“Before” Still Gives You A Choice

June 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Jarrod Spencer –

If you are like me, you’ve probably had many moments where you either knew or felt that you shouldn’t have said something, could have said something differently, or wonder if someone took it wrong what you said. These are not fun moments. They can aggravate you like a rock in your shoe. You think about it, worry about it, and want to fix the situation.

Though easier said than done, there are some ways we can prevent that feeling. It comes from a poem titled “Before You”, by William Arthur Ward…

Before you speak, listen.
Before you write, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you invest, investigate.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.
Before you retire, save.
Before you die, give.

Not all of these are situations where you make a mistake and have to go back to correct it. However, they are some simple, everyday, applicable phrases to help us through some situations in life. Some of them may impact you more than others. Some may make you really look within. Some might be what you wish someone else would keep in mind.

“Before” is a powerful word that says things are at the fork in the road. “After” is when you chose to take a path. “After” is no turning back; “before” is when the option of taking another route is possible.

Try to put the “Before You” tool in your pocket to pull out at the many opportune times that will come about in your lifetime.

PRAYER: Father, help me to listen, think, earn, investigate, wait, forgive, try, save, and give as I go through life.

BIBLE VERSE: “The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (I Kings 19:11-13 NIV).

Fan into Flame

By Carin LeRoy –

My teenage son is a huge fan of the reality program “Man vs. Wild,” which shows people are surviving in isolated places across the globe. They scale rock faces, cross icy rivers, sleep in trees and eat strange, wiggly creatures. On almost every episode, they must make a fire. They gather bits of dry tinder, rub two sticks together until smoke forms, then blow gently until a flame sparks. Gingerly, they add kindling until they have a blaze large enough to cook food or warm themselves. That effort makes me thankful I have an electric stove where I turn a knob to cook.

In reading through Paul’s admonishment to Timothy, we see how he was encouraged develop the gifts given to him by God. He says, “I want you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” (2 Timothy 1: 6 NIV). I was reminded of the effort it takes to start a fire. It isn’t easy. They search for the right materials, rub sticks until their hands are sore and work hard to get that fire started. Soon they are rewarded with a blaze big enough to provide warmth.

We are each bestowed with gifts given to us by God in order to use them to minister to others. These abilities need developing; to be fanned into a flame. We start small and gain confidence. Soon we watch as God utilizes them in an even greater way. Just as it takes effort to start a fire, we must work to cultivate those areas where God has bestowed our spiritual gifting. Usually, these gifts are something that comes naturally to us, and we enjoy them!

Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher from the nineteenth century, said that we should not only be using our gift, but we should also work to improve it. If you feel you are gifted in an area but lack the confidence to serve, then start small. Be diligent and soon you will see God using your gifts for an even greater impact.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for giving me a spiritual gift to use for others. Help me to be diligent in using, developing and improving that gift for an even greater impact for Your glory.

QUOTE: “And then, again, we must stir up our gift because it needs stirring. The gifts and graces of Christian men are like a coal fire which frequently require stirring as well as feeding with fuel…there must be stirring and fires go out sometimes for lack of it. There are times with us when we become dull and heavy, doing little or nothing–restless, indifferent. Then it is that we require rebuking. If there is a solid bottom of real grace in us, we only need the poker that we be stirred up and straightway the fire begins to burn.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Renovation – A Step of Faith

June 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Aubrey Spencer –

Before we moved from Illinois to Kansas a few years ago, we spent time fixing up our starter home for the purpose of selling it. We knew that in order to get the best result, renovation was inevitable. Our time frame was short and our project list was extremely long. In a matter of weeks, we painted the entire outside of our house and hung new shutters. We removed carpeting, tile, and a banister from our front porch. Then we sanded, grinded, and painted the concrete on both the porch and the adjoining flowerbeds. And if that wasn’t enough, we took on the job of all jobs – the bathroom! We needed to re-do that little bathroom for a long time, but once we began the renovation process, we realized why we had put if off for so long. What a nightmare! At one point (and I have pictures to remind myself of the craziness) the room was down to the studs in half the room and debris was everywhere. We made countless trips to the home improvement store – thirty miles away – to get more supplies. Water was turned off for days – which was problematic seeing as how that was our only bathroom. And our son Oliver, who was only a baby at that time, had to learn to nap through the mighty hum of the shop vac.

The renovation was crazy, but all for a purpose. We were moving on, stepping out of our boat towards a new opportunity for Him.

Sometimes, it seems that “stepping out in faith” is a lot like our remodeling. Messy. Confusing. Stressful. Hard work. Scary. But all the effort is worth it when the outcome is revealed. Peace. Joy. Excitement. Beauty. It may be downright frightening to let the Master Builder hammer away a new life/opportunity/outlook for you. But, I believe that He has a remarkable masterpiece waiting at the end of the renovation.

PRAYER: Lord, although the process is rarely easy, I thank You for continually renovating my heart and mind and life. You amaze me constantly with how You create such beauty and peace out of chaos and confusion. Help me to remember that the next time I find myself “under construction.”

BIBLE VERSE: “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 NIV).

The Christmas Plan

May 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Carin LeRoy –

Last Christmas season I set aside a day to do my holiday baking. Homemade treats for family and friends would make nice gifts. I baked several mini cakes and then started making candy. Everything was going well. The cakes were in the oven, and the candy neared completion. Then a distraction caused me to burn the candy. When removing the mini cakes from their pans, they fell out in crumbles and chunks. Frustrated, I made a second batch of candy, only to have it fall out of the refrigerator and cover the floor.

It wasn’t a good day. All my time, effort and money accomplished nothing. About that time, my hubby walked in and looked at the mess in the kitchen.  Hearing my complaints and seeing my frustration, he suggested we go out to eat. I walked out the door with him and left my baking disasters behind. My plans to have homemade treats as gifts were unsuccessful.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, there were those who wanted to destroy God’s plan to send a Savior to earth.  Hearing from the Magi that the King of the Jews was born, King Herod thought his throne was threatened. He searched to find baby Jesus to kill him. Angels appeared to the Magi and to Joseph in dreams to warn them, and they were able to avoid King Herod and escape his evil plan (Read Matthew 1-2). God was able to accomplish His plan and purpose to send a Savior to the world for the forgiveness of sins.

In Proverbs 19:21 we read, “Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Isn’t it great to know that God’s plans and purposes always succeed? Even though we have days that don’t meet our expectations, we have a God whose power accomplishes all that He has intended. Our lives are in His hands, and he is able to accomplish His every purpose.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, that Your purpose and plans always succeed. Thank You for the gift of Your son, Jesus, who came to earth to provide us with forgiveness of sin.

BIBLE VERSE: “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2: 13-15 NIV).

Black and Blue

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Hally Franz –

There are two types of people—those who shop on Black Friday and those who do not. I love Black-Friday-shopper types. Typically, they are outgoing and adventurous folks, fun-loving with just a pinch of crazy that I appreciate in people.

I am not a Black Friday shopper. On the day after Thanksgiving, I’m on the floor surrounded by boxes and bows, and my daughter and I wrap Christmas gifts that I have purchased weeks earlier. We watch holiday movies and work at ease. I deliver doses of cocoa to my husband and son as they work on the “exterior illumination”, and we founder on snacks and chili. I am nowhere near a crowded parking lot or cash register.

Consequently, I’ve had nearly all my shopping done since early November. And, while I avoided Black Friday, my annual weekend shopping excursion did leave me with a case of the blues.

After spending almost an hour in one of my favorite stores, I emerged with two bags of pampering products. The lighter and lesser bag included lotions and hand washes. The other was a great deal heavier, full of oil burners and candles. Its value was $84.26.

Shopping with my mom and sister, I evidently set the bag down and it didn’t make it to the van. I didn’t realize I’d lost one until we arrived home the next day.

I called several stores and the mall office, but the bag hadn’t been turned in. I then began going through the process of grieving the lost bag. First, there was guilt. How could I have been so careless? I imagined my frugal father wincing and shaking his head in Heaven. I chastised myself for drinking too much diet soda; we all know it kills brain cells!

Next, I entered the anger phase. Why had no one returned my bag? I would have. I wondered how someone could just take the gifts painstakingly selected and purchased, especially at the holiday season. I was indignant over the situation!

Finally, there was acceptance. I thanked God our family would be fine without the wasted $84.26. My husband works hard for each dollar, and they all have a place to go, but we are blessed, and it’s okay.

So, what’s the $85 lesson?

We make mistakes, and the world is full of sin, but His birth gives us hope. And, that’s what makes it all okay.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, while our lives are complicated with problems, errors and sin, You are eternally perfect, righteous and holy. Thank You for Your Son and the eternal gift of hope.

BIBLE VERSE: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 NIV).

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