Exhilarating

February 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Elaine James –

“Oh my gosh,” I screamed as I approached the top of a small hill. I clinched the brake handles of my bicycle and came to a screeching halt. There I was, face to face with a deer. I got off my bike in utter disbelief as eight other deer pranced across my path. They stopped only 10 feet away, then turned to stare at me. My heart was racing with delight. Life seemed to stop.

“This is exhilarating!” I thought to myself. “God does this moment really have to end?” It would be dark soon so I knew I couldn’t stay much longer.

The deer stood motionless for minutes, but began to leave one at a time, before I was ready, confirming the moment was over.

Some people approached from behind. When they caught up to me, I asked, with enthusiasm “Did you see that?”

“See what? “They retorted.

I gulped. “The nine deer that just surrounded me. ”

“No, we did not see anything.”

I could not believe it. I am so electronically challenged. You would think that I would be able to get my cell phone camera working to capture the moment! Without proof, would anyone even believe me?

“God, what just happened?”

God’s still small voice answered, “I brought you out to this forest preserve, just as I brought Elijah out of the cave to the cliff edge so I could pass by him. He discovered I was not in the wind, earthquake or fire that appeared before him. I am not in the deer. I am the creator of the deer. I chose to reveal myself to you.”

As I left the park that day, crying, I knew this was no coincidence. You see, I had been asking God to help me prepare to teach at an upcoming retreat that weekend. I had been meditating on 1 Kings 19, which is the story of Elijah.

As I laid my head on my pillow that night, I felt giddy, just as I felt as a little girl when I saw my favorite animal at the zoo. I giggled with excitement, for I knew I was ready to testify that “God wants to reveal himself to you too! Seek Him and you will find Him.”.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, help me to stay close to You so I can experience You more in my life.

“But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in Him” (1 John 2:27b).

Nudge

January 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

by Elaine James –

When my Grandma was in the nursing home, others kept saying “you should visit your Grandma every other day.” Everyone had advice about how and when I should visit. I was fretting over the right time to go and how often my schedule could handle this. I finally had it with being “should-ed” by others. So I prayed the following.

“Lord, You know everything; I need a nudge to help me know when to visit my Grandma at the nursing home.”

Days went by with no nudge until I got up one morning and thought ‘you need to go see Grandma.’ I asked God, “Was that from you?” The thought persisted.

On my way to the nursing home, God prompted me again. I heard Him tell me, bring your Grandma her favorite food. I knew exactly what to get. Wendy’s Chili! The chili was a delicacy and the visit was divine. The next day I got a call to come to the home quickly because my Grandma had a stroke. After evaluating her they found her throat to be paralyzed and she would not be able to swallow. God nudged me to help my Grandma have her last solid meal. Thank you God!

Instead of worrying, do you talk to God about the many decisions you have each day?

I read a story recently about a husband who had a sick wife. He had trouble sleeping at night because she would wake up and need to be administered medicine for a life threatening disease. He feared he would not wake up. He prayed “God could You nudge me when I need to be awake and take care of my wife.” He told story after story of how God woke him to help his wife.

Instead of freaking out, trust God to nudge you.

Think about where you should turn first.

PRAYER: Father in heaven I turn to You first not last! Continue to help me to hear Your nudge and trust and act on it! In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:5-6 NIV).

A Shark Story

December 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Elaine James –

It was after 10 o’clock in the evening, my family and many onlookers were screaming and jumping at the edge of the ocean on a Florida beach. We watched for 20 minutes as my husband battled to bring a six- foot Bull shark in on the beach. The adrenaline rush for my husband was so awesome, after a long day of disappointment where he caught sharks on the line only to have the line suddenly break, allowing them to get away. Finally with information that the locals offered, he had the right equipment and he ended up catching two six- foot sharks. He did not keep the sharks, cutting the line instead to let them swim back into the ocean.

I was sitting on the beach, watching my husband teach my kids to fish. They would learn from his instruction and by simple observation. They now have pretty good skills as well. I can just see them teaching their children to fish someday. For sure, we will be passing down some pretty cool YouTube videos that show us screaming, laughing and even being scared.

I was reading my Bible and felt lead to read Psalm 78, the first six verses. From the beginning God has used life stories to teach spiritual lessons to the Israelites. Over and over, stories of the marvelous works of God were passed down. Those people piled up stones to mark the spot where the Lord did great things, to help them remember. The Psalmist urges us to not let the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord be hidden from our children. He commanded them to teach their next generation down the line.

Through the years, I have taught my children that Jesus loved them so much that he died on the cross, rose from the dead so that their sins can be forgiven and they would one day go to heaven to be with Him. Then, when they were ready, they realized all that Jesus did for them and they prayed to receive Him as their Savior. These are priceless moments, truly worth remembering.

Do you read the Bible enough to be able to pass the stories on to others?

PRAYER: Father in heaven, thank You for Jesus and what he did on the cross. Help me to renew my mind with the word and pass it on for the next generation.

“O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old– what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children” (Psalm 78:1-6 NIV).

Invincible

November 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Elaine James –

During a weekend retreat recently, I asked some teens to rewrite ‘Victorious Christian Living’ in their own words. They chose two phrases: ‘Truthful living’ and ‘staying closer to God.’

I quoted this verse: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV).

Next I asked them to rephrase ‘Divine Power,’ and they came up with ‘a strength that is unexplainable.’

Look at these words that they identified as keeping them from such ‘Devine Power:’ loneliness, discouragement, worry, anger, worthlessness, unforgiveness, procrastination, doubt, fear, guilt, temptation, resentment, failure, jealousy, lack of confession, and lack of prayer.

Which of these words are keeping you from truthful living and receiving God’s ‘strength that is unexplainable?’

One of the teens shared a personal struggle with unforgiveness in a relationship. When she decided to forgive, she said “I realized that this is a key to life and when I realized how important it is to forgive, I felt invincible.” Another girl admitted to a lack of confession and prayer.

I had a simple outline for the weekend, but it became evident that God was filling in the lesson with more detail from our discussions. One more verse was added to the lesson “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10 NIV). We agreed that going to the cross with a humble heart brought an incredible promise from God that “He will lift you up.”

We recounted the story of Jonah and the fish. We found that Jonah’s word was “fear” and because he had fear, he did not experience “Victorious Christian Living.” When Jonah was in the belly of the fish, he finally humbled himself, acknowledged God’s divine power, confessed and prayed. Once God instructed the fish to vomit Jonah onto land, he felt “invincible” enough to do what God had asked Him to do in the first place.

Our final conclusion was that if you choose to humble yourself, pray for divine power and live out the three key spiritual disciplines (forgiveness, confession, prayer), you can be “invincible.”

My prayer is that you choose the word or words that are keeping you from being invincible with God. Remember that becoming unconquerable is not an overnight task. It requires time and effort.

PRAYER: The pressure in life sometimes is too much. At times I want to run, like Jonah. Help me to remember the past and how You have rescued me. Thank You for the promise to never leave me.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ROMANS 8:38-39).

Better Than a Sprinkle Cupcake

October 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Elaine James –

With great anticipation, I held up the milk chocolate cupcake and bit into it. I have died and gone to heaven, I thought. My mouth was bursting with the rich taste of chocolate and the cake was unbelievably moist! Now I know why their ad reads “Sprinkles gourmet cupcakes are a deliciously sophisticated update on an American classic, handcrafted from the finest ingredients.” The Los Angeles Times even touted Sprinkles as “The progenitor of the haute cupcake craze.”

How did I end up at Sprinkles Cupcakes? I live in a suburb of Chicago and was having a mother daughter outing with both of my daughters to the city. After lunch at the famous Walnut Room, my daughters blurted out, “Let’s go to Sprinkles Cupcakes for dessert!” Of course, I had to be the coolest mom ever and make this the perfect day. Right?

I pulled up to the curb and my daughters jumped out with me yelling, “Get me milk chocolate!” as they disappeared into the bakery. I chose well, and after finishing the cupcake, I began to process what just occurred. We chose a famous over-priced cupcake bakery and ate the most wonderful sugary delight. But just like that, voila, done!

I soon began to wonder “when can we do this again? Is this how addictions start?” Guilt set in as I reflected on the starving people in Africa. I prayed and thanked God for being able to do such a crazy thing.

I thought of the rich man who Jesus asked to sell everything and follow Him. Could I give up cupcakes if God asked me to? Would I ever love cupcakes or anything else for that matter more than Him? I remembered the day I was teaching from Psalm 63:5 “I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (NIV). Those in the class shared of their mouth watering food experiences; then agreed that our undeserved love from God is mightier. We will literally die and go to heaven because of it.

Can you think of the richest food you ever ate? And how does that compare with the way Jesus longs to satisfy you daily? Talk to Him about it He can help you put things into perspective.

In the car that day I heard a strong and present voice. “Elaine, I gave you the cupcake that you loved, I like doing that for you. I know you know that the delight in the cupcake is temporary, but My love for you is for eternity.”

PRAYER: Thank You for sugary delights. I never want to love anything more than You. I need Your help daily.

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live” (Psalm 63:3 NIV).

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