Author Topic: Devotional  (Read 2064 times)

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2017, 11:17:33 PM »
Thursday, April 13, 2017   

His Humility
April Yamasaki

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“He gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” - Philippians 2:7–8

The dictionary definition of humility includes being respectful, humble, lowly, meek, modest. The word itself appears so meek and modest that there seem to be many more definitions for what humility is not. Humility is not arrogance, pride, egotism, superiority; it’s not conceited, lofty, presumptuous, or pretentious. Humility is the opposite of all those things.  Jesus showed humility throughout his life and death. Although he was “equal with God” (Phil. 2:6), he set that aside to live in humble circumstances as a human being. A feed trough served as his first bed. Shepherds who were at the bottom end of the social ladder were among his first visitors. As a grown man, Jesus entered the building trade like his earthly father, but soon became an itinerant preacher and teacher, spending time with fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and other ordinary folk. When he entered Jerusalem for the last time, he rode on a humble donkey. At the end of his life, he was arrested, questioned, tortured, and executed like a common criminal. Yet he did not retaliate, or demand justice, or call down legions of angels to defend himself. Jesus had set aside divinity to take on humanity, “to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8).

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2017, 10:34:23 PM »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-april-11-2017.html

April 11, 2017
When You’ve Failed and Bailed
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

Friend to Friend

I just love Moses. I can relate to him on so many levels.  For about forty years, he thought he was an Egyptian the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. But somehow he discovered that he was NOT an Egyptian after all. He was a Hebrew, the son of a slave woman and that changed everything.  Moses had a mid-life crisis and came up with a plan to save his true people from Egyptian slavery. God did not call him to this plan. He came up with it all on his own. (Red flag for all of us.)  One day Moses was walking among his people and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Glancing first one way and then another to make sure no one was looking, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. One down. Several million to go. Moses was working the plan.  The next day, Moses was out walking among his people and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses realized what he had done was widely known. The Pharaoh was out to kill him, and his fellow Hebrews mocked him. So he failed and he bailed.  Moses fled to a place called Midian, married a gal named Zipporah, and joined the family business taking care of sheep. The next time we see Moses, forty years have passed; he is now 80 years old and he is stuck. Oh, sister, I’ve been there. Have you?

Moses was stuck in Midian and held hostage by his failures. He had settled for less than what he was made for. Less than what God had prepared him for. Less than what he had hoped for in himself. And there he stayed.  This is where many people drive their tent stakes in the ground and settle. They make a mistake, fall flat on their face, and run away to the far side of the wilderness, hoping no one will notice. Praying everyone will just leave him or her alone, at the same time, absolutely miserable that life has morphed into a monotonous, lackluster checklist. Like Moses, many bury their hopes and dreams to protect their hearts from further disappointment.  But that’s not where God wants you to stay. We all fail. We all make mistakes. Peter did. Moses did. Jacob did. Samson did. David did. But just because you failed does not mean you ARE a failure. You are a child of God who makes mistakes.  God wasn’t finished with Moses and He’s not finished with you or me. He has a plan a good and perfect plan.  So if you feel stuck if you’ve failed and bailed to your far side of the wilderness it’s time to get unstuck and move forward. God has burning bushes all around. This could be one right now. He’s calling you to let go of your failure, move forward in all that He has for you to do, and live bold.  Come on. Let’s do it together! He’s calling your name.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2017, 09:42:02 PM »
Tuesday, April 18, 2017   

Faithful, Abiding Love
Liz Curtis Higgs

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ the angels asked her.  ‘Because they have taken away my Lord,’ she replied, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’”  John 20:11–13

Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene convinced Peter and the beloved disciple, John, to run with her back to the garden tomb and look for themselves. Peter and John saw the empty grave but no Jesus, the strips of linen but no Jesus. No angels, either. “Then the disciples went back to where they were staying” (John 20:10).

Mary Magdalene lingered behind, alone. She couldn’t leave. Not until she was certain what had happened to Jesus. Of Mary’s many admirable qualities her strength, her courage, her willingness to lead the one that mattered most was her faithfulness.  “Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying” (John 20:11).

The word maudlin comes from Magdalene the name of this dear woman who couldn’t stop weeping. Crushed in spirit, Mary Magdalene stared at the emptiness looming before her. The tomb, yes, but also her uncertain future. What if the Lord hadn’t risen after all?

Would evil prevail?

Would her demons return?

After seeing him suffer on the cross, now Mary had to face the awful possibility that, rather than a resurrection, his body had been taken.  “As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’  ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him’” (John 20:11–13).

When we’re in pain, we often reveal the deepest truths. That’s what Mary did when she said, “They have taken away my Lord’s body!” (CEV).

My Lord. So intimate, in the best sense. Jesus was not only her Savior. He was also her friend. Lord, help us think of you as Mary did as our dearest companion, our truest friend.  That’s why Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb. Not out of duty, but out of love. The same love that kept Mary of Bethany at his feet. The same love that kept Mary of Nazareth at the cross. Mary Magdalene’s deep and abiding love for him was about to be rewarded.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2017, 09:50:07 PM »
Wednesday, April 19, 2017   

Woman, Why Are You Crying?
Liz Curtis Higgs

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her. ‘Who are you looking for?’  She thought he was the gardener. ‘Sir,’ she said, ‘if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.’  ‘Mary!’ Jesus said.  She turned to him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is Hebrew for ‘Teacher’).”  John 20:15–16

“At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus” (John 20:14).

“Woman ...” (John 20:15).

Woman. The first word spoken by the risen Christ, meant for all his daughters throughout eternity. Woman. An assurance that we matter to him, that we count for his kingdom. Woman. A term of respect. The very word he used when addressing his beloved mother from the cross. Woman.  “... why are you crying?” (John 20:15).

I can tell you why I’m crying. Because Jesus chose a woman. He could have revealed his risen self first to any one of the Eleven, but he chose Mary Magdalene, a former demoniac, a midlife caregiver, a faithful follower. A woman.  Jesus knew why Mary was crying, just as he understands what makes us weep. Even so, he asked the same question the angels had put to her. Not to embarrass her, but to encourage her. No need for tears, Mary. Not anymore.  “Who is it you are looking for?” (John 20:15).

Jesus asked this second question on the heels of the first, helping her move past her tears so she could move past her fears. He is not dead, Mary. Look! See! In the darkness of her sorrow, Mary Magdalene needed someone to assure her that one day life would make sense again. That she would be dry eyed and in her right mind. That all was not lost. Who better to tell her than her beloved Savior?

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’” (John 20:16). He is risen! He is risen indeed! “And [she] cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’” (John 20:16). We hear your joy, Mary, resounding across the centuries. “Master!” (WE). “Teacher!” (NLV).

To have watched him die and then to see him alive. To witness his burial and then to experience his resurrection.  Jesus paused to speak to a woman. Not merely to speak to her but to send her. Weeks later Jesus would proclaim the Great Commission when he sent the Eleven into the world to preach the gospel. But first he sent Mary Magdalene to share the truth with them. Can a woman spread the good news? Oh yes she can! “Go instead to my brothers and tell them” (John 20:17).

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2017, 08:26:28 PM »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-may-11-2017.html

May 11, 2017
You’re Sitting on a Great Inheritance
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Unless you are a baseball fan, married to one, or mom to one, you probably haven’t heard of Matthew Joseph White. He signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1998, the Boston Red Sox in 2002, and the Colorado Rockies in 2003. But it is not his baseball career that captured my attention.  In 2003, Matt had an aunt who needed to go into a nursing home. She didn’t have the funds to make the move, but she did have a piece of land in his home state of Massachusetts. So Matt agreed to pay her $50,000 for the 45 acres of mountain real estate, which gave her enough to enter the nursing home and get the care she needed. (I love him already!)  Matt’s original intent was to build a home on the property, but found the ground too hard. When he called a surveyor to inspect the acreage, he discovered treasure lying beneath the rocky soil. The land was solid Goshen stone, a type of valuable mica. Approximately 24 million tons of mica schist rock, worth about $100 per ton, had been resting on the mountain for thousands of years. The estimated worth of Matt’s land?

Two point five billion dollars.  When my husband read me Matt’s story in a sports magazine, my mind immediately went to the truth of what we have in Christ. Most of us are sitting on a mountain of precious promises and don’t even know it. Goshen stone may be valuable, and I am tickled pink that Matt made the discovery, but followers of Christ are sitting on a treasure worth even more. Jesus is the Rock, and God has already paid the excavation costs. The title deed has your name on it, and you simply need to take hold to access your glorious inheritance.  Being in Christ comes with many benefits. You are a dearly loved, completely accepted, totally forgiven, uniquely chosen child of God. And because you have been adopted into God’s family, you are now heir to a plethora of precious promises.  For starters, when you exhale your last breath on earth, you will inhale heaven for all eternity. There is no other promise that comes close in comparison. But there’s more, so much more. That’s what we’re excavating in the pages of this book.  Paul wrote, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Cor. 2:12).

So stop and pray with me for just a moment. “Dear Lord, I pray that You will open my mind to comprehend all that you have given me. Help me to let go of preconceived notions and small-minded thinking to take hold of all that You have for me. In Jesus’s name, Amen.”

Did you pray?

Did you mean it?

Let’s keep going! As you read the following words, take note of the verb tense in each sentence.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For hechose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love hepredestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that helavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which hepurposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.  In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of his glory (Eph. 1:3-14 emphases added).  Did you see it?

Paul is describing blessings and promises you already have. Every single one of those verbs are in the past tense. You don’t need to earn them. You don’t need to wait for them. You simply need to take hold of what is already yours. You’ve already got what it takes to live bold.  God made the deposit in your safe-deposit box before the creation of the world, fashioned the key in the shape of a cross, and gave you access the moment you believed.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2017, 08:39:49 PM »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-may-10-2017.html

May 10, 2017
Building a Successful Family
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

A wise woman strengthens her family, but a foolish woman destroys hers by what she does (Proverbs 14:1, NCV).

Friend to Friend

What a crazy day it had been! It was a day probably like many of yours. I was a young mom with two small children. My husband was the youth pastor at a large church in town. I taught a weekly Bible study for senior high girls and directed a youth choir that practiced one night a week and sang for the early worship service every Sunday. We hosted a youth Bible study in our home every Monday night and, well, you get the idea. My schedule was almost to the point of ridiculous, and I was exhausted most of the time. But this particular day had been crazier than most.  Both kids had a cold and were grumpy. I was counting the minutes until my husband came walking through the front door. I needed rescuing. The phone rang. "Honey, I won't be able to make it home before church tonight," Dan said.

He sounded so tired that I could not muster up one ounce of anger. Instead, I shifted into overdrive.  I snatched both kids off the backyard swing, plopped them in the bathtub for a quick rinse and impatiently shoved little arms and legs into clean clothes while spooning food into little mouths before firmly depositing both kids in their car seats. Off we went to church for the third night in a row.  At a stop sign, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw two miserably silent children, tears streaming down their sad little faces. I heard His voice, "Mary, what are you doing and who are you doing it for?"

My heart broke. I suddenly realized that I was running the race of life for the wrong audience. Turning the car around, I headed home.  "Hey guys! Would you like to go home, put on your pajamas, make some cookies and watch a movie with me?"

Cheers and clapping erupted from the back seat as tears gave way to smiling faces, and laughter and giggles filled the car and my heart. It has been over twenty-five years and I still remember that precious night of ministry.  Women are so busy. We fill our lives with good things, but I wonder how many of us miss the hungry hearts that greet us each morning across the breakfast table or wait for us to come home each night. Do we overlook a child’s silent longing for the kind of love that is spelled “t-i-m-e?”

Do we miss the opportunity to encourage a weary husband who has returned home without a job?

When was the last time you gave your parents a hug and thanked them for everything they have done for you over the years?

Do your grandparents know how valuable their legacy of love and wisdom is to you?

We make the erroneous assumption that the people in our lives know how we feel about them. Do they?

And even if they do know, wouldn’t it be great to tell them again?   

It is so easy to lose focus and scramble priorities. Our public life is only as valid as our private life. Family is the perfect framing for God’s highest work, the litmus test for authentic service and our greatest opportunity to meet needs in His name.  When our daughter, Danna, was a little girl, one of her favorite activities was to color a page in what she called her "special" coloring book. The book had several “special” pages, one in particular being a dull, gray picture of a butterfly. Frankly, I couldn’t understand her excitement. When I asked why she liked that picture so much, Danna grinned and said, “Watch, Mommy!”

She rubbed her little hands together to create warmth; then laid them on the butterfly drawing. The touch of her hand caused the special inks in the printing to react, and the dull gray was transformed into a vivid rainbow of color.  Everyone is hungry for the warm touch of someone who cares a kind word, an act of compassion, a hug of encouragement. I believe God created the family to be the first place where that hunger is best satisfied. Yet, I am amazed that we can stand in silence, watching homes, marriages and families disintegrate before our very eyes. Silence is agreement. It is time for us, as women of God, to boldly stand against anyone and anything that undermines our marriage or threatens the solidarity of our family. It is time for us to trust God for and with our families.  Family is important to God. He created it before He created the church, and He made a plan for it to succeed. At the heart of that plan is love. To trust God with our family demands that we love and trust God, and then allow that love to spill over into our family.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2017, 08:43:31 PM »
https://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-july-3-2017.html

July 3, 2017
Tell Me Another Story
Arlene Pellicane

Today’s Truth

I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (Psalm 119:16, NIV).

Friend to Friend

When my son Ethan was in kindergarten, I remember how much he loved reading his Bible.  He would come into my room in the morning asking, “Mommy, can you read me a story from the Bible?” 

His Bible was written like a children’s storybook with colorful illustrations and animated characters.  Whether the story was “David and Goliath” or “Jesus Feeds Thousands,” his attention was fixed sharply on each page.  After one story ended, he asked for another then another.  I sometimes wish I had this same kind of hunger and enthusiasm when I approach my Bible.  I’d like to read it with fresh eyes.  Instead of knowing how things turn out, what if I read a story about Jesus and wondered, “What is going to happen?  Is Jesus really going to walk on water?  How did He do that?”

If we’re not careful, Bible study can become a chore, something to check off a “to-do” list and nothing more.  Anyone can become numb to the miraculous stories and truths found in God’s Word.  After sharing a parable, Jesus says to his closest followers, “Are you so dull?” (Mark 7:18). 

Even the disciples who walked with Jesus experienced times of spiritual dullness.  Reading the Bible is a fundamental component to living your best life, yet it’s easy to forget the joy the life that’s found in studying God’s Word.  So how do put the fun back into the fundamentals of Bible study?

Pray First.  Before you begin reading, take a moment to pray.  Ask God to help you comprehend and apply what you read, that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people” (Ephesians 1:18).

Personalize It.  When you read an Old Testament story, put yourself in the picture.  What if you were thrown inside the lion’s den instead of Daniel? 

How would you feel when the morning came and you were still alive? 

You can also insert your name into a passage like, “[Sheila] be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Put it into practice.  If you love to play basketball, it’s enjoyable to watch a game on television but not nearly as fun as suiting up and playing yourself.  Likewise, you can sit on the sidelines, observing the truths found in the Bible.  But until you put what you read into practice, you’re not fully realizing the positive power of God’s Word in your life.  Take a passage of Scripture and ask God how to apply it to your life.  In the same way my kindergartener used to say, “Tell me another story,” you can approach the Bible with curiosity.  We are to delight in God’s decrees, so put a smile on your face.  Keep turning the pages.  There are more wondrous stories, both old and new, waiting for you inside.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2017, 09:32:22 PM »
Thursday, July 20, 2017   

The Power of Song
Edie Littlefield Sundby

Today’s Verse

“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to God as long as I live.”  Psalm 104:33 (NIV)

God created music with a soul-stirring power, and the Bible is the greatest songbook that has ever been written. The Bible is filled with songs of praise, of lamentation, of redemption. Whatever befalls us, there is a song recorded as chapter or verse to speak to our heart and bring us closer to God.  Whenever I feel alone, scared, and in need of God’s tender mercies, I go outside into the hills to walk and pray. Sometimes my focus in prayer is inward: I walk in silence, seeking God in the stillness between breaths. Other times, when my physical body is overwhelmed and drowning in chemo or healing from surgery or when difficult emotions have a choke hold on my heart, I need to focus my prayer outward, away from what is happening within. That’s when I turn to music.  For me, any God-inspired song will do. It can be a traditional hymn, like “It is Well with My Soul” a song that has transformed my hurting heart into a place of peace, acceptance, and grace. It could even be a popular favorite like “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Oscar Hammerstein’s enduring classic of inspiration and resilience. Both songs remind me to hold fast to hope and God’s peace, even in experiences of tragedy. They bring to mind God’s promise in Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (43:2).

There is a reason many of the greatest songs ever written are inspired by the Bible, for music is a gift from God a beautiful mystery that speaks to us, reaches deep within our hardened or burdened hearts to touch us, and brings us peace. Through song, may “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2017, 09:40:27 PM »
Friday, July 21, 2017   

I Need Thee Every Hour
Edie Littlefield Sundby

Today’s Verse

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11–13 (NIV)

I grew up listening to my father sing God’s praise as he worked in the fields and milked cows. Mother’s songs could be heard above the Oklahoma prairie wind as she hung clothes out to dry.  Walking the old California Mission Trail, I was often overcome with joyous memories of childhood days. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, after walking 200 miles in 12 days without a break, I arrived at Mission San Fernando on the outskirts of Los Angeles. It was too late to attend Sunday services, and I sat alone in the quiet chapel, listening to the organist practice the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.”  I closed my eyes and it felt like I was a child again, sitting with my family on a wooden church pew in our small rural Baptist church in Oklahoma. Every head was bowed as the congregation gently swayed back and forth with the music of this same hymn. It was not just a song it was a prayer.  The prayer lingered for days afterward as our family went about our chores humming the words, our hearts affirming our need for God. My mother cooked the evening meal, and I heard the soft sound of her voice: “Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain; come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.”

My consciousness returned to this time and this place, to old Mission San Fernando. There would be more battles ahead for me. I knew there would be hardship and suffering. The organist stopped her practicing. Long after the final vibration, I sat softly humming, softly singing, smiling and with tears flowing. “I need Thee, oh, I need Thee; every hour I need Thee; oh, bless me now, my Savior; I come to Thee.”

Dear Lord, how much we need you.

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2017, 09:46:43 PM »
Monday, July 24, 2017   

Silence (Silencio)
Jan Johnson

Today’s Verse
“LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty.  I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.  Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”  Psalm 131:1–2

For many people, prayer consists of talking to God. Some people even have long lists that they pray through. But prayer is meant to be a conversation between God and you about matters that concern you both: people you love, causes you care about, work that you’re pouring yourself into, well-being in all of life, the Kingdom of God moving forward. Sometimes I picture prayer as Jesus and me sitting on a park bench side-by-side. There I process with Jesus (sometimes even complain) and receive guidance, maybe in the form of simple nudges. Other times ideas come to me that don’t sound like anything I would or could come up with!  In order for such conversation to happen, we need to be willing to listen to God as well as talk to God. Backing up even more, we need to be attentive to God’s presence with us just as we turn to listen to someone who speaks to us. If we are to give the other person our full attention, we need to surrender all the chatter in our heads. We have to decide that it’s not up to us to solve every problem; some matters are “too great or awesome” for us and we can trust God to address them.  In conversations with people, we hear what the other person is saying to us best if we are at peace within. In conversation with God, we are more likely to be glad to be in God’s presence and to interact with God when we have an inner stillness and quiet mind. Being still doesn’t come about by forcing ourselves into it; we ask God to help us and that stillness becomes God’s gift to us.

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2017, 09:56:42 PM »
Tuesday, July 25, 2017   

Reading and Reflection (Lectio and Meditatio)
Jan Johnson

Today’s Verse
“I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches.  I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.  I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.  Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word.”  Psalm 119:14–17

Stillness and peace in God’s presence prepare us to read Scripture reflectively and meditatively. This kind of unhurried reading is done slowly, the way we slow down when we’re having deep, delightful conversations with a friend.  Such meditative reading usually causes us to want to pray to respond to God who has spoken to us. This back and forth process of reading, meditating, and praying is so common among all kinds of Christians that centuries ago nearly back to the early church new Christians learned to do this in a process called lectio divina. (This is Latin because in those days Latin was a common language, perhaps more so than English is today.) Lectio divina means “sacred reading.” It wasn’t like reading a bill of sale which might be skimmed, but more like reading every word of the best letter that you’ve ever received.  The first phase of the lectio process is this slow, meditative reading, being attentive to what God might say. Such reading affirms that the Spirit has inspired the writing of the Scripture and today inspires us as readers to hear God.  Reading flows into reflection (the second phase, meditatio). A word or phrase in the Scripture passage stands out to us almost seems to shimmer! and we think, I’ve never seen that before! But we have. The Spirit knows these words are what we need to hear today. Then we carefully ponder: Why would the Spirit cause this to stand out to me today?

What do I need to know?

Resist the urge to make things up or try to be too spiritual and trust that God wants to speak to you and will speak.

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2017, 10:07:09 PM »
Wednesday, July 26, 2017   

Prayer as Response (Oratio)
Jan Johnson

Today’s Verse
“The one thing I ask of the LORD the thing I seek most is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.  Hear me as I pray, O LORD.  Be merciful and answer me!  My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’  And my heart responds, ‘LORD, I am coming.’”  Psalm 27:4, 7–8

Have you ever spoken to someone and they didn’t speak back to you?

Maybe they didn’t notice you. Or maybe they did, but they just kept going. It sounds odd to say this, but we do this with God when we read a Bible passage, think, What a great little nugget of truth, and go on to the next thing in life.  If we have been attentive, God has spoken to us through the Scripture passage and we would be wise to tell God about our response. Maybe we’re upset by what has been said, or maybe a deep hole in our soul has been addressed, or maybe we have a question.  This prayer response (called oratio) is the next natural phase in the conversational back-and-forth rhythm of lectio divina. This brings so many benefits. First of all, your relationship with God is strengthened just as your relationship with anyone is strengthened by ongoing conversation. Also, you receive so much more from the passage, both in terms of content as well as your relationship with God. The typical result for many of us is that even more comes to us and our relationship with God becomes more interactive than ever.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #27 on: February 25, 2018, 05:13:47 PM »
Wednesday, September 13, 2017   

Fully Present Everywhere
 Jen Wilkin  |  Bio  @jenniferwilkin  Facebook

Today’s Verse
“But the time is coming indeed it’s here now when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  John 4:23–24

A body is a set of limits. Our height determines the limit of what we can see standing in a crowd. Our mass determines the limit of how much water we will displace when we step into a swimming pool. Genetics or more properly, God determines our arm span and the size of our shoes. By tethering our spirits to a body, God decrees that we will be present where we are present, and nowhere else. Yet God, who is spirit, is able to be everywhere fully present.  In John 4, Jesus holds a well known conversation with a Samaritan woman, which points out the difference between God and man in matters of place. The woman says to Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain [Mt. Gerizim], but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship” (v. 20, ESV).

She is asking Jesus to clarify which location is the true habitation of God. Jesus responds that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (v. 24, ESV).

God, who does not have a body, is not bound by place. He is everywhere, and can therefore be worshiped anywhere. Jesus echoes the thoughts of his ancestor, King Solomon, at the dedication of the temple: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27, ESV).

God, unbound by a body, is not limited to one place. He is not merely big, he is uncontainable, able to be present everywhere.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2018, 05:27:36 PM »
Thursday, September 14, 2017   

Not Bound by Time and Space
Jen Wilkin  |  Bio  @jenniferwilkin  Facebook

Today’s Verse
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist.”  Acts 17:24–28

God is present in all places all the time. Not only that, but everywhere he is present he is fully present. He is not engaged in some cosmic game of Twister, trying to stretch himself between an infinite number of locations. Rather than a small part of him occupying each place he inhabits, all of God is present everywhere, all the time.  But it gets crazier: All of God is fully present in all places past, present, and future. Theologians call this his immanence. Put simply, there is no place or time where God is not.  Though God is everywhere fully present, we are not always aware that he is. At times, he unmistakably declares his presence to us. At other times, he does not. Whether we sense his presence or not, “he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27, NIV).

Though he is fully present, we may perceive only a certain aspect of his nature in a given moment. In a worship service, we may sense overwhelmingly the presence of his love. In a time of meditating on his law, we may perceive overwhelmingly the presence of his holiness. Even in hell, God is fully present, though its inhabitants perceive only his wrath. For the believer, eternity will be a place where we experience the presence of God to the fullest of our capability. There, we will experience him as Immanuel, God with us as we have only experienced him to be in a limited way during this life.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2018, 09:45:49 PM »
Which One Are You?
Apr 04, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

Friend to Friend
The words of Jesus pack a punch. His is a powerful and vibrant dialog that brings both tradition and the Law into a new and living light.
On a hillside, long ago, Jesus engaged individuals toward choosing God’s best on a heart level, not just a do-this-to-make-God-happy, knowledge and rules level. Recorded in the book of Matthew, Jesus gave the crowd, and us, some incredible insights to the way His followers should live. We call this the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7)  Remember that collection of Jesus teachings?

Here’s a rapid review:  He taught the “beatitudes” (Matthew 5:2-12), and told His followers to be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16).  He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them,” and warned the people that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees, they/we would never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)

He taught on anger, lust, divorce, and oaths very prickly subjects! And on retaliation, loving our enemies, and giving to the needy.  (Check please!) (Matthew 5:27-6:4)  Jesus taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:5-15), gave instructions on fasting, and told us that we are to love and serve God above all earthly treasures. (Matthew 6:16-24)  He told us not to worry, (wait, what!?) and directed us to seek God and His righteousness first in everything because He KNOWS OUR NEEDS and takes care of His own. (Matthew 6:25-34)  He talked about judging others. About logs, and specks, and hypocrisy. (Easy stuff, right?) (Matthew 7:1-6)  Jesus said that we should ask, seek, and knock. That we should go to God when we have a need because He’s a good, good, loving Father. (It’s who He is!) (Matthew 7:7-11) Also that we should treat others as we want to be treated, beware of false prophets that can be recognized by their fruits, and that we must KNOW Jesus personally not OF Him to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 7:15-23)  And after He finished unpacking all of these behaviors and perspectives that counter-culturally represent the kingdom of God, He pressed in with a wise-person/foolish-person analogy by concluding with this:  Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Bam. Do the thing.  I read this and am freshly reminded: all this stuff Jesus told you and me about how to behave and how to believe? If we do it, if we will put these things into practice, then we build our lives on a wise foundation. If, however, we don’t do these things, then we are foolish.  Where are you in this?

Rock or sand?

Wise or foolish?

Do you or don’t you?

It’s not hard to understand what Jesus meant here. It is hard to put it all into practice.  And can’t be done without His help.  If I don’t choose to live responsively to His teachings, then I am, by default, choosing to live as a fool.  So when I know that Jesus says I shouldn’t point out the speck in someone else’s eye before taking the log out of mine and I do it anyway I live as a fool.  And when I choose to let worry and anxiety take up huge lots of real estate in my heart instead of trusting God and allowing His peace to comfort me I live as a fool.  Jesus talked straight about this. When His followers hear His words (this means we need to read the Bible and know what His words are!) and put them into practice we will not only live as wise people, but that wisdom becomes our firm foundation. A foundation that protects and provides for us when the winds of life blow hard and when the rains of life fall.