Surprise Me, God

September 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Jarrod Spencer –

One Sunday morning about five years ago, I was taking a shower to get ready for the day ahead. As I was praying, I asked God to surprise me. To be quite honest, I cannot remember if anything amazing happened that day or not.

What I do know is that that phrase in my prayer changed the way I looked at things from that point forward.

It was as if I was the blind man that Jesus placed mud upon his eyes, then scraped it off so I could see clearly. Or Saul, after his sight had been returned. I could now see things I had not been able to see before. It changed my outlook on the people I encountered throughout the day. I looked forward to situations that came about as “God-sent,” and not just coincidences.

I anticipated something great happening when I would go out into the world. I wondered, with an on-the-edge-of-my-seat anxiousness, what God was going to do with the people I came in contact with or where He was going to send me that day. I could sense the Holy Spirit working to connect me with people that needed Him. I felt so much a part of God’s earthly team that I was in the game the entire time, no sitting down to rest. I was looking forward to the next mountain-top experience that may be waiting around the next corner.

I would be lying if I said that everything I encountered was a mountain-top experience. However, as with sports, when you hit that “sweet shot” in any sport, you look forward to the next opportunity. Even though the next shot may not have been as sweet or powerful, I looked forward to the next opportunity.

I do know that about six months after praying this prayer regularly, we found out that we were going to have our first baby. This came after eight and a half years of not being able to have kids. Our excitement was indescribable!

As I mentioned, I am still praying that prayer and look forward to whatever, or whomever, God has in store for me on any particular day.

I challenge you to ask God to surprise you as you look to the future. It’s a wild ride, but quite rewarding!

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the many surprises You have given me. May I continually keep my spiritual eyes open to see what You bring into my life at any given time. Keep them coming, God! I cannot wait to see all that You will surprise me with tomorrow.

“She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, ‘Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus’” (Luke 1:29 MSG).

Rules for the Road

September 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Cheri Cowell –

Have you ever spent time with someone who criticizes and finds fault with everything and everyone around them? It is tiring being with these people.

Perhaps I should say it is tiring if we are working hard to not join them. It is easy if we just chime in, for all of us have a critical spirit by nature.

While walking by someone who is dressed inappropriately, a comment can be made about dressing to attract the wrong kind of attention, then the conversation quickly moves to how the morals of society are going down the drain, and how your mother never would have let you out of the house dressed that way. How easily we use our superior yardstick to judge others. I have often heard it said that we should be careful when pointing a finger at someone because when we do, there are four pointing back at us. Though we may not dress that way, we do many other things that in God’s eyes are just as wrong.

When studying Romans 8:1, it dawned on me I had heard this verse referred to when people were feeling guilt-ridden and needed relief, but I hadn’t really looked at what preceded the ‘therefore.’

Paul has just written his famous words, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” He explains that his body is still a slave to the human desires he was born with (including a critical nature), yet he is now a member of a new kingdom with different rules. Jesus came along and said He knew we couldn’t keep all the rules, and that keeping rules was not the point. The new rule is to love others as yourself and love Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls.

When we do this, we desire to do what is right, and we have the power within us in the form of the Holy Spirit to do it – most of the time.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your new kingdom with the new way of seeing the old rules. Help keep my heart, mind, and soul focused on You so I may give others the grace that has been freely given to me.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 NIV).

My Weakness is His Strength

September 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Donna McCrary –

“Mom, why are you crying? What is wrong with your voice?” These are not the words I wanted to hear as I exited the church platform.

It was a simple invitation to an upcoming women’s event at my church – a basic two minute date-time-and-place announcement. As I sat down at my seat my daughter’s innocent questions only added more injury to my already crushed speaking ego. I was nervous and overwhelmed with panic during the two minute announcement. My face was flush with a red glow from the “flight or fight” adrenaline rush. I was positive my pounding heart echoed over my cracking voice. Yes, it was that bad! Once I regained my composure and my breath, I made a silent vow to never again hear my voice crackling across any sound system.

Normally, I choose not to re-visit this awkward moment in my speaking career but today as I read this verse I chuckled. “But he (Jesus) said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 2:9). I have a weakness. My flight response is much stronger than my fight when it comes to standing on a stage. Public speaking is one of the highest ranking fears and I second that motion!

I have kept my vow to never hear my quivering voice over any loud speaker again. It has taken many days on my knees claiming every “fear not” and “speak boldly” scripture I can find to overcome this fear. To be truly honest, when I take my place on stage before any speaking event I am still the red-faced-heart-pounding-quivering-voice person. The difference is I now accept my weakness and allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me. I am always amazed at how nervous I feel right up to the moment when I am handed a microphone. Then and only then do I feel the calming Spirit settle my nerves.

After speaking events and retreats when individuals from the audience share compliments like, “You are natural on stage,” “You have such a way with words,” “You are a great speaker,” I graciously and humbly say thank you. I know my biggest weakness has become one of my favorite strengths because Christ’s “power has been made perfect in me.”

PRAYER: “Father, I thank You for creating me with weakness so I can fully comprehend Your strength and power. May You always be visible in my words and actions, both on and off the stage.”

“But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT).

212 Degrees: The Extra Degree

September 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Jarrod Spencer –

Missing something by a fraction can make a huge difference. A kicker on a football team may miss a field goal because he went a bit too far right or left. A chemistry experiment may become volatile because the mixture was measured with just a little bit of error. There can be so many things in life that a small difference can make “all the difference” in the world!

Two hundred eleven degrees in water is nothing but hot water. It will burn you, but other than that, there isn’t much of anything special about it. But if you cause that water to become just one degree hotter…magic happens. Bubbles start to form. Power comes forth from where there was no power.

Two hundred twelve degrees is the boiling point of water. When water boils things happen that didn’t happen prior. Think of all the recipes that direct you to bring something to boil. Think of the first locomotives that were driven by steam, and the power they produced to carry heavy loads from one coast to another. Think of the germs that are killed through steam or the wrinkles in clothes that are ironed out because of steam.

Steam comes as a result of the boiling water. There is a lot of power that comes in steam and boiling. But it all “boils” down to the fact that none of that would have happened if it had not been for the extra degree …from 211 to 212 degrees.

As you are in your second month of 2012 think about moving from the degree you are now to moving another degree and imagine the impact that you/we can make for God as we produce some amazing power!

PRAYER: Father, You are amazing. You blow me away! You were willing to go to the extra degree for us to make sure that we could regain the glory we lost when sin separated us from You and that is simply awesome! Thanks for thinking of me (and others) by allowing us to have Your Son to make us whole again!

“And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 2:12b NIV).

Remaking Love

August 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Jarrod Spencer  –

Valentine’s Day – A day set aside for love and romance. However, love is not just “soft”, “pink”, and feminine as Valentine’s Day often depicts. Love is about giving ourselves, just like Christ gave of Himself. Love is about staying committed through pain.

The church is also called to love–to love one another. Love is about action, which brings us to this quote about love by Ursula Le Guin, “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it had to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.”

As I previously mentioned, love is an action. Love that sits is not love at all. Love is about forgiving those that wrong you. Love is about going to someone you have a problem with. Love is to be made new every morning (Lamentations 3:3). Love that remains the same will become hardened and lack elasticity. Love must be able to stretch, so you can forgive those who wrong you. If you won’t stretch to give grace to your transgressor, then love no longer is love. Christians are called to love each other. The church should be modeling love to each other and those in the world. How will you model love?

Have a great rest of your week! May you have many opportunities to model what it means to love others in a Christ-like way today, tomorrow, this weekend, and so on.

Because of His Love ~

PRAYER: Thank You for Your love! Thank you for sending Your Son and lavishing us with Your mercy be allowing us to be forgiven, despite our worthiness!

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” (John 3:16 MSG).

« Previous PageNext Page »