September 25, 2017

“The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; He saves those who have lost all hope.” Psalm 34:18

Grief Is Like a Tunnel

Sometimes we are warned that grief approaches. Circumstances spell out the dreaded message. Other times grief slams down upon us with the brute force of a horrific wave, knocking the breath from us, rendering us completely disoriented. Grief’s tunnel is NEVER a destination of choice.

I washed in grief when our son died. It was frightful at first, so solitary, so prison-like. I struggled to accommodate the void within and the void without, so painful they felt physical. My sense of direction felt challenged and I groped my way as by braille. Progression seemed a forever pace. 

But, in time, as I gained equilibrium, I sought the Lord. I begged Him for a way to cope.

Let me encourage you that God will be with us if we ask Him. He will be the Light for our way, and the strong arm on which to lean. This is not to say that sadness is banished, but there comes a comfort and a hope He brings that allows us to surmount our sorrows and gives the soul a higher sight. 

“Count your blessings one by one…” causes the aperture of the mind’s eye to shift. A faint light at the end of our tunnel dawns, and we are drawn to quicken our steps toward it. Jeremiah 17:7-8 assures us, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He shall be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 29:11 promises, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”

Depend on the Lord to lead you out of your darkness and into His light. He will see that you arrive safely at the tunnel’s end where there is light for the eyes and peace for your soul.

“Merciful Lord, my heart has been shattered through the pain of loss, and in my frailty I stand upon Your indomitable Word that faithfully promises, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ Wrap me in the words of the psalmist who probed his own heart: ‘Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me’ (Psalm 139:7-10). Lord, Your presence brings me peace, comfort, and the hope that soon I may even be ‘surprised by joy’1 once again. In the exceeding greatness and power of Your Name I pray. Amen.”

1 C.S. Lewis

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September 24, 2017

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

This year I had the privilege of experiencing the miracle of my son becoming a father. I had no doubt that he would love his child and be a good daddy because that is the kind of man he is. But what I wasn’t prepared for was to see the intense love he has for his daughter and her love for him.

From the day she was born he began talking to her while holding her securely in his arms.  Her eyes opened and her gaze was fixed firmly on him in her first hours of life. As the months went on, their bond became stronger. As soon as her daddy enters the room, she senses his presence and her eyes turn toward the voice that she recognizes as her daddy. And when he picks her up, she instantly fixes her eyes on him, as if there is no one else in the room with this intense bond of love. His gaze back to her is one of the most beautiful things I have experienced—seeing him looking at her with his eyes of love.

This is the look we need with Jesus. Locking our eyes on Him, no matter what is happening around us. Taking time to gaze at Him and surrender our hearts. We have a Daddy, a Father, a King, and in his Presence everything will be okay. We are His delight. Fixing our eyes on Jesus is turning over worry, fear, pain, unanswered prayers, and questions to the One who knows all. It’s looking towards the One who loves with no boundaries, no conditions, and no time constraints. It’s reverencing him as King of all creation, Lord of all. 

Fixing our eyes on Jesus is an act of worship and adoration, surrendering to the will of Him who paid it all. Just like a baby who is dependent on her mother and father for every need, helpless and fully surrendered, this is us with our need for Jesus.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the Light of His glory and grace.”
Helen H. Lemmel 1922

“Lord please help us all to remember that You desire us to fix our gaze on You and to look into Your wonderful face. In Your presence is where we rest in Your perfect peace.”

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September 23, 2017

“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16 NLT

His Love Shines

This morning God blessed me beyond what I could ask or think!

I was sitting on the patio, facing south, reading the “Walk His Way” posting on my new smart phone. It was early enough that the sun was not all the way up yet. As I was reading, I was aware it was getting brighter; the sun was peaking over the neighbor’s house through the trees.

I sat there and allowed the sun to slowly wash over me. It warmed my spirit, soul, and body. I just sat quietly thanking God for the blessing of the sunrise.

Just the slow, gradually intensifying of His light on me was truly amazing. It made me want to do what Jesus said: “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” If my heavenly Father would bless me so abundantly, then I wanted to do something that would bless Him. Matthew tells us we can.

So, Sisters, as we “walk His way,” let us walk with thankful hearts, letting our good deeds shine on everyone around us so God can be praised, and people can know what a blessing it is to serve our God.

Then before I knew it, He gave me a poem besides the blessing of His sunrise. We do serve an awesome God!

The morning sun peaks slowly over the horizon,
Just as the love of God shines through His Son.
We are also to shine His love to all,
To reach out to help or prevent a fall.
His blessings come so abundantly
That, “Just like Jesus” is who I want to be.
His love shines.

“Lord, I pray You lead and guide us in our thought life and help us to be grateful for ALL the gifts You give, great and small. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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September 22, 2017

HIS ACTIONS

“And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.” Luke 24:40

His Hands

HIS EXAMPLE TO US

Jesus shows us His love with His hands.

MY STORY

I have the look of my mother’s hands. My fingers are slender and long, and age spots are beginning to show. Her hands played duets on the piano with me when I was a youth taking lessons; we laughed and giggled like schoolgirls. Her hands brushed my hair in the evenings as I sat on the floor in front of her. Her hands cured boo-boos, removed splinters, mixed Kool-Aid on a summer day, and beat cake batter until smooth. Her hands made a soufflé when I was a little child so I could proudly walk with my teacher, holding her hand, down the street to my home at lunch. She is an artist, too, seeing the unseen, painting with oils and pastels and watercolors. To me, her hands could do everything, which made her a wonder to me. Her hands showed me her love.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the hands of Jesus. I can almost picture them: calloused from His years of holding the tools of a carpenter; capable, strong, and willing; and by the time His ministry begins at about age 30, His hands are shown to be tender, caring, and healing. His hands held children. His hands lifted bread to the heavens when He gave thanks. His hands cured illness and disability with a touch, bringing comfort and peace. His hands stretched out to people and to nature alike, restoring everything. In the beginning, His hands created the heavens and the earth; and in the end, His right hand will hold the seven stars.

His hands hammered nails into wood in His early days; at the end, nails were hammered into His hands on the wooden cross. 

MY RESPONSE

I want to show my love for others with my hands. May my hands be hands that serve food. Hands that caress the dying, soothe the grieving, lift the face of those who are downcast. Hands that point the way back, the way forward, the way out. May my hands hold hands.

MY PRAYER

“Jesus, Your hands have held me so many times, I’ve lost count. Your hands have never let me go. Your hands have my name engraved on them. You hold me in the palm of Your hand, and in that hiding place I am safe. May my hands be like Yours while I am still on this earth, doing good, bringing comfort, and giving to the poor. In Your own powerful Name I pray, Amen.”

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September 21, 2017

HIS WORDS

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”  Mark 4:39

Hurricane

HIS EXAMPLE TO US

Jesus can calm the wind and the waves.

MY STORY

My brother is ten years younger than I, and I’ve always felt protective over him. When he moved over 3,000 miles away to Naples, Florida, six months ago, it took all of my self-control to let him go with any grace at all. With a lot of prayer, I swallowed my big sister control complex, made him a road trip care package, warned him about the dangers of alligators, and tearfully watched him drive away in a mustard yellow moving truck. But that control complex came back with full force when a storm started brewing deep in the Atlantic Ocean.  

This storm was so big and powerful that forecasters said that there had never been a storm like it before. She was over 400 miles wide with winds of over 170 mph. Her name was Hurricane Irma and she was barreling straight toward Naples. My brother was in imminent, life threatening danger, and there wasn’t a single thing I could do to help him. The waves of helplessness and fear that washed over me filled my heart with dread and anxiety.

MY RESPONSE

As I prayed to Jesus in my anxiety and uncertainty, He gently reminded me of the verse above. Jesus has always had full dominion over all of the elements on earth, including water and wind, but He also has the ability to calm the human heart, even the heart of a sister who was abruptly faced with the reminder that she wasn’t nearly as in control of things as she wanted to be. 

The truth of the matter is that my hands are small; even if I lived right next door to my brother, there’s very little that I would have been able to do to help him. But when I fold these two small hands in prayer to Jesus, they become powerful in the One who can rebuke the wind and rain with a word. As I began to lift my brother, Hurricane Irma, and the entire state of Florida up to Jesus, my anxiety was replaced by peace. None of the circumstance of our distance or the magnitude of the storm had changed, but Jesus had changed me.  

After the storm hit Naples head on, my brother drove for 15 miles to get a call out to let us know that the wind and rain had died down and he was safe. That night I lifted my hands once again in prayer and thanksgiving to Jesus.

MY PRAYER

“Jesus, I thank You that Your voice is strong enough to stop a hurricane, yet gentle enough to whisper to my anxious heart. Forgive me when I let the circumstances around me drown out the peace that You freely give. Thank You for quieting Hurricane Irma; please continue to comfort, restore, and reveal Yourself to all of those who were affected by the storm. In the mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.”

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September 20, 2017

“Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the water pots with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, ‘Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.’ And they took it.” John 2:7-8

Acceptable Gifts

A Mini Devotional

A wedding. Celebration. Creation of a new family. Rejoice!

Wait. We’re out of wine! We can’t rejoice without wine! 

His mother, Mary, says we shouldn’t panic. Jesus is here. He’ll tell us what to do.

Fill the water pots to the tippy-top. Good job. Now take some to the feast master. Does the new wine pass his inspection? Does this mere human approve of a miracle wrought by the Son of God? 

Imagine the absurdity: Mortal being, will you accept the perfect offering that is given to you by the hand of Almighty God? Or will you reject it and turn away?

Is the new wine acceptable? How about the new life He offers? How about any other gift He gives, any decision He makes, any word He speaks? Is it enough? 

His gifts are incomparable. Have we thanked Him?

“Thank You for the gift of the unsearchable riches in Christ. Forgive us for ever looking elsewhere.”

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September 19, 2017

“I AM the Vine and you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Abiding

The definition of “to abide” is to accept or bear patiently, to remain or continue.

Recently, a Walk His Way devotional about “Room for Jesus” in our hearts awoke in me the daily need to open constant space for Jesus in my thoughts and actions. This preoccupation is always present and dominant, and should not be filled with my own selfish ambitions and thoughts. I struggle daily, because STAYING in that place of abiding in every thought and word and deed becomes overwhelming. I confess my inability without the Lord’s help.

The motivation for abiding is love. “As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). This verse encourages us to stay in this place. I find it’s always a choice and discipline to STOP that thought or the words flying out of my mouth that are unwholesome, and to think on things that are pure and excellent and honorable, and to share kindness.

The Lord meets us in this place; it cannot happen without His Spirit’s direction and reminders. In His constant love and grace for us, that same love and grace can be extended to others by actions that reflect our Lord. But when I don’t extend His love and grace, I confess, repent, and ask for help again. My love is deeper because He is always there with a smile of encouragement and a way of escape from temptation or a word of blessing to others. Amazing!

 “In Him (we can) live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). There’s no sweeter place than knowing I am pleasing My heavenly Father. In that place of fruit-bearing and being valuable to His Kingdom, a fresh sense of joy and fulfillment is released. It is experienced in no other place. This is contagious to the lost world around us as we see our hope in Him; resting in this place of abiding brings glory to Him because the outpouring of our hearts is from His love and to please Him.

When the unexpected happens, or something off my agenda, I can stop and pray and give Him thanks for His presence, wisdom, and guidance, then proceed according to His direction. He always gives the next step—sometimes it is to just be patient and do nothing. Remember, “Without Him we can do nothing.”

Dear Lord, thank You for being our True Vine, our Life. You are always extending Your love. Help us to always have the desire to be pleasing to You, seeking You, staying in Your secret place You have for us in which we can bear fruit for Your Kingdom, abiding in the Vine. Glory to You, Lord Jesus! Amen.”

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September 18, 2017

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Deuteronomy 5:7, Exodus 20:3

Putting God First

I recently heard on the radio that 67% of all people check their e-mail, smart phone, or other devices, first thing in the morning and last thing before bed each day. I got to thinking, that seems like a high number. What about brushing your teeth, having coffee with your spouse, praying, opening your Bible? I was contemplating this when I thought, do I do this? Oh no, I am not always in that 67% but I have to be honest, sometimes I am guilty of this. This thought convicted me to look into God’s Word and see what Scripture has to say.

Any excessive devotion to a person or a thing, anything we put before God, can be an idol in our lives. An idol is anything that replaces or takes the rightful place of the One True God. This can be anything that is put before God in our lives. Idolatry can also include our pride, greed, attitudes, and love of possessions. God demands to be first in our lives. The first Commandment is very clear on this (Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 35:7).

God is jealous for our attention and our worship of Him, and rightfully so. He is our creator. The very breath we breathe is because of Him. Deuteronomy 32:16 says, “They provoked His jealousy with foreign gods; they enraged Him with detestable practices” (NIV). Are we living our lives being faithful to our faithful God? Every generation has things that pull attention away from God, if it is allowed. We need to be mindful of how we spend our time and what we focus on most in our lives.

After reading about idolatry, idols, and our jealous God, I turned to Jesus. I have found I can never go wrong seeing what Jesus did in His life on earth and trying to live by His example. Jesus spent lots of time with His Father God, in prayer! Mark 1:35 says, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” Jesus knew the secret of His strength and that was quiet time with God. If Jesus can start His day praying, surely we also can. Jesus was a very busy man, with a limited time to save mankind; He had a message to give out, disciples to train, people who needed all sorts of healings, yet He knew the power of prayer and spending time with His Father.

The Bible has much to say about prayer and examples of how to pray: the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6:9-13; prayer for wisdom, 1 Kings 3:5-14; intercessory prayer, Genesis 18:22-33. These are just a few examples. I found in the Psalms some beautiful verses on prayer. Psalm 55:17: “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 88:13: “But to You I have cried out, O LORD, and in the morning my prayer comes before You.” Psalm 141:2: “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” I believe God wants us to start and end each day with Him in prayer.  

“Heavenly Father, please direct our thoughts to You, Lord. Help us to put the distractions of our busy lives in proper perspective and put You first. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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September 17, 2017

“Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around Him were shouting, ‘Praise God! Blessings on the One who comes in the name of the LORD!’” Mark 11:9 NLT

The Center

This took place on Palm Sunday. Scripture tells us in verse 8 that many people spread their garments on the road ahead of Him, and others spreads palm leaves before Him. It never ceases to amaze me that Jesus was the center of this procession, and yet less than a week later, on Good Friday, He would be the center of another procession, one where people would be cursing and beating Him, and where “they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side and Jesus in the center” (John 19:18).

How could there be such a disparity in thinking and acting in such a short amount of time? I think the answer can be found in a C.S. Lewis quote: “From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the center is opened to it.”

In the first procession the people chose God as the center, in the second one they chose themselves.

Who do I choose to be the center? Who do I trust to make the important decisions in my life? Who do I give the most attention to? What do I shout at God and His Son… blessings—in the form of gratitude and praise, or cursing—in the form of grumbling and self-will? 

Do I make it all about Him or all about me?

I found these lyrics from Jesus At the Center.*

“From my heart to the Heavens
Jesus be the center
It’s all about You
Yes it’s all about You”

“Lord, may we never cease to praise You. Help us to make our lives all about You and choose You, rather than ourselves, to be the center. Amen.”

* Adam Ranney | Israel Houghton | Micah Massey © 2011 Integrity Worship Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music [DC Cook]))Integrity’s Praise! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music [DC Cook])) Sound Of The New Breed (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music [DC Cook])) Remaining portion is unaffiliated
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September 16, 2017

“And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’”
Luke 17:5

Faith and Duty

The disciples of Jesus have asked Him to increase their faith. Jesus seems to say that faith is not the issue. Faith as small as a tiny mustard seed can speak to a mulberry tree, which has a vast root system allowing it to live up to 600 years, and cast that mighty tree into the depths of ocean waves.

Then Jesus begins to speak of duty, service, faithfulness and obedience. He speaks of a servant who toils in the sun all day and then comes home in the evening to prepare his master’s supper. This is the master’s expectation. This is the servant’s willing duty.

As bond slaves of Jesus we must put our faith to work. This is our reasonable service.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Faith is evidenced by faithful duty. Faithful duty causes faith to increase. As an example, I was once called to a “duty” I felt I could not accomplish. Many times I had failed in the very thing I was being asked to do. But the Holy Spirit stirred up my tiny mustard seed faith to take on this daunting deed. In fear and trembling I took that leap of faith. God met me there in my obedience and I saw clearly that He is more than enough. This experience increased my faith and gave me confidence to continue in my calling.

What is your faith leading you to do? How is your faith being evidenced?

“Father, help us to serve well. Stir up our faith to answer our calling. We trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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September 15, 2017

Dear Readers,

On Thursdays and Fridays (Her Ministry Bible Study meeting days), we will be posting a devotional that is specially formatted to share either Jesus’ words or His actions, and how they apply to our lives as we are “Living By His Example.” We hope you enjoy these special devotionals!

HIS WORDS

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” John 4:10

The Better Thing

HIS EXAMPLE TO US

Recognize Who we’re talking to when we pray, because the gifts of God are far beyond earthly possibilities. Jesus always gives something better than what we ask for. He gives good gifts to satisfy what we really need and what we truly desire, even if we don’t know it ourselves and thus don’t ask for it. “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

MY STORY

I was taught in childhood to not ask for things. My parents were very strict about this because they tell me that when I was a toddler, I begged for anything and everything when we went shopping. They saw a character flaw developing and wisely did not indulge me.

This, coupled with my childhood images of God as being an elderly, gray-bearded, uninvolved, disinterested Being Who had done all He would ever do in the pages of the Bible, caused me to not ask Him to do anything in me, for me, or through me. Other than, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take,” I knew of nothing more that He could or would do.

As I began to read the Bible for myself, and as I grew in the things of the Lord, I became aware of the “more” of Jesus. I saw in His Word many instances of His miraculous dealings with people. I marveled at the way He answered prayers. I saw the great power He exhibited. I began to look at His spiritual riches in a different way than earthly riches.

MY RESPONSE

I see now that these stories related in the Bible are for my learning. I see that I can ask Him for living water (Himself) and I will receive that, and more. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). He has satisfied my soul. He has taken me from being spiritually parched to bringing forth in me a fountain of joy and abundance. He removed my fear of death and replaced it with a joyful anticipation of being in His presence forever. I can’t possibly relate all the works He has done in me just in coming to know Him as He reveals Himself in His Word—but I can say assuredly, He has done more than I would have thought to ask.

MY PRAYER

“Jesus, You are generous beyond compare. We ask You afresh for Living Water—Your own self, living in us. In Your Name we pray.”

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September 14, 2017

Dear Readers,

On Thursdays and Fridays (Her Ministry Bible Study meeting days), we will be posting a devotional that is specially formatted to share either Jesus’ words or His actions, and how it applies to our lives as we are “Living By His Example.” We hope you enjoy these special devotionals!

HIS WORDS
“…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”
John 7:37

Come To Me

HIS EXAMPLE TO US
Jesus invited anyone and everyone to come to Him.

                               HIS WORDS
I’ve had to confront my own bias and prejudice too many times to count. I never even knew I held prejudice in my heart, but at some point the Lord began to convict me. It is clear to me now that I grew up with ideas of inferior people groups who had fewer abilities, less-able brainpower, and predictable responses to situations. They “always” held certain types of jobs, felt a particular way, and were only “good for one thing…” I grew up thinking they didn’t belong in this country, and should be rounded up and sent somewhere else.

This prejudice developed in me during the historical time period of the Cold War, so in addition to racial prejudice in my own country, I held many beliefs about countries with other forms of government. Any person, ideas, or words originating in those places was immediately suspect. I virtually trusted no one with different skin color, speech, government, country, religion, education, or culture. As a young person, I didn’t trust the older generation; as an older person, I didn’t trust the younger generation.

                                 MY RESPONSE
Jesus has no prejudice. Anyone who is thirsty can come to Him and drink. He wasn’t just King of the Jews, as He was called, but in fact is the King of all—all peoples, all nations, all events, all aspects of nature, all outcomes. His Kingdom is all-inclusive, and I should be also. I put myself in the place of another god when I pick and choose who I share Jesus with, who I accept, who I love, as if I were sovereign over those things. I will follow His example by inviting everyone He brings into my life to come to Jesus and drink from Him, the living water. I will live my life in such a way that others can see that He has quenched my thirst, and He is ready, willing, and able to quench their thirst, too.

MY PRAYER
“Father, forgive me for holding onto prejudice. Reveal to me where that still lurks in hidden corners of my heart, that I may repent and be forgiven. Help me to share Jesus boldly to all who are thirsty. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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September 13, 2017

Dear Readers,

Enjoy this previously posted devotional as we begin this year’s study of “Living By His Example.”

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
Luke 19:10 NIV

Lost or Found–You Decide

Lost
Agony, Despair
Crying, Hurting, Dying
Dark, Hopeless, Satan CHOICE Jesus, Hopeful, Light
Living, Comforting, Laughing
Joy, Ecstasy 
Found

“Dear Jesus, I thank You for coming to seek and save the lost and that through believing You, I can live forever with You in perfect peace and joy. I lift up those people in my life that are still lost. Help them to search and find You when they seek for You with all their heart. Use me as a vessel of Your ever-present light to point the way to You so that we all may rejoice with You in heaven for eternity. Praises to You for what You are doing and just because You’re You. Amen.”

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September 12, 2017

 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God Our Comforter

I was at lunch with friends, when my phone rang. Looking at the number, I knew I needed to answer. It was my niece, telling me that my sister, brother-in-law, and other niece had been in a terrible accident. Their van hit a patch of black ice, and they rolled several times. They were seriously hurt, but the extent of their injuries was unknown at that point. My niece, who had been in the middle of the back seat, only sustained a few scratches. She was able to crawl out a window, find her phone (in the ditch!), and call for help. It took some doing, as they were miles from civilization.

I made myself not panic, but after many calls that day, I learned that my sister and her husband both had several breaks in their necks and backs. My brother-in-law also had a broken sternum and ribs. The day passed in a blur, and I was finally able to talk to my sister. You know how it is, you just need to hear your loved one’s voice. 

Once I knew that though she wasn’t well, but would be okay, I called my brother-in-law’s room next. When he answered, all I could do was identify myself before bursting into tears. I could hear the agony in his voice. I will never forget this: he said, “Oh, honey, it’s okay… praise God, we’re alive… we’ll be okay…” and then he began to pray for me. Even in the midst of his terrible pain, his thoughts weren’t for himself; he wanted to comfort me! My intention had been to offer him comfort, but instead, he, like the big brother he is, comforted me. 

Isn’t that a wonderful reflection of what our Lord would do? The Scriptures are full of verses of how He offers us His comfort, His refuge, His strength. Jesus, as He hung on the cross, offered forgiveness and comfort to the thief next to Him. Luke 23:42-43 says, “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”’     

I know that God comforts us when we don’t even know it, and my prayer is that we are able to offer comfort as He does—and that we’ll be able to receive comfort as well. We mustn’t be too proud to be on the receiving end of it! 

“Father, thank You for the comfort You give us through Your word, through songs of worship, and from the prayers of loved ones. May we comfort as we are comforted. To You be the glory! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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September 11, 2017

Dear Readers,

Enjoy this previously posted devotional as we begin this year’s study of “Living By His Example.”

“Now it happened as they went that He (Jesus) entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:38-42

Martha, Martha

I am a “Martha”. I am a doer. I live my life from the perspective of doing. I wake up thinking, “What am I going to do today?” On vacation I’m thinking, “What can we do?”

I’m almost always thinking of “doing”. For many years, as I read the story in Luke 10:38-42, I felt for Martha’s cause. How could her sister just sit there while there was all this stuff to do?! How could Jesus scold Martha?! I didn’t understand why He was so hard on her. Seriously, who was going to prepare the meal, clean up the eating area, set the table, get the food on the table?! Poor Martha, left to do all that work while Mary just sat there!

I honestly I didn’t get the story. To this “Martha”, all I could do was sympathize with that “Martha”. 

Thankfully, Jesus understood this “Martha”, and didn’t leave her in disgusted confusion with the story. He helped me understand more each time I read the story. 

He showed me John 11:5. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister…” Jesus loved Martha. Jesus loved Mary. 

He showed me John 12:2. “There they made Him a supper; and Martha served…” Mary had helped prepare the meal. Martha was doing what she was gifted with…she served.

Jesus showed me that the problem was not Martha’s “doing”. The problem was her focus. Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word”. Martha was distracted with much serving (doing!). 

Did the “doing” need to be done? Yes. 

Did Martha’s attitude need to be “distracted, worried, or troubled”? No.

Martha would not have been distracted, worried, or troubled if her heart-attitude had been that of sitting at Jesus’ feet hearing His words. Jesus loves all of us “Martha’s”, but knows there is the flip-side of this gift of helps–we can get bossy and feel put-upon if we don’t keep our hearts “sitting at Jesus’ feet”. 

How is your heart-attitude today? Is it a day where your heart is sitting at Jesus’ feet hearing His words?

“Father-God, thank You that You keep growing us. Thank You for loving us. Help our hearts be like Mary’s. Help us to sit at Your feet and hear Your words…even when we are busy “doing”. May our “doing” bring glory to Your name. Amen.”

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September 10, 2017

“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8

I Wonder as I Wander

I wonder as I wander
On this unexpected way.
I wonder what is still ahead,
And what will fill my day.

I never planned to come this way –
This path is so unknown.
The twists and turns go on and on.
They’re not what I thought God had shown.

Our “golden years” were just ahead,
And we planned to slow the pace.
Instead a whole new course we’re on,
And we’re in a much different race.

I wonder what is still ahead –
I wonder what the end will be.
I wonder what God has in store –
I wonder what He has for me.

I’ve not been one to wander,
As the years have all gone by.
There’s always been a plan He’s shown,
And I’ve never questioned why.

I’ve followed each path where He’s led,
All over the wide world;
And looked to Him to fulfill what He’d said,
When I was a young girl.

I even felt at that young age
That someday I’d live here;
But I would have never dreamed
That this journey would be so severe.

I wonder as I wander what is still ahead.
Then I hear, as I listen to His sweet voice,
To keep trusting and holding His hand
As He shows day by day His choice.

I do wonder, as I walk along this journey, what is ahead. I have no idea where this journey will still take us. I have no idea how much longer it will be. Sometimes that is hard. But I’m so grateful He lovingly keeps assuring me to take it one-day-at-a-time and keep holding His hand. How faithful He is!

Ladies, let’s join our hearts in prayer for our sister serving in South Africa with her husband.

“Our Father, Your eyes are on Floyd and Sally. We don’t understand why these insurmountable physical trials have come upon these servants of Yours—or why they have lasted so long—but Your ways are perfect, good, and just. Would You bless them with restored health and renewed hope and purpose. Protect them from further illness or injury, and make Your presence real to them. As Floyd and Sally would say themselves, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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September 9, 2017

Dear Readers,

Enjoy this previously posted devotional as we begin this year’s study of “Living By His Example.”

“Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your word.’” Luke 1:38

Trusting Beyond Understanding

I once found myself in a situation that made no sense whatsoever, at least to my mind. My husband was calling for a radical lifestyle change. He felt he had heard from God. I remember how I felt as he relayed this information to me. No one does this. It’s not logical.  It’s crazy risky.  I didn’t understand any of it. And I resisted it until I came to believe, myself, that this unheard of scheme that I could not wrap my mind around was truly from God.

Can you even begin to imagine the thoughts that swirled in Mary’s head as she heard the news that she would conceive in her womb and give birth to the Son of the Highest? She couldn’t reason it out. Virgins don’t have babies. They just don’t. And how is it that the Son of God could be conceived in a human womb? There was no precedent for anything like this in the history of the planet. Mary was young, poor, and engaged to a man called Joseph. This news was certainly going to shake things up. How could this be? 

Yet something in Mary believed that with God nothing was impossible. Her response was humble obedience and submission. She didn’t have to know all the answers. She wasn’t looking for guarantees of a happy outcome. She simply trusted God and declared her willingness to be used of Him in whatever way the Lord saw fit.

I want to have a heart like Mary. I want to readily believe God and be yielded to His purposes.  Elizabeth greeted Mary with these words: “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Believe God and watch Him fulfill His purposes in you. Nothing is impossible with God. Are you willing?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

“Father, You have made us for great and wonderful purposes. As You speak Your word to our hearts, may we declare as did Mary, ‘May it be unto me according to Your word.’”

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September 8, 2017

“‘And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.’ Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12-14

Firsts and Lasts

Morning broke, and again I was bemoaning yet another change in life. This led me down the path of thoughts of being on life’s side of “lasts.” Oh, the glorious side of life’s “firsts”—first breath, first smile, first step, first day of school, first date, first kiss, first love, first child and a myriad other “firsts.” Time marches on and now it’s time for the “lasts”—last child to leave the nest, last day of work, last day with a parent, last day with a spouse, and so many more. The pain of it all became overwhelming, and tears of sadness flowed. 

But then, (don’t you just love “but then”?) my husband reminded me there is an even more glorious “first” coming. A “first” filled with things that no one can fathom the beauty or joy of, awaiting us on that final last breath as we pierce the veil between earth and heaven and see Jesus face to face. A day that God promises will have no more pain, death, sorrow, or crying. Jesus Himself will wipe away our tears (Revelation 21:4). Jesus will touch us, smile at us, and welcome us to our first day of eternity with Him! No more “lasts” only “firsts”!  Selah—pause and think on this. 

What joy! I can move on through the day again. This life is so short and so temporary, but that shouldn’t be my focus. I belong to the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Everything in between is safe in His care and it is well.

“Dear Jesus, thank You that life starts and ends with You. Thank You that You hold my world, my “firsts” and my “lasts” are in Your hands, and it is well with my soul. Amen.”

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September 7, 2017

Dear Readers,

Enjoy this previously posted devotional as we begin this year’s study of “Living By His Example.”

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 HCSB

Don’t Buy Satan’s Lies, Accept Christ’s Free Truths

Two things I have learned about Satan’s lies over the years: they cost more than he says they will and they’re worth far less than he says they are.

When I was 11 years old, I went to a tent revival in our small town and the Lord lit a fire in me. He touched a part of my soul that I never knew existed. Not long after, and not coincidentally, Satan paid me a visit one dark night and told me a lie that I bought. The lie was that I could have prevented some negative events that had happened in my life and therefore they were my fault. 

I spent the next 12+ years trying to self-destruct, in a multitude of ways, to make amends for the guilt lie I had bought. Until finally, on another, even darker, night I accepted Christ’s truth: “I came to save you. I love you. You’ve punished yourself enough”. “He reaches down from heaven and saves me, challenging the one who tramples me. Selah. God sends His faithful love and truth” (Psalm 57:3 HCSB). With the acceptance of that free truth I allowed Christ to turn my life around. I surrendered to truth and love. It literally saved my life.

Some of the differences in the two visitors:

Satan is the father of lies. (John 8:44)  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6a).

Satan demands a high price.  Christ paid the ultimate price (John 15:13).

Satan seeks to destroy and kill. Christ brings life and abundant life (John 10:10).

Satan’s wages of sin is death. Christ’s free gift is eternal life (Romans 6:23).

Satan’s lies:  

You’re no good.
If they knew who you really are, they wouldn’t have anything to do with you.
God can’t use you after the things you have done.
God won’t ever forgive that.

Christ’s truths:

To the thief next to Him on Calvary: “I tell you the truth, this day you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

To the Samaritan leper, an outcast: “Arise, go your way—your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).

To the woman caught in the act of adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:3-11).

Here’s the deal though—free will. It’s our choice: Do we buy the lies or accept the free truth?

“Dear Jesus, help us to remember that Your free truths were bought with a high price—Your death. Through Your Word and by Your Holy Spirit help us not to buy the lies of the enemy, but to accept the free truths that You have already paid for. Help us to discern the difference. Amen.”

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September 6, 2017

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Jesus’ Broken Heart

This is the shortest verse in the Bible, yet so powerful. In this story Jesus has purposely delayed going to see His friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary—knowing Lazarus is ill and will die—so that He could show them and those around them, the glory of God when He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:44).

He knew the rest of the story, how it would all end, and yet when He sees the pain it has caused Martha and Mary, He weeps when he comes to the tomb where they have laid Lazarus. 

He does the same for us. This story shows me that His heart breaks for our pain. He knows that as believers we will spend eternity with Him and the Father, yet He cares about the things going on right here and right now, too.

I’m walking through some tough stuff with one of my kids right now, and I’m sure it’s breaking His heart, but I also know He can bring things back to life, and no matter what happens, He cares. Lazarus laid in the grave for four days before Jesus went to them, not because He wanted to see them hurt, but because His mission always was to bring glory to God. Even though I’m weeping, I’m going to trust He will do the same thing in this situation. Martha and Mary knew if Jesus had only come before Lazarus died, He could have healed him (verses 21 & 32); what they didn’t know was that He had something much bigger in mind.

Take heart, dear ladies, Jesus cares for you and your loved ones in whatever situation you find yourself in. 

“Lord, thank You for showing us that You weep over the painful things in our lives and long to bring them new life. All to the glory of God. Amen.”

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