The Shade of Christ

May 23, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

On my desk I have one of those flip-card-daily-saying things. I love flipping through it from time to time and am amazed at how many sayings I now incorporate into my conversations. I do not do a good job, however, of looking at it daily. It is not a priority. But, because I’ve used it intermittingly, its sayings have been planted in my mind. Growing up in Sunday school, being in church all of my life, and being involved in Bible study, prayer, and worship every week have had that same cumulative effect on me. My conversations and thoughts are infused with the things of God. The psalmist calls this being “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3 NIV). What a beautiful image that is for us to carry as we struggle to make God a part of everything we do.

The “law” in this scripture reference does not refer to a legal code but rather to the guidance and instruction of God. The psalmist uses the metaphor of a tree as it symbolized abundant prosperity, productivity, usefulness, and the strength to endure hardships when planted near the living water of the Holy Spirit. The message is clear—like my flip-card sayings, planting God’s Word in your mind will yield deep roots of faith.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV).

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your laws that are a delight to meditate on day and night, and for providing the Living Water that nourishes my spirit. Help me find ways to infuse my conversations and thoughts with more and more of You so my branches may reach others with the shade of Christ.

Holy Glasses

May 18, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

One of the little frustrations of life occurs for me when I get my hair cut. When the hairdresser has finished cutting my hair, he hands me a mirror so I can see the back. But I can’t see a thing until I pull my glasses from under the cape and put them on. The mirror won’t do me any good without my glasses. We, as Christians, are like the person sitting in a salon chair, being handed a mirror from God, who says to us, “Look and see what great things I have done.” We strain to see what He is talking about, but often we miss it. Why? We need to put our glasses on.

You and I sit in God’s salon chair day after day, inviting Him to remake us in His image. He tells us great things, and hands us a mirror so we can see into the heart where His great work is being done. But we don’t see anything. He points the mirror toward others so we might see and thus believe the promises for ourselves, yet still we can’t see. Then He gently whispers in our ears, “Put on your glasses.” We pick up the Word of God and through that lens we begin to see and discern the heart of God. The living and active Word of God helps us to see things we cannot begin to see on our own.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV).

PRAYER: I praise You, God, for the living and active Word we have been given. Give me eyes to see, through the reading and studying of Your Word, what You are doing in my life and in the lives of others around me this week.

God’s Billboard Company

May 15, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

I love to read billboards. Of course, there are some vulgar and inappropriate things on some and I have to quickly turn my eyes. But for the most part, I find a lot to think about on these giant-sized commercials. A few anonymous Christian businessmen banded together several years ago to create the now famous God-sayings on billboards across America. Some of my favorites are Let’s meet at MY house Sunday before the game, That Love Thy Neighbor thing…I meant that, and Have you read my #1 best seller? There will be a test. Did you know that God invented billboards? He sure did!

Today’s scripture includes the instructions given for the first sanctuary on Mount Schechem. Later, the Samaritans would rebuild a sanctuary there to their God, and Jesus would tell the woman at the well that He was that God. In this passage the instructions are given for a sort of billboard. God must have really wanted them to make the writings clear so all would see them and be reminded of them, and not be able to dismiss what they said. Likewise, God’s Words need to become so familiar to us that they become like a billboard in our souls.

“And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee. Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaister them with plaister” (Deuteronomy 27:3-4 KJV).

PRAYER: O Lord, help me make Your words and promises like a billboard in my heart so I will always be reminded and not be able to dismiss Your greatness.

Millstones

May 6, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

At the ruins in Petra lie a large set of stones. This “mulos onikos,” literally, a mill turned by an ass or donkey, is what the Bible refers to as a great millstone. On top of the conical-shaped stone rode a second hollowed-out stone or handstone. The upper stone was probably turned with handspikes in much the same way as an old-fashioned ship’s wheel was turned. The material to be ground was fed into the upper cone which formed the hopper. As our parable for today states, the upper millstone of a handmill would be more than sufficient to sink the condemned, and the punishment would be more easily carried out.

The occasion of this discourse was an unbecoming contest among the disciples for precedency. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). Hearing this Jesus offers the following parable. The connection is clear: pride is a millstone around our necks and if we don’t remove this weight, it will sink us.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell” (Matthew 18:6-9 NIV).

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for such wonderful visual examples in Your Word. Help me identify prideful attitudes in my own heart that not only weigh me down but have the potential to drown me in the sea of sinfulness.

Swayed

April 29, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Cheri Cowell –

“Cheri, you must practice what you preach,” my mother would warn me. She recognized my leadership skills and wanted me to know that my words must be backed up with actions. If I preached honesty, I needed to be honest in my own dealings. If I talked about compassion, then I needed to be compassionate in my own life. We hear a lot of “talk” about virtue in the world today, but for all of the talk there is little proof that people are living it out. Jesus warned us about this very thing. But this warning takes a slightly different turn with the scribes and Pharisees. They boasted as much about the goodness of their works as of the orthodoxy of their teaching, and hoped to be justified by them.

Although this is wrong, this scripture was not an indictment on them. This was to warn us about being swayed by those who do not practice what they preach. Jesus says to beware of those who, in the name of God, place heavy burdens on your back while not lifting a finger to do the same things they are demanding of you.

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them'” (Matthew 23:1-4 NIV).

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for being a God who is who He says He is, who does what He asks us to do, and who sets the example for us to follow—not only in word but in deed. Help me recognize those who are not practing what they preach so I won’t be swayed by their boasting.

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