You Need Clouds

July 30, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Donna McCrary –

I walked out on the balcony to listen to the sounds of the ocean and watch the skyline morph from darkness to light. The swollen clouds reflected the last glimmer of moon light. With each passing moment the orange fire ball ascended up behind the clouds. The sky began to dance with hues of soft crimson, amber, sapphire and lavender. The brighter the skyline appeared the darker the clouds turned. Sun rays streaked the blue sky like high beams on a car as their light pierced through the morning. My eyes were captivated by the power of the sun as it surrounded the darkness of the cloud’s shadow. It was a breathtaking site.

The next morning I got up early anticipating the same awe-inspiring painting outside my window. I stepped through the door and was disappointed by the plain blue sky dotted with a big orange ball. As my husband joined me he said, “It is just not as pretty without the clouds. You have to have the clouds.”

You have to have clouds! That was a spiritual truth that penetrated deep into my heart that morning. This year has been filled with many clouds.

The words cancer, no job, leukemia, divorce, death, debt, car wrecks, broken bones seem to constantly consume my thoughts and prayers lately. Like so many others, my family and friends have experienced many worries, trials and struggles. Each of us seem to be facing problems that have no quick solutions, health issues that have no easy cures, financial burdens that seem to grow instead of shrink. Even though I have been praying about these issues they, at times, feel heavy, overwhelming and exhausting. Even to the point that I have cried out to the Son, “Why?” even sarcastically screamed, “Really?”

I took some time that morning to reflect on the dark clouds over the past year and discovered the many ways the clouds have painted a beautiful picture of God’s grace, mercy, healing power, strength and love in my life. I looked up at the plain blue sky, smiled and started praising God for the clouds.

Just like the magnificent sunrise needed the dark clouds to paint a beautiful picture in the sky, our lives need the dark clouds of burdens and trials so the Son can shine around us and captivate the eyes of others.

PRAYER: God, today bring on the clouds! May my heart and mind be willing to experience the clouds so Your glory can shine around me. Help me find my strength and peace in You during the trials.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Fear Not

July 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Cheri Cowell –

This summer we hosted a tour for a few family and friends of one of our favorite national parks—Yellowstone. One brave friend joined us in spite of her very real fear of heights. Even seeing the ledge to a canyon at a distance made her knees buckle. The first few days she stayed several car lengths safely from any railing. But with the reassuring arm of my husband and words of encouragment from everyone, she little-by-little found her way to the railings of even the deepest canyons.

Her fears were still very real and the canyons were still as freightening as they had been at the beginning of the trip. Yet, by the end of the week she was courageously standing near the ledge.

God knows all about conquering fear. He has some advice for those of us facing real fears in the book of Deuteronomy.

Moses, the fearless leader, was stepping down. The Israelites were standing at the entrance to the Promised Land that was filled with enemy nations. They had every reason to fear. The enemy was huge, ruthless, and all logic told them their chances at winning were slim.

What enemies are you facing right now? Your fear might be justified. But the Lord has a word of encouragment for you…Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God goes with you.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for being bigger and mightier than any enemy I am facing. Give me the strength and courage to stand near the ledge in spite of my fears, and to trust that You are with me.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).

The Best in the World

By Jarrod Spencer –

As the 30th Summer Olympic Games drew to a close, I had some remorse. It is always fun to see the “best in the world” come together to compete in the various sports that make up the Summer Olympic Games. Some sports gain more attention than others; some are iconic.

Through the years there have been Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Edwin Moses, Carl Lewis, the “Dream Team” of 1992, Mark Spitz, Florence Griffith-Joyner to name a few.

One “Cinderella” athlete this year was in women’s gymnastics, Gabby Douglas. She helped lead her team to gold in the team competition and won individual gold in the “all around.” Her story is unique. Four years ago, she mentioned that she wanted to be in the Olympics in 2012. She also wanted to be with the coach of 2008 Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson. Gabby said that it looked like Shawn and her coach were having fun, also stating that Shawn’s coach seemed to push her more than she’s been pushed before.

In order for her to have the coach she wanted, she had to go away from her home in Virginia to West Des Moines, Iowa. This meant leaving her family to go live with a sponsor family. She went through highs and lows during her time of training in a seemingly uncomfortable situation. She even wanted to quit and go back home. I know she’s glad now she didn’t!

I want us to think about how many times we may be put into an uncomfortable situation when it comes to sharing our faith. That doesn’t mean simply inviting someone to church. Maybe someone is struggling in life and we don’t know if we should say “Let’s pray” or “I’ll be praying” because we don’t know how they will respond. Imagine what the outcome might be if you would “go for the gold.” I challenge you to work through any areas of discomfort and follow through with what you might be passing up.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father for how you work in our lives to make us potential “winners” in the Kingdom. May we work through our uncomfortable tendencies and “go for the gold” for You.

“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” (II Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

Treasure or Trash

Rosemary Flaaten –

What do you do when someone says something to you that you don’t like? Do you lash back with harsh words meant to cut them down to size or do you pull away, determined to never let that happen again? Have you ever been guilty of separating yourself from people who do not speak positively to you or about you?

This was the setting in 2 Chronicles 18. King Jehoshaphat enquired of King Ahab as to whether or not there was a prophet who might give advice regarding the pending war. King Ahab affirmed that there was another prophet but because this prophet had never prophesied anything good about the king, Ahab hated him.

When I first read this, I felt affronted that King Ahab would be so judgemental and shallow, until I took time to reflect on my own response to receiving harsh words. When someone compliments or speaks positively to me, I readily accept their words as true. But, when offered criticism or negativity, I quickly dismiss their comments as off base. Am I any more fickle than King Ahab?

So what should we do with negative words or criticism? Let me make a suggestion thorough the metaphor of receiving mail. On the outside, a letter may appear shabby or nothing more than junk mail. However before we throw that letter into the garbage it is always wise to open it to ensure it contains nothing of value.

Likewise, we need to have the emotional maturity to be able to examine negative statements to decipher if there is any truth to them. Perhaps this person sees something in us to which we are blind? Is there is anything of value in their remarks that could benefit or stimulate growth? If so, then we should grab them, holding on to them like a gift. On the other hand, if the comments represent their struggles and are indicative of their issues, then we should treat them as junk mail and simply throw them away. If we hold onto these garbage statements they accumulate and clutter our lives. Examine the words we are given and categorize as treasure or trash.

PRAYER: Lord grant me the courage to accept correction and to toss out foolish barbs and the wisdom to know the difference.

“The fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction show prudence.” (Proverbs 15:5 NIV).

Spirits Can Be Restored

June 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Susan Dollyhigh –

An empty old Georgian style house with magnificent columns in front sits on my street. Passing by this old house, I think how beautiful it must have been when it was first built and in times past. Neglected for many years, the white paint is fading and peeling. The house has even been vandalized inside and out. Having been empty for so long, it’s hard to know how much damage has actually been done. How much would it cost to restore this old house? I wondered. Can it even be saved?

How I wish someone would move in and fix up that old place! I know it has the potential to be so beautiful. That dilapidated old structure is a lot like many of us. We come into this world so beautifully created by our Maker. Then someone we trust hurts us; emotionally, physically or both. We may shut down emotionally because it hurts too much to feel. We may not care about our appearance. Beautiful spirits broken and sometimes even destroyed. After our “spiritual house” sits empty for so long, others may start to wonder if we can ever be restored. What will it take to restore us? How much will it cost? Can we even be saved?

The answer to this question is simply, “yes.” If we allow Jesus into our hearts, He can heal the scars caused by abuse and repair the broken spirit. And, unlike that old house on my street that would probably cost so much to restore, the cost of Jesus’ restoration is free. And Jesus’ work is always beautiful; after all, He is the Master Carpenter.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for being the Lord who heals us. Help us to feel Your healing touch today.

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5 NIV).

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