Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 2580 times)

Twiglet

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #45 on: October 23, 2018, 09:36:07 pm »
When You’re Struggling with Strongholds and Strangleholds
Oct 11, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.   Corinthians 10:3-5

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A stronghold is one of those churchy Christianese words that is hard to wrap our minds around. It’s not a word we use everyday. So what exactly is a stronghold?

Let’s take a look.  A stronghold is a thought pattern that forms a fortress around the mind, holding it prisoner to faulty thinking. It is formed brick-by-brick by repetitive faulty thinking or all at once by a onetime traumatic event such as a rape, molestation, or abuse.  In the Old Testament, a stronghold was a fortified dwelling used for protection from an enemy. David hid in wilderness strongholds when he was hiding from King Saul, who was trying to kill him (1 Samuel 22:4; 23:14). These were usually caves high on a mountainside or some other structure that was hard to attack. In the Old Testament, God is called our stronghold: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

The New Testament writers took this same imagery of a fortress to describe the spiritual tower of bondage, not protection, that we put ourselves in by developing thought patterns and ideas that hold us captive. Beth Moore calls a stronghold, “Anything that we hold onto that ends up holding onto us.”

It is anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. A stronghold does not protect us, it protects the enemy who is manipulating our thoughts and suggesting our actions.  A stronghold might be a thought such as:
I’m no good.
I’m damaged goods.
Nobody loves me.
Nobody cares about me.
I can’t do anything right.
A stronghold might be an addiction such as:
Shopping.
Alcohol.
Sexual promiscuity.
Over-eating.
Feeling sorry for yourself.

The enemy locks you up in hopes you’ll never reach for the key that is certainly within your reach. But you can.  The only way to expose the enemy and defeat him is to tear down the stronghold, the fortress where he is hiding.  An ungodly habit becomes his habitation, his stronghold in our lives.  Once you recognize a lie in your life perhaps something that has even taken hold of your imagination and stirred ungodly feelings such as jealousy, worry, fear, or anger you reject the lie and replace it with truth.  Each time you reject the devil’s lie, you knock one more brick from his fortress, and pretty soon, he’s exposed for the liar and deceiver he is.  I do not want to give the impression that this is an easy process. Some of us are so comfortable with our strongholds we don’t even realize they are there. That was the case with me.  I had been walking around saved but enslaved for so many years. I dragged the ball and chain of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy around with me everywhere I went, and I grew so used to my limp, I didn’t even notice it.  I was comfortable with my weakness and served Satan a cup of tea every day I sat hidden away behind the wall he had helped me build. But praise God, Jesus opened my eyes to the truth and called me out of the fortress that had become my prison cell.  Destroying strongholds is not easy, but it is simple. Paul used words such as struggle, resist, tear down, and fight. The good news is that we’re not a one-woman demolition crew. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, Jesus gives us the light, and God is overseeing the entire project. We simply agree to participate through obedience.  When we talk about strongholds, we’re not talking about random thoughts or occasional sins. A stronghold is a thought pattern or habitual sin. It is a fortress built with the bricks of thoughts and held together by the mortar of emotions. Strongholds become our perception of reality.  In my own life, replacing self-defeating lies with God’s truth helped me chip away at the stronghold of inadequacy that led to a negative cycle of discouragement, despair, and defeat. Rejecting the devil’s lies will tear down those strongholds, and after a time, even the ruins are removed.  When we realize the enemy’s true identity, recognize his lies, and replace the lies with God’s truth, we’ll be free.

Daffy

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #46 on: November 10, 2018, 10:51:50 pm »
The Wisdom of Having Wise Friends
Oct 17, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.  Proverbs 15:22

Friend to Friend

God always needs to be our go-to guy when it comes to counsel. Our first call. But the Bible also gives us the directive to connect with other Christ followers for guidance: seek godly counsel.  “The LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless” (Prov. 2:6–7).

When I make an effort to seek godly counsel, I benefit from the power of the Lord that is at work in the lives of those around me. I benefit from their mistakes and from their successes. And it frees me from the pressure of having to figure everything out on my own. It frees me to move forward beyond my own limited experiences, faith, and knowledge.  Struggling with a tough work situation?

Tangled up in a messy marriage knot?

Are you being held captive by fear, doubt, and insecurity?

Get some godly counsel. Proverbs tells us, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (15:22 ESV).

My husband is a wise man, and God has placed him as the head of our home, so I like to talk through difficult things with him. He gives me a perspective that’s often quite different from mine. When I need to hash out confusion, I sometimes go to the small group of women I call my besties. They are godly. They love me. They like me. They laugh at and with me. They pray for me. They mentor me and provide counsel.  We’re all in different seasons of life and have different needs for godly wisdom. I am a poppy, you are a rose, she is a daisy we are a wildflower bouquet! If you’re single, divorced, or widowed, you might be the head of your home. If so, you could connect with a pastor for godly counsel, or a trusted friend who follows hard after Jesus, or a godly family member or coworker. Another person I encourage you to reach out to is the women’s ministry director of your church. Grab coffee or lunch with her. She will love you!  There are many ways you can gain wisdom and add greater power to your life. Add to this list as you discover what works for you. Are you a journal girl?

Write about the areas in which you need God’s wisdom. Write a prayer in your journal that spells them out in black and white. Pursue the treasure!  And here’s a wonky twist: sometimes God answers our prayers for wisdom by sending us to talk with someone who doesn’t even follow Him but has the knowledge we need. When our son Preston broke his jaw and needed reconstructive surgery, Brad and I got counsel from a highly trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon. We prayed for the Lord to lead each decision we made and to guide the hands and choices of the surgical team, but our medical counsel came straight from the medical expert. His faith had nothing to do with it. Though that medical advice may or may not have come from a follower of Christ, Brad and I prayed for the Lord to lead with His wisdom in, on, and through it all.  God’s Word promises that He will walk you to the understanding you need. Just ask. I know you want His leading as much as I do. So when life gets crazy confusing, remember that you can gain clarity and power when you surround yourself with godly people of wise counsel.

Daffy

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #47 on: November 10, 2018, 11:01:44 pm »
Sometimes You Just Need to Breathe
Oct 18, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers.  Psalm 1:1-3

Friend to Friend

It was one of my favorite trees. And it was dying.  We live on a lake, and my dying tree was truly a “tree planted by streams of water.” So how could it be dying? How could  branches right in the smack dab middle of the bushy green be turning into kindling?

It didn’t make sense.  I called an arborist to come out and take a look. He saw the problem right away.  “Ma’am, see how that tree looks like a telephone pole stuck in the ground? That’s not the way a tree should be planted. You should be able to see some of the roots spreading out from the trunk. Those roots are covered up with dirt, grass, and these pretty perennials you’ve planted at the base. The tree can’t breathe.”

“It can’t breathe?” I asked.

“Yep. You see a tree is a living organism that needs to breathe just like you do. If the roots are smothered, then it can’t. Trees need sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and nutrients from the soil. Those flowers you have planted around it are actually stealing the nutrients.  The dirt covering the roots is suffocating it. It has water, but it needs more than that.  “Bottom line, your tree is stressed out.”

Ah, words I understood. “Stressed out.”

So, the arborist cleared away some of the dirt from around the roots to allow the tree to breathe and cut away the dead limbs. Then he dug up the flowers and tossed them aside. I could almost hear the tree take a deep breath as if to say, “Ah, thank you!”

Three months later, it looks like the tree is going to make it after all.  All this thinking about my tree planted by the water made me think about my schedule my life. And of course, that led me to your schedule your life.  I like to think of myself as a tree planted by the water similar to the one mentioned in the first psalm. I get up every morning and soak in God’s Word before jumping into my day. That’s my water. My living water.  But it’s not enough to drink in the morning and then smother my day with too many activities, commitments, and deadlines. I need more than water to thrive. I need to be able to breathe.  I can plant “beautiful” activities in my life like those flowers, but they may be sucking the nutrients right out of my soul. Those activities might look nice on my calendar, but they might not be soul nice. I can smother my roots with commitments and pile on the soil so that I look more like a non-living thing stuck in the ground a telephone pole rather than a fruit-bearing tree.  So as I begin this fall season with its activities left and right, I need to stop and examine if they are exactly what God wants me to do, or if they are just “pretty flowers ” that are keeping me from being that tree that yields fruit in due season.  As I think about my fall schedule with its commitments and deadlines, I need to ask myself if I am covering up the roots of my heart smothering it from the very air I need to breathe.  And that’s what I want you to consider today. Let’s do more than survive. Let’s thrive! Clear away what needs to be cleared away. Toss out what needs to be tossed (even if it looks pretty on your schedule). Make room to breathe.

Hannah

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #48 on: December 26, 2018, 08:46:27 pm »
Serving Your Husband When You Don’t Really Feel Like It
Nov 15, 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.

Hannah

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #49 on: December 26, 2018, 08:59:54 pm »
Why His Strength is Our Victory
Nov 16, 2018 | Kelly Balarie

Today's Truth

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.  Psalm 127:1

Friend to Friend

There are two ways champion athletes act. Consider the game of football. The guy who runs the winning touchdown either kneels on the ground, pounds his fists against his chest, and yells, “I’m Da’ Man!” or  he runs to the 10-yard line, points up to God, and says, “All due credit goes to You, Jesus.”

May we do all things to the glory of God.  A girl can hope, right?

Sometimes I misplace due-glory. It’s not that I don’t want to thank, praise or give credit to God. I do. It is just that I get busy, distracted, and focused on all that I need to do. All the people who need me. All the happenings around me.  Are you at all like me?

Consider, when you (work, help others, do a job, want something, are after a dream), do you:

1.   Work really hard, yet feel disappointed that you don’t get what you want? (Yes/No)
2.   Put your best effort in, yet feel reliant on the outcome? (Yes/No)
3.   Get upset when people don’t acknowledge what you’ve done? (Yes/No)
4.   Become worried that other people will look better than you? (Yes/No)
5.   Wonder if you’ll be put to shame if you don’t perform well? (Yes/No)
6.   Hope that people see you and notice all that you are doing? (Yes/No)
7.   Work yourself to the point of being extremely tired? (Yes/No)
8.   Say yes to everyone even though you know you should say no? (Yes/No)
9.   Expect people to give you the things “due to you”? (Yes/No)
10.   Become resentful towards the “many” people who demand things of you? (Yes/No)

If you answered yes to a few of the above questions, this is a good sign you’re working by your own strength. Strength that leads to discouragement, disappointment and a depleted spirit.“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Psalm 127:1 NIV)

Our strength = Our defeat.  His strength = Our victory.  Where do you need to move out of the way, so that you can find a new, restful and restorative way Jesus’ way?

Relying on God’s victory doesn’t mean we do nothing. Here are some things we can do, while trusting God as we wait on Him. We can:

1.   Pray
2.   Lean on His promises
3.   Wait to understand what He wants us to do.
4.   Move out and love others
5.   Rest
6.   Pray and give thanks.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #50 on: January 09, 2019, 10:37:30 pm »
Green with Envy
Dec 06, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.  Proverbs 14:30

Friend to Friend

We all know what it is like to be green with envy. We all struggle with jealousy at some point in life. Let’s be honest. How often do we look at another person and covet their success?

How many of us are not content to serve  God with the gifts He has given us while whining about the fact that others have the gifts we want. We convince ourselves that our longing for a bigger platform is to further the Kingdom when, in reality, that longing is for self-promotion, fame and recognition. Ugly, isn’t it?

Jealousy is one of the most dangerous emotions because it is one of the most destructive.  “Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who can survive the destructiveness of jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4).

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:13-16).

James asks, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”

The word “wise” describes one with moral insight and/or skill in the practical issues of life. The word “understanding” means “intellectual perception.” James asks these pointed questions and then calls for a spiritual “Show and Tell” when he says, “Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

James is sending us a strong message that wisdom and understanding are not measured by degrees, but by deeds. It is not how much we know that counts, but how much we are living that matters. We can talk a great spiritual game, but if we have a jealous heart, if we harbor envy, allowing it to creep into our lives, and taking up residence, then we have no wisdom and are living a lie.  James defines jealousy as “bitter envy and selfish ambition” (James 3:14). “Bitter envy” means, “a nasty jealousy” while “selfish ambition” refers to “a contentious selfishness” or “a hostile ego.” “Selfish ambition” can also be translated as a “party spirit,” and was a term used by the Greeks to describe a dishonest politician who works the crowd, using every opportunity and every method to draw attention to himself in an effort to win votes. James is painting an ugly picture of jealousy.  “You are still not spiritual. You have jealousy and arguing among you. This shows that you are not spiritual. You are acting like people of the world” (1 Corinthians 3:3).

People of the world secretly cheer when their enemy fails.  People of the world are driven by ego.  People of the world are suspicious of everyone, trusting no one.  People of the world are taught by envy and jealousy to take care of self above all others.  John and Dave were hiking when they spotted a mountain lion staring at them. John froze in his tracks, but Dave sat down on a log, tore off his hiking boots, pulled a pair of running shoes from his backpack and quickly put them on. John looked at him in amazement! “You can’t outrun a mountain lion!” he said.

Dave shrugged and responded, “I don’t have to! I just have to outrun you!”

I am so glad that God’s people are not like that, aren’t you?

Actually, Paul is writing to God’s people, warning them that jealousy is deadly to the unity of the church. Jealousy springs from a heart of insecurity and bubbles out in self-centered actions, arrogant words and divisive attitudes. We must realize that jealousy and envy are in direct opposition to the very nature of Jesus Christ and as a result, produce ungodly results in our lives.  Jealousy is a spiritual cancer that will invade and destroy whatever it touches. Everything we do from the motive of jealousy is empty and does not count in Kingdom work. We need to brutally and honestly examine every heart motive and choose against anything or anyone who promotes jealousy and envy.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #51 on: January 09, 2019, 10:48:32 pm »
The Deep Relief That Comes From Seeking Him First
Dec 07, 2018 | Jessica Smartt

Today's Truth

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33

Friend to Friend

Two weeks ago, I accidentally stepped on a wooden toothpick that was lying on my bathroom floor. (Don’t ask me what a wooden toothpick was doing there in the first place.) Oh my goodness, did that ever hurt! I knelt down to  find the toothpick…missing the wooden tip. Yes, I now had a chunk of a toothpick lodged in the side of my foot. I spent hours trying to squeeze, tweeze, poke, pluck the splinter out. It nagged and hurt and throbbed. This little piece of wood was a no more than a centimeter, but I thought about it so much! It affected so much of my day-to-day: what shoes I wore, the activities I could do, what occupied my thoughts and my time. I kept thinking, “It is amazing that something so minuscule could affect your life so much!”

A splinter is a small thing, but when it’s lodged in your skin, everything gets off-kilter and uncomfortable. A small thing with big ramifications.  As the week went on I found myself reflecting on spiritual applications of this weird and unfortunate event (among other activities, like swabbing my foot with honey, baking soda, salt, banana peels…you get desperate!). One thing that came to mind as I thought about it was how a sinful habit or ungodly thought pattern can seem small but can affect your life in incredibly significant ways.  As our verse says, Jesus calls us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and He tells us that our needs will be provided for. This calling to “seek Him” isn’t an option. If we’ve signed on to follow Jesus, we are to go after Him and the way He wants us to live before anything else.  There are so many “little” ways I get this wrong. Caring more about checking my iPhone than checking in with prayer. Going to friends for advice instead of going to Scripture. These are “little” choices, but if they fester and remain, we will feel the effects. Our bodies and hearts were not meant to work this way. We were made to worship and seek Him first.  Is something off-kilter, not-quite right in your heart?

Is there a habit you need His help to remove?

Are you seeking the Lord first and trusting Him to provide?

Maybe like me, you’ve come out of a season where you haven’t been faithfully reading the Bible. Do you feel it, how life feels awkward and not-quite-right?

God is so gracious, and a week after I stepped on that toothpick, He answered my prayers. I woke up one morning and the splinter popped right out! I nearly cried in relief!  Our God is so good. Sometimes those aches and pains are reminders that something needs to go, to change. We will never reach perfection this side of heaven, but in His grace, He heals those tender and sore places and helps us to serve Him with a willing heart.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #52 on: February 17, 2019, 08:59:33 pm »
Looking For Light in Days of Grey
Dec 14, 2018 | Michele Cushatt

Today's Truth

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  Matthew 6:22

Friend to Friend

A glance out the window revealed the day would be another gloomy one. Three in a row, maybe four. I wearied of it. I scanned east to west, and noted a thick band of grey rain clouds covered every bit of Colorado’s typical blue  sky, eclipsing any hope of warmth yet again. Although only mid-October, the sweet days of summer felt a million miles away. Already I missed the afternoons spent lounging on the porch with a book or my laptop as well as the occasional nap in the sun. Only a long stretch of winter lay ahead.  After living in Colorado for nearly twenty-two years, I’ve grown accustomed to sunshine more often than not. Rarely does weather make a lengthy appearance. And when it does, storms swoop in over the mountains and then exit onto the plains as fast as they came.  Even so, winter is tough for me. Not the weather or the temperature as much as the lack of light. Although Colorado boasts three hundred days of sunshine a year, winter packs the greyest days, not to mention shortened hours of sunlight. This seeps into my skin and alters my mood, making it more difficult for me to stay positive, hopeful and full of joy. It’s silly, of course, because I know in a day or season the sun will again make his appearance. But, in the moment, it seems as if the gloom will never end.  The same could be said for the ebb and sway of ordinary life. We may experience warm summer seasons packed with joy and warmth and hope. During these extended times, whether a few days or a few years, it’s difficult to imagine the weight of grey days. With the sun warming us with possibilities, gloom stays at bay.  But then the grey season comes. And too often it lasts far longer than we can bear. Months, weeks, years. One grey day turns into another, until we grow so weary we stop dreaming of the sun.  However, Jesus reminded us that wholeness emotional, physical, and spiritual wholeness begins with a good set of eyes. Eyes that  are able to see not only the obvious, but the hidden. Spiritual vision looks beyond what is right in front of us to see what cannot be seen the sun sitting faithfully on the other side of the grey, a God still present, still active, even in the middle of a storm.  If you and I want to have a life filled of light, we must develop the kind of eyes that see the truth when we can’t feel it, and believe the God’s promise to be with us when He feels far away. Although we may see nothing but gloom, the Light shines even still.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #53 on: February 17, 2019, 09:12:22 pm »
I’m Tired
Dec 17, 2018 | Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

Friend to Friend

I’m tired.  Tired of waking up each morning to face more trials more noise more chaos.  I’m tired of trying to “fix” people and circumstances.  I’m tired of dealing with angry people everywhere I turn.  I’m tired of senseless violence and the horrendous loss of life at the hands of broken people.  I’m tired of the incessant dealing with physical pain and constantly battling the darkness of depression.  I’m tired of Satan attacking my husband, my children, and my grandchildren!  What I want to do is quit. I want to give up. I want to take my computer and my cell phone and toss them in a garbage dump, cutting off my connections to so many people in the world I have carefully built. The world has gone crazy and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. I just want some peace!  And then I remember.  Christmas is just around the corner and that’s what Christmas is all about peace. We have somehow managed to lose sight of that stunning truth. We have allowed our priorities to be blown to smithereens! Frantic shopping trips, insane decorating, incessant gift wrapping, never ending baking, attending parties we don’t really want to attend, spending money we don’t really have and I want to quit!  I want to get back to the message of Christmas the simple but eternal truth that Jesus came to earth as a baby fully God and wholly man. He experienced everything I have experienced and so much more. That’s why He came. To heal the broken lambs like me. To bind up the wounds inflicted by a world gone crazy. To initiate and define the very meaning of love, spelling it out in a language we can understand.  Take hold of this truth! God asked His only Son, Jesus, to exchange Heaven for Earth, to surrender His mind blowing throne for a dirty manger, to relinquish perfection for gross imperfection, to love the unlovable. And Jesus said “Yes.”

God knows. Heaven is not in a panic nor is it surprised by the state of this world or the condition of my heart. Jesus Christ knows how tired I am. He knows I am ready to quit. And His love for me has not changed one bit!  God’s love for me does not depend on what I do or don’t do. If I never did another thing in Kingdom work, His love for me would not change. No one can take my place in My Father’s heart. And when I remember that everything changes.  It was Christmas Eve and the family was preparing to attend the special service of their local church. Everyone was going except Dad, who was an honest man, a man who could not seem to wrap his logical mind around the story of God come to earth as a baby in a manger. He didn’t want to be a hypocrite, pretending to worship a Savior he wasn’t sure even existed, so he stayed home, built a fire to dispel the bitter cold of that winter night, and began to read the paper, waiting for his family’s return.  Hearing a knock at the window, he turned to see a tiny bird trying to reach the warmth of the fire. The man opened the window, but the bird refused to come in. Grabbing his coat, the man went out to the barn and opened the barn doors wide but still, the bird refused to come in. The man thought, “If only I could be a bird, for just one minute, I could lead the bird to safety.”

At that moment, he heard the church bells ring and finally understood why Jesus came to earth as a man to become one of us so He could lead us to eternal safety.  The very heart of Christmas is Emanuel, God with us with me and with you. It celebrates the sufficiency of Christ that replaces our insufficiency. Christmas is not a date on a calendar. Christmas is a way of living that celebrates the presence of God in the simple, ordinary happenings of daily life.  So, this year, let’s refuse to quit! Let’s put on our warrior boots and stand firm in our faith. Let’s celebrate Christmas with passion and purpose!  How?

Through the smile we give the harried stranger or the patience we choose in the crowd of impatient shoppers the love that prompts the secret gift or the heart that constantly celebrates His birth through every sparkling light, every beautifully wrapped gift, each special meal, every card, phone call, and visit. God is with us if we choose to make room for Him.

Tinkerbelle

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #54 on: March 03, 2019, 09:11:01 pm »
The Power of One Word From You
Dec 26, 2018 | Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.  Proverbs 16:24

Friend to Friend

I was wandering around the tourist area of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Shelves with tacky little statues, snow globes with leaning towers, and $10 T-shirts crowed small booths for tourists.  Shifty men with cases of “genuine fake” watches swarmed like bees. Rolex, Cartier, and Infinity all for fifty bucks or less. Flashing fake gold and flaunting fake brands; their swift feet were ready to run if the authorities were to show up.  “No thank you, no thank you, no thank you,” I sang as I swam through the men hocking their wares.

Then I spotted her. She sat on a bench with colorful scarves for purchase draped over her arm. A blue, yellow and red headdress wound around her head, and a purple full length dress hung loosely from her shoulders. The bright colors shone against the backdrop of polished mahogany skin.  Tired eyes.  Tired feet.  Tired life.  What appeared to be her “handler” shared the bench with her. I walked over and bent low to look her in the eyes. “You are so beautiful,” I said.

“Deese?” she questioned as she held up the scarves for examination. 

“No, not the scarves,” I replied. “YOU are beautiful!” I waved my hand from the top of her head to the hem of her dress and back up again. “YOU, all of you!”

She turned to the indifferent man beside her for translation. When she understood, her face lit up like morning and her ivory teeth flashed like a slice of sun. She simply nodded as if to say, “Thank you.”

I walked back over to the group I was traveling with, and in a few moments I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the woman. Without words, she handed me a bracelet, one I’m thinking she had made herself.  It wasn’t anything fancy just little white lettered cubes with alternating black beads strung together with elastic. But I wonder what it cost her to give it to a tourist.  I didn’t offer to pay for the gift. That would have taken away her pleasure in giving it. I did hand her a few coins for allowing me to take her picture. I showed her the image of herself in my camera. “Beautiful,” I said once again.

She smiled with a nod. Walked back to the bench. And handed the coins to the man.  Tears filled my eyes.  I don’t know what this woman’s life is like. I pray my assumptions are wrong. But I do know this: For one brief moment in her monotonous day of pedaling scarves, she felt lovely…because someone stopped and noticed her.  Oh how easy it is this speaking a word of encouragement this speaking words of life.  As you go about your day, look for opportunities to say a kind word. I promise, you won’t have to look very far.

Tinkerbelle

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #55 on: March 03, 2019, 09:21:23 pm »
Help For a Heart That Worries
Dec 27, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.  Psalm 56:3

Friend to Friend

The prophet Isaiah said, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor is his ear to dull to hear.” (Isaiah 59:1)

Though I know in my heart this is true, I still sometimes go back and forth between doubt and worry as if  God’s arms are short and his ears are dull. My friend Erica does too.  She came to my door with a package to deliver and a story to share. I signed for the package and we began to catch up. Her kids are grown. Mine are teens. Her daughter just got married. My oldest just went to college. Mama to mama we shared and cared.  “My daughter and her new husband might be moving to Chicago. I have to be honest, Gwen,” she said seriously, “I’m not doing well trusting God with this. I’m struggling with anxiousness and worry.”

I listened and nodded with understanding, knowing full well the strain of worry and anxiety.  Then she perked up and shared a story that went something like this.  "God impressed a message on my heart this morning that challenged and convicted me! I just have to tell you about it. I ride motorcycles. Have for years. I love the feeling of being out in the open air. It’s exciting and invigorating. When I ride, I feel vulnerable and alert. It’s risky and requires balance, it’s much more difficult than driving my car, but I ride because it energizes me and makes me feel alive.  This morning I rode my bike to work while it was still dark. I don’t usually do that because the headlight is small, so the light is dim. As I was riding, I began to thank God for allowing me to ride my bike to work. I thanked him for allowing me to feel alive and energized along the way. And as I did, He spoke to my heart. I sensed He was saying, “Erica! This is what I want my relationship with you to be like: exciting, risky, and energizing, like riding your motorcycle! But instead you take your car with me. You want to feel safe. You want to see with brighter headlights. You grasp for more control, by worrying and fretting about things you can do nothing about. In doing so, you miss out on a faith that is alive and energizing a faith that trusts me and takes risks."

She shared that story with tears and conviction in her eyes. We were both moved and challenged. It left me with a fresh longing for deeper faith.  I want to ride.  I want to take risks with the star-breathing, mountain moving, speak-through-a-burning-bush, unpredictable, and unsearchable All-mighty One!  God does not call us to a safe faith. He does not promise that we will have a clear view of all that lies ahead. He does not promise us simplicity. Instead, He invites us to embrace a vibrant faith that trusts Him. A faith that is alive and energized, in spite of the unsteady unknowns. His arms are not too short to save and His ears are not dull to hear. He is powerful, capable, compassionate, merciful, holy, just, and faithful.  These truths should hush our noisy doubts and calm the anxieties that seek to unnerve us.  God is sovereign and His ways are mysterious.  And in the center of all of my questions this one resounds: who better to trust than God?

Myself?

Hardly. My paycheck?

My medical chart?

My emotions?

I might as well chase the wind.  In contemplating this, I journey back to what the Bible has to say on such things.  “Live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” (Psalm 56:3-4)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Is the Lord calling you to trust Him with something or someone today?

Decide to ride.