Stranger Danger

July 27, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

My sister and I rode our bicyles all over our small town as we were growing up. I say small because the downtown was only two blocks long. It was a time when two little girls could safely ride all over town until darkness fell. Although it was safe, now that we are aware, we’d probably have identified the man at the top of the hill where we liked to bike as a sexual preditor. He was creepy, was always talking to us and inviting us to sit with him in his carport. Thankfully, we never did.

Jesus knows about stranger danger.

In Jesus’ time a shepherd would lay his body across the entrance to the walled sheep pen at night. His body acted as a gate. He knew by touch whether an animal was one of his sheep or an imposter. with his own body he was the protector of his sheep. In the other direction, sheep also knew who was the True Shepherd and who the stranger was by listening for the shepherd’s voice. We, like sheep, can sense danger and listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit to protect us. The True Shepherd has used His own body to protect us from harm. He has indeed laid down his life for His sheep.

PRAYER: Thank You Jesus for being my True Shepherd whose voice can help me detect stranger danger. Help me stay safely in the sheepfold where I am protected as one of Your precious sheep.

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them” (John 10:1-6 NIV).

Letting Go

July 20, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Janet Morris Grimes –

This is for all of our friends who are going through this phase of life along with us.

Pride. Loneliness. Uncertainty. Faith. Tears. Laughter. Hope. Future. Past. Present. Purpose. Exhaustion. Excitement. Planning. Commitment. Investment. Life. Love. Moments. Remember. Expressions. Belief. Growth. Expense. Expansion. Talents. Overcoming. Fun. Roots. Wings. Dedication. Wonder. Wander. Prayer. Trust. Triumph. Shopping. Cleaning. Messing. Organizing. Trashing. Leaving. Arriving. Packing. Parking. Loading. Unloading. Rules. Chances. Choices. Strangers. Neighbors. Friends. Steps. Doors. Open. Closed. Locked. Directions. Signs. Lights. Bulbs. Power. Strips. Windows. Access. Login. Email. Personal. Mailbox. Laundry. Instructions. Shelves. Food. Fridge. Midnight. Movies. Music. Singing. Shower. Identity. Challenge. Depth. Comforter. Noise. Silence. Alone. Away. Anew. Chapters. Seasons. Worth it.

Hugs.

Letting go.

To my daughter, I trust that you and God will have a blast together in college. I can’t wait to hear what He teaches you. You have no idea what He has taught me, because of you. Through you.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the blessing of being a parent. We know that our children belong to You, and trust You to finish what You have started in them. Protect them and keep them safe. Draw them close.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

Houdini

July 10, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Mollie Bond –

Granddaughter Joselyn pushed back her hair with chubby hands and huffed. Her grandfather and grandmother tracked Joselyn’s progress as she learned about life. At age three, some things went over her head. But on this night, he had the privilege of explaining death.

Their cat, Houdini, actually died a year earlier. But since that time, little Joselyn came over to their house and asked, “Where is the cat?” Each time, he explained, “I’m sorry, but the cat won’t come back. He has passed on.”

At dinner, it was her chance to pray. As a proud grandfather, he allowed the precious moment to sink into his heart. She began, “God, thank You for food. And when is Grandpa’s cat coming back? Although I don’t think he can. Amen.”

Grandpa turned his thoughts to the man with a possessed son. A man came to Jesus, and asked him to heal his son, if He could. “If I can?” Jesus retorts. The man realized it’s not his faith that needed help, but rather during the times he didn’t believe. The man knew that Jesus had power to do as He pleased. He trusted God, but could his faith support healing a demonized son? Jesus used the occasion to applaud the man’s honesty. Sure, Jesus could heal his son.

Joselyn asked for the cat to come back. Would her faith to allow her to see the cat again? It’s worth asking, even with little faith. Grandpa stifled a laugh, and thanked his granddaughter. In her innocence, she asked for a cat—named Houdini—to come back. This is a miracle yet to happen, but no one shunned the girl for asking.

What do you ask for, but don’t really expect Jesus to do? Jesus healed a possessed son, so He can fulfill your prayer, too. Who knows? Just as the real Houdini escaped chains and straight jackets, maybe Houdini the cat will escape death, based on a little girl’s prayer.

PRAYER: God, I’d like to ask You for a big thing. I want to trust You when I’m up against something big. Would You help me when my faith falters and I’m not sure You can do it? Thank you for the times You do so without me asking.

“A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’ “‘If you can”?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:17, 22-24 NIV).

Here’s to Mr. C. and Teachers Everywhere

July 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

As I sat down to write this devotion, something happened. It’s the thing that seems to happen more frequently these days. Perhaps it is due to aging or simply cramming too many things into this taxed brain of mine. It was a case of brain freeze, and not the kind one gets when drinking a thirst-quenching, but painful, blue slush.

It’s good we are all back in school! It’s time to get those minds working again. Time for routine and order in our lives. Time for a little time apart. As I send my fifth- and ninth-grader to school, I pray that they will have productive and fun years. Then, I thank God for some peace and quiet for my taxed brain.

I recently thought about my sixth-grade teacher. He was a tall, young, black man. In the 1970’s, particularly in our rural community, that was an unlikely description for one of our teachers. The vast majority of elementary teachers were women, and even fewer African-American teachers. I’ll call him “Mr. C.”

Mr. C. was one of my favorites for a few simple reasons. First, he was cool, so no one messed with him. There were no discipline issues in his class. Of course, there weren’t many discipline issues in any classes at that time. (My second and third reasons are better.)

Secondly, Mr. C. made it a habit to announce those who had the best test grades. That practice may not be very politically correct today, but I loved it. I wasn’t always named, but it happened enough to be a motivator.

And thirdly, there was one day a couple of years later when I passed Mr. C. in the hallway. I had grown taller and thinner since sixth grade, and he paid me a nice compliment. That felt good to a chubby girl.

It’s funny what we remember about our teachers. Sometimes, it’s the smallest, seemingly insignificant things that touch the hearts and minds of students. Veteran educators have learned this. They know the importance of their words and examples to their students, and they take it seriously. Mr. C. went to his Heavenly home a few years ago, and it made me sad.

I am happy, dare I say gleeful, to have turned my children over to their new teachers. And, while I pray for their year, I will also pray for the teachers. What a blessing they are.

PRAYER: Almighty Father, please bless our children and their teachers as they begin a new school year. May they learn and grow, teach and give to the best of their abilities, honoring You in all that they do.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4 NKJV).

Prince Charming

June 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Carin LeRoy –

He caught my eye right away–the tall, lean guy with sun-bleached hair. It was love-at-first-sight for me. A mutual friend introduced us in the hallway during my first week of college.

Wow, I thought, I’d love to go out with him.

As a young girl, I had dreamy thoughts of who my Prince Charming might be and what he’d look like. Would he be tall or average height? Would he be blue or brown-eyed? What color would his hair be? Would he be handsome and funny? I had this weird idea that God would probably give me a husband, but that I’d probably not like him too much. Or that he’d be a great Christian, but he’d be ugly. God would give everyone else a great guy, but he’d give me the leftovers.

I remember the day the tall, lean guy with the sun-bleached hair sat by me in class. It was the end of my junior year in college, three years after I’d met him. (I guess it took him a while to notice me!) My heart must have skipped several beats.

“Hi,” he said calmly, “mind if I sit here?”

Are you kidding? I don’t think I absorbed too much of the lecture that day.

Yes, I married the tall, lean guy with the sun-bleached hair. He was everything I’d hoped for and far more. His devotion for God, his love and faithfulness to family, and his commitment to serve others made him my ideal choice. Marriage isn’t always perfect as you work through some of the bumps, but he’s definitely perfect for me.

What made me think that God would give me the ugly leftovers in a guy? Sometimes we have a distorted view of who God is. God loves to surprise us with the great plans He has for us–if only we’d just be patient and wait. Too many times we jump ahead of God’s plan, and then we live with that regret. So whatever place you find yourself today, remember that God does have a great plan for you, too. Be willing to wait on His timing.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You that You have great plans for me. Give me understanding and a proper view of who You are. Help me not to be impulsive and jump ahead of Your plan, but give me patience to wait for Your timing in my life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29: 11-14 NIV).

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