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.

Phony Following

July 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

One of the more recent discoveries I made is this: obedience brings blessings, but delayed obedience is disobedience.

Gulp. Now, I have always thought of myself as an obedient person. I was, however, using the worldly definition, which says that if I obey eventually, even begrudgingly, I have obeyed.

This is not God’s definition. Our forefathers had it right when they demanded a “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir” with a strong and agreeable tone in their children’s voices. It was a way to condition them to a God-type of obedience. An obedience that would serve them well as adult children of God. An obedience that requires not just the requested behavior, but also a bending of the will. Why does God demand this sort of swallowing of our pride? Because our actions must match our words, and our words must match our heart. God knows what’s in our hearts.

In the Parable of the Two Sons, one son said he wanted to obey but did not do as he said. That son was indeed disobedient. The one who wrestles with God and then finally follows through with action is the one who obeys. It is just as dangerous, however, to do something with a heart that is not inclined. We must be careful to have all three—our hearts, words, and actions—in alignment. We won’t be able to fool God because He can spot a phony follower in a heartbeat.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for being obedient, even to death, so I might have the privilege of following. Help me follow You in a way that honors. Help me to punctuate my “Yes, Sirs” with a heart and action that echo my words.

BIBLE VERSE: “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go” (Matthew 21:28-32 NIV).

Obituaries and Eternity

By Peter Lundell –

For a brief time I read obituaries in the newspaper—just for fun. It didn’t last long, because they got repetitious. Besides, reading about dead people can get morbid. Yet I learned something.

All the deceased were good people and were missed. Of course they were; people don’t spend money on obituaries for people they don’t like. I didn’t see any for jerks—no one missed them. Or if anyone really was bad, the description was whitewashed.

Each obituary listed the career highlights and accomplishments of the deceased. Some were impressive: degrees, important jobs, civic activities, and contributions. Most folks appeared to have been nice people, good people, ones we’d like if we met them. I found myself being impressed. I imagined meeting them during their lifetime and being impressed—even envious and wishing I had accomplished the things they had.

But there was always one catch: They were dead. This single fact changed everything. After reading all the impressive things they did, I found myself oddly unimpressed. I kept thinking, So what? Their life achievements are over, and now they’re in eternity.

I scoured each obituary for indications of whether they had prepared themselves for eternity. I can’t say whether they or not they did, but nothing was ever said about it. I’m sure some did and some didn’t. Some knew God and some had positively influenced others, but most centered their activities and accomplishments on themselves.

Crossing the line into eternity changes everything—everything that on this earth is impressive or important or worthwhile.

Someday people will read my obituary. Yours too. What if we live our brief lives in ways that reflect and prepare for eternity? After all, that’s where we’re all going. And besides, we’ll almost certainly end up living better lives.

PRAYER: “Lord, teach me to live with eternity in my heart, eternity in my thinking, eternity in my actions, and as I do to change the world I live in.”

BIBLE VERSE: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).

Footloose and Fashion Free

July 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

Kevin Bacon’s 1984 original, Footloose, was released during my college years, and twenty-seven years later, the remake starring Julianne Hough hit the big screen. I’ve seen the first several times, but have not yet viewed the updated version. However, I did attend our local high school’s musical production of “Footloose” just recently, and it was both fun and frightening.

In the live show, students unabashedly replicated the 1980’s fashions. I envisioned girls reviewing their mothers’ old photos and raiding their closets for vintage looks, as any dedicated artist would. And, each actress embraced those crazy trends, working every terrifying one into the outfits worn on stage. Neon-colored leggings and tights, leg warmers, gym wear hanging topsy-turvy off their shoulders, cock-eyed pony tails, and gloves with lace and without fingers—scary fashion flashback to the third power!

While inspired and amazed by the talent of our local young people, I think I sat mouth agape when reminded of how I no doubt looked some thirty years ago. Then, I looked down at my 10-year-old daughter. She was enthralled by the performance of the teens on stage, and she was sporting some of her own styles.

Rosaline’s skinny wrist was encircled by numerous “bracelets”: hair bands, rubber message bracelets, elastic shape bands and bead craft jewelry. Apparently, she figures that more is better. She recently purchased a very interesting “hat”. Imagine marching band shako meets Russian fur hat. Next, picture long hot pink yarn braids down each side of the—hat. Now, against the background of spiky hot pink faux fur, add the face of famous Muppet character Animal. You’ve got quite a headdress!

When she first wore her hat, I noticed moms looking at me with big eyes and nervous smiles. I had to respond truthfully. I said matter-of-factly “her money, shopping with Dad,” and, in Forrest Gump style, indicated that was all I had to say about that.

As my daughter grows into a teenager and young woman, I’ll continue to question her fashion choices sometimes. I may question other decisions along the way, too. While I hope she’ll always make good clothing choices and, more importantly, wise life choices, I know she may not. That’s when my guidance, understanding and forgiveness will be important. So, bring on the wardrobe, friend and school drama, frightening though it may be.

With His help, she and I are going to have fun!

PRAYER: Gracious God, provide me with wisdom and understanding so that I may raise my daughter well. And, please walk with the two of us through the challenges of the teen years.

BIBLE VERSE: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV).

Remembering to Think

July 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Janet Morris Grimes –

“Can you get out the GPS and run a search for the name of this restaurant? I know it is around here somewhere.”

My daughter, Malloree, proceeded to do so while we waited at a red light. It took a minute for our global positioning system to determine our exact spot on the globe, and then we focused our attention on that tiny screen, making sure to spell the name of the restaurant correctly. A honk from behind notified me that it was time for us to move on; the light had turned green.

The GPS calculated, then recalculated, directing us through a route that made little sense. After going a few blocks down one road, it directed us to turn around and follow that same road in the opposite direction.

“In one mile,” the stoic voice predicted, “you will reach your destination.”

“Good. At least we are close,” my daughter, remarked, checking the time she was supposed to meet her friends.

We scoured both sides of the multi-laned road for this restaurant, as the GPS counted down the yards until we supposedly reached it. Soon, it gave us the signal that we had passed it. But it was still nowhere to be found.

In frustration, I turned on the road circling the mall; the same road we had originally started on. Within seconds, the restaurant was there; right beside us as we waited at another red light.

“Um, Mom. This is the same red light. We were sitting beside the restaurant when I got out the GPS. ”

Ooops. How could we have missed it?

Maybe it’s because somewhere along the way, with all of our helpful gadgets, we have forgotten to think for ourselves. I used to know the number of everyone in my calling circle by heart. But now, if I lost the numbers in my phone for some reason, I would only be able to call about 3 people from memory.

The same is true for the GPS. I used to be able to worm my way through unknown streets, checking for clues and learning my way around. Now, I am dependent on that GPS to count down my turns for me, rarely paying attention to the names of streets, nor how I reached my destination.

Wisdom comes through experience, wise counsel, and a constant desire to learn.

I trust that as God leads me through the confusing paths of day to day life, I would do better to keep my eyes and ears open, depending on what He has taught me thus far rather than some quirky little gadget or shortcut.

BIBLE VERSE: (referring to wisdom) “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” (Proverbs 8:34 NIV)

PRAYER: Dear God, Help us to have the wisdom to watch for signs of You everywhere.

« Previous PageNext Page »