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 Likewise, the character trait of humility seems almost outdated in today’s society.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).

A Steady Outlook: Joy

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

By Carin LeRoy –

What is the difference between happiness and joy? We think the meaning would be the same, but there is a distinction. Theologians define happiness as a temporal fleeting emotion, while joy is something that goes deeper. Many people can be tossed around in life depending on their circumstance–having gladness in the good times, but miserable in the difficult. Their emotions vacillate according to their situation.

Even though life brings its high and low moments, as believers we can have a steady grasp and outlook on life because we walk with God through them.

Scripture talks about joy. It is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, and we are admonished to “be joyful always” (I Thes. 5:16 NIV). When God tells us to have joy, it’s not perpetual happiness, because life isn’t always pleasant. It’s an inner steadiness and outlook on life no matter what circumstance comes our way. It’s a strength that comes from our knowledge of who we are in Christ and how He has blessed us. We have an awareness that God is in control and at work in our lives. Joy comes as we trust in God and His ability to accomplish His will for us.

Scripture gives many examples of what brings joy:
• God himself (Psalm 4:6,7)
• Our salvation (Isaiah 44:23)
• God’s unfailing love (Psalm 90:14)
• God’s presence (Psalm 21:6)
• Our eternal blessings (Proverbs 10:28)
• A timely word (Proverbs 15:23)
• A Cheerful look (Psalm 15:30)
• Music (Psalm 92:1-4)

These are only a few examples, but joy can be with us daily. Psalm 126: 5,6 says, ” Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping carrying seeds to sow will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with him.” Life’s tears will bring joy. Hard times are not happy times, but we get through them if we learn where the source of our joy comes. It is in God. Remember God’s blessings, trust in His sovereignty and know He is still at work in your life. Let’s have joy be the outlook of our soul.

QUOTE: We would never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world – Helen Keller.

PRAYER: Lord thank You that you are a sovereign God and You are always working out Your purposes for my life. Thank You for the many ways You have blessed me. Give me a joyful heart that is willing to trust You through the good times and the bad.

A New You

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

By Cheri Cowell –

With all the talk at the beginning of the year of diet plans and exercising our way to a “new you,” it makes me think of the “new you” promised us in the Bible. We talked often in my childhood home of what heaven was going to be like. We spoke of the people we loved who had gone before us and what fun they must be having in the perfect place God had prepared for them. We just knew that my great-grandmother, Mumsey, was in a perfectly outfitted kitchen, baking heavenly treats for the heavenly host. We knew my grandfather was in the woodshop building beautiful pieces of furniture for the many altars in heaven. I now appreciate the gift my parents gave me in providing those happy discussions of heaven. My father was a diabetic and took insulin shots three times daily from the age of nine. He is now in heaven and I am grateful he no longer suffers that pain because he has a new body. One day I know I will be with him again and will hug him with my new body. What a gift that assurance is. Do you need to be reassured today of that hope?

In today’s Scripture, Paul contrasts our earthly bodies (tents) with our resurrection bodies (eternal house in heaven- heavenly dwelling). Our earthly bodies make us groan, but when we die we will not be naked (without a body). We will have new bodies perfectly suited for an eternal life with Christ. What a hope! What a promise!

PRAYER: I praise You, God, for Your promise of a new life with a new body when I die and go to live with You. Thank You for the reassurance that those I love are no longer suffering in their earthly bodies; help me stay focused on that promise, that hope, when this body makes me groan.

BIBLE VERSE: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NASB).

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