Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Devotional 106 Passionate Gaze

"God smiles when we love Him supremely, trust Him completely, obey Him wholeheartedly, and praise and thank Him continually."    Rick Warren    The Purpose Driven Life

"Whom have I in heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth."  Psalm 73:25

So the conversation went like this with the three year old who observed the large number of presents under my tree.

"Where's mine?" She stood staring at the big and little shapes of colored bows and sparkly paper.

"I gave yours to you today. Remember? We played together with it. You know, the little dogs." I replied.

She gave me no eye contact but continued to peruse the gifts under the tree.

"Where's mine under there?" she repeated.

"There isn't one for you. These are for husband, son, daughter, grand-daughter, and me. I already gave you yours."

With single minded passion, drowning out all the other voices, she finally turned to me with pleading eyes and said, "But, Auntie, where's mine?"

Chuckling, her Dad said to me, "She's not listening to a word you are saying."

Her gaze was on the gift and everything else dimmed in importance around her.

That's the way we want our new year to start...with our eyes on the great gift. the treasure supreme..JESUS! So wonderful His love sparkles in our life. He brings color to our darkness, purpose to our dullness. Let us place our gaze on our beautiful Savior.

Whom have we in heaven or earth but Jesus! Look to Jesus! Love Him! Thank Him! Be still and know God. Have a passionate gaze that stirs your heart and lifts you up, that fills the emptiness, that brings you hope and joy...JESUS!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Devotional 105 Pride and Anxiety


"Faith admits the need for help. Pride won't. Faith banks on God to give help. Pride won't. Faith casts anxieties on God. Pride won't."  Battling Unbelief    John Piper

Isaiah 51: 12-13 "I am He who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man... and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth..."

I've had many things on my mind lately....troubled marriages close to home, illnesses of loved ones, my responsibilities in church and community. One night I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with a worrisome thought, another day I realized I had a nagging headache, yesterday my neck muscles were sore. I know you've been there, too, because scripture tells me that we all are tempted to be anxious.

Scripture also tells me not to worry. Matthew 6:25 "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life..."  Philippians 4: 6,7 "Don't worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has done." Anxiety is disobedience to God and pride.

How is an anxious heart like pride?

 Because it is trying to rely on self to get a certain result instead of God. Living as if it is all up to me is a proud spirit. When we think it is all up to us we worry about our failure to get the job done.

So what do we do?

 When I woke up in the wee hours of the morning I recognized I was worrying and confessed my sin of worry to God. I thanked Him for His sovereignty and control, His goodness and justice, His ability to work all things out for His glory. I told Him I trusted Him to do what was best for me and my loved ones no matter how dire the situation might get. And then His peace came.

In 1Peter 5: 6-7 It indicates that the way to humble yourself under God's mighty hand is to cast all our burdens on Him. I gladly do that today.

How about you?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Devotional 104 - Witness

 "Backing down or being afraid of speaking out about Christ is like treating the defeated challenger as the champion. Everyone around you has a message, a philosophy, or an input, and so should you."   In the Backyard of Jesus  by Steven N. Khoury

1 Peter 3:15 "You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it."

The two ladies were conversing at the table next to mine. It was Monday and my husband and I were studying our Bibles at a coffee shop. My ears perked up when I heard the two ladies mention their church. I glanced at Rhett but he was absorbed in his reading.

Lady 1: "I just love our church. They never talk about hell or sin. I come away feeling so happy."

Lady 2: "Oh that's nice. What time is your service. I need a happy church."

I felt a nudge to speak.

"But, Lord, they do not know me. I have not been invited into this conversation."

I felt the nudge again.

 "Yes, Lord, I know I have the truth, but they might get angry if I tell them hell and sin are Biblical and that You spoke about it openly and often."

The nudge again.

"Alright Lord. Let me write down my thoughts first and then I can give them the paper."

So while they continued to converse, I busied myself with looking up scriptures to introduce them to the Living God. And then I stalled. The scriptures were written and I sat staring at the paper. The struggle began. You know the struggle. The one that is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6: 12)

As my hands gripped the Words of Life, they rose from their chairs, paid the bill and left.

I had not shared. I felt empty and sorry. I did not love my Savior enough that day to risk. 1 Peter 3 says as I worship Christ as my Lord I will have a joyful hope to share with the world. Those ladies may not have asked for the reason of my hope, but my Lord had asked it of me.

It boiled down to I cared more about my own comfort than their eternal destiny.

I love what Steven Khoury wrote in the quote above. Everyone else has an opinion and so should we! We should be engaging the culture with the marvelous truth of scripture. Don't give ground to the devil. Resist his schemes to thwart the spread of the precious news of the love of Christ for man.

I am sure God will give me another chance to share the reason for the hope within. And He will give you another one. Be ready! Be obedient!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Devotional 103 - Don't Be a Fool

"You've seen people treat this world like it was a permanent home. It's not. You've seen people pour time and energy into life like it will last forever. It won't. You've seen people so proud of what they have done, that they hope they will never have to leave - they will."  And the Angels Were Silent  Max Lucado

Luke 12: 19-21   And I'll sit back and say to myself, "My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!" But God said to him, "You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?"
Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.

When I was a special education teacher many years ago I had a little girl who collected grasshoppers out on the playground. She would never play with the other children. While kids were flying through the air on the swings, or bouncing a ball, or chasing one another around the fenced in yard, little Curly Locks was catching grasshoppers and putting them in her zip lock bag. She missed out on all the fun with the other children because she was obsessed with grasshoppers.

One day, on the school bus, wouldn't you know, she forgot to zip lock her bag and she dropped it. Oh the hoopin' and hollerin' that ensued as all those little green and brown buggers began to hop their way around the young captive audience. There was more than bugs jumping around that day.

The bus driver had to pull over and do some extermination work. Curly Locks was inconsolable. Her passion was gone. Terminated. No more. And even if they had not escaped that day, grasshoppers do have a short life span in a zip lock bag.

The next day the children were still there ready to play, but Curly Locks brought her empty zip lock bag and began the obsessive work of collecting again.

What about you? Are you filling your bag with grasshoppers? Are you pouring time and energy into things that won't last? Are you missing out on the joy of playing with the people around you? Or do you only see the problems that need to be collected in your zip lock bag?

Are you taking time to look up and see God smiling? Is God your passion? Does He delight? Do you find your refreshment in Him? Is He your treasure? If you are going after what you can see and touch and own, it is not real. It will not last. You have got to learn to think invisible, intangible, and eternal.

"Joy is the garment of those who are rich toward God. They always have it on." Enough  Will Davis Jr.

Psalm 16: 11 "...in Your presence there is fullness of joy..."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Devotional 102 - Enough

"When Jesus promised to give us abundant life, He wasn't talking about wealth. If that were the case, He wouldn't have died for us; He could have just written each of us a check."
Enough by Will Davis Jr.

Hebrews 13: 5  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Could we also insert in the above verse: "Keep your lives free from the love of stuff."?

When do we have enough. Enough for retirement. Enough electronic equipment. Enough clothes. Enough cars. Enough space.  Jesus, who left glory to be born in a barn, who left His heavenly mansion to travel from city to city with no home to call His own, who as Creator of the universe hung on the cross and died with absolutely nothing, never once worried about His future or whether He had "enough".

Jesus considered "enough" to be what He had today and that is the way He teaches us to think also. Consider the way He taught us to pray: "Give us today our daily bread."  One day at a time- provision for today. Be content with that.

Why can we be content with today? Because in our "today" is Jesus. We have enough because what I need today is Jesus.  We need to cling to His promise "Never will I leave you."

Our God takes care of the tomorrows. If you are worrying about tomorrow you are in sin. When God tells you to be anxious about nothing (Philippians 4:6, 7) and you are anxious, you are disobeying God, and need to ask for His forgiveness.

Let's simplify our lives of too much stuff and get down to the serious business of joy.

"The Bible actually says you'll be richer if you scale back what you have. It says your life will be fuller. You'll have less stress, more time for things that matter...more joy." Enough by Will Davis Jr.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Devotional 101 - Clay Pots

"If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know nothing of Calvary love." Amy Carmichael, missionary to India

"Look, you and I both belong to God. I, too, was formed from clay." Job 33:6

"What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, 'Stop, you're doing it wrong!' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy can you be?'"      Isaiah 45:9

"And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand." Isaiah 64:8

"But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. ...O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand." Jeremiah 18: 4, 6

"We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves."  2 Cor 4:7

We are fragile clay jars. We have all been created by God with certain strengths and weaknesses, so that, whether in success or failure, we will turn to God to praise Him for what we accomplished or to seek forgiveness and grace for what we did not accomplish.

Sometimes as a clay pot I get kind of pinchy.  When I forget about Christ I get pinched in. My definition of a pinched-in person is one who folds up in itself, but still has the ability to strike others. I pinch others with sarcasm, criticism, or anger.

For instance, one morning I went to my husband with what I thought was a valid criticism. I walked in and was greeted with a beautiful smile. It did not matter, I delivered my angry pinch anyway, and I watched his smile  fade away.  Another time I was irritated with him for being a few minutes late, so I spued several verbal pinches. Later that day the Lord spoke through His word that my angry bitter spirit was the crime. God did not care about the time, he cared about my ugly pinched in heart.

I am a clay pot criticizing another clay pot which God has made.  And God has made all of you clay pots and sovereignly put you into my life, not so I can teach you a lesson about tardiness, or organizational skills, or tattoos, or hair style, or cleanliness, or music styles, or who's in and who's out, or who's too fast or who's too slow, or who's too soft or who's too loud. God has put you sovereignly in my life to teach me how to love, how to be patient, how to be kind, how to be forgiving.

God has put me in your life so you can learn how to love, how to be patient, how to be kind, how to be forgiving. I need to be forgiven and you need to be forgiven.

"What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.  Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, 'Stop, you're doing it wrong!' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy can you be?' "     Isaiah 45:9

When we feel critical of one another are we in essence criticizing God? "Oh, God, why did you make him that way? Change him or her, God, so it will be easier to live with him or her. Stop, God, you are doing it wrong. I know how it should go."

I pray that when we feel our pinchiness wanting to take over we will remember the great treasure that each of us have dwelling in our frail clay pots. "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves."  2 Cor 4:7

The light of Jesus shining among us. How wonderful! Lord give us eyes to see the beauty in those around us. Lord, give us a tongue to speak a gracious word. Lord, convict us when we do it wrong and give us humility to go to You and to one another to make confession. Help us Lord to recognize pride and help us Lord to rebuke it for Your great name's sake.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Devotional 100 -Transforming Love

"Each of us needs to be inflamed with love for his kingdom, with hearts filled with gratitude, so that we will speak as agents of his boundless, transforming love."    Paul David Tripp

Matthew 18: 10 "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven."

Behind the door stood a screaming child. The other special needs children had been taken to the playground, but this one remained in the room alone.  I had my hand on the door knob ready to enter the war zone. I was waiting for backup. The administration had called one of  the retired teachers back to the front because she was an expert marksman with this particular child. She knew the right words to speak and maintained the right tone of voice.

This wild child suffered from extreme autism, locked in a world I did not understand.  She had come to school that day with her shirt torn at the shoulder, bruises on her arms, a head of dark hair ---matted and tangled. I knew it was going to be a bad day by the way her black eyes darted from wall to wall and the guttural sounds coming from her clenched teeth. At one time she had bitten and scratched every teacher in that private school.

I, for one, did not want to be wounded in battle again and was gladly waiting for reinforcement.

She arrived, this tiny woman full of courage. Her gray hair swept neatly into waves tucked in a hair net. She wore a cotton dress and tennis shoes. She looked soft. She stood at the door with me and listened for a moment to the rage of the wounded child. She closed her eyes in a moment of silence, then looked up at me and said, "Are you ready?" I nodded.

As the door opened "wild child" was on the offense. She ran toward "Mrs. Soft" and grabbed her hand and bit right between the thumb and the fore finger, locked down like a pit bull.

I was ready to grab her hair and yank her off my colleague. I had done it before in defense of my own body. But she said, "Don't, I'm okay!"

I was privileged to witness the most remarkable courageous love that day. "Soft" spoke kindness to "Wild Child" and tamed the tiger.

When it was all over, Mrs. Soft stood before me with her bandaged hand, and reminded me, "You know it is all God. He is the One we praise and worship for what was accomplished this day."

 She was a woman of prayer and filled with the love of Christ. I pray God would help me and you to have this transforming  love for Him and His people. Spend time with your Savior this week.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Devotional 99- God is Deep

"There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."  Quoted by Corrie Ten Boom after being released from a German Nazi prison camp during World War II.

Romans 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

I have been given permission to print the following from one who will remain anonymous.

"It’s difficult to describe the pit to anyone who hasn’t been thrown in themselves.  I say thrown in because that is what it is.  It is something that happens to you. The pit has no mercy.

The pit is what it feels like to be in depression.  Depression is different than being unhappy, which is very uncomfortable.  Depression touches your soul and squeezes the life out.  Like a life eater.  You don’t really hurt, you just don’t want to live.  Hurting would take too much energy.  Crying takes too much energy and you have none. 

The pit is so deep sometimes, there is no light at the top.  I know the light is there,  I just can’t see it.  There are no life lines or toe and hand holes .  It is dark and dry.  I cannot lie down in the pit.  I can only stand and look up with the black, dirt walls just fingertips away."

Have you ever felt like that, ladies? When life seems dark and confusing, remember God! 

God says: "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown....For I am the LORD, your God...your Savior...You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you."  Isaiah 43: 1-5 New Living Translation

Remember your God! For no pit is so deep that God is not deeper still!

By the way, here is how my friend finishes her testimony.

"I am grateful for the pit.  I am happy for the pit.  Without the pit, I could never feel the joy, relief, contentment of not being in the pit.   I thank God for the pit.  My mountains are higher because of the pit."

Oh the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God!  He knows what He is doing in your life. This day was planned for you!


Devotional 98 -His Accent

"The most important single aid to my ability to use my tongue for the glory of Jesus is allowing the word of God to dwell in me so richly that I cannot speak with any other accent."
The Power of Words and the Wonder of God  by Sinclair B. Ferguson

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
 Colossians 3:16

I have seen it--- this Christlike accent. I have seen it over and over in those around me. Those who spend time with Jesus speak with His accent. The more Christ's word dwells in you richly the more it will naturally come out of you.

I was in the kitchen with my mother-in-law (called Momo) and sister-in-law. We were helping Momo prepare one of her marvelous dinners. Neither my sister-in-law nor I were chopping or mixing the way Momo wanted, so she had to constantly correct us. My pride raised its ugly head and I walked out of the kitchen quietly, but thinking "fine, she can just do it herself!" But as I was leaving I heard my sister-in-law turn to her Mom and say, "Mom, you are such a good cook. I am here to serve you. Just tell me what to do, I want to do it your way."

I was so convicted. My sister-in-law had let the word of Christ dwell in her richly and I saw her speak with the accent of Christ. I want to be like that, don't you? To respond with thankfulness in our hearts toward God is to lose our touchiness and to live with humility.

I also see the Christlike accent in women who speak the truth even when it is unpopular. The scripture says we love when we speak the truth. We need truth telling men and women who will speak up for righteousness and call sin "sin". We have made love to mean being nice and making everyone feel good about themselves...but that is not love. That is deception and keeps some happily feeling good while on their way to hell.

So let the word of Christ dwell in you richly and you will teach and admonish with wisdom. Sometimes the accent of Christ is kindness and forgiveness, and sometimes it is warning and rebuking. May God give us the grace to know when each is needed.

Proverbs 12: 18-19 "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment."