Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 1573 times)

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2018, 10:37:29 pm »
Surrender the Wheel to God
Feb 08, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:7

Friend to Friend
My husband, Dan, has battled high blood pressure since we first married over thirty years ago. Hmmm now that I think about it, there just might be a connection there! Nevertheless, for  several years, Dan struggled with an irregular heartbeat, a debilitating condition that drains energy and generally promotes a compelling sense of exhaustion.  Now you need to understand something very important about my husband. Dan Southerland is not accustomed to doing anything short of full speed ahead, so you can imagine his frustration and my concern. Little did I know that the opportunity for fear and worry would escalate to a whole new level when, at 2:30 am on March 15, Dan looked at me and said, “Honey, I think you need to call an ambulance.”

I already had.  Sweat was dripping from his body like rain, followed by waves of excruciating chest pain, dizziness and nausea. The ambulance arrived six minutes after I called and began to work on my now semi-unconscious husband. I heard one paramedic say, “I can’t get a blood pressure reading, pulse or vein.”

Dan gained consciousness for a few seconds to say, “I love you. Go get Danna.”

I knew what he was saying and I was not having it! I climbed up on the bed beside my precious husband and in my kindest, most merciful voice said, “Honey, if you die, I will absolutely kill you! You are not going anywhere! You are staying right here! Do you understand me?”

That declaration certainly grabbed the attention of the paramedics whose heads snapped up to see the lunatic wife in action. I then called for reinforcements. “Danna, get in here,” I yelled to our then 20-year-old daughter who was already dressed and standing behind me.

If her eyes had not been twice their normal size, I would never have known she was terrified. “What’s up, Dad?” she asked.

That’s my girl! The paramedics finally got an IV going and within minutes, Dan was feeling much better.  A quick sidebar: For weeks, I had been telling Dan how much I loved Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

The paramedics lifted Dan onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. Danna said, “Mom, you ride with Dad. I’ll follow you so we will have a car at the hospital.”

As I climbed into the passenger side of the ambulance, the radio was on and the first words I heard were “I can’t do this on my own. Jesus, take the wheel.”

God’s peace settled around my heart and soul like a familiar friend and I celebrated the love of a God who cares enough about His daughter that He played her favorite song at the precise moment she needed to hear it. You see, when the paramedic climbed into the driver’s seat, he said, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Southerland, but we can’t have the radio on during a call.”

I smiled and responded, “I didn’t turn it on. It was on when I got in.”

His eyes said it all. “This woman is nuts!”

But I knew the presence of God was in that ambulance, with my husband, with me, and with whatever we were facing.  Why do we doubt Him?

Why do we worry?

Yes, He is Lord of the Universe, but He is also Shepherd of every valley. He is Love. He is Peace.  Over the next nine days, Dan was in the hospital as they ran tests and inserted a defibrillator. God was with me every step of the way, and He will be there for you, my friend. No matter where you are, no matter how hopeless your circumstances may seem, no matter how deep and dark the pit He is at work in and around you. Just give up and surrender the wheel of your life, trusting Him to make a way where there is no way.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2018, 10:44:30 pm »
What’s in Your Pocket?
Feb 09, 2018 | Arlene Pellicane

Today's Truth
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”  Proverbs 24:3-4

Friend to Friend
One afternoon, I was going through the laundry, checking all the pockets before loading the washing machine. I found something I had never found before in one my kid’s pant pockets: silly  putty. I was very relieved I didn’t find out what that sticky, bouncy, elastic substance would do to the other clothes in the wash!  Another item pulled out of my pocket made me smile. It was a receipt for puppy toys. We had just got our first pet, a cute brown dog who was getting bigger by the second. I pulled play money from my daughter’s pocket from church. These colorful bucks were earned by bringing a Bible or offering.  In each pocket, I found evidence of where we had been, what we had done, and what we valued enough to keep (or what we forgot to throw away!). In the hidden, quiet place of the laundry room, I sorted the items. Silly putty would go back to my child. Play money and doggie toy receipt went to the trash.  You know, sometimes we need to check the “pockets” of our lives in a quiet place. What would the evidence found in our purses and homes say about our faith?

Is there anything we’re holding on to that should be thrown away?

Perhaps it’s a grudge or insecurity.  Are there places we are going or activities we’re involved with that aren’t healthy for us?

What do our receipts say about our financial stewardship?

Perhaps we could use a few moments today to de-clutter our pockets, asking God for wisdom for life. The true way to a beautiful home isn’t found in an interior decorating magazine or purchasing lovely furniture on credit. Today’s verses from Proverbs 24 tell us that rare and beautiful treasures are results of living with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.  King Solomon asked God for wisdom; for a discerning heart to distinguish between right and wrong (1 Kings 3:9). Likewise, we can ask God for carefulness and shrewdness to manage the daily matters of our lives.  Pay attention to the details of your life because they are shaping your life’s story. Maybe your phone is taking too much prominence, your treasured possession in your pocket or purse. We don’t want to build our lives on technology, but on Christ alone.  Take time to empty out your pockets, making sure there isn’t anything hidden in your life which needs to be surrendered to God. Throw away what ensnares you and extra clutter that weighs you down. Build your home on wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. And always remove the silly putty before you do the laundry!

Twiglet

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2018, 06:12:20 pm »
3 Simple Questions: How to Make a Godly Decision
Feb 12, 2018 | Kelly Balarie

Today's Truth
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

Friend to Friend
My husband said to me, “Kelly, you need to be more straightforward with people. Answer with an outright ‘no’ when you know you need to say ‘no.’”

I mulled over his words, considering them.  He had a good point. I have a hard time saying no. I want to make everyone happy. I don’t want to let people down. My central goal is to leave them encouraged.  And to avoid feeling unlikable. To avoid dealing with those awful residual icky feelings of knowing a person may not want me anymore, think highly of me, or desire to be my friend. Or worst yet, they talk behind my back and form some kind of club that hates me. The idea of all this hurts enough to live a life that rapidly throws out a yes.  Even the idea of it horribly stresses me out.  Are you like me? Do you say “yes” when you have an inkling the right answer is “no?”

Why?

Underneath your altruistic, save-the-world, love-on-every man, give-your-whole-life-over goal, what are you seeking?

Do you want to appear the do-it-all woman?

Do you want people to know you are capable?

Do you not want to look weak?

Do you hope to never let anyone down?

Do you believe God has called you to do everything?

Do you cringe at the idea of not being liked?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

This verse teaches us: Our goal is not to be loved by man, but to love God first and foremost. We can’t easily pursue God’s mission when we’re caught in the web of everyone else’s approval. The only approval we need is the approval of Christ Jesus. Just as many men disliked Jesus, there will be many times when we are disliked too. The value of Christian life is not how liked we are; it is how loved by Jesus we are.  With these foundational truths in our pocket, we can ask God 3 things when making a decision:

1.  Are you calling me to do this?
Consider: Our immediate and half-hearted action plan may prohibit God’s perfect and powerful plan. It may be another’s gifts that are meant to be used for this unique situation, not ours. Sometimes our best strategy is to move out of the way, so God can move in.

2.  Am I doing this out of love?
If it’s absent of love, it is worthless.
“If I do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

3.   Am I wise to wait on this?
If we don’t have clarity, there’s validity in waiting. Pray. Seek. Ask. Repeat. By faith, believe God has our way.
Jesus is “The Way.” And no matter how you answer “yes” or “no,” he always loves you. Always. And He’s prepared to help, guide and lead you in all of your ways.

Twiglet

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2018, 06:34:06 pm »
At Home in God’s Love
Feb 16, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved Me. Make yourselves at home in My love   John 15:9

Friend to Friend
Our twin grandchildren were born on December 2. Their mom and dad go out of their way to make their birthday special since it is so close to Christmas. But Jodi wanted to make this year’s birthday  celebration extra-special since Lelia and Jaydan were turning 10 the first double-digit birthday!  Jodi and Jered sectioned off half of their basement garage for games like hot potato, beanbag toss, and the old fashioned game of Gossip. Thankfully, the weather co-operated. It was a gorgeous day with fresh, crisp autumn air, clear blue skies, and just the hint of a breeze. The kids played soccer, football, and even one or two games of Red Rover until we remembered why we should not play it any more. It is painful!  Nearly all of the kids in Lelia and Jaydan’s school class came. It was delicious chaos for two hours. After all of the children left, it was family time time for us to give Jaydan and Lelia our presents. I could tell Jaydan was especially excited as everyone gathered in the living room to witness the unveiling of the long-awaited birthday gifts. Jaydan has developed a love for Legos and knows his Mimi and Papa delight in feeding that love. He was definitely hoping for a Lego set of some kind.  When Jaydan started to pick up the present we bought him, his mom said, “Jay, why don’t you save that one for last?”

Jaydan looked at us and grinned. He then began to open the rest of his gifts, hugging his little brother and sisters, thanking them for their gifts. He reached for our gift and then oh, yes he did he shook it! When he heard the rattle sound he had come to love so well, he put one fist in the air and said, “Yes! It’s Legos! Thank you, Mimi and Papa!”

Yes, the gift was a Lego set, but Jaydan had no idea that it was the Lego Ice Tank he had been wanting for months. When he saw the box, Jaydan’s mouth fell open and he said, “I can’t believe it!”

We got some great hugs from Jaydan for those Legos! But I was surprised when Jaydan’s little four-year-old brother, Mo James, gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you, Mimi!”

I didn’t understand. “Mo, what are you thanking me for?” I asked.

With a sweet smile he said, “For giving my brother such a great gift!”

And a little bit of heaven melted my heart, filling my soul with wonder. I just sat still for a moment, letting the profound truth taught by a child take root.  Mo had not received any presents.  Mo was far too young to play with the Legos Jay had received.  Mo just realized how happy our gift had made his brother and wanted to thank us for giving it to him.  When was the last time you celebrated the success of someone in your life instead of coveting that success?

If we want to live a life full of joy, we must learn to love each other the way Jesus loves us. That is the best kind of love. Jesus said so in John 15:11-12, “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that My joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love (The Message).

Jesus spent the first part of the John 15 describing the love God has for us. He wants us to be at home in that love to revel in it every minute of every day. God’s love only sees the best in others no judgment. When we are at home in God’s love, we become a safe place for those who are hurting and broken, those who are lonely and misunderstood.  Today, I encourage you to surrender to God’s fathomless love for you. Don’t try to understand it. Don’t try to earn it. Don’t try to justify it. It is a gift one you can truly celebrate and one in which you can make yourself at home.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2018, 09:11:32 pm »
The Hope Button
Jun 12, 2018 | Arlene Pellicane

Today's Truth

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope...”   Lamentations 3:21

Friend to Friend

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a hope button?

Something you could just press when you felt pessimism and misery weighing you down?

Friend, you have a button like this available for your use. It’s nestled in between despair and the dawning of hope recorded in the book of Lamentations. The writer, Jeremiah the prophet, is utterly broken. Jerusalem, the City of David, had been attacked and destroyed.  Jeremiah sees no hope of restoration, wholeness, or safety.  He cries out to God with many complaints such as “he has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship” (v. 5), “he has weighed me down with chains” (v. 7), and “he has trampled me in the dust” (v. 16).

Jeremiah is remembering all that went wrong and his soul is depressed and despondent.  Yet somehow, he reaches for the hope button in verse 21 and it becomes his turning point:  “Yet this I call to mind and there I have hope...”

What is the “this” that Jeremiah is calling to mind?

We find it in verses 22-23:  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Jeremiah is shifting his focus from the rubble around him to the fact that he is still standing. He remains unconsumed because of God’s great love. “Compassions” is plural illustrating how God showers us with new compassion every morning. Even though Jerusalem laid in ruin, the Word of God lasts forever.  When Jeremiah pressed the hope button recalling God’s great love and compassion he could say in the midst of grief, “I have hope. God is my portion and He is enough.”

Have you felt hopeless in a particular area of your life lately?

It’s time to press the hope button. You’re still here. God’s mercies are for you today, and they are waiting to bless you tomorrow.  When I went away to college, I was discouraged and miserable because I felt lost without my family, friends, and all things familiar. I cried most days for the first few weeks. I did however have a Christian roommate with a flair for art. She painted our dorm room walls with Bible verses. Guess what she painted?

Lamentations 3:22-23 which reminded me every morning when I opened my eyes that God’s compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.  The next time you find yourself sitting in a heap of discouragement, press the hope button. Surround yourself with the promises of God. Recall His faithfulness and refresh your faith.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2018, 09:25:28 pm »
What’s a Girl To Do?
Jun 13, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Pray Continually.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

Friend to Friend

Okay. As much as I HATE to use the bathroom on airplanes, on this particular flight it just simply couldn’t be helped. The water bottle that I’d drank on the way to the airport, combined with the  several essential cups of morning coffee mandated the mid-flight excursion. So at about 30,000 feet up somewhere over rural Alabama I unbuckled and walked the narrow, balance-beam aisle to the rear of the aircraft.  After tapping a chatty, aisle-strewn gentleman to squeeze by, I entered the shoebox lavatory. Upon closing the folding door my eyes adjusted to the incandescent lighting, and I began to prepare for my nature call. Then it happened.  A tiny “Pop!”  And the button on the top of my jeans flew off.  Oh no!  I gasped as a panicked tizzy of self-talk began.  This can’t happen now! I need these jeans to hold me in. My abs have all but forgotten how to take care of that function themselves! If I can’t get this button back on, it is going to look like I have a hernia the size of California under my blousy shirt! I’m going to die of embarrassment if my pants fall down on my way back to my seat! This is a serious FASHION EMERGENCY!  So, what does a good Christian girl do when in a “situation” such as this?

She prays.  Oh Lord of all things fashionable and cute. God of zippers, accessories, shoes and buttons hear my prayer! Please meet me in this fashion emergency. When I’m done with my business here, please please please allow the top of this button, that was on my rockin’ cool jeans, to click right back on to the base of the button. (Pause.) I trust You. I know that You are able! Amen.  Flush.  My heart raced and blood rushed through my veins in eager anticipation of a potential fashion miracle as I rose to my feet. I believed. I hoped. I prayed. The embellished silver button-top danced on my fingertips as I hesitated and hovered over the base.  Snap!  Oh Lord, Jesus! I just heard it snap! It snapped!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  And the seconds that followed were a blurred happy dance in a 24-inch by 24-inch cubicle. He heard me!! God cares about fashion!! He cares about buttons!! Thank you, Jesus!  As I exited the lavatory, the clouds parted and I beheld angels singing a glorious song of praise to our amazing, fashion-loving God. The End. (Smiles.)  All right, all right. I admit that this account of my mid-flight fashion dilemma may be a smidgeon drama-heavy. Even so, we all face “situations” day in and day out at home, at the office, in relationships, in health, and in conversations where we have an opportunity to call on God.  In this case for me it was a small thing. In the grand scale of life, it was an unimportant thing but I still talked to God about it. God welcomes us to approach Him with everything. Big and small.  “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).

Nothing is to small for you to take to God in prayer.  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

God loves you and desires that you be in constant dialog with Him. Constantly dependent on His strength. Constantly requesting His wisdom, joy, peace, and intervention.  Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth century monk and author of “The Practice of the Presence of God,” wrote: “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

Friend, don’t limit your prayers to just heavy hearted line items. Do life with Him! Yes we need to approach God with reverence, with an acute awareness that He is God. He is holy, just and righteous. Always. But the beauty of a grace-life is that we can approach God at any time for any reason. Even with our frivolous fashion emergencies.  We can trust that God listens and cares.  “Is anyone among you in trouble?  Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16).

Daffy

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #36 on: July 10, 2018, 09:16:34 pm »
You’re More Than a One-Talent Girl
Jul 06, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  2 Peter 1:3

Friend to Friend

In my last devotion, we looked at the parable of the talents, or rather the parable of the three choices. We saw a landowner that gave one servant five talents, another servant two talents, and another  servant one talent.  As you read that devotion, (and if you didn’t, please click on www.girlfriendsinGod.com and read it first) I wonder if you saw yourself as a one-talent girl. Perhaps you’re thinking that God hasn’t given you much to work with. He did, after all, entrust the servants with talents “according to their ability.” You look at what other folks are doing for God with their five talents and think that yours doesn’t really matter much anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth.  It could be that the servant with the five talents started out with one talent a few years back. The master saw what he did with that one—how he turned it into two. Then when he went on his next trip, the master gave that servant two talents, which he turned into four. So on this particular journey, the master entrusted this servant with five!  If we don’t use what God has given us because of fear, then He will not entrust us with more. It could very well be that He will take away what He’s given us and give it to someone else who has the courage to use her gifts and talents to accomplish her God-given purpose.  There’s always a bit of fear when it comes to taking a step of faith, but step we must! Don’t let the fear win. It’s not worth it.  I always thought a talent was just a few pieces of silver or gold. Boy, was I wrong. In biblical days, a talent referred to the largest unit of currency at the time. It was the heaviest or largest biblical unit of measurement for weight, equal to about 75 pounds or 35 kilograms. The one who possessed five talents of gold or silver was a multimillionaire by today’s standards. Some calculate a talent to be equivalent to twenty years’ wages for the common worker.  So even though the one servant only received one talent or bag of gold, it was still no paltry amount. And again, I’m not turning this into a teaching about money. I don’t think that was what Jesus was doing either. He was teaching us about being good stewards of what God has entrusted us in every area of life.  God will never call you to do something that He will not empower and equip you to do. How sad when we hide what He has entrusted to us because of fear. If you have your talent hidden in the ground, dig it up. Once the landowner in the parable came home, it was too late for that servant with the one talent, but it is not too late for you.  I’m glad that the biblical term for what Jesus was teaching about is called talents. The NIV translates it as “bags of gold.” But when I see the word talents I can better associate it with God-given gifts and abilities. You have been given talents! Even if you think that you have been given only one talent, you have been given one.  Don’t let fear keep you from using what you have. Invest what God has given you in other people, and watch your investment multiply right before your eyes. Then when your day comes, God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.”

Daffy

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2018, 09:25:13 pm »
The Master Planner
Jul 09, 2018 | Arlene Pellicane

Today's Truth

From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.  Isaiah 46:11

Friend to Friend

It all started with an advertisement for piano lessons.  My husband James, who was a little rusty on the piano, needed some help to play a song at a friend’s  wedding. He grabbed the community flyer and made an appointment for his first lesson. The piano teacher was a bit surprised since usually her students were kids. She decided to schedule the lesson when her husband could be home. After all, she didn’t know if my James was a nice man or a crazy person!  James not only received excellent piano instruction, he became friends with the instructor Claire and her husband. Since our children are the same ages, we all became fast friends. Piano lessons turned into meals together, kids’ birthday parties, and family bike rides. Together Claire and I have watched our kids grow out of diapers and walk into middle school. I invited Claire to church and her family has been attending for years. And when school is in session, Claire and I pray together with a group of moms for our kids and their schools.  Who knows if Claire and I would have ever met if it wasn’t for that first piano lesson?

What if James’ friend hadn’t asked him to play the piano at the wedding?

James would have never picked up Claire’s advertisement in the first place.  Friend, God is in the details. He is the master planner. He can even move through piano lesson signs! He can move through who is sitting next to you on the train. He can move through who your kids or grandkids go to school with. He is working to fulfill His purpose and plan in the world and for your life.  Just recently, Claire and our Moms in Prayer group read our key verse together: “From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.”

The proceeding verse Isaiah 46:10 says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”

The phrase “make known the end from the beginning” speaks of the omniscience of God which means He is all-knowing. He knows the whole story of your life, even before it happens. God alone can declare how history will end because He is in charge, actively intervening to accomplish His plan for the nations and for His people.  God is in control of your life. Nothing is too big or too small for Him. If He can summon a bird of prey, He can order the details of your life too. He will provide everything you need whether it’s a good friend, financial help, physical health, or even a piano lesson.

ezel

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #38 on: July 10, 2018, 09:50:16 pm »
Keep Going!
Jul 10, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Galatians 6:9

Friend to Friend

The story is told of a great pianist who was scheduled to perform for a small country town. Everyone in the town was excited since they rarely had the opportunity to hear a famous musician. A young  mother was especially excited. Her son had been taking piano lessons and showed great promise. However, he hated to practice. His mother was hoping that if her son saw the great pianist perform, he would be motivated to take his music more seriously.  The night of the concert finally arrived, and it seemed as if everyone in town had come. As the young mother settled her son in his seat, her attention turned to the crowd pouring in. Everyone was dressed in their finest, and a buzz of excitement filled the concert hall. No one noticed the little boy as he slipped out of his seat and made his way down the aisle toward the stage. No one noticed the little boy as he walked onto the stage, climbed up on the piano stool and began to play “Chopsticks.”  The concert hall fell silent as every eye turned toward the stage. People began to yell, “Where is that child’s mother? How did he get on stage? Get him down immediately!”

The guest artist was standing in the wings, getting ready to make his entrance when he heard the shouts and saw and heard the little boy. Grabbing his jacket, the great pianist ran onto the stage, came up behind the little boy and placed his masterful hands on the keyboard beside the hands of the small child. The little boy was startled but did not move as the man whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t stop. Don’t quit. Keep going.”

As the little boy began to play again, the great pianist began to play as well, composing a beautiful counter melody to “Chopsticks.”  I know some of you are ready to give up and quit. Some mountain is standing between you and the dream you thought was sure to become a reality. You think God has lost track of where you are and what you are going through. He hasn’t.  I know you don’t understand why a loving God would allow so much pain to saturate this broken world and perpetuate such loss and hurt. I don’t either. But God’s ways are so much higher than my ways, and His thoughts are for my eternal good not my temporary comfort. I am banking on eternity. I am counting on the character of God and His heart of unconditional, unmerited, and undeserved love. God’s forgiveness gives me the strength to get out of bed each morning, and His peace is my comfort in the dark, lonely night. Like you, I sometimes ask God why He has allowed a circumstance to exist. I have questioned His favor and allowed fear and worry to make me doubt His plan. And I have to tell you that I can now look back and see so many of the question marks yanked into exclamation points in my life. I am so thankful He said “no” to so many of the prayers I desperately wanted Him to answer with “yes.”

He is God. He is able and He is more than enough.  No matter where you are today, know He is with you and that His heart is for you. Don’t quit. He is not angry with you. You are His daughter, the apple of His eye and His cherished child. Don’t give up. Right now, surrender all of your pain to Him. Shed your tears, knowing He will collect them all and one day pour them back into your life as a refreshing rain of restoration and healing. Keep going. Ask your questions, knowing Heaven is not in a panic and that your God really is who He says He is and that He will do what He has promised to do. He simply waits for you to trust Him.

Hannah

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #39 on: July 13, 2018, 10:01:20 pm »
When Comparison Kills Confidence
Jul 11, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:13-14

Friend to Friend

If there’s one thing I know it’s this: The measuring stick will get you stuck! Comparison is the devil’s tool that has stopped many of us gals from stepping into our God-given destinies and it’s time to  stop!  You know I’ve been camping out with Moses by the burning bush for over a year while writing Take Hold of the Faith You Long For. When we meet up with him in Exodus chapter 3, he is an insecure, stuttering recluse. He argued with God and told Him that he was not a good speaker.  But, Moses hadn’t always been so insecure. Look what Stephen said to the Sanhedrin: “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22).

He was powerful in speech?

That’s what The Book says.  So what happened?

Moses failed and bailed and ran away to Midian. Thought he deserved to be there. Got stuck there. He forgot his pre-ordained preparation and his God-given ability.  Oh, I wish I was sitting right there with you and we could just chat and throw around ideas. For now, I’ll just ask you this question and maybe one day we’ll sit and have a long talk.  How do you think that Moses came up with the idea that he was not a good speaker?

Here’s what I think. I think that Moses came up with the idea by comparing himself to other people he thought were good speakers.  It’s the same way with you and me. Comparison opens the door for sabotaging lies to steal our confidence, stymie our courage, and stand in the way of our contentment. Comparison puts up roadblocks along the path to fulfilling our God-given calling by setting an undefined standard of approval and acceptance.  We fear the REJECT stamp will come crashing down with wet ink that mars all of life. We fear that we are perhaps fatally flawed as confidence seeps through the holes of insecurity punctured and punctuated by comparison.  We compare our abilities to someone else’s and come to this conclusion: I could never do it like she does it. And you know what?

You were never meant to! God doesn’t need two people just alike. He has uniquely and precisely created you with specific gifts and talents to do exactly what He has called you to do. So get good at being you!  David wrote: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Ps. 139:13-14 emphasis added).

He knew what full well?

In these particular verses, David wasn’t praising God for the way He flung the stars in the night sky, set the spinning earth on its axis, or stocked the oceans with sea creatures of every kind. David was marveling at the magnificent masterpiece called David. Me. You. He knew that full well.  You are God’s workmanship. His masterpiece His grand finale of all creation. Do you know that full well?

You are amazing!  Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life” (Gal. 6:4–5, MSG).

Listen; if God didn’t put it in you, then you don’t need it to do what He has called you to do.  If God didn’t make you eloquent, then you don’t need to be eloquent to do what He’s prepared for you to do.  If God didn’t make you a good speller, then you don’t need to be a good speller to do what He’s prepared for you to do.  If God didn’t place you in a home where you were the apple of your daddy’s eye, then you don’t need to be the apple of your daddy’s eye to be all God wants you to be and do all He has planned for you to do.  One pastor said: “One of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity is that we’re comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else’s highlight reel.” I promise to show you the film on the cutting room floor. See, I cut them out, but God picked them back up, brushed them off, and inserted them back into the reel. “These are some of my favorites,” He explained. “The scenes you would rather no one see are the very ones that will help women see Me.”

God knows your inadequacies and your insecurities. He knows what caused them and who caused them. He saw you before you even had them. Yet He chose you before you were born for a purpose to fulfill a plan in a predetermined point in time (Acts 17:26).

So let’s let go of comparison and take hold of our God-given uniqueness!  You’re amazing!

shortcake

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #40 on: July 30, 2018, 09:30:14 pm »
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Jul 30, 2018 | Wendy Speake

Today's Truth

I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

Friend to Friend

Some of my earliest memories include hymns, with my mom sitting at the black upright piano in our den. She’d tuck me into bed with a lyrical blessing, long fingers tickling my back, then she’d walk  down the hall and tickle the ivories. Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, It is Well with My Soul, Great is Thy Faithfulness wafting up into the rafters, serenading me to sleep.  Forty years later, and the same melodic truths my mother sang into my subconsciousness come playing through my mind from time to time. During seasons of depression, they serenade me still. When anxiety threatens, they lull me back to sleep like a lullaby. And in joyful times of celebration, these hymns are my worship songs. Up they come, an artesian spring from the deepest parts of me, spilling back out over my lips like Bible verses hidden in my heart. They remind me what’s true when I’m most in need of truth. Sometimes, I even find myself quoting a Bible verse only to realize that I’m actually citing the lyric of some old song. Hymns are woven into the bedrock fibers of my theology a harmony to Scripture’s melody.  Perhaps, the short chorus I sing most often, as a reminder to my heart, is this one sweet exhortation:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. 

I can’t type the words without hearing my mom’s strong soprano in my mind. Nor can I sing the song without remembering the Psalmist’s cry: I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from?

Whether you’ve been wronged by a friend, abandoned by a father, misunderstood by a husband, tempted to fear over a child’s diagnosis, obsessed with your own self-focus, passed up for a promotion, or worse both the song and the Psalm can remind you where to turn your gaze.  When you fix your focus on your Redeemer’s face, a supernatural shift occurs. Like a spotlight moving from the minor characters waiting in the wings to the star, center stage. God’s generous narrative is always the place to turn your eyes, even when you don’t understand what He’s up to. His nature, His past faithfulness, His grace and forgiveness, and the promise of an eternity free of sorrow changes everything. Hope and joy are possible when we lift our eyes and lift our hearts and lift our voices too seeing and singing what’s true.  In 1922, at the age of 55, Helen Howarth Lemmel had lost her husband and her sight. Alone and nearly destitute, she heard a pastor say, “So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.”

Almost immediately, the lyrics of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus flooded her mind. She describes the supernatural experience like this: “I stood still and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme or note to note to make melody.”

The thought that God used a woman without sight to tell us where to shift our eyes is beautifully poetic. I know firsthand that when my mind is stayed on Christ, the rest of the details in my life are more manageable, less overwhelming. With Christ at the forefront of my attention and affection, everything else shifts into its rightful place. When we shift our gaze to Christ, everything else shifts too.
The kindness of His countenance, the reality of His rescue, the never-ending-ness of His extravagance shines a heavenly light on what matters most. And all the cobwebby corners of this life suddenly “grow strangely dim.”

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2018, 06:59:33 pm »
Just Because You’re Mine
Aug 08, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Friend to Friend

Anabel Gillham was a woman who loved God, but had trouble accepting that God could love her. Sure, she knew the Bible verses that talked of God’s unconditional love for her, and yet she knew herself, and doubted a God who knew her innermost thoughts would approve or her.  The root of her problem was how she saw God and how she believed God saw her. She knew what kind of God He was. She read, Exodus 34:6, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him [Moses] and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth ...,” but she believed she had to earn that love.

She believed she had to be good enough to deserve it.  Then God used a very special person to help Annabel understand the depths of God’s love for her her second child, Mason David Gillham. Mason was a special needs child who could barely speak. I’ll let Anabel tell you her story.  I never doubted for a moment that Jesus loved my little boy. It didn’t matter that he would never sit with the kids in the back of the church and on a certain special night walk down the aisle, take the pastor by the hand, and invite Jesus into his heart. It was entirely irrelevant that he could not quote a single verse of Scripture, that he would never go to high school, or that he would never be a dad. I knew that Jesus loved Mason.  What I could not comprehend, what I could not accept, was that Jesus could love Mason’s mother, Anabel. You see, I believed that in order for a person to accept me, to love me, I had to perform for him. My standard for getting love was performance based, so I “performed” constantly, perfectly. In fact, I did not allow anyone to see me when I was not performing perfectly. I never had any close friends because I was convinced that if a person ever really got to know me, she wouldn’t like me.  I carried this belief into my relationship with God, and as I began to study the Bible, I found, to my horror, that He knew my every thought, let alone everything I said or did (Psalm 139:1-4). I was standing “bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God” (Hebrews 4:13, TLB). What did that mean to me?

That meant that He really knew me, that He saw me when I wasn’t performing well. Based on what I perceived as my responsibility to perform in order to receive acceptance, I concluded without a doubt that He could not possibly love me, that He could never like what He saw.  One day, as I was washing the dishes, Mason was sitting in his chair watching me, or at least he was looking at me. I stopped washing the dishes and got down on my knees in front of Mace. I took his dirty little hands in mine and tried so desperately to reach him.  “Mason, I love you. I love you. If only you could understand how much I love you.”

He just stared. He couldn’t understand; he didn’t comprehend.  I stood up to the sink again. More dishes, more washing, more crying and thoughts, foreign to my way of thinking, began filtering into my conscious awareness. I believe God spoke to me that day, and this is what He said:  “Anabel, you don’t look at your son and turn away in disgust because he’s sitting there with saliva drooling out of his mouth; you don’t shake your head, repulsed because he has dinner all over his shirt or because he’s sitting in a dirty, smelly diaper when he ought to be able to take care of himself. Anabel, you don’t reject Mason because all of the dreams you had for him have been destroyed. You don’t reject him because he doesn’t perform for you. You love him, Anabel, just because he is yours. I love you, Anabel, not because you’re neat or attractive, or because you do things well, not because you perform for Me but just because you’re Mine.”

Hearing Anabel’s story transformed my thinking about God’s love for me. For years I lived as though I had to be “good enough” for God to love me. I understood that salvation was a gift of grace a free gift from God that I did not earn. But somewhere along the way I began believing the lie that I had to perform properly to keep the gift. I feared if I were not good enough, He would take it back. But that is a lie.  I could never be good enough to earn salvation, and I could never be good enough to keep it. Jesus did it for me. Jesus keeps me still. And the same is true for you.  Hear God speak to you today: “I love you, not because you’re neat or attractive, or because you do things well, not because you perform for Me but just because you’re Mine.”