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).

Where am I Going?

May 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cheri Cowell –

The first thing I do when I’m going on a trip is decide where I want to go. Come on, you might be saying. That is obvious. I wish it had been more obvious or I wouldn’t have wasted so much of my life trying to go somewhere I didn’t really want to go. I didn’t understand that if my ladder were leaning against the wrong wall, I wouldn’t be where I wanted to be when I got to the top. It wasn’t until recently that I began to ponder the real questions of where I wanted to go. Who did I want to be when I got there? What did my life stand for? Do I have a bigger purpose?

In order for us to prepare for the Advent journey we are taking on our journey to Christmas, we need to decide where we want to end up.

Zechariah lived in Judea at the time of Jesus birth. He and his wife Elizabeth lived an obedient life. They loved God with all their hearts and served Him in the Temple. The Bible calls them “upright in the sight of God.” However, all was not perfect in their lives. They were childless, which in those days was a disgrace. I’m sure they asked the same questions you and I do about what their lives stood for, where they going, and what it all meant? While they wondered, they never wavered in their devotion to God and their desire to be all God wanted them to be. So, when God searched the earth for the parents of John the Baptist, the one who would prepare “the way” for Jesus, He found them…Pure, willing, obedient, and humble.

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron.  Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:5-6 NIV).

PRAYER: This is my prayer; that when God combs the earth looking for the next vessel to do His work in His world, He will find me “upright in the sight of God.”

THOUGHT: What path do you have your life on? What wall is your ladder leaning against? Ask God to help you make Him become your purpose.

A Giant has Died

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

By Peter Lundell –

Steve Jobs revolutionized computer use so totally and pervasively that he changed the world. And all before his mid fifties. I lose my breath just thinking about the man’s prowess and accomplishments. And I write this on an iMac. I feel almost a personal loss.

He clawed his way up, was knocked down, and came back stronger. People with this combination of genius, creative innovation, and relentless pursuit come along once in a generation.

Given all that, I’m deeply thoughtful at his early death and what it means. He was the creative computing titan. He had all the money one could imagine; he had all the technology one could imagine. But neither could save him.

This leader and changer of the world was felled by cancer in his pancreas that couldn’t be fixed or upgraded. Before his diagnosis he didn’t even know what a pancreas did. I didn’t either.

I think of how little I’ve accomplished by comparison. I know I’ve done a lot that has eternal value—and that’s what God looks at, so I rejoice. Still it’s hard not to feel small, but that’s okay. Yet I have one thing that Jobs didn’t. One thing that all the money and technology in the world couldn’t buy for him or me: good health.

What a gift to have a healthy body. And I see so many people not taking care of the only one they have. Jobs would have given anything to be healed, yet he didn’t seem to have faith or anyone to pray with him.

So I’m left with the gravity of it all. And I think:

Be thankful for the gift others are to us—they could soon be
taken.

We are fragile, frighteningly fragile.

Whatever we accomplish or don’t accomplish, make sure to be in God’s hands.

PRAYER: “Lord, I sometimes feel so small, and at times I wonder what my life is, or has been, worth. In truth I am more fragile than I am aware; others have been taken from me, and someday I will be taken. Lead me to live each day in Your hands. . . .”

BIBLE VERSE: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’S love is with those who fear him.”(Psalm 103:15–17 NIV).

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