Two Lame Quarters

March 19, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne Johnson –


There were two brothers, Ollie and Sphen, and they did everything together. These two brothers ate, slept, worked, played and went to the two-seater (outhouse) together. One day, Ollie accidentally dropped two quarters into the stool.

“Drat,” he muttered.

Seeing his brother’s distress, Sphen threw a handful of one dollar bills down into the hole.

“What are you doing?” Ollie exclaimed.

“Well you don’t think I’m going down there for two lame quarters do you?”

The people in the van I was traveling with erupted with laughter from the joke. A minute later a quiet voice from the back of the van stated, “I don’t get it.” Again laughter filled the air.

I turned to Molly, a young girl, whose crimson cheeks were glowing, and explained the meaning behind the joke.

“Oh, that was funny,” Molly replied.

My daughter and I had been traveling with her Bible Quiz team heading home from their regional competition in Minnesota. I had spent the last three days with this group of believers and marveled about the different personalities and gifting God had blessed each of them with.  At times, I found myself being jealous of the abilities of the people around me. Silently, I pondered the ways had God gifted me.

I remembered the verse from Romans 12:6, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (NIV). I reflected about the rainbow of talents of the people around me. Suddenly, a quiet voice interrupted my meditation.

“What are you thinking about, Miss Anne?” Molly asked.

“Oh, I was just wondering what my gifting from God might be.”

Not missing a beat, Molly replied, “The gift of laughter of course.”

Molly had seen in me something I hadn’t ever dared imagine could be a gift from my Heavenly Father. Laughter has always been important to me, a balm for pain and chasing the blues away. And now, God revealed through a child His precious gift He had bestowed on me.

I wanted to crawl over the seat to the back of the van and give Molly a hug. Her words were therapeutic. I find it hard at times to see God’s hand in my life, especially if I am busy comparing myself to others. Depression and self-doubt had begun to build up within me, but with Molly’s words, I felt special to God. Needed. Useful.

And to think it was all started with two lame quarters.


Listen First

February 24, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne Johnson –

The smell of sizzling bacon wafted down the hall. Mom had hollered at me to get up and ready for school, but the scrumptious smell was truly my catalyst.

I dressed rapidly, ran a brush through my curly tangled hair and skipped to the kitchen.

“Morning M-” I was shushed before I could complete my greeting.

“Listen,” Mom whispered.

I sat at the kitchen listening to the announcer’s voice sounding from the cube shaped radio perched on the kitchen table. My siblings arrived and were also shushed. They plopped down in their chairs as we ate our morning meal in silence.

I have always enjoyed talking. My mom often told people that the only time I was quiet was when I was asleep. To my mother’s credit, she tried to warn me about stranger danger, but if she was with me, I had the confidence to talk to anyone.

I squirmed in my chair, folded and refolded my napkin and glared at the noisy annoying radio. Mom sat seemingly transfixed by the words of the announcer.

“And that is the rest of the story. Good day.”

Mom stood and began to gather the breakfast dishes. I sighed and pushed back my chair, “Well, he sure was a chatterbox!” I declared.

My family burst into laughter. When I was a child my nickname was “Chatterbox”. I had met my match. Some man named Paul Harvey had out-talked me.

After breakfast I pleaded with my mom, “Please, walk me to school today. I need to talk to you. It’s very important.” To my delight, she agreed.

“What was so important?” Mom asked as we neared the elementary school. I gazed at the ground, kicking the little pebbles that were in front of me.

“Well.” Nothing. I didn’t really have anything to say, I only wanted to talk. To have someone listen to the ramblings of my mind. I wanted to…well, chatter.

Mom stopped and knelt in front of me. “Annie, do you know why I wanted to listen to the radio this morning? It was a very touching story about a mother and her children.”

“Oh, but-”

“Want to know something special?” Mom asked.

I nodded. Mom shared a truth from God’s word that had changed her heart. She shared from a verse in James 1:19, “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (NIV).

My mom further explained to me that every word we speak needs to be carefully considered, for by our very words, we have the ability to share God’s truth and love. If all we do is chatter, what do we, or others, gain?

It wasn’t easy to change my habit of yacking. However, I reasoned that listening must be more valued by God than talking, since He gave us two ears and only one mouth. Breakfasts around our kitchen table took on a new tradition as the little cube radio entertained us with moving stories. As I listened I learned to treasure the wisdom and wit of Paul Harvey, but it was the tender moments after when mom asked me what I thought of the story that impacted me most. In this way, my mother was imparting to me the art of listening first before I spoke.

Smiles May Chase the Gray Away

January 26, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne Johnson –    

“It’s been 42 days since we have seen the sunshine,” my high school principal’s voice announced over the school’s intercom. Years later, I sat in my brown recliner wrapped in a heavy blanket. Winter’s dreariness was wearing on me. I physically needed sun and the warmth of its rays to regenerate both my body and mind. I felt as if I hadn’t seen the sun in over 42 years.

“I don’t want to go anywhere today,” I whined. “I don’t feel happy,” I expressed my complaint to God during my quiet time that morning.

There are days it seems impossible to be cheerful and smile. I have experienced times where all I can do is cry, and times when difficulties wear me down and I feel completely overwhelmed. The gray of the day envelopes my heart. However, I need to realize I’m not alone in these feelings.

During these days of sorrow, tears and frowns, I can find comfort in knowing Jesus had these moments in His life too. The Bible states in Isaiah 53:3: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (NIV).

I realized, Jesus probably didn’t always have a smile on His face or feel happy all the time. I also read, “As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it” (Luke 19:41 NIV). No smiling or false happiness there.

I have heard both believers and non-believers express their assumption that Christians should always be happy. But life isn’t easy. There are many days when it seems impossible to smile and find joy in the day. But, I must choose to walk with God through these troubled times and take my pain to Him in prayer. I can’t give in to the sorrow or the grayness around me. My smile may be faded, but my hope isn’t.

When I cling to the promise that I am heaven bound I discover the most wonderful reason to clothe my face in a smile. My heart may be troubled, my mind not feel cheerful, but eternal life awaits me.

A smile can be like a beam of sunshine or a beacon of hope. While sojourning through the struggles of life, God’s promises shine into my heart like the welcomed sun rays of spring. This time of mourning and weariness will fade. So, I choose to smile, to bring sunshine into my world and into the lives of those around me.

He Too Was Despised

January 9, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne C. Johnson –  

Through tears, my girlfriend shared her pain about her eldest son who was being labeled at school as being gay. “I’m glad he is following God’s calling to be a light, but this is too much,” she sobbed.

Having been home-schooled since kindergarten, it was a shock when her oldest son came to his parents with the request of attending public school for high school. He felt God calling him to step out of his comfort zone and share the light of God’s love with others.

Secretly I had my reservations. This young man has such a soft heart for the Lord, and a wisdom about him that can only come from a genuine faith and relationship with God and His Word.
As a home-school parent, I wanted to scream, “Don’t send him into that dark place, they will ruin him.”

But, it wasn’t my decision. And as a friend I felt the need to be supportive. I wrapped my arms around her as we knelt at the altar, secretly begging God to change His mind and calling on this young man’s heart.

One week later at the altar again, my friend shared with me, “They are calling him gay. All the kids are ganging up on him because he doesn’t do the ‘dating thing’ and isn’t girl-crazy.”

She questioned her decision of letting him go to public school. I knew she wanted to do everything in her power to help him and make this horrible situation go away. To erase his pain and soothe his troubled heart.

I found myself asking God, “Why this persecution? Why this torment?”

The answer came strong and clear. “This young man belongs to Me, and he is taking a stand in My name.”

Scripture says that Jesus was often called demon possessed or accused of witchcraft (John 8:48). In Jesus’ day this was the worst thing to be called. Today, the taboo word is gay.

In my daily devotional reading of A.J. Russell’s, God Calling, I came across the most fitting statement for my friend and her son’s current struggle, “Life with God is not immunity from problems, but peace in the problem.”

God’s word said we would be hated and despised. (John 15:20) Though it doesn’t always erase the pain we feel when the world seems turned against us, we know that God is for us, and that Jesus completely understands our hurts and pain. Running to Him during these moments is the Band-aid our spirit needs.

I pray through this lesson my friend and her son, as well as myself, will be strengthened by the knowledge that we are as much of a threat to the darkness around us as our Lord and Savior was during His sojourn on this earth. I pray God will give us all the strength and the patience to continue to love and the endurance to shine His love and light into this hurting and darkened world.

An Answer for the Weary

December 19, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Anne C. Johnson –

One morning I found myself weary of the long week and burdened by the day’s tasks before me. I closed my eyes and cried out to the Lord. At once I saw the cross; blood-stained and horrifying. I felt panic and fear creep toward me and overtake me. I wanted to close my eyes and hide, but I heard Jesus’ voice say, “Come.”

I recognized the soft yet commanding voice of my Savior. Beyond the cross a nail-pierced hand reached for me. Numerous times that week I had failed to take the hand offered to me. Instead I had looked behind, turned away, tried to do things on my own, or allowed panic and fear to conquer me and make me ineffective.

“No!” I heard His gentle spirit within me say, not today. “Come!”

I thrust my weary hand forward, praying I had heard right. Doubts flooded my soul, but Jesus’ warm hand pulled me to the other side. Brilliant light chased away the fear and smashed the panic to pieces. I fell to the ground at Jesus feet and confessed my sins, my failures, and my lack of faith.

Though I cried, my cheeks remained dry. When I looked up, I saw my tears glistening on His hands. His eyes searched mine. There was nothing in His gaze but love.

My sins and burdens had been carried far from my heart. I glanced over Jesus’ shoulder toward the cross and found to my amazement a sight of wonder. The cross was full of color and radiating with life. Christ had risen from the dead to raise those who call on His name out of our sinful and heavy lives and into a new life with Him. And as I rested my head on His shoulder I felt renewed, remade and refreshed.

“Return again,” He says to me.

My heart swelled and I realized Christ wanted me. He wants me to be close, to confide in Him, to seek Him. I am wanted. I am cherished. I am someone to the God of all things. And He wants me to be near Him, to come again and again.

As I opened my eyes, I realized my burdens of the week and the tasks of the day had faded in their importance and heaviness. I felt light and ready to take on a new day. Standing hand in hand with my Savior, Lord, Comforter and Friend.

Though I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I realized the need for change in my life. I must daily spend time to press my hand into the one who can make all things new. To seek God constantly through the day. To walk and talk with Him and be renewed in my mind by His presence. To allow His strength to be mine.

“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).

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