The Biggest Piece of Pie

January 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

I am so grateful to my mother for teaching me the lesson of the biggest piece of pie. Whenever mom made a pie, cake, or any form of dessert, my sister and I were taught the biggest piece always went to daddy. At the time, I hated this practice in our home. She explained to my sister and me that we wouldn’t have dessert if it weren’t for daddy’s hard work.

This was so much a part of our homelife that when I went to a friend’s house and the children received the biggest pieces of pie, I actually felt strange. Later, when I married, this lesson of serving others the biggest piece of pie was one I really appreciated. God wants us to take that lesson a little further.

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus makes the point that service is more important than status in His kingdom. If we are always expecting the best seat in the house, the last soda in the refrigerator, or the biggest piece of pie, then we’re not seeking God’s way, we’re seeking ours. The way we view others and ourselves is often not seen in the big things we do, it is demonstrated in the little ways we serve others.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for all the little ways You show how much You care. Reveal to me today ways I may need to give someone else a bigger piece of the pie.

“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited” (Luke 14:8 NIV. See 7-14 for full parable).

Beyond Understanding

December 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Cheri Cowell –

“Can you tell me that my son has gone to heaven?” the mother asked the hospital chaplain.

Not knowing the family, and only knowing that the boy had committed suicide, the chaplain looked deeply into the soul of the seeking mother’s eyes. He wondered, What do I tell her? What is the right thing to say, Lord? Then he tenderly said, “Tell me about your son.” As the mother poured out her heart about the life of her only child, she heard within her own words the answer to her question, and the chaplain was once again reminded that true wisdom isn’t always the textbook answer. God’s answers sometimes carry wisdom that is beyond our understanding.

When God offered Solomon whatever he wished, he asked for wisdom or discernment and not wealth. God was pleased with his request and gave him an abundance of wisdom, and in the first account of the use of Solomon’s gift, he found himself in a dilemma between two mothers. This scenario would have been difficult for anyone, yet Solomon knew he possessed something outside of himself that would make all the difference. Often the solution to our own dilemmas is not logical, easily seen, or reasoned. But when the solution comes from God we will know, for His solutions are perfect and wise.
“Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice” (1 Kings 3: 27-28 NIV).
PRAYER: I praise You God for Your perfect wisdom. Help me seek Your wisdom when it would be easier to rely upon my own logic, reason, or understanding. Thank You for always providing Your wisdom that is beyond my understanding but not beyond Yours.

The Welcome Mat

November 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

Hospitality is big business today. Businesses even hire outside firms to help them offer better hospitality. These experts look at everything from the colors of the walls to the scents in the air. They train people on the best practices and explain that it is often the little things that say, “You are important here.”

God felt the same way about His temple.

It was to be God’s welcome mat to the whole world. Through it and the people He chose to oversee it, all the nations of the earth were to be welcomed into God’s presence. Isaiah had recorded God’s hospitality training manual for the temple leaders in chapter 56, verses 4-8, but over the years that system had been corrupted. Instead of welcoming people, the temple system had become a way to exclude people. In Mark chapter 11, we see that during Passover week, a time when all the nations would gather in the city, Jesus was angry about how His Father’s house was being used. The temple should have rolled out welcome mat, but instead, it put up barriers, and Jesus could no longer take it.

Jesus quotes Isaiah and Jeremiah, passages that the temple leaders would have known well. They knew what they were doing was wrong, but when confronted they chose to blame the messenger rather than look at their own sin. When reading this passage it is easy for us to point fingers at the temple leaders, but the question still rings true for us. How welcoming are our houses of prayer? Are peoples of all nations, social and economic status, educational levels, physical ability, and religious affiliations welcomed by us? Do we make it easy for those who are different to join in and feel a part of our family?

PRAYER: Dear, God, please forgive us for turning Your house into a den of thieves, robbing Your intended purpose for us to be the welcome mat for all to come to You. Help me be aware of those who may need the hand of hospitality extended to them in the name of Jesus, the Messiah.

“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers” (Mark 11:15-16 NIV).

Invited

November 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

Twenty-four hour news coverage is wonderful when something big is happening and we need to know what’s going on, but sometimes it can be so intrusive. Such is the case when a tragedy strikes and a camera is shoved in the faces of grieving parents who just discovered their child is never coming home. Or a heartbroken husband caught between his anger that his wife’s life was brutally ended and the news reporter’s request for a compassionate response to the search party volunteers. At times like these I want to turn my head, turn off the TV, or change the channel. I feel like we are intruding into someone’s personal and private anguish.

I feel the same way when I enter the garden where Jesus is praying in Gethsemane. It is almost too painful to watch, to personal a moment to intrude upon, too private a moment for us to be a part of. But we are invited there. We are invited to see all that human suffering and anguish can bear. We are invited in to see and to experience.

Can you imagine yourself there in the garden with Jesus that night? Picture what His demeanor must have been, what His clothes looked like. Was the night air still or was there a breeze? Can you hear the noise of the city in the background? Can you smell the scent of spring in the air? As Jesus prays, is He speaking aloud? Is He angry with God or pleading? Does He sound like He’s talking with someone He knows well, and who knows Him well? Look closely now as Jesus struggles with the decision. Don’t turn away. Look into His eyes. See the pain, and yet feel the love. This is the love He has for you and for me.

PRAYER: God, as I read the Scripture today, allow my prayers to be filled less with words and more with emotions as I pour out my awe and gratitude to You who loves me so.

“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:39-46 NIV).

Sitting On A Hill

November 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

I just heard a news report that parents and young children are not getting enough sleep. I hope they didn’t pay a lot for that bit of research because you and I could have told them that.

My husband and I require different amounts of sleep. I need so much more than he does, but both of us need our down time. We spend that time in different ways, but just like this sleep study suggested, all of us need renewal time. For us, as Christians, we also need God time. Time we spend alone with Him is precious time. Yes, we are to study and pray, but we also need to just sit and be still. We need to listen, and be renewed. Jesus needed that same thing.

I never paid much attention to this passage until this week when it jumped off the page at me. It is not often used at Easter, and is easy to overlook. Just like our need for quiet time with God is easy to overlook, it would have been easy for Jesus to keep preaching, knowing He only had a few days left. How many times have I said, “I have so much to do before I can rest tonight?” Even Jesus, the Son of God, the Holy One Himself, knew He needed to renew each night.

It’s true. Parents, children, and everyone else in America are not getting enough rest. And every Christian can probably use more time to sit on a hill and be still with God.

PRAYER: I praise You today for the example Jesus gave of what I need to do when feeling overworked, overburdened, and overtired. Help me set aside the big to-do list each night, and to spend a few minutes with You sitting on a hill in stillness.

“Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple” (Luke 21:37-38 NIV).

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