The Twist

September 29, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

Call it good parenting. Call it bribery. But all of us have done it.

We have several more errands to run and the children are getting restless. So, we offer to take them to the park, stop for Happy Meals, or allow them to choose the movie that night “if they will help get these last few errands done.”

If you will…then I will… God uses this same parenting technique with us, but His comes with a twist.

Today’s passage is often quoted to make the point that God set up this “if you will do this” (humble yourselves and turn from evil) then God will forgive and heal the land.

Some say that because we have not humbled ourselves and have turned from evil, God is withholding His forgiveness and blessing. What this explanation leaves out is that throughout history we’ve repeatedly not held up our end of the bargain, and yet, God still sent Jesus.

Jesus is the twist. He rewrites this parenting technique to say, even if you don’t, I will still forgive and shower you with blessings.

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).

Prayer: God, You are to be praised for being the ultimate parent who, although maintaining the “if you will” goal, steps in with a twist—the twist of grace. Help me see Your grace as reason to fulfill my end of the bargain.

Leftovers

September 23, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

Today’s restaurant portions are so big I almost feel like I should order the to-go box when I order the food. This is not a problem for me because I love leftovers. It is so convenient the next day to just grab it and go. Even if there is a little bit from this dish and a little from that one I can usually make a meal of it.

How often do we do this with our resources for God? I have to admit that I can easily fall into this trap. I’m not talking about church things; rather I’m talking about the time we spend growing our personal relationship with Him. It is tempting to give God my leftovers after I’ve spent my most valued time on other things. I’m really good at taking a little bit here, adding a little bit there, and passing this off as a whole meal with God. However, God doesn’t want my leftovers no matter how good I am at dressing them up. He doesn’t want yours either.
“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ “By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 1:6-8 NIV).

Malachi was a prophet called to preach to the Israelites. Here he is accusing them of just going through the motions without joy from a heart filled with adoration. Verses 6–8 refer to the requirement of a perfect animal to be sacrificed, which in the New Testament becomes Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice. We now know that our lives are to be our sacrifice, and therefore, should be the best we have to give. How are you doing in giving your best to God?

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for Your gift of the perfect sacrifice, Your perfect Son. Help me discover new ways to give You the best sacrifices of my time this week.

Your Spiritual Checkup

September 16, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

I often went with my mother-in-law to her doctor appointments. Every doctor’s office staff does the same things: checks blood pressure, weight, prescriptions list, and inquires of the reason for the visit.

For those who are older, such as my mother-in-law, a few other things are added to the list of checkup questions: “How are you sleeping? Are you depressed? Are your feet swelling? Do you have any questions?”

It made me think, “I wish God had a list of questions for my spiritual check-up.”

The Corinthian church was acting like a wayward child, and in his second letter Paul was writing to let them know they had better straighten out before he got there or else… In chapter 13 verse 5 he tells them how to begin the process. He instructs them to look inward. To test themselves to see if what is inside is that which is showing outside. To take this test and if they find themselves lacking, do something about it! Verse 7 not only tells the Corinthians what do, Paul demonstrates it. He prays for them.

Verses 7-10 are referred to as Paul’s prayer. He prays that if anything is lacking in them that it not be counted against them but against him. Paul took his concerns to God, the Great Physician, who can do more to heal our infirmities than any prescription ever could.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down” (2 Corinthians 13:5-10 NIV).

First Place

September 11, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

“Now why didn’t I think of that?”

That is the question we ask ourselves when we see one of those new inventions that seem so logical it should have been thought of before. We know when we see them that the person who patented it is going to be financially set for life, and we wonder why we didn’t think of it first. I’m talking about things like Velcro, Wet Ones, and Post-it Notes (how did we ever get along without these things?). Secretly, we go even further by asking God if we will ever get there first. Will we ever be the one with the winning ticket, the big idea, or the first place prize? This yearning to be number one has been placed in us by our heavenly Father, not so we can achieve it here on earth, but so it will point us toward God. In Him we are never last. In Him all of us can have first place.

“The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully” (Deuteronomy 28:11-13 NASB).

In this passage, Moses details for the Israelites the decision they must make when they enter Canaan: to fully obey God’s laws and be blessed, or live outside of His laws and be cursed. Verses 1–14 describe a blessed life. When we obey God’s teachings we will be first among many in God’s eyes.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your promise to provide wealth when I obey Your teachings, not wealth as this world defines, but Your wealth of placing me first in Your heart. May I have the courage to give You first place in mine.

Questions

August 24, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

In the 1940’s, a popular parlor game became a wildly successful radio quiz program. If you’ve ever played 20 Questions, you know how much fun this word game can be. The “questioners” ask the “answerer” yes or no questions with the goal of discerning the subject the answerer has in mind. Although a fun game to play, asking questions is serious business; so serious, in fact, that it is one of the primary tools God uses in communicating with us. From the beginning, God set about asking questions, not because He needed answers, but because we need to ponder our answers.

Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, and were hiding from God in the garden. They’d clothed themselves in fig leaves, and were hiding in the bushes. God had walked with them in this garden and now they hid from Him there. But God knew where they were and what they’d done. He wasn’t asking because He needed to know, He was asking because they needed to own up to their sin. God is asking of you and me the same question so we might own up to the real state of our own souls. What fig leaves are you hiding behind? What bushes are you using to shield your true heart from the searching eyes of God? God isn’t asking the question because He doesn’t know; God is asking the question so we will ponder the answer.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3: 8-9 NIV).

PRAYER: God, I hear your searching question. I invite You to remove the fig leaves and lift the branches from my hiding place. Help me to answer honestly the question You are asking so I might be honest about my own need for Your saving grace.

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