Friday, November 16, 2012

Devotional 97 Christmas Thankfulness

" thank is to remember God."   One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Luke 22:19 And (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

In my files I found an old note that a child had written several years ago and left on a table after being in our home with her family . It said, "Remember to get angry at my brother for taking the chair." This child had to leave a note to remember to stay angry, and in spite of that, she forgot to take the note with her.

I chuckled, how I wish I had to leave myself notes to stay angry. Instead, you and I must do the opposite. We must leave ourselves notes not to be angry, or fearful, or doubting.

Gratitude waters down the fire of anger. Remembering and gazing on Christ  muffles the shouts and cries of fear, worry, and doubt.

The message of Christmas reminds us everywhere that we are loved. We remember He came in the flesh to live among us. His birth means I am understood; His resurrection means I am never alone. His birth means He prepares a way to God for you; His resurrection means He is the way to God for you. 

Let us everyday thank God for the season filled with so many reminders of our reason for joy. Let us leave the angry notes behind. Let us throw away the notes of fear. Let us forget to pick up the note of doubt and worry.

"Every time fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren't I advertising the unreliability of God?"  One Thousand Gifts  by Ann Voskamp

"Give thanks to the LORD of lords. His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 136:3  

I pray your Christmas holidays are filled with gratitude as you remember Him.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Devotional 96 - Transformation

"The Bible is like a lion. It does not need defending. Simply open the cage and let it out."  - Charles Spurgeon

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."  
2 Corinthians 3:18

I had a bad day last week. You know one of those female days where you don't like yourself and you feel sad for no good reason. One of those days where you tend to be crabby with your husband for no good reason. I played too many cards on the computer and didn't read my Bible or get the laundry done.

What's a woman to do!?

Look at the quote and verse above. Simply let the lion out of his cage to do the transforming work of becoming like Jesus.

The next day (for with the Lord there is always a tomorrow, either here or there) I confessed to God my lack of interest in Him and asked Jesus to make me love Him more. For I know my greatest joy is found in the presence of the beautiful, powerful Savior.

You and I must simply open the pages of the Bible and let Jesus soak in and fill up the cracks. We are being changed little by little as we look at Him. We don't realize it, we don't feel it, but the transformation is happening because no one can stop the hand of our Almighty God from accomplishing the good works in our lives that He has prepared before the beginning of the world.

For all our good and bad days we need Jesus, the Jesus we see in the Bible.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."       Ephesians 2:10

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Devotional 95 - Treasure


"It is as though the man stood there with his hands full of money and Jesus said, 'You lack one thing; reach out and take my hands.' To do this the man must open his fingers and let the money fall."
What Jesus Demands From the World     by John Piper

Mark 10:21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him,and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up your cross, and follow Me."  

When Jesus gave the challenge to the rich man the Bible makes very clear that the Mighty Creator, Lord of the universe, loved the man.

Out of love for us Jesus challenges us to give up the lesser treasure to receive the greater treasure.
What is one thing today that I have my hand wrapped around?

It used to be my children's success. So God let them, on occasion fail. It reminded me that Christ was and is my greater need, my greatest treasure.

On this latest trip to Colorado, I realized my hands were gripping my in-laws, affectionately called Momo and Popo. A sadness surrounded me because I realized at 93, with weak hearts and poor digestion , they were going to someday die.

I need Momo and Popo to live. Beautiful Boulder will not be the same without them. "Hang on, Carol, hold them tight," I told myself as if my grip could keep them here.

But the one thing I need is not Momo and Popo. My one treasure is not their love. IT IS JESUS!!!!

Jesus, our solid Rock, our sure Foundation, our Fountain of Joy, Lover of our souls----the Great Comforter who will never, ever leave us.

Open your hand! Grab on to Jesus! He is your treasure!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Devotional 94 - Happiness

"God is actually happy...He's rapturously happy...He lacks for nothing...Imagine the pleasure He must take in everything He's made."    When God Weeps by Tada and Estes

"People should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God."           Ecclesiastes 3:13

I watched her eat- a young, thin woman with sandy blond hair swept to the side and tied in the back. Her swan neck and aquiline nose were raised with the anticipation of each bite of  her toasty, cheese sandwich. She ate politely but with joyful intensity. Her dark eyes sparkled as she brought the sandwich to her mouth -open, closed, and crunched. Every chew smiled. Her tongue quickly slide across her lips to retrieve each salty crumb.

Slender fingers of both hands balanced the brown crust of her treasure as she eagerly opened for the next gift to her taste buds.

With half a sandwich done, she licked each finger and wiped her lips with her napkin. She resolutely placed her hands down around the plate holding the second pleasurable half of her golden sandwich. She stood up and threw it away. Her smile disappeared and she walked away.

I was disappointed. The show was over and I didn't like the way my people-watching adventure ended. What did I want to see?

I wanted to see this thin woman pick up the second half of her buttery sandwich with delightful abandon. I wanted to see her take bites large enough to fill her mouth with peppery, meaty flavor.

I wanted to see her eyes dart up to heaven and her head nod "yes" to the Creator who made her 1,000's of taste buds, and the smile to continue to creep across her face the closer she came to cleaning her plate. When no morsel was left, I wanted to see her lean back in her chair, pat her bulging tummy and laugh- "Ah, that was good!"

I wanted to see a woman who received this gift of food and drink as gifts from a loving, and happy God.

I want to be that woman who eats and drinks and works all for the glory of God, all for the joy of God, all for a happy God. I want to see this life as His gift to treasure ...even the day of adversity.

May God help you and I to embrace all that He gives.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Devotional 93 Suffering

"Hardships press us up against God."    When God Weeps  Joni Eareckson Tada 

1 Peter 5:6-7 "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 

I was communicating with a friend the other day on the internet about the goodness of God. She had experienced a divorce years ago. Shortly after that, one of her sons died of diabetic complications in his twenties and another twenty-something son was in a car accident which paralyzed him from the waist down. I wrote: 

"With divorce, death, paralysis, and I don't know what else in your life, do you still trust God? Is He still loving to you? Are you ever mad at Him? 

Are you able to say as Job did, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." and in verse 1:10 Job says: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Are you able to bless and praise His name when you know full well God had the power to stop the tragedy? Is God always working out His perfect and precious will when we suffer? Could suffering actually be a part of His good and glorious plan for us?

May the Lord continue to grow you closer to Him and all His beauty. May no trial pull you away from His loving embrace. May you look at the hard truths in scripture and still lift you eyes to heaven and cry, even in the midst of pain, 'Blessed be the name of the Lord!' "

Amos 3:6 When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?

Lamentations 3:38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?

I Samuel 2:6-7 The LORD brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts.

Ephesians 1:11 God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.

I am asking the Lord for you, my reader, and for myself, that God might give us the grace to respond to trials with  joy. They come to all of us in differently wrapped  packages. May we open this unsolicited gift with a thankful heart, trusting in the love of God.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Devotional 92 Praise of Sheep

"Sometimes we would prefer to die for Jesus than to live for Him."  When People Are Big and God Is Small  by Edward T. Welch

John 12: 42, 43 "Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God."

I dislike that sometimes my first thought in a decision I am about to make is "what will others think of me?" It is a chain wrapped around my ankle that slows me down from running joyfully after my Savior.

I am one of the sheep wandering from sheep to sheep trying to see my reflection in their eyes. I go bleating and bawling to the other sheep, looking for sheep approval. I am a skittish little sheep, ready to run at any little poke of a stone or any stray stick swaying in the breeze. I act as if I must be my own sheep and shepherd at the same time. I must protect and take care of myself. I live afraid.

With that attitude I am like the pharisees, loving the praise of sheep more than the praise of the Shepherd. Do you live for men's praise or God's? Does what other's might think of you (possibly losing their admiration) keep you from being  "crazy in love" with Jesus?

Oh, look up little sheep! See the Shepherd! Our Lord and Savior says "I lay down my life for the sheep."  He is the one we follow, the one we turn to, the one we trust.

 As Christ's love fills us up we become just the right size. God is big and people are small. Praise from men is insignificant compared to the surpassing glory of God.

I want to speak with Jesus in mind, dress with Jesus in mind, love with Jesus in mind. I want to think more of Him and less about me and less about you. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Devotional 91 - Easy Easter

"Nothing was ever made easy for her. She was too precious to spoil by the easy." Amy Carmichael Let the Children Come by Lois Hoadley Dick

John 19:17-18 "And He, bearing His cross,went out to a place called the Place of a Skull...where they crucified Him..."

There was nothing easy about Easter. Our Lord suffered great physical and mental anguish to secure us a safe, forgiven home with God. There was nothing easy for the disciples who ran in fear for their lives and suffered the anguish of abandoning their Lord. There was nothing easy for Mary who watched the horrific suffering of her son, the Son of God.

And yet, Easter is about joy---great joy!! Through His suffering came our joy! And even in the hard task of dying, Jesus who is "the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross..." Hebrews 12:2

Jesus could endure because of the glorious future ahead. We, too can endure, because He has purchased that same future for those of us who believe.

I finished another book on Amy Carmichael who began orphanages and schools for children in India. After reading about the deep struggles for the souls of men, women, children; the loss of so much life; the painful suffering from disease; lack of sleep; I asked "Why Lord?". Where was the blessing for Amy who traveled one thousand miles to save a baby only to have it die in her arms five days later? Where was the blessing when Ponnamel, a beloved Indian friend trained for leadership, dies a slow death from cancer? What blessing when Kohila, saved as a child by Amy from temple prostitution, trained as a head nurse, fell to her death from a mountainside?

The last twenty years of Amy's life were filled with constant pain.

On one of her worst days, Amy imagined the Lord saying to her, "It is finished."...Regret flooded her soul. "Thou wouldst say, So soon? Let me go back and suffer yet awhile more patiently: I have not yet praised God." Amy Carmichael Let the Children Come pg. 154

The pain was worth it for Amy because she would see God -His comfort, His presence. She was not spoiled by easy living. The Easter message of joy in Christ and peace with God drove her to keep God's perspective in tough times.

May God grant us the grace to embrace all He brings into our lives, whether pleasure or sorrow, and to display to a hurting world the superior desirableness of Christ.

Easter was not easy, but it was destined and necessary and brings joy around the world. Praise God with me now for this yearly reminder of His love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Devotional 90 - Age Doesn't Matter

"The question is not whether we will die, but whether we will die in a way that bears much fruit." John Piper - Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ

Psalm 71:18 "Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come."

This verse is taped to my bathroom mirror. I want to be reminded that though we are of retirement age there is no retiring from the work of God. No matter how grey, how wrinkled, how feeble, we have a job that God has given us to do until we take our last breath....tell others about Jesus. Declare to the next generation the power of God. Living joyfully in intimate fellowship with the LORD.

Age is not a plus or minus to God. The world gives a cut-off date to when we are no longer useful to the economy. God does not. Just the opposite.

Abraham and Sarah at 100 birth a nation.

Moses at 80 leads a nation out. It is said of him when he dies at 120, "His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished." Deuteronomy 34:7

Joshua and Caleb were 85 when they led the nation into the promised land. Caleb says in Joshua 14:10-12 "Here I am this day, eighty-five years give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke. It may be that the LORD will be with me and I shall be able to drive the (enemy) out as the LORD said."

Then you have Anna in Luke 2:36-38 who was married for 7 years and a widow for 84, that's 91. Let's say she was 15 when she got married, that makes Anna 106! She served God with fastings and prayers night and day. God revealed to her that the baby Jesus being carried into the temple courtyard by His parents was the Savior. She ended her days giving thanks to God.

I want to be like that! Don't you? Full of the life of Christ...filled with His love...praising and giving thanks...willing to fight the enemy with the truth of the Bible...telling all who will listen of our wonderful, all satisfying, most desirable Savior!

Psalm 92:13, 14 "Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing."

You don't have to be healthy to flourish, just in love.