Archive for the ‘Devotions’ Category
Your pastor has just brought you down a mailing of 140 letters that he wanted in the mail yesterday. Your Sunday school director has decided she wants the attendance records updated today. The nominating chair person wants an updated nominating committee report as soon as possible. The finance committee wants a detailed breakdown of a certain line item and they are meeting later today. Sound familiar? How should we respond?
According to God’s Word, we are to “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14) Wow! That was a reminder I needed, but did not necessarily like being reminded of. So much has been happening at work and I have been grumbling and disputing, even if it was just with myself.
This year as part of my contribution to the BSAM board, I was asked to do the devotions for the website. When I accepted, I thought this would be of no problem because I know just the right person who is a godly woman and who writes for a living. But God had other plans. He meant for me to do this on my own.
When Cyndee asked for updates for the website, I put this off. However, today God grabbed my attention and said, “Today is the day!”
As I sat, prayed, and thought about what to share with each of you, I did not know where God wanted me to start and what He wanted me to share. I finally recalled our theme for our conference this year is “Encouraging the Servant Heart.” I felt God leading me to a place to start, the word servant.
I felt being lead to focus on verses in my concordance that dealt with service as a ministry or work. After looking at several verses and beginning to become quite frustrated because nothing was jumping out at me saying, “That’s it!”, I came across Hebrews 12:28: “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” We should offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe. What exactly was God trying to teach me?
He led me then to Hebrews 13:21: “equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” God sends His Holy Spirit to equip me to do what I am asked according to His will. How is this done?
Yep, you guessed it, Philippians 2:13-15: “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”
Today, God laid it on my heart to share with you that when you become overwhelmed with serving God’s church, remember (1) He is at work in you, (2) He will equip you, and (3) He wants us to do it without grumbling or disputing. If we remember this, we will appear as lights to the world.
Have you felt insignificant, unnoticed, unappreciated? I have recently had to deal with those feelings. This is not a pleasant place to be. However, I have found great comfort in His Word.
The ladies of our church have recently begun The Patriarch’s Bible Study by Beth Moore. Last week we discussed Hagar and how Sarah was being mean to her after she became pregnant with Abraham’s son. It became so bad that Hagar decided to leave and try to make it back to Egypt. However, God had something else in mind and He stopped her and took the time to talk to her. Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me?” Genesis 16:13 (NLT)
As a result of this encounter, we are given the name El Roi for God. It means the God who sees. God sees all and He cares for all. If He will take the time to pay attention to one who is not His, can you imagine what He will do for the ones who are His?
In the study, Beth Moore writes this, “He sees no one else care to look. He sees through the smile we wear when we’re dying inside. He sees our hurt when we’re mistreated. He sees us when we cry into our pillow because we feel unloved. He sees beyond our sin into the depth of our need. He sees when we’re hiding. Running. He sees when we continue to sow the seed of His Word even in the floodplain of our grief. He is the God who sees you.”
The next time you begin to feel insignificant, unnoticed, unappreciated remember, you serve El Roi, the God who sees you.
2014 BSAM Program VP
The Snake in the Office
Alone in the office and busy with end-of-the week details I didn’t see it right away. Actually, I had probably walked past it a time or two before it caught my eye. When I reached toward the worm, tissue in hand, it coiled and opened its tiny mouth. That’s when I knew – SNAKE!
I withdrew to my desk and watched it closely as it writhed and twisted, trying desperately to figure out how to crawl across the carpet. The very sight gave me the shivers. My thoughts drifted back to the pair of black snakes my colleagues and I had seen in our flower bed last year. Obviously, they were still around and multiplying. Then my mind wandered down another path: If that one is here, where are its litter mates! I spent the rest of the morning with my feet off the floor as much as possible, watching carefully for anything that would indicate the culprit was not alone.
This made me think of another serpent. We first catch a glimpse of him in Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” We know him by another name, the devil. He raises his ugly head again and again in Scripture, but never so blatantly as in Luke 3:2 where we read that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit and fasted for 40 days “being tempted by the devil.” The Apostle Paul even warned the church at Corinth, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
So, what are we to do when faced with the “snakes” that plague our lives?
1. Redirect our focus. That temptation is not as beautiful as it may appear. Keep our
eyes on the Savior. Christ desires our obedience and devotion far above external service
and the appearance of godliness.
2. Use the same tactic Jesus used to defeat the devil. He spoke the Word of God in answer
to the devil’s vain offerings. Our strength comes from abiding in God’s Word.
3. Refuse to be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. He gave His
life to redeem us from the curse of sin. He deserves our undivided loyalty.
When we do these things, we can then claim the victory declared to Eve in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel.” You see, a bruised heel will cause us to limp, but a hard blow to the head is more likely fatal. Jesus struck that blow against the devil for us with his death, burial and resurrection. Believe it, live it, share it.
Oh, by the way, I know this approach works because I have seen it in action. I dropped a box of Bibles on the snake. It never moved again. Poetic justice don’t you think!
2013 BSAM President-Elect
FILL IN THE BLANKS
“Hello, my name is Juanita and I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”
That is how I introduced myself years ago to a group of ministry leaders with impressive titles and lists of accomplishments to their credit. We were new to the area. Their tailored suits and perfectly styled hair made me feel out of place and inferior in my best home-made dress and no-money-for-a-decent-cut hairstyle.
Though the names and faces have faded in my memory, I will never forget the words of one precious lady. “You are doing the most important job in the world. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.” We had never before met, but her words penetrated deep into my hurting soul that day. You see, I am shy by nature. The work of overcoming personal insecurities (you’re not good enough), tuning out destructive criticism (you’re wasting your college education) and conquering unreasonable fears (you can’t do that) has been a life-long journey. Surrendering to full-time Christian ministry as a teenager, becoming a preacher’s wife with my life on public display, and even accepting my current position as an associational ministry assistant have been huge leaps of faith for me.
So, my question to you is simple and straightforward: How would you fill in the blanks?
“Hello, my name is ______________ and I’m _________________. Are you tempted to drop that little word “just” into your sentence?
First, let me remind you that who you are is not defined by what you do, but Whose you are. “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
(Philippians 2:13 NASB)
Second, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you have the power and ability to be anything He wants you to be. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NASB)
And last, Christianity is an ongoing journey. God isn’t finished with you yet. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NASB)
I pray you will keep these things in mind the next time you, or maybe others, are tempted to drop that little “just” in front of your name, title, or job description. You are a precious child of the King! “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ….” (Philippians 3:20 NASB) What could be better?
2013 BSAM President-Elect
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
The group photo hung on the church’s “Missions Wall of Fame.” As team members gathered around to find their faces I struggled to locate my own. Suddenly, a horrible realization pierced my heart. I was the “heavy-set” woman in the middle of the front row! I hardly recognized myself. In my mind I was still the slender, athletic girl I had been in college. How did this happen?
That was the day I determined to return to a healthier lifestyle. With effort, changes, and support from my family, I began the journey. By sticking to a strict regimen of nutrition and exercise I dropped the excess pounds, regained strength and stamina, and felt better than I had in years. It wasn’t easy, but definitely worth the work.
Fast forward 10 years. After moving to a new location and ministry then returning to full-time employment, some of the old habits began to slither back into my busier-than-ever life. When my clothes became uncomfortable, I stepped onto my dusty scale and was astonished by the numbers glowing on the digital screen. How did this happen?
The answer, in both situations, is the same. I had lost focus, failed to see myself as I really was, and lacked the discipline to do anything about it. OUCH! That is a painful admission, but as I think about it, the same truth applies to my spiritual life. When my relationship with God is not as it should be I must ask myself:
What is my focus? “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on
earth.” (Colossians 2:2)
Do I see myself as God sees me? “For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment….” (Isaiah 64:6)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own
possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of
darkness into His marvelous light….” (I Peter 2:9)
Have I exercised spiritual discipline? “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
And so the journey continues. Will you join me in becoming healthier-spiritually as well as physically?
There will be challenges and it won’t be easy, but I know it will be worth the effort.
Lesson From A Tree (January 2013)
She spotted it on a walk around their farm: A beautiful, 7 ft. pine standing amid a clump of scrub cedar. The branches were bright green, symmetrical and full. Although it was only June, she knew this would be the one.
Summer was hot and dry. Ponds dwindled, wells were in danger of failing and the trees began to turn brown and lose their leaves way too early. Still, the pine flourished.
Finally Thanksgiving Day arrived. After a grand dinner with family, everyone headed out to cut “the perfect Christmas tree.” They all took turns pulling the wagon back to the house. What a festive time it was decorating the tree, munching sugar cookies and sipping hot cider! The end result was breathtaking.
After the kitchen was cleaned and last goodbyes said, the family left. Her husband headed outside to do evening chores, leaving her alone to sit in her favorite chair and admire the tree. It was then she noticed a faint, but unusual odor. Assuming it was a mingling of cooking odors and day’s activities, she dismissed it and headed for bed.
She awoke early the next morning to a horrible stench. It was coming from the tree! You see, the reason it thrived during the drought was that it was growing near the lagoon into which drains the waste from their hog barns. The contents of the lagoon had permeated the tree. It was beautiful on the outside, but putrid deep within. It had to be taken down and discarded.
After we share a good laugh, I contemplate my friend’s story and am reminded of Psalm 1 (KJV):
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Unlike that tree, we can choose the source of our sustenance: Living Water or stagnant pool. I ask myself and you, “Where have you chosen to be planted this year?”
Steps to Developing Inner Beauty
“DIFFERENT” (November 2012)
I blink back tears as I begin writing. Christmas will be different this year.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, our family hasn’t suffered loss, but has been incredibly blessed. You see, our daughter, our only child, married in June. Her new husband is a fine Christian young man and a wonderful addition to our family.
So, why the tears? Christmas will be different this year.
Different - as in changes to the way we do things…some of the old traditions will have to be adjusted or abandoned completely. Different - as in our comfortable little family of three has expanded and must make room for another’s preferences, personality and schedule. Different - as in unfamiliar and unexpected…like the fact that his new job, for which we fervently prayed, will require him to work the holidays keeping them in their home instead of ours on Christmas morning. At this point you may be thinking, “Well, just go to their house.” We can’t. They live many miles away. My husband is a pastor. We have commitments with our congregation.
As I contemplate this situation, God invades my thoughts with His Word, “Be still and know that I am God….” I try to redirect my mind, but His calling is relentless, “Be still and know that I am God….” Finally, I grab my concordance and find the reference, Psalm 46:10. The whole verse reads:
“Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (KJV)
At first I think it odd that He would use this verse to get my attention. After reading the entire Psalm I find it is a song of praise for God’s deliverance and a declaration of His strength. Verse 10 is a directive to the people of Israel to remember in whom they trust. Understanding slowly dawns. I am focused on the celebration instead of the One we celebrate. How did that happen? Instantly I know. I have failed to:
“be still” Cease striving, be quiet, get ready to listen
“and know” No doubting, no guessing, absolutely confident
“that I am God” The Creator, Sustainer, my Redeemer and lover of my soul
“I (God) will be exalted” This is to be my purpose, my focus, my heart’s desire
I don’t know what you are facing during the bustle of the holiday season, but this I have learned. When we are too busy to be still, our spirit suffers. When we focus on the wrong things, our attitudes quickly deteriorate. When we lose sight of our purpose, we can wander aimlessly through days of uncertainty, self pity, and unnecessary frustration.
Take heart! We need only listen to and obey His calling, “Be still and know that I am God….” He will take care of the rest.
Yes, Christmas will be different this year.
And that’s a good thing.