Stranger Danger

July 27, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

My sister and I rode our bicyles all over our small town as we were growing up. I say small because the downtown was only two blocks long. It was a time when two little girls could safely ride all over town until darkness fell. Although it was safe, now that we are aware, we’d probably have identified the man at the top of the hill where we liked to bike as a sexual preditor. He was creepy, was always talking to us and inviting us to sit with him in his carport. Thankfully, we never did.

Jesus knows about stranger danger.

In Jesus’ time a shepherd would lay his body across the entrance to the walled sheep pen at night. His body acted as a gate. He knew by touch whether an animal was one of his sheep or an imposter. with his own body he was the protector of his sheep. In the other direction, sheep also knew who was the True Shepherd and who the stranger was by listening for the shepherd’s voice. We, like sheep, can sense danger and listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit to protect us. The True Shepherd has used His own body to protect us from harm. He has indeed laid down his life for His sheep.

PRAYER: Thank You Jesus for being my True Shepherd whose voice can help me detect stranger danger. Help me stay safely in the sheepfold where I am protected as one of Your precious sheep.

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them” (John 10:1-6 NIV).

Fear Not

July 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Cheri Cowell –

This summer we hosted a tour for a few family and friends of one of our favorite national parks—Yellowstone. One brave friend joined us in spite of her very real fear of heights. Even seeing the ledge to a canyon at a distance made her knees buckle. The first few days she stayed several car lengths safely from any railing. But with the reassuring arm of my husband and words of encouragment from everyone, she little-by-little found her way to the railings of even the deepest canyons.

Her fears were still very real and the canyons were still as freightening as they had been at the beginning of the trip. Yet, by the end of the week she was courageously standing near the ledge.

God knows all about conquering fear. He has some advice for those of us facing real fears in the book of Deuteronomy.

Moses, the fearless leader, was stepping down. The Israelites were standing at the entrance to the Promised Land that was filled with enemy nations. They had every reason to fear. The enemy was huge, ruthless, and all logic told them their chances at winning were slim.

What enemies are you facing right now? Your fear might be justified. But the Lord has a word of encouragment for you…Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God goes with you.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for being bigger and mightier than any enemy I am facing. Give me the strength and courage to stand near the ledge in spite of my fears, and to trust that You are with me.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

Ready, Set, Go

July 2, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

It seems every advertisement, every commercial, and every store is focused on the second biggest shopping season of the year, second only to Christmas. It’s back-to-school shopping time! Some states even offer tax-free holidays to aid parents in buying clothes and other school supplies. Everyone, everywhere is getting ready, even if you don’t have children. For now is the time to buy office supplies, new sneakers, and clothes because the deals are too good to pass up. It’s time to get ready.

The Bible is big on getting ready.

In our scripture focus, the Kohathites were middle-aged men from the tribe of Levi tasked with moving the furnishings of the tablernacle. Aaron and his family were the only ones who would “see” the holy furnishings before covering them and preparing them for the move. The Kohathites were the movers with very specific instructions: Do not touch the holy things.

What are you doing to “ready” the holy space in your heart today? God is ready to move and He’s given specific instructions to make way for the Holy One. Are you ready to move?

PRAYER: Holy God, please forgive the casualness with which I approach Your presence. Show me the ways in which You want to ready the holy space in my heart for the next move you want to make. And thank You for not only being a God worthy of my reverence, but also a God who welcomes me as a child.

“After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting. “Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, is to have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles” (Numbers 4:15-16 NIV).

Old Faithful

June 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cheri Cowell –

Many people visited our nation’s oldest national park this summer, and our family was among them. The big attraction in Yellowstone National Park is the geyser named Old Faithful. Thousands gather to watch it erupt every 90 minutes. We were told by a park ranger that the reliability of the geyser can be attributed to the fact that it is not connected to any of the other thermal features in the area. It was one-of-a-kind. As I watched one of the predictable steam-powered shows, I thought about the faithful God who created this amazing geographical feature. I thought about the ways in which I have sinned against God and His amazing faithfulness to forgive and forget. His faithfulness is worthy of the ooohs and ahhhs Old Faithful receives every 90 minutes, and so much more.

In the third chapter of Romans, Paul is addressing the question that if the Jews stand on the same level with Gentiles and they are unfaithful what will they then stand upon if not their lineage? Paul answers by pointing out the obvious problem with their logic. If man is dependant upon his own efforts he is doomed from the beginnning. Paul further points out that our faith must be placed in the only One who is faithful. God alone is faithful. Even a geyser named Old Faithful is not as faithful as our God. He alone is worthy of our praise.

PRAYER: Dear faithful and loving God, You alone are worthy of my praise. Thank You for Your faithfulness in spite of my faithlessness and help me strengthen my faithfulness so I might one day be lovingly called “old faithful” by those who witness my steadfast faith.

“Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged” (Romans 3:2-4 ESV).

What Watt Are You?

June 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

The other day I had to replace a light bulb and did not have the correct wattage on hand. Standing in the light bulb section at the home improvement store, I was lost. There must have been hundreds of choices of 75-watt bulbs. I had no idea it was that complicated. I finally settled on a bulb and headed home to bring light back to my office.

As I drove home I wondered what it would be like if Jesus could label our light-bearing wattage. Would I be a 100-watt, 75 watt, or a 40-watt bulb? Would I be one of those new colored light bulbs that bring out the colors in a room? Would God say I helped to bring out His colors in the world around me? Jesus asked the same questions.

The popular salt and light passage below follows another popular teaching on the beatitudes. Taken in context with the beatitudes this passage is telling the church how they are to take God’s ways as described in the beatitudes and use them to illuminate the path for others to find His way. In modern-day language, we are to be a 100-watt bulb for the world to find its way toward God.

PRAYER: Thank You, God for being full of so much color that You require specially equipped light-bearers to illuminate them. I humbly praise You for choosing me to be one of those light-bearers, and ask You to help me keep an open house and to shine for You in a dark and needy world.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 MSG).

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