Hope for the Hopeless

October 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

Several years ago, a New Living translation of select scripture verses was compiled in a booklet called The Book of Hope, and given free of charge to anyone calling in response to a series of commercials aimed at those who may have lost all hope. With the days following Christmas and New Years being the ones with the highest numbers of suicides, these commercials were created to reach the millions who are without hope and may choose this way of escape. There are many reasons psychologists have given for this yearly phenomenon, but depression seems to be the common denominator.

In Webster’s dictionary, one of the definitions given for depression is hopelessness. Without hope there is no reason to go on, no purpose in life; without hope that things will change, improve, move towards some goal or purpose, there is no future. And without a future there is no reason for a now. So what is in this booklet? It contains the words and promises of God.

The writer of this psalm calls on God to deliver him from death and famine. We know, however, that God does not deliver all who trust in Him from these horrors of life, yet we can still place our trust in Him because…well, because His is the only one big enough to hear our cries, to be there with us in the midst of our struggles, and to deliver us “home” to heaven when our time has come. Without hope in someone bigger than you or I, life can become too much to handle.

Our hope is indeed in Him whose unfailing love is our greatest promise from His Word: The Book of Hope.

PRAYER: God as I bow my head, I trust You sense my fears, understand my struggles, and know my need for a life raft of hope. Help me cling to Your Word as an assurance of the hope available to me. I rest in that hope and rejoice in the promises of Your unfailing love.

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness. To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us,
according as we have hoped in You” (Psalm 33:18-22 NASB).

Hand-Me-Downs

September 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Robin J. Steinweg –

Five years of fashion separated my older sister’s wardrobe from my eager little frame. As I inherited the stylish clothes she grew out of, the clothes often hung off of me, because I could not wait until they actually fit. Many times, by the time they did, the trends had changed. Five years is a long time in the world of what-to-wear.

As a believer in Christ, I also inherited a wardrobe from Him: garments of salvation and robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), a crown of life (James 1:12), a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4), and a full set of armor (Ephesians 6:13-17) which includes the accessories of shoes and a belt!

Garments from the first-born of creation (Jesus) never wear out and are always in vogue for Christ-followers of either gender. They provide the perfect fit.

AUTHOR QUOTE: I’m perfectly clothed wearing the garments of God.

“…to bestow on them…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3 NIV).

Stand Down

September 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Elaine James –

The Range Officer yelled out the command “Stand Down!” Upon hearing the command, the men in the target range lowered their weapons. He explained during their training that when he gives the “stand down” order, it does not mean to lay your weapon down. Quite the contrary. When one is in the “stand down” position, he must stay alert. There must be a Range Officer present at all times when the target range is open. It is his responsibility to secure the area and give complete instructions before allowing anyone to practice shooting, so everyone will be safe.

This was described by my friend who had her first target range experience.

This description stimulated my writer’s mind to formulate this analogy comparing God to the range officer. God, our range officer, commanded very similar requests to us in Ephesians six, the section which is entitled, The Protection for Believers, The Armor of God. In this section of the Bible, which is only seven verses long, Paul gives this instruction:

1. Stand against the devil’s schemes.
2. Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground.
3. After you have done everything stand.
4. Stand firm!

We go through life feeling fearful, anxious, worried or overwhelmed, asking “why is this happening to me?” That question could be answered with a question like “where is your armor of God?” Is it in a pile on the floor? The word of God is the sword of the Spirit; it is either in your hand or lying around collecting dust. It is the only offensive weapon in our armor.

“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV).
Praying daily and putting on the full armor of God can be likened to going to the target range, having the range officer present and realizing we must never put our weapons down, but “Stand Down” instead.

PRAYER: Dear God, I confess that at times I lay my armor down. Please forgive me. Help me to be reminded that I need to put on the full armor of God daily.

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord-and he will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2-3 NIV).

Who’s Listening?

September 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten  –

Listening for God’s voice sometimes feels like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. We’ve been told He’s out there. We may even experienced His work in our lives, but at times, when we desire a direct answer on an important matter, the phone line to heaven seems to be out of order. We quickly assume that the trouble is on God’s end. We’re looking for His help. We’re all ears.

But are we? What does it really mean to hear from God?

I have a daughter who loves to talk. She communicates brilliantly about the details of her day. The problem is not in her speaking but in my lagging ability to listen. As my daughter talks, my mind ends up on rabbit trails and before I can stop myself, I have that far-away gaze. She knows she has lost me. To be truly attentive to her, I have to stop talking and stop thinking about what I’m going to say next or how I can correct or encourage her. I have to put aside my agenda, and simply listen.

When it comes to connecting with God, I’m just like my daughter. I like to talk to God and tell Him all about what I did, what I am desiring and what He should do about it. The breakdown in our communication lies not my unwillingness to talk. Nor does His mind wander when I’m talking to Him. God is present and listening.

The breakdown in our communication is not God’s inability, or unwillingness, to speak but rather my construed expectations of how He ought to interact with me. I long to have Him appear in a burning bush or send writing on the wall or even sit face to face like He did with His disciples. It seldom happens this way. God communes with us at the spiritual level. His Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds not in an audible voice but through the awakening of our mind and heart to His movement in our lives. This demands stillness and intimacy.

PRAYER: O Lord, teach me to recognize the gentle movement of Your whisper.

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you’re not disappointed” (Jeremiah 29:12-14 MSG).

Connecting With God

August 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

Recently, I watched a video on the internet about connecting with God. I was simply searching for an illustration for some teaching that I was doing in my church on worship. What came from the process was a fresh perspective for my own life.

The message of the video was not spoken, but rather a series of phrases attached to a visible thread. It framed a cohesive thought reminding me that connecting with God in worship is not simply about an attitude of recognizing His worthiness. Nor is it a practice or behavior supported by a conducive set of worship songs or the right litergy.

Instead, true worship is the natural response of a person who is in a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe that is uninhibitted by sin. There is only one problem: There is no person on earth who’s relationship with God is not impacted by sin. That is why there is no way to connect with God in worship apart from the Gospel.

Simply put, the Gospel message is that Jesus Christ came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a cross to pay for our sin, was buried, and rose again from the dead three days later to secure our victory over death. He has ascended back to Heaven and will return again for His followers (God’s children) to live with Him for eternity. This salvation is a free gift that is received by grace through faith and repentance.

In John chapter 4 we read a story about Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. Their conversation begins on the topic of a human’s essential need for water, but quickly turns to a universal heart issue about people connecting with God in worship. It reminds us that people all around the world striving to somehow connect with God.

As I continued to search for videos, the diversity of approaches illustrated online demonstrated that people across the street and on the other side of the planet are searching for spiritual peace and life in many ways. But God’s Word tells us where the connecting point truly is. It is found in Jesus Christ. In every aspect of our faith journey, there is a connection with the Gospel. Connect with Jesus and you connect with God.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” (John 4:26 NASB)

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