name. Oh that we would put our sophisticated, over-educated minds aside and go to God as children who believe He is who He says He is and does what He says He will do.  When we come to Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit as a deposit of our heavenly inheritance (Ephesians 1:14), as a seal upon our hearts (Ephesians 1:13), and as a permanent resident within us (Hebrews 13:5). But we have the choice to stumble about in our own strength, saying “I can’t,” or embrace the power of the Holy Spirit and say, “I can.”

Today, I’m choosing to access the power that is already mine. What about you?