Oil For Our Lamps

June 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cheri Cowell –

Did you know the Bible has a lot to say about procrastination? Like millions of people, as the year begins I set goals for the New Year. I must admit, however, I am bitten by the after Christmas blues, or as some might call them, the having difficulty getting back into the swing of things blues. I easily find ways to put things off, delay acting, and as Webster so harshly nails it on the head, I am negligent. Ouch! So, I decided to go to God’s Word to get a jump-start, or maybe a kick in my pants.

If you need one too, read the Bible verse for today.

In this parable, we get a clear picture of the results of consistent procrastination. It was customary on the wedding day for the bridegroom to go to the bride’s house for the ceremony. Then bride and groom, along with the processional of family and friends, would return to the groom’s house for a feast or banquet, which sometimes lasted a week.

Also of note, Jesus often referred to the gift of the Holy Spirit as oil. When I reread this parable with this information, I began to see how my procrastination was a result of leaning on my own abilities, gifts, and initiative. Instead, if I fill my lamp with His oil, and my spirit with The Spirit and lean on Him to lead my way, the procrastination will turn into productivity. What a great lesson to begin the New Year.

PRAYER: God, show me what You might want me to learn today about procrastination. Thank You for understanding my tendency to procrastinate. Help me to lean more upon You and less upon my own abilities, gifts, and initiative and more on Your Holy Spirit.

BIBLE VERSE: “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps” (Matthew 25:1-5 read through 13 for whole parable. NASB).

Do You Have a Growth Commitment?

June 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

I often ask people how long their New Year’s resolutions last. Typically they seem to crash and burn sometime by the end of January. So life goes on as it did before.

Positive change must be addressed every day. It happens not by achievement but by habit.

I encourage people to chuck resolutions in favor of what I call “growth commitments” that I establish for each year. I’ve done annual growth commitments since 1986 that have led to major growth and changes in my life, which also makes my wife happy.

Think primarily in terms of personal character growth, not just paying off a credit card or losing weight. Those are fine, but if you relate them to deeper issues of character growth, you’ll go much deeper with the whole commitment and attain more overall results than you would otherwise. Go ahead and have other goals. But if you keep the growth commitment to one main thing, simply expressed, you will do well.

Two keys make it work: 1—Keep it simple and short, then write it on a on a small piece of paper (or PDA), and put it where you’ll see it daily, like on a mirror, in a wallet, as a bookmark, or whatever works for you. 2—Pray it, incorporate it into time you (hopefully) spend with God each day. And do it all year long. When you write it down and keep it where you’ll always see it, you enable yourself to consistently pray it.

Doing this accomplishes two other things: You bring God’s response into it, and you reorient your own thinking around the commitment. Change your thinking and you’ll change your behavior—especially if you seek God’s blessing each day.

What would your 2013 growth commitment be?

“Lord, my life is in Your hands. In this coming year mold me into your image and grow me beyond who I am now….”

“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 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 29:11-13, NIV).

One-Eighty

June 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I sat at a table in the food court just after Christmas. Three teen girls squeezed in next to me. I found myself included in their conversation whether I chose to be or not.

“My grandma gave me ten measly dollars.”

“That’s better than what I got. At least you get to pick out something you want. I’m stuck with ugly mittens and a hat—that my grandma made.”

I pictured a gray-haired lady in a tattered shawl and fingerless gloves huddled close to her space heater. She ignores the searing pain in her knotted joints as she knits (having gone without lunch for months in order to afford the yarn), smiling wistfully and fondly praying over this granddaughter with every painful stitch.

Manna. In Exodus 16 God’s people were hungry. He sent heavenly food to them with the dew each night. It tasted “like wafers made with honey.” By Numbers 11, they were tired of manna. They whined about it. And then Moses complained about their complaining. God became “exceedingly angry” and sent quail until they were so sick of it, it came out their nostrils.

The third girl spoke up. “I’d be happy for even a hug from my grandma. She died a few months ago.”

The girls got quiet. They got the point.

Not only they: I looked at the brand-new coat I’d planned to replace that day, complaining it wasn’t quite my style. I thanked God for it, took the money I would have spent on a new one, and tucked it into the Salvation Army bucket. Grateful.

PRAYER: Lord, You’ve caused a one-eighty in my perspective and reminded me to be grateful. Thank You!

BIBLE VERSE: “O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:12b NIV).

Christmas Will be Different This Time

May 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cynthia Ruchti –

“Christmas will be different this time,” I vowed. “No more rushing around for last minute gifts. No more stress headaches from the spreadsheet of our holiday activities. No more sending out Christmas cards three weeks into the New Year with a traditional holiday greeting: Sorry this is so late.”

I made that vow the first weekend of October that year. But my kids didn’t get their Christmas wish lists to me in time to get things ordered. I couldn’t find the ideal Christmas card to send and procrastinated on creating a Christmas letter because most of the stories of what happened needed updating. Where was the picture of our trip to the Rockies? On the cell phone? The digital camera? The computer?

The black-out dates on the calendar—for meditation on the reason for the season—turned gray, then grayish white, then black lettering on a pure white background…one more important activity that promised to help us focus on family, friends, and faith. It focused, instead, on frenzy.

Old, cherished traditions were squeezed out by the football schedule. Gifts were slapped into used gift bags with last year’s name sticker ripped off, replaced by a scar-covering bow.

The Christmas Tea for my sisters and girlfriends would have happened, if we hadn’t waited too long to plan the date. No one could get free on the same afternoon.

I didn’t think about our advent calendar—little windows with “The Promised Messiah” Scripture references—until December 11th.

What if God’s approach to Christmas had been as haphazard and unintentional as my efforts?  What if the Lord’s good intentions were squeezed out by other “running the universe” activities? Understandable.

Devastating.

What if the star “came and stood over where the credit cards bills lay”? What if the priceless moment of Christ’s birth were delayed until halftime? Hee-hee-hee-hoo, Mary.

What if…this year…I treat that holy moment with the respect the angels gave it?

PRAYER: Holy God, when I sing “I Surrender All” today, I mean to include all the hoopla of the holidays. I surrender it all to You. That will be my new favorite holiday song. I’ll still sing Joy to the World and Silent Night, but the theme this year is “I Surrender All.”

BIBLE VERSE: “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11 NLT).

Mary’s Willing Heart

May 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Carin LeRoy –

Christmas is a time of busyness: shopping, gift-wrapping, parties and family time. I love to decorate the house, put up my nativity scene and celebrate the season with many past traditions. But in all the season’s activities, do we give ourselves time to reflect on the events that occurred for Jesus to be born of the Virgin Mary? Do we stop to think about what birthing Christ meant to her?

She was probably a teenager when she became pledged to Joseph. This pledge meant she belonged to Joseph even though they were not yet married, and it was more binding than our modern-day engagements. Only a written divorce could separate their agreement. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary to tell her she would miraculously give birth to Jesus, her response was, “May it be as you have said,” (Luke 1:38 NIV).

She was willing to take on public humiliation as an unwed mother, to risk Joseph misunderstanding or not believing her and to let others in the community look down on her. God had looked on her with favor and selected her for a task that many others might have rejected. She chose to let God use her to accomplish a much bigger purpose – even though it meant personal suffering for a time.

Do we have the same submissive spirit as Mary? Will we respond with the same quick answer? As we celebrate this Christmas season, let’s also remember that Christ could only come to earth through the willingness of a young woman, named Mary, who chose to suffer for a time for God’s greater purpose. “May it be to me as you have said,” should be our response, too, to a Savior who might ask something difficult of us. May we have a heart as willing as Mary’s to heed the voice of God.

PRAYER: Lord, give me a heart that is willing to heed Your voice, even if it might mean personal suffering. Help me to see that You may have a greater purpose and desire an impact far greater than my own comfort.

BIBLE VERSE: “‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her” (Luke 1: 34-38 NIV).

« Previous PageNext Page »