Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 460 times)

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2017, 10:13:06 pm »
Wednesday, March 29, 2017   

Illumination
Gloria Furman

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.”  - Ephesians 1:15–17

Paul prayed that the Holy Spirit might give us wisdom and revelation so that we would better understand God’s plan and live accordingly. The Father of glory has revealed his mystery his plan to unite all things in Christ. So here Paul prays that our eyes would be opened to this previously undisclosed reality. God will illuminate our minds by his Spirit to grasp his revelation. Left to ourselves, we invent ridiculous things that serve to glorify ourselves only. We need the Spirit to open our eyes to God’s truth, warm our hearts to love that truth, and empower us to live in line with the truth that God alone is worthy to be praised.  Let us, then, with the humble gratitude that ought to mark unworthy sinners, seek to see with the eyes of our heart the reality of God’s purposes to give his children grace and glory. This reality that Ephesians speaks of is so certain that we can bank our lives on it. Those who are in Christ cannot help but see the reality that Christ has inaugurated. What’s at stake is the difference between theory and experience. Paul’s prayer for us is essentially that we would see reality and live in accordance with it.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2017, 10:22:17 pm »
Tuesday, March 28, 2017   

God's Mysterious Will
Gloria Furman

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ everything in heaven and on earth.”  - Ephesians 1:9–10

God is blessed for revealing his mysterious plan from eternity past and bringing it to fruition in eternity future. When we struggle with the question of our purpose and of the purpose of the world, Ephesians 1:9–10 gives us God’s comprehensive answer. We read in Ephesians 1:9–10 the end goal of all things, the all-encompassing reason for everything that ever was or will be the anakephalaiosis. That is a deeply profound term that means “summing up.” Although we are only a mere ten verses into Ephesians, this statement is the climax of the entire epistle. Ephesians shows us how Jesus, the Son of Man, has come to his throne. The rest of this letter draws out the implications of Christ’s enthronement. There are implications not only for us as individuals who love the Lord and long for his return when every knee bows to him and every tongue confesses he is Lord, but also for us collectively as members of Christ’s body, the church. We are doomed to live a confusing and false existence as long as we live in denial of the universal headship of Jesus. But when we humbly repent of the notion that we can live independently from God and instead cling to Jesus, then we walk in truth.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2017, 10:40:16 pm »
Monday, March 27, 2017   

Every Spiritual Blessing
Gloria Furman

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.  We praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”  - Ephesians 1:3, 6–8

The blessings we have in Christ are more than social niceties like saying “Gesundheit” after someone sneezes. Paul is describing how we have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing.” Often, when we hear of these blessings, we just smile and nod and utter a polite “Thanks,” as though someone has just blessed a sneezing fit. “Spiritual blessings” sounds fake, like a warranty for an appliance that expires the moment you open the package and use the machine. That warranty was never meant to benefit you, the customer. But God’s blessings are utterly real. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the one who mediates these blessings to us; he brings them to us and applies them to our lives.  This opening passage in Ephesians echoes Psalm 103, where God calls us to trust him as we walk in this fallen world. This psalm anticipates what we have been given through Christ, which is “every spiritual blessing.” Bless the Lord, oh my soul! Don’t forget a single one of those blessings! These blessings find their origin in him, and their bestowment upon us is entirely of God’s own initiative. It is he who blessed us, chose us, predestined us, lavished his grace on us, made known his purposes to us, and accomplishes all these things for us. The blessings of Psalm 103, which are specifically fulfilled through Jesus and described in Ephesians 1:3–14, are both wrought of God’s glory in his Son and bestowed through the gleaming mercy shown to us at the Cross.

ezel

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2017, 07:20:37 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-may-15-2017.html

May 15, 2017
The Solution to Restlessness, Part One
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Truly my soul finds rest in God. (Psalm 62:1)

Friend to Friend

My friend Cammie is a children’s ministry director at a local church. One day, as she was preparing for the lesson she would teach on Sunday morning, she had an idea for a fun illustration that would require a few props. She asked her four-year-old daughter to help.  “Hey, Taylor! Can you please bring me a few of the Fisher Price people from your dollhouse?”

This reply came from her preschooler who was sitting across the room “No, Mom. They just want to chill out. They’ve had a long day.”

So funny yet so not funny.  My word, people! When our children’s toys need a break, you know that it’s time for you and me to hit the pause button.  And, truth be told, I live smack dab in the messy middle of this tension.  The Old Testament indicates that David lived in the messy middle of it too. The Bible says that the Lord made David take a break. Yes. He made him do it. Look: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Hemakes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3, emphasis mine)

I love the way Psalm 23 verse 3 is paraphrased in The Message, “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”

Yes. Please.  This is the desire of my heart. That I can catch my breath and be sent in the right direction by a loving God who knows what is best.  So, I you we have to be intentional. Life comes at us fast. If we are not careful, the dizzy pace at which we live can unwittingly become our weakness and demise.  I know you know this. I do too and yet somehow it still trips us up.  So what’s a woman to do?

Let’s keep it real here; we have obligations. We have families, jobs, friends, communities, and churches that need us. And though this will look different for each of us in the many seasons of life, our people depend on us a ton. They should. God tells us to put our faith into action (James 2). And we must. We must mobilize the hope we have in Christ. Serve. Show love. Feed the hungry. Minister to the widows and orphans. Yes. We must be women of action.  The Bible gives a clear and compelling teaching, however, about this life pace topic that establishes our first call to action must be focused on the Lord himself! This get with Jesus business is the key to us experiencing the maximum abundance that God has in store for every believer.  What it all boils down to is this: God’s BEST requires REST.  So simple.  Yet so complicated.  It was Augustine who wrote, “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

Let me take this one step further by breaking down what the Word of God shows us about this very thing. When we rest in the presence of God, He restores our souls. Rest is the central ingredient in the restoration we all desperately need. Just look at the first four letters of the word!  Today and in part two of this devotion we are going to break down R.E.S.T. as an acronym and take a walk through Scripture to see just how God’s best for you is fueled by this discipline.

R.E.S.T. {Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust}

It all begins with reflection. There are two parts to this: reflecting ON God and allowing the Spirit of God to work within us so that we become better reflections OF God.

REFLECT on GOD:

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago I will meditate on all Your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12)

 “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.” (Psalm 143:5-6)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

REFLECT GOD:

“Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your principles!” (Psalm 119:5, NLT)

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit.”
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Oh, that we would be women of meaningful reflection.  Today let this truth sink in deep: when you reflect on God, you better reflect God.

ezel

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2017, 07:28:39 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-may-16-2017.html

May 16, 2017
The Solution to Restlessness, Part Two
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”(Exodus 33:14)

Friend to Friend

The gap between knowing I need God’s rest and responsively living it out can be huge.  You too?

Yesterday we began to talk about the spiritual discipline of rest.  We began to break down R.E.S.T. as an acronym and started a walk through Scripture to see just how God’s best for you is fueled by this discipline.

R.E.S.T. {Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust.}

Our takeaway from the first of word of the acronym, reflect, was this: when you reflect on God, you better reflect God.  In addition to prioritizing times of reflection, we must also personally engage with the Lord. To go to Him in prayer and interlock our hearts, motivations, ambitions, and wills to His revealed will and Word. This is where our faith fits together with our actions where our lives go from being our own to being His.

ENGAGE

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, NIV)

The apostle Paul instructed us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)

Most importantly, we must engage with the grace of God through Jesus Christ, which comes from the confession of our sin.  “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2, NLT)

SURRENDER

When I think of surrender, I think of war and of waving white flags. And frankly, faith is a battle so that mental picture works nicely. In every battle there is an enemy and there are weapons of warfare. And you DO know that you have an enemy, right?

Satan wants to keep you from God’s rest because he knows that the spiritual discipline of rest can be one of our most powerful weapons in the battles that we face.  The best example of surrendering to God’s will is in Jesus. The night he was betrayed Jesus surrendered himself to God's plan. He prayed, "Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine." (Mark 14:36, NLT)

Here’s the beauty of surrender: when you lay down your mess, your hands are then free to pick up God’s rest. Because the One who captures us in surrender is the One who sets us free. And in the surrender, you are empowered to trust Him more.

TRUST

I know what it’s like to have circumstances collide with my plans and knock me off balance. This is a constant struggle for each of us. It can be a battle to believe that God can work things out for good. Especially if we fail to rest and live in the “what if’s” and the “why’s.”  Let’s look at what Jesus had to say about this.  “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6:31-32)

Friend, your heavenly Father knows that your job is stressing you out, that your marriage is hanging by thread, that you are bogged down with health challenges, that you are grieving that loss, that your finances are upside down.  He knows the longings of your heart.  He. Knows. What. You. Need.  What would happen if every morning you woke up and decided to R.E.S.T.?

What if you determined each day to choose to trust God for what you need because you know that He knows what you need?

Can you imagine living with that kind of faith?

That is exactly what the Lord is inviting you into.  His rest.  When you reflect, engage, trust, and surrender when you prioritize R.E.S.T. your life will still not be perfect, but you will be equipped for every trial, stress, and strain in the all sufficient grace that the Lord provides.  And in everything, remember what Jesus said. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Freaky Friday

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2017, 08:33:18 pm »
Friday, May 19, 2017   

Spiritual Confidence
Beth Guckenberger

Today’s Verse
“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”  1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)

When I read about David’s life and all he built, what makes the strongest impression on me is his acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty. David wouldn’t take credit. In our “maker” culture, where we are all busy building our own kingdoms, making sure our business plans are unique and well positioned, our products are perfect, and our homes are worthy of envy, David demonstrated his eyes were not on himself but on the One who made it all possible. He began and ended his ministry by acknowledging the absolute sovereignty of God in the lives of his people (1 Sam. 17:47; 1 Chron. 29:10–14). The passage above are some of his last words before Solomon was appointed king and David died.  At this point in his life, David was beloved to the point of reverence. He could have stood before an audience and taken credit for the kingdom, the treasury, and the peace, and all would have cheered for him. Instead, in every sentence of this would-last-for-eternity speech, he made sure all knew credit went to the Lord. This was the secret to how he slept despite his flaws and danced regardless of who was watching. David knew that everything belongs to the Lord. True spiritual confidence doesn’t come from our own talents or accomplishments. It comes from an assurance that all of it everything, including you and me is God’s.

Hannah

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2017, 08:41:08 pm »
Thursday, May 18, 2017   

Chaos and Confession
Beth Guckenberger

Today’s Verse
“I long to redeem them but they speak about me falsely. They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail on their beds.”  Hosea 7:13b–14 (NIV)

In the beginning, heaven and earth were all living together in perfect peace (shalom in Hebrew). Then the Fall occurred, and the perfect peace of heaven separated from earth, now left in a state of chaos.  That chaos flourished throughout the Old Testament, and God, in his mercy, reached down over and over again to intervene and make things right, ultimately sending Jesus, the perfect shalom, into our disorder. Jesus ascended and left us with the Holy Spirit, and he also inaugurated “the kingdom of heaven on earth” in which the perfect peace of heaven is present even within the chaos of earth. That’s where my citizenship now lies. It is where peace can rule. I am not yet in eternal shalom, but I have also not been left to suffer in the chaos.  Wailing in prayer is noisy. I can make a lot of noise and send it heavenward, but it is a bit like running on a treadmill. I might sweat, but I don’t get very far. In this passage, God asks, instead of wailing, for our hearts to cry out in sincerity. The cry of true confession changes everything. It’s like a jackhammer; it breaks up the ground Hosea will later call “fallow.” Confession gives a chance for healthy things to grow, healing to occur, and shalom to rule.

Hannah

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2017, 08:50:17 pm »
Wednesday, May 17, 2017   

Yes or No
Beth Guckenberger

Today’s Verse
“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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28–30 (NIV)

If amen had an opposite, it would be no. As I begin to fall apart and find I am losing heart, I can always track the start of the downward spiral to a “no.” (No, that’s not fair. No, I can do it myself. No, I won’t admit that. No, no, no, no.) In a mindset of “no,” I am suddenly defensive or overwhelmed. I am anxious or offended. I cut off the flow of the Holy Spirit within me and insert my rights above all else.  Turning any ugly moment around begins softly with an agreement: So be it. It’s the subtle but powerful yes to lay down your life, to trust that God’s life being glorified is better than mine. Yes, you have another way, Lord. Yes, I’ll know it because it looks free and light.  But will I truly pray amen?

The answer depends on which of the two forces battling for my life I give authority. One is the gospel, full of words like redemption and reconciliation. But the Enemy who opposes us has schemes of his own. Instead of redemption, his plot is condemnation. He wants us to be lost. Instead of reconciliation, he wants our relationships broken and wants destruction to rule.  When I knowingly or unknowingly align with the Enemy’s strategy instead of the gospel, I lose hope and I inevitably advance the agenda of the one who wants to destroy me.  But there is another way: I can say yes. Yes, I trust you. Yes, I will offer that. Yes, I was wrong. Yes. Yes.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #23 on: November 16, 2017, 11:14:35 pm »
Thursday, June 01, 2017   

Showing Up
Lisa-Jo Baker

Today’s Verse

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  Romans 12:15 (NIV)

Maybe the most intimate, radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up. To show up like Jesus did in person, willing to experience life with the community around him. When we show up, we are giving our friends the same gift Jesus did: the gift of presence. Like Jesus, we can show up and do one of two things: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

We can cry the ugly cry with our friends and we can also celebrate with whooping and hollering and confetti.  Jesus models what it looks like to invite God into both experiences. Jesus lived the whole arc of the human emotional spectrum from weddings to funerals. In fact, he announced his public ministry at a wedding an event of dancing, love, laughter, and passion. In Jewish culture, this was often seven days of unmitigated joy, of food, of family, of telling stories, and celebrating.  But he also stood outside the tomb of a friend as close as a brother and wept alongside friends, strangers, sisters, believers, and doubters. Jesus was tied in friendship to Mary and Martha and he entered fully into their grief. Their joy was his joy; their sorrow was his sorrow.  When we’ve run out of words, when we’re beside ourselves with the pain that we’re watching our friends go through, can we follow Jesus’ example and give them the gift of our presence, our tears, and our sorrow?

In joy or grief, may we give our friends ourselves.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2017, 11:18:36 pm »
Friday, June 02, 2017   

A Powerful Tool
Lisa-Jo Baker

Today’s Verse
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  James 1:19 (NIV)

I’m always staggered by how fast my reflex is to defend myself or justify my position. Or to talk back fast before anyone can get another word in. Or to respond in anger. But James advises: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (1:19).

It is not easy to open your ears and close your mouth. It is not easy to sit at the table and let a friend talk and talk and really try to understand. It is not easy to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  Yet listening is one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to defusing a hard conversation. Making someone feel heard helps take the sting out of their frustration and opens the door for dialogue. Defending yourself adds fuel to the fire; listening to someone helps put it out. Are we willing to listen before we defend ourselves, to hear before we justify ourselves, to reflect before we respond?

This is not an easy thing but it is a necessary thing.  When I’ve done all that I believe I can in a difficult relationship, I have been known to tell God, Well, I’m done, as I pat myself on the back for giving it such a good go. But God has consistently insisted that there is no “done” when it comes to sacrificial love. There is only “more.” More changing. More bending. More willingness to be open. More choosing to stay instead of cutting loose and quitting. More listening.