Beauty from Water and Sand

September 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Beauty rises from consistent, mundane effort. I saw this when I had the privilege of hiking “The Narrows” in Zion National Park, perhaps among the world’s greatest hikes. It’s a “slot canyon,” which gets as narrow as 15-20 feet, and in which the swirling walls rise vertically, and even cantilever, to where they are in some places only 10 feet apart. Most of the time the path is the river.

Even in the upper reaches of the canyon, the water is an opaque tan. It looks somewhat ugly and in need of cleaning. But it has always been opaque tan from the sand and dirt washing down.

My shoes were constantly catching sand and small bits of rock. Whenever I cupped my hands in the water, I received a watery sand blast.

This continuous heavy erosion into the river is exactly what made the incredible canyon in the first place. And elsewhere on a larger scale, we get the Grand Canyon. Beauty rises from continuous mundane erosion.

Look at anything in life, whether something you admire or that you yourself have done. Look at a person who has a mature and admirable character, or someone who has accomplished remarkable things. These are like the amazing canyons of the natural world. They happen through relentless consistency and work that may seem painfully mundane. But the result is astonishing beauty or achievement.

Is there an area in your life where you are doing this? I encourage you to keep it up. Do you have the potential—if you did the daily, mundane work—to create a thing of beauty or be a person of more noble character? I believe every one of us does.

PRAYER: Lord, may I learn from the world You have given me to see purpose even in the small things I do, to be patient and never give up in doing what You have called me to do and being who You have created me to be.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:7-9 NIV).

A Thorough Housecleaning

September 16, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

The mocha cheesecake had served its purpose. Our dinner guests had exclaimed about its silky texture and rich coffee and chocolate flavor. But now the last half sat on the third shelf of my refrigerator. Every time I opened the frig door it seemed to call my name and lure me in for just one more bite. By the end of the weekend, the majority of that cake had made its way from the third shelf onto my muffin top.

During this same weekend I was reading the book of Joshua where the Israelite’s fearsome leader gives his final charge. Joshua knew the Israelite’s propensity to allow their hearts to wander away from the true God and that they were at greatest risk of doing this by allowing the subtle infiltration and acceptance of other gods. His admonition? “Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23)

I was quick to congratulate myself that I didn’t have any god statues in my house. But, as I licked the remaining crumb of cheesecake from the corner of my mouth, I was reminded that gods are anything we idolize and give our devotion. I had to admit that that cheesecake had a hold on me. That weekend I had given my devotion to a mixture of cream cheese, coffee and sugar and in doing so I had not upheld my commitment to God to eat healthily and disciplined.

So the choice lay before me. My frugal upbringing reasoned that it would be wasteful to throw out anything edible. “Keep it. Someone else in the family might want it”. But as I stood before the refrigerator, I knew I had to act on the Holy Spirit’s prompting from Joshua’s words, “Throw away the foreign gods among you.” Oh, the freedom my spirit felt when the last of that cheesecake made its way down the garbage disposal. It was gone and I was no longer held captive by an idol in my midst.

Do you have any idols that linger, pulling at your desire and causing you to stumble? Be ruthless. Nothing is worth taking the risk of allowing our hearts to be pulled away from our one true God. Do a thorough housecleaning today.

PRAYER: Help me to be strong and courageous to rout the idols from my life.

“But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5 NIV)

When Thank You is Not Enough

September 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Cheri Cowell –

After the last of the three hurricanes hit Florida in 2004, my husband and I opened our home to our neighbors – a family of seven plus a cat and a dog. Their home was uninhabitable with water damage throughout. They were so appreciative and couldn’t thank us enough. We didn’t see what we did as anything special. In our eyes it was a no-brainer. We had the space, and they had a need we could fill.

Last week I also read the account of a man who was just released from prison after 18 years when DNA evidence proved he was innocent. As I read today’s scripture these two unrelated stories suddenly united to illustrate a question that is difficult for us to comprehend. The question? How do we thank someone who has done something so incredible, so gracious, and for which thank you doesn’t seem to fit?

God has provided that answer for us in the parable below. Like the servant in the parable, we have been given an incredible gift. And like us with our neighbors, God saw our need and without a second thought, He gave what He had, forgiving our debt with His own blood. And like the attorneys who fought for the innocent man, God went to battle with Satan to rescue us from life in prison. How do we repay such a gift? The parable says we are to go and do likewise. We extend that grace to others and give our blessings away.

“When some other officials found out what had happened, they felt sorry for the man who had been put in jail. Then they told the king what had happened. The king called the first official back in and said, “You’re an evil man! When you begged for mercy, I said you did not have to pay back a cent. Don’t you think you should show pity to someone else, as I did to you?” The king was so angry that he ordered the official to be tortured until he could pay back everything he owed. That is how my Father in heaven will treat you, if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all your heart” (Matthew 18:23-35 (33-35 above) CEV)

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for the incredible gift of my debt erased by Your grace. Help me receive that gift by extending the same grace to those around me today.

Was That Dumb Or What?

September 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Carin LeRoy –

Recently my husband and I were traveling to meet up in the same location for a conference. I was coming from our home in Florida, and he was coming in from the Midwest. En route, while on a layover my husband called and said, “Well, I missed my flight. I had the time of departure wrong and didn’t leave enough time for the bus ride to the airport.”

Boy, my husband needs me around to take care of the details for him. How could he miss his flight,” I thought—although I refrained from saying too much to him on the phone. As I sat in the Philadelphia airport for my 4 hour lay-over at Gate 30 sipping coffee and reading a book, people start lining up to board. Walking over to stand in line, I notice the screen says “Phoenix.”

What? I’m not going to Phoenix. I’m going to Rochester!

I realize in a panic that I’m in the wrong terminal. With a bus ride in between, I start heading to Terminal F pulling my luggage and racing through the airport. I had less than 30 minutes before the plane departed. Praying as I ran, I threw my shoes off, grabbed them and ran barefoot down the halls.

Lady sprinting barefoot in a panic through airport = she’s in danger of missing her flight.

Out of breath, I arrive at the gate exhausted and hand the agent my boarding pass.

“Ma’am, the flight just departed.”

I realized too late there was a BIG difference between C30 and F30. While I chided my husband in missing the details of his flight, I had done worse. I had more than enough time to figure out where I was supposed to be, but was blinded by my own stupidity and lack of attention to detail. Texting him my dilemma he wrote back, “Wow, that was dumber than me!”

How many times do we have a self-righteous attitude? We judge others for their actions and think we have it right when we are blind to our own mistakes. That’s why God reminds us in Matthew to take the beam out of our eye before we try to take the speck out of our brother’s. God knows our human nature will scrutinize the faults of others, but neglect to see our own. Let’s remember to let encouragement trump judgment. Maybe there are times for constructive criticism, but scripture is clear that grace and mercy are far better.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to check my own actions before I find fault with others. Keep me mindful that a self-righteous attitude does not honor you, but showing others grace and mercy does.

“Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7: 3-4 NET).

Debates, Digging and Discernment

September 9, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Hally Franz –

We are in debate season. While I am not a political activist nor particularly informed regarding current campaign issues, I have tuned in to the debates. And, one of the things I find frustrating is how information presented as facts is so often disputed by the opposing candidate as exaggerated or simply untrue. How can facts be false? I mean, is there nothing in this world that is an undisputable absolute?

Why does it seem there is always some alternative way of arriving at a given statistic, some slight interpretation deviation that renders what should be very clear-cut pieces of truth as questionable or open to dispute? It is maddening!

Given this circumstance, it becomes the burden of us voters to delve deeper into the claims of the candidates, and to investigate the numbers a bit more for ourselves.

Our Christian faith is like that as well.

While we recognize the Bible as God’s holy and eternal truth, are there not various views on what we find written in His word? Some books of the Bible, like Job or Daniel, may be quite straight-forward and viewed similarly by most religious leaders. Others, like Revelation, for example, are seen quite differently by Biblical scholars.

I trust the wisdom of the elders and minister at my church home fully, but I know that other church groups in my community and world do not completely concur with the beliefs held by brethren whom I worship with weekly. Many of us share the most important truths surrounding our Christian faith, but we find differences as we dig deeper into God’s holy word.

So, in that way, growing into an informed believer is like becoming an informed voter. We need to do our own searching of the material that is available, the Bible and works of Biblical scholars. We need to become educated for ourselves and arrive at a place of peace and comfort concerning our own beliefs.

While the stakes of this election may be great, those connected with our faith are even more important. November may come and go without me figuring out truth from fiction. Likewise, I have no doubt that I’ll leave this world with unanswered questions for my Creator. In the meantime, my time may be better spent researching the mysteries of our Heavenly Father rather than the records of our earthly leaders.

PRAYER: Almighty God, help me to continually study Your holy word, so that I may become an ever-more confident Christian, able to thoroughly understand and articulate the Biblical truths that I hold.

“The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15 NKJV).

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