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).

Too Tired to Budge

November 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Carin LeRoy –

Do you ever feel like life is too busy? I do. When we take on more than we should, life seems to pass by in a blur of activity and busyness. At the end of a day, we’re stressed and exhausted.

The Bible gives a great example of this in Exodus 18. When Moses was leading the Israelites, he served as judge for the people each day settling disputes from morning until evening. I’m sure when his day was finished, he felt much like we do at the end of our hectic days – too tired to budge.

When his father-in-law, Jethro, came for a visit and observed his long days, he said, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone,” (Exodus 18: 17,18 NIV). Jethro then suggested that Moses should train and appoint godly leaders to help him do the work. Moses saw the wisdom in Jethro’s advice and listened to him. By doing so, his own load lightened.

Just as Jethro observed Moses’ overload of work, do we have friends or family that think our days are too full of activity? Do they advise us to reduce the stress and busyness in our lives? If so, then maybe we need to take their advice to slow down and evaluate how to change our schedule to lessen our own workload. There’s nothing “spiritual” about having a to-do list that goes from morning until evening. Maybe we need to take the advice of others, like Moses. Slowing down, delegating or eliminating might just be the right thing to do.

PRAYER: Lord, if I need to lighten my workload, please give me wisdom to know what I need to eliminate from my schedule. Give me a heart, like Moses, to listen to the wisdom of others that desire to speak truth into my life.

“Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves” (Exodus 18: 24-26 NIV).

Beauty Unknown and Fleeting

October 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

I recently wrote about a magnificent flower that bloomed on what had been a two-foot-long green stick. I called the flower an orchid. Several kind readers enlightened me that it was in fact an “amaryllis.” Apparently that’s the name of the flower. My wife confirmed it.

Hmmm… I didn’t even know what the flower was, yet I loved it.

There is a lesson in life here: I could appreciate something even though I know nothing about it.

It’s a good thing I don’t have to understand every aspect about something to appreciate it–like good food, computers, my wife, or God.

What are some things in your life that you value even though you don’t understand them?

I’ve studied God a long time, but I’ll never understand him any more than an ant could understand a human. But that’s okay. He loves me anyway.

How many other things in life do you know little about, yet you find beautiful or helpful? The world is full of them.

Back to the amaryllis. As soon as I grew to appreciate their beauty, the flowers withered. They only bloomed a week before they shriveled one by one. “Oh, come on! You need to stay with us longer than that,” I told the flowers. But talking to flowers doesn’t work.

Perhaps one thing that makes beauty valuable to us is that it’s often temporary, like the four seasons, youth, or flowers.

How often have you wished you could hold the sunset a few minutes longer, be young a few years more, feel the overwhelming sense of God’s presence all the time?

My wife just got another green stick; an amaryllis. As I watch it for signs of flowers, she tells me the previous one will bloom again. Maybe next year, maybe sooner. Beauty comes and beauty goes. It’s up to us to cherish it in between.

PRAYER: Lord, the beauty of the world, Your gift to me, surrounds me and amazes me. May my eyes always see and not be blinded by the mad rush of the day. May my heart always receive and not be constricted by worries and cares. When Your beauty comes to me, my hands are open.

“From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth” (Psalm 50:2, NIV).

Flowers from a Stick

October 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

My wife bought an orchid. But it was really just a two-foot-long stalk as thick as my thumb. It sat in a pot on her table, this green stick. It was not beautiful, and to my eyes didn’t show much promise. It only took up space.

After a few weeks, it still sat there gathering dust. For some reason she watered it. Seemed like a waste of water to me.

For two months the green stick sat on her table. Several spikey leaves had sprouted at the base, and a big bulge grew at the top. Probably a tumor.

Then one morning we stopped and stared. The tumor had bloomed into a magnificent flower. Now it’s the glory of the house. Soon, a second flower bloomed. And two more buds have formed.

So many things in life are like that stick. Things we build. Things we work for. Things we attempt. So many people are like that stick too.

Some things–and some people–have a critical mass, a tipping point, where months or years of effort or waiting reach a point when something happens. A project is finished, a conflict is resolved, a child grows up, a skeptic comes to faith. Transformations occur that could not have occurred without that time of waiting.

Are you attempting to do anything that’s like that green stick and hasn’t yet produced its flower? Or is there something inside you that’s like that green stick, quietly developing and will someday come out as something beautiful?

If your flower hasn’t bloomed yet, don’t give up. Keep tending to it. Be patient. Work hard. Hope. Big or small, you’ll get your flower.

PRAYER: Lord, empower me to be patient about _____________. I will persevere and not give up. Whatever it takes, by Your grace, I will bloom.

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32 NIV).

Ad to the Kingdom

October 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Hally Franz –

Today is the eve of Super Bowl 2012. By the time you read this devotional, the game will be history, and the highlights of the evening will be old news. I have to confess I’m not feelin’ football, but my husband does. So, I know that tomorrow evening he will expect junk food and a prime seat for the big event. I’ll busy myself with laundry and will tune in to the half-time show and commercials. I do enjoy the commercials.

Isn’t it funny how certain ads entertain and captivate us? My tween daughter gushes over any featuring cute, cuddly babies, and my teenage son howls at those with obnoxious and generally gross boy themes. My husband enjoys crazy animal commercials, and I, of course, being more cerebral than the rest of my family, enjoy those with clever writing.

How’s that for obnoxious?

The products are varied, from beverages and snack foods to cars and investment firms. There are big-budget marketing campaigns designed to bring in big bucks long after the conclusion of the biggest night in football.

Lately, there has been a new trend in advertising. Not only are individual church assemblies advertising on television, there are also entire faiths turning to the media to spread their message. Those messages may be geared toward educating others about their groups, re-energizing those who have left, or inspiring others to learn more. I like this; faith should get some air time.

Isn’t the goal of every Christian to sell our faith? Isn’t it God’s expectation that we make it our business to get our message out? I recently heard someone say that we can’t really make others give up or change their sinful ways; however, what we can do is show them how great life can be when we chose to live for Christ. Cleverly written messages and gimmicks may entertain and get attention, but, ultimately, the best sales pitch for God is demonstrating to others what He has done for us, and this message is free and easy to deliver.

PRAYER: Almighty God, help us be walking billboards for You. May Christian salespeople demonstrate what You will do in the lives of all who believe and seek the saving grace of Christ.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV).

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