In Our Time of Need

May 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cynthia Ruchti –

My sister Carol carried a double major in college—Vocal Music Education and Spanish. At the time, all music education majors were required to pass Piano Proficiency to demonstrate at least a moderate ability to play the piano. The challenge was equivalent to passing the state bar exam while undergoing a root canal.

For whatever reason, and despite her love of music and outstanding skill vocally and on the French horn, at that time Carol and a piano knew nothing but discord in their relationship.

But getting her degree depended on passing Piano Proficiency. So she studied and practiced and agonized and fought off an army of knife-wielding nerves while the family prayed.

Often the phone rang with, “Get on your knees! Carol’s taking Piano Proficiency again!”

We prayed and consoled when she was handed negative results and told to retry in a few weeks. We prayed and consoled ten times.

We knew she could do it. And we knew God answers prayer—not because we deserve it but because He is merciful and gracious. So Carol took the risk and we who love her took to our knees an eleventh time.

Did you hear the shouts of joy from all over Wisconsin when after those unsuccessful attempts she passed Piano Proficiency and was freed from ever going through it again? Yup, that was us.

Did the Lord make her great at the piano that day? Or did He make the instructor think she was great so she could pass the test? It doesn’t matter. Either way, it was God’s grace.

Today she’s an amazing Spanish teacher who uses her music skills for worship.

Has the Lord intervened in your life to get you through the impossible, feed your courage to try again, take another risk, or trust, despite the odds?

AUTHOR QUOTE: When your need is great, tap into His limitless need-meeting ability.

“Let us then approach the 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).

Lullaby For All of Us

April 9, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cynthia Ruchti —

She’s mellowed considerably in twelve years, but when our first grandchild was a toddler, she’d slap her little pink hands over her ears and in a voice that sounded like foot-stomping say, “Don’t sing!”

The first few times it was funny. Because she was born into a musical family, we thought her faux-tantrum must have been toddler humor. But it wasn’t. She meant it. For reasons we’ll never understand, something about our singing—no wisecracks, please—grated on her young nerves.

It was a trick slipping the “Happy Birthday” song past her at family celebrations.

One song remained firmly entrenched in my repertoire, though. With my children and now my grandchildren, I’m allowed the honor of being the first to sing into those downy soft ears, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” It’s a lullaby that soothes an hours-old troubled heart or the aged heart hours away from eternity.

How much time have I spent singing that lullaby since my daughter was born, then my sons, then my granddaughters and grandsons? How many repetitions of the greatest truth, the most potent comfort, the sweetest sentence ever uttered?

Jesus loves me.

Even now, I can’t look at those three words without a sense of awe-struck wonder. Imagine! Jesus loves me.

I can spread my arms wide and dance across a mountain meadow—“The Sound of Music” style—or I can whisper-sing it to a colicky child and know it is the truest of statements and the most life-changing.

The lullaby tradition with new babies is intentional. My heart longs for that singular thought to be imprinted early on each child’s brain. Whether they remember it or not, and no matter what life brings or the choices they make, they will all be told that the first song they heard in their life’s journey was the most significant.

Jesus loves me.

AUTHOR QUOTE: Take comfort today as Jesus sings that song into your heart’s “ear,” a lullaby that never grows old.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35 NIV)

Calling to Each Other

March 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cynthia Ruchti –

A series of phone calls today revealed an important truth—my house is cleaner when I talk on the phone.

Is it true for you, too? With rare exceptions, most phone calls serve as multi-tasking opportunities. It can be argued that I actually think better about what the other person is saying if my hands are engaged in a relatively mindless activity like polishing the chrome on the kitchen faucet (waterless hand cleaner works great) or dusting furniture or cleaning the refrigerator.

But today, a phone call with a friend turned into a prayer session that demanded my full attention. As we said, “Amen,” I was reminded of a worship song that fit the situation. Within seconds, I heard that song coming through the phone receiver. Twelve hundred miles apart, we worshipped together in those moments, stopping everything to focus our attention on the only One who could make a difference in any of our prayer concerns. A palpable peace descended on us, the kind of peace that signals the nearness of God.

When rereading Isaiah recently, I was struck by a small detail I’d overlooked. In Isaiah 6:3, it says that the winged creatures the prophet saw in his vision of the throne room of God were calling out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces! All the earth is filled with God’s glory!” (Common English Bible). I’d assumed the angelic beings were saying those words to the Lord. Rather, they were telling each other!

That’s what my friend and I did on the phone. We called out to one another with reminders that the Lord is Holy, that the whole earth is filled with His glory, that He is our great Provider, our Protector, our Peace.

The resonance of that phone call remains with me like an endless echo, maintaining that sweet sense of peace that washed over us as we prayed and worshipped.

PRAYER: Lord God of All, I want to live daily in that wash of wonder at Your holiness and Your desire for intimacy with me. Sear a name into my heart—someone I can call tomorrow and share another moment like that.

“They shouted to each other, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces! All the earth is filled with God’s glory! The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting…” (Isaiah 6:3-4a CEB).

Taking a Risk

January 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cynthia Ruchti –

I know to grab the box of tissues before I watch certain movies. I cried during a recent dinner-and-a-movie date with my husband and wiped my tears with my popcorn napkin. My peripheral vision caught Bill lifting his glasses to wipe his own eyes.

Some passages of the Bible should come with a “grab the tissues” warning. When King David’s child died. When the paralytic took his first steps because his desperate-to-help friends clawed a hole in the roof and lowered him to Jesus. When Jesus called out to His Father in a loud voice, “Into your hands I commit my spirit!”

Among the others that bring me to tears because of the sweep of sadness, the remorse, the poignancy, or the love displayed is the scene when Jesus healed the woman with the twelve-year bleeding problem.

How alone and ostracized she must have felt in a society that treated problems such as hers like leprosy! Shunned from social functions; banned from the temple; exhausted by her disease and by the unimaginable and unsuccessful treatments thrust on her by physicians, quacks, and the well-meaning but uninformed; anemic; pathetic; friendless; and drained by the financial burden that stole the rest of her energies…

The woman defined the concept of utter desperation.

Crushed by it all, she must have been crawling along the ground to have reached out and touched not the shoulder or the waistband but the hem of Jesus’ garment. She was instantly healed.

This is the part that pierces me with its beauty. Jesus turned and called her “Daughter.”

I picture Jesus reaching down to lift her from where she’d fallen, cupping her face in His hands, and commending her for taking the risk of trusting Him to heal her.

Where are my tissues?

AUTHOR QUOTE: Is Jesus asking you to take a risk in trusting Him for something only He can do for you? Stretch out your hand.

“Jesus said, ‘Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed’” (Luke 8:48 MSG).

Looking For the Tears

November 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cynthia Ruchti –

It wasn’t easy to pull off, but when my two oldest kids were toddlers—Amy (3 ½) and Matt (1)—every Friday my friend and I used their afternoon nap as an opportunity to meet together to pray. With our Bibles open on my dining room table, my friend and I stopped the whirl of homemaking for an hour and focused on praying for our homes, our husbands, our children, our trivial and anything-but-trivial heart concerns.

One afternoon, when the intensity of our love for our children brought tears to our eyes as we bent over our Bibles, I felt a tug on my sleeve. Amy’s nap had ended early that day.

We brought our prayer time to a close so I could attend to my daughter’s little girl needs.

Later that day, I found Amy kneeling on the seat of my chair, her elbows on the table. The thin pages of my Bible rustled like sun-crisped leaves as she turned them.

She knew her alphabet but could read few words other than “No,” “Yes,” “Mom,” “Dad,” “Love.”

“Honey, what are you doing?”

Amy didn’t stop turning pages. “I’m looking for the tears.”

My tears for her on the pages of God’s Word.

“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

My daughter was impressed—as was I—with a life-altering truth: A caring mom turns to God’s Word and leaves her tears there.

PRAYER: Father God, how often have I neglected to impress Your truths on the hearts of my children? Make me ultra-sensitive to those opportune moments. And as the context of that biblical teaching encourages, may they first be impressed on my own heart.

“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up,” Deuteronomy 6:7 NIV.

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