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).

Weak, and Proud of It

September 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cheri Cowell –

“I just can’t go on,” the cry for help rises as a chorus from thousands of counseling rooms around the country.

There are many reasons for this cry, but one of the most common is despair and depression. I’m not talking about clinical depression, and if you have been feeling this way for a long time and it is affecting your ability to function, please see a counselor, for no one should have to suffer when help is available.

The kind of despair and depression I am referring to is a sense that the world’s problems are just too big, and we see ourselves as powerless and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the demands on our time and ability.

But God has an answer for our despair. It is called grace.

God’s grace is His unearned and undeserved favor. It is God, withholding what we deserve and instead giving us His acceptance and love. When He says His grace is sufficient, He is saying that when we fully realize He is giving us His love instead of what we deserve, that should be enough for us. If we were sufficient in ourselves and did not need His grace, then we could handle all of life’s problems on our own and we wouldn’t need Him.

However, since we are not sufficient and are instead weak and powerless, we need Him. It is only because we need Him, because we are weak, that He can be strong for us. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. When we see our weaknesses as opportunities for God to show His power, we can join Paul in saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

PRAYER: I praise You, God, for Your unmerited favor, for Your sufficient grace. Help me when I am feeling weak, to see my weakness as an opportunity for You to show Your power through me.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

 

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).

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