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).


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).

Untidy Josephs

October 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Elaine James –

Sitting in my kitchen having a cup of coffee with a friend, we discussed how boring we feel our family meal choices have become. She blurted out that when her Mom wanted to spice things up for their family, she would come up with funny names for sandwiches. One of her favorite names was “Untidy Josephs,” which is more popularly known as “Sloppy Joes.”

After my friend went home, I decided I would make “Untidy Josephs” for dinner. As I was making them, I reflected about Joseph in the Old Testament, and decided to use that name to write about the “Untidy Joseph” of the Bible.

Joseph’s life was far from being tidy. It was actually quite the opposite, it was rather untidy. He endured his brothers abusing him, being sold to slavery, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and then imprisoned. After years and years of chaos, he finally was given what God promised him: the favor from the king to help run a country. Truly, an amazing story!

Our lives also tell a story. In that story, our lives may become untidy, but it doesn’t always mean we have made a mess of it. It could just be God taking care of the details for the future. He wants to show His power and grace for the next generation. Joseph’s life lessons are valuable for us all. He taught us that honesty is the best policy, perseverance is worth pursuing and reminded us not to give up on our dreams.

What is going on in your life right now that seems “untidy”? Ask God to help you look at the “mess” His way.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, my life may get untidy at times, but I am grateful I have You to guide me.

“But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them” (Genesis 50:19-21 NIV).

Stand Down

September 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Elaine James –

The Range Officer yelled out the command “Stand Down!” Upon hearing the command, the men in the target range lowered their weapons. He explained during their training that when he gives the “stand down” order, it does not mean to lay your weapon down. Quite the contrary. When one is in the “stand down” position, he must stay alert. There must be a Range Officer present at all times when the target range is open. It is his responsibility to secure the area and give complete instructions before allowing anyone to practice shooting, so everyone will be safe.

This was described by my friend who had her first target range experience.

This description stimulated my writer’s mind to formulate this analogy comparing God to the range officer. God, our range officer, commanded very similar requests to us in Ephesians six, the section which is entitled, The Protection for Believers, The Armor of God. In this section of the Bible, which is only seven verses long, Paul gives this instruction:

1. Stand against the devil’s schemes.
2. Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground.
3. After you have done everything stand.
4. Stand firm!

We go through life feeling fearful, anxious, worried or overwhelmed, asking “why is this happening to me?” That question could be answered with a question like “where is your armor of God?” Is it in a pile on the floor? The word of God is the sword of the Spirit; it is either in your hand or lying around collecting dust. It is the only offensive weapon in our armor.

“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV).
Praying daily and putting on the full armor of God can be likened to going to the target range, having the range officer present and realizing we must never put our weapons down, but “Stand Down” instead.

PRAYER: Dear God, I confess that at times I lay my armor down. Please forgive me. Help me to be reminded that I need to put on the full armor of God daily.

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord-and he will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2-3 NIV).

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