Thanks for Your Support

September 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cynthia Ruchti —

Am I making Jesus’ job harder or easier?

The Bible tells us about women who landed in the pages of Scripture because they did everything in their power to ease His load. Jesus and His disciples incurred expenses as they traveled. Food. Lodging. Soap. Clothing. Sandals. More sandals.

Joanna and Susannah and the other unnamed but appreciated women provided for Jesus and His friends from their own resources. They believed in Him and the message He taught, so they removed obstacles to free Jesus to do the work God called Him to do here on earth.

Is that what I do?

Do I more often remove obstacles or do I get in His way? Do I help His cause or hurt it? Am I looking for ways to refresh Him, or do I exhaust Him with whining?

Can you picture the scene in biblical times? As Jesus crosses the threshold of Susannah’s home and is greeted with, “Sit! Sit! Eat something. Eat! You’re thin as a rail. What do You need, Jesus? Joanna! Bring water! Now, tell us, how are things going? Good? Do you have enough camel jerky and figs for the next leg of your trip? Joanna, bring that new outer coat you made. This one Jesus is wearing is too worn to keep out a whisper, much less a stiff wind. How are you doing for cash, Jesus? No, we insist. Take it! Oh, Joanna, He has a blister from those new sandals we gave him. Run and get a Band-Aid, will you?”

Am I that attentive to making His job easier?

Lord God, please reveal new ways that I can assist You in carrying out Your kingdom plans today in the lives of those around me, dear to me, near me. I want to be counted among those who are listed on Your “support staff.”

BIBLE VERSE: “Jesus went on through towns and villages, preaching and bringing the good news (the Gospel)…and the Twelve were with Him. And also some women…: Mary, called Magdalene…; and Joanna…; and Susanna; and many others, who ministered to and provided for Him and them out of their property and personal belongings” (Luke 8:1-3 (Amplified Bible).

Big Ship, Small Helm

September 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

Picture yourself on a cruise ship three football fields long, that weighs 137,308 gross tons, and carries 5020 passengers and crew—a floating city.

A window looks onto the control room of this behemoth. In the center is a high-tech control console and, like every large boat, it also has a helm with a wheel to steer the ship manually. I could hardly believe what I saw; the wheel that turns this monster ship is barely 12 inches in diameter—smaller than the one on your car. Yes, it’s power steering. And the captain used it to steer the ship through coral reefs off the shore of Bermuda.

When I look around, I see small things that direct huge things. Electronic chips control cars and planes. Leaders direct national governments and international corporations. Your three-pound brain directs rest of your body.

In James 3:3–12, it tells how a small rudder steers a ship, a bit in a horse’s mouth directs it, and a spark sets a forest on fire. He writes how our tongues can praise God or curse people. The tongue can express great good or cause great harm.

Small things direct big things. Sometimes seemingly small decisions or habits can result in life-changing directions or influence on others, both for good or bad. Have you made a seemingly small decision, a seemingly small mistake, or practiced a seemingly small habit or discipline that led to big results? Have you ever said something that caused another person great joy or great pain?

A small wheel steers a big ship. It’s also true with your tongue, your money, your relationships, your career, and with your salvation and eternal life.

Remember the bigness of small things.

PRAYER: Lord, keep me mindful of small things that direct big things. May I always remember. And may I always be wise.

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:3–5, NIV).

Holiness: A Determined Heart

August 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Carin LeRoy –

As a piano teacher, I see many types of students. But the child who excels at piano is the one who has the desire and determination to learn. They become disciplined in their practice and focus on improving their skills. That student comes excited and ready to study each week. They take my instruction to heart and make musical adjustments at my suggestion.

Living a holy life is much the same. As believers, we should become a student of God’s word and desire to live a life that is holy. It takes discipline and determination to say no to sin. The Psalmist tells how he kept his heart determined on obeying God’s words. “I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of Your commands for You have set my heart free” (Psalm 119: 30, 31 NIV).

He chose. He held fast. He ran.

He set his heart to follow God’s laws, no matter what. The choices he made were calculated. He determined that his heart would follow God, and he protected himself from the trappings of the world. I feel sure he asked himself, “Is this a good choice? Would God be pleased with this? Will this become a trap for me? Just because everyone else does this, is it right for me?”

Holiness is not a word we talk about these days because it seems rather archaic. Nevertheless, God still requires it of His children. In a culture that goes soft on sin, be the one who has a determined heart that follows hard after God.

PRAYER: Lord, give me a determined heart that will obey Your Word. Help me to avoid sin that may become a trap for me. Give me a heart that follows hard after You.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1: 13-15 NIV).

Humanity and Humility

August 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Hally Franz –

“Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble.” Those are the famous words from country music star Mac Davis’s 1980 recording. The song is now over thirty years old. Likewise, the character trait of humility seems almost outdated in today’s society.

Last evening, I taught my early elementary bible class about one of Daniel’s adventures. The familiar story illustrates Nebuchadnezzar’s desperate need to learn the meaning of a dream that had tormented him for many nights. When all his magicians, sorcerers and astrologers tell him they can’t know or interpret the dream, Nebuchadnezzar demands that all the “wise men” be killed. Daniel requests time from the king, during which he and his companions pray to God for mercy and guidance. God answers their prayers, and He shows Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to Daniel in a vision. Daniel then shares the dream and the interpretation with King Nebuchadnezzar, who is amazed by Daniel and wants to honor him greatly. However, Daniel is careful to give the glory and praise to God.

The facts of this story are fascinating, and it would be easy for youngsters to miss the greater, but perhaps less exciting, lesson of humility. After all, our culture does not encourage or foster humility within our young people. Instead, we instruct our children to tell about their accomplishments, and we decorate their rooms with ribbons and trophies, which they receive for nearly every activity in which they participate. As with many issues of parenting, there is a delicate balance to reach when building confidence and teaching humility.

When I think about how I have discussed humility with my children, I recognize that it has primarily been from the perspective of what’s socially acceptable. In other words, I have explained that bragging is not the way to win friends. I probably have not fully emphasized God’s perspective on humility as much as I should have.

It is hard to be humble sometimes, even when we are all far from perfect. Many people don’t value humility, nor do they work toward remaining humble. As parents, let’s put some energy into the humility issue; let’s add it to our parenting goals. It’s not splashy or exciting, but those who appreciate and exercise humility will one day be honored far beyond trophies and ribbons.

PRAYER: Most gracious and glorious Father, help me to provide an example of humility for my children and to train them to be humble servants, so that in their successes throughout life, they will give praise and glory to You.

BIBLE VERSE: “Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these…” (Daniel 2:27-28 NIV).

Third-Hand Ham

August 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cynthia Ruchti –

Sometimes love looks a lot like ham.

It did the day someone gave us a third-hand ham. Oh, it was new, fresh, still in its original packaging, but it had traveled through two other homes before it came to rest at ours.

Its first owner won the ham in a raffle. He doesn’t eat ham. So he gave it to a friend. But the friend insisted the ham was outrageously too big for his small family. So he gave it to us. For us, it was an answer to prayer for something nice to serve at a big family gathering. Spiral ham, no less.
Now that I think about it, the ham was a fourth-hand ham, if you count the people who donated it for the raffle.

Rather than viewing it as the dreaded “regifting,” we saw the journey that ham took as a journey of love.

It made me stop to think about a subject that the Lord often uses to reveal more of His genuine heart toward His people. Toward me.

I’ve marveled before at the feeding of the 5,000 where Jesus took five small loaves of bread and two small fish and turned it into a feast for the multitude…with twelve basketsful left over! But fourth-hand ham stirred me to consider what might have happened with those leftovers.

Did the disciples throw the leftovers away? It doesn’t fit the picture of how God operates. Did Jesus instruct His disciples to take those baskets out into the villages and find homeless or hungry people who would receive the scraps with gratitude? That seems more likely. Once Jesus touched anything, it wasn’t worthless. His leftovers, His glances, the dust-caked hem of His robe brought people in contact with His mighty, healing power.

Someday I may meet a new friend in heaven who starts her story with, “I wasn’t there that day, for the feeding of the 5,000. But my family was the recipient of one of the baskets of leftovers. I’ve never tasted anything so delicious. It fed us for a long time and not only kept us from starvation, but it showed us that God cared about us, even us.”

What do I have—in its original packaging, fresh, valuable—that might need to pass through a few hands until it gets to the hungry person God had in mind from the beginning?

PRAYER: Father God, thank You for all the times You’ve laid a ham at our doorstep, a bag of groceries, a gift card. Please make me more sensitive to those around me who not only need the food, but the reminder that You care.

BIBLE VERSE: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38, NIV).

Next Page »