Category Archives: Devotionals

A Matter of Perspective

I like to get up early for a time of prayer and Bible reading, while the world is quiet and still. This morning, I was enjoying that quiet until a group of crows started cawing loudly outside my window. My first response was to be annoyed, but then I decided they were just praising the Lord. They can’t help it if they don’t have beautiful voices. I have often been personally thankful for the Bible verse that says to make a joyful noise to the Lord, for, like the crows, I wasn’t blessed with a beautiful voice.

The change in my perspective brought a smile to my face instead of a frown, and joy replaced frustration in my heart. I pray God will help me throughout the day to see things from His perspective instead of mine.

In Nehemiah 8:10, after the people had repented of their sins, they were comforted with these words: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” When I allow God to change my heart so that I see things from His perspective, I can experience supernatural joy. That makes the day a lot more pleasant!

Invisible Rainbows

One of the ways God blesses me and brings a smile to my heart and face is through His rainbows–the sign of His promise. Sometimes I’m blessed to see beautiful rainbows in the sky, such as the time I was walking in our neighborhood, crying out to the Lord for a sign of hope regarding my disabled son. As I rounded the corner, I saw a brilliant rainbow shining over his house! Other times, little “rainbows” dance upon the kitchen cupboards or the bedroom door, as the sun reflects off the beveled glass windows, creating colorful prisms.

One day, as I was bustling around the house and praying about certain concerns, I suddenly saw some prism rainbows on the bedroom door. I stopped abruptly and just gazed at them. Tears sprung to my eyes and I dropped to my knees in thanksgiving. God washed away all my concerns and filled my soul with peace as His love washed over me. I watched until the rainbows grew pale, then I got up. An instant later, they were gone. If I had not stopped the moment I saw them, I would have missed out on a priceless experience.

Then a thought came to mind. I know (intellectually) that God loves me and is always with me, but how often do I slow down enough to let His love splash over me? He is continually blessing me, but many times His “rainbows” are invisible and I fail to recognize them because I’m either too busy or too stressed.

O precious Lord, please open the eyes of my heart to see your love touches throughout the day. May I stop long enough to allow Your precious love and peace to flood my soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Victory Through Surrender

I have found that it is impossible for me to cheerfully and willingly surrender my desires to the Lord and sacrificially serve others unless two things happen: (a) I have a fresh revelation of how much God loves me and has sacrificed for me, and (b) I ask Him for His power to surrender my desires.

Something once came up that gave me insight into this. I was also reminded that compassion comes through empathy and understanding. I have two friends that I’ll call Sue and Jane. Sue, Jane and I have been friends for many years. Many times, Jane has sacrificially helped us, but it seemed to me like Sue never really saw or appreciated the sacrifices. Sometimes I would try to help Sue see it, but it didn’t seem to register with her.

A situation came up where Sue and I would have an opportunity to serve Jane, but it would require a sacrifice mainly on Sue’s part because she would have to give up doing something she really wanted to do. I decided I would just pray for her, but I was feeling upset that she wouldn’t be willing to make that sacrifice for Jane after all that Jane had done for us. I asked the Lord to help me forgive Sue for her selfishness. Instantly this thought came to my mind: I guess that’s just a tiny taste of how the Lord feels when I’m unwilling to sacrifice for Him in light of all that Jesus has done for me. We all struggle with surrendering our desires, even for those we love. Instantly forgiveness and compassion for Sue flooded my heart.

Note the difference between my sinful, critical reaction and God’s merciful compassion. He was merciful to both Sue and me. He understood Sue’s struggle in surrendering her desires and He understood how blind I was to my own sins (like a critical spirit). In answer to my request for His help in forgiving Sue, God revealed my own struggle with selfishness and laying down my personal desires. Instantly I had empathy and compassion for Sue.

Sweet Lord, I truly want to reflect Your mercy and compassion to others. Please continually remind me to ask for Your help in overcoming my pride and selfishness and flood my heart with Your compassion. Help me to surrender my desires and bring them into alignment with Yours. I want to live the victorious life in the power of Your Spirit. Thank You. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen!

The Grace Place

There are certain Scriptures that have become very real to me since we learned (in August of

2017) that my husband has stage 4 Melanoma cancer.

The first is Matthew 6:34: “Therefore (because God is faithful) do not worry about tomorrow, for

tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

I have been learning that the way to experience God’s grace and supernatural peace is to train

my mind to live in the moment at hand. I haven’t been given the grace for tomorrow. God

gives grace one day at a time. When I stay in the moment, I truly do experience God’s

supernatural peace and even joy. I’m able to praise Him for all the little “love touches” I see.

Surrender is easier in this situation because I KNOW I have no control over the outcome.

 

When I thanked God for this peace and told Him I want His help staying in this place, His answer

was to reveal other areas of my life where I was still trying to be in control, such as our son’s

ministry and some of my relationships. As God helps me to surrender my expectations to

Him and trust Him to work things out according to His plan (which is far superior to mine), I

find that His peace is replacing my striving and stress. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says: “Come to

me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and

learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my

yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When I allow Him to carry my burdens, it’s amazing how

the stress melts away.

 

The other Scripture that has become very real to me is James 4:15: Instead (of boasting about

your plans) say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” Since we can’t predict

how Tom will feel after each treatment, we’ve learned to make what I call “pencil” plans (easily

erasable). The fact that God’s ultimately in control of our plans has become very real to us. I’m

learning to be surrendered and flexible. (This doesn’t come naturally to me.)

 

I find it’s also very difficult to make commitments. For example, I’m hesitant to volunteer my

time unless I know there’s a back up person who can take my place if I can’t make it. I’m going

to have to learn to hear God’s voice more clearly when I’m seeking His will, and trust that He has

a back up plan if I feel led to commit. I have to remember that:

a) If I hear Him wrong and make a mistake, He’s able to work it out.

b) Sometimes He’s simply testing my faith. (For example, He might lead me to accept a

commitment, knowing I won’t be able to keep it, just so He can demonstrate His faithfulness in

providing the solution.)

 

This is scary for me because I take my commitments very seriously. This is an area where God is

stretching my faith. I always wondered how public speakers could commit to something a year

in advance. Clearly, they are further along in their faith walk than I am.

 

So, while I would never choose hardship, I am thankful for how God uses it in my life and I will

prayerfully try to live out what God’s teaching me.

Hannah: A Mother’s Faith

Hannah’s story can be found in the Bible (1 Samuel). In those days, men often had more than one wife. It was also considered a disgrace to be barren. Hannah was barren and she suffered the taunts of her husband’s other wife, who had children.

Hannah cried out to the Lord for a son, promising that if God answered her prayer, she would dedicate her son to the Lord’s service. I doubt that she fully realized what she was promising.

God did, indeed, bless her with a son: Samuel. That began Hannah’s internal struggle because keeping her promise would mean giving her son to the temple priest, Eli. One time, when she had been pouring her heart out to God, in prayer, Eli falsely accused her of being drunk. He also had wicked sons who “had no regard for the Lord.” (That wouldn’t give me much confidence in his parenting skills!)

Hannah wanted to wait until she had weaned her son (which, in those days, could be up to 3 years). Her husband agreed to that but said, “only may the Lord make good his word.” I believe her husband, Elkanah, was being patient and understanding with his wife, and allowing her time to go through the surrender process, but that he also recognized her female frailty and was reminding her of her vow. He probably prayed for her, being the committed man that he was.

And Hannah came through. She told Eli that the Lord had granted her what she had asked for and so “for his whole life he (Samuel) will be given over to the Lord.” Then she began her prayer with, “My heart rejoices in the Lord.” That’s faith!

God honored her faith. Despite being raised by Eli, Samuel became a mighty prophet, priest and judge to the nation of Israel.

No matter how old my children are, it’s never easy to entrust them into God’s care (even though I know He’s a far better parent than I am!) The “letting go” process is continual: their first day of school, when they begin to drive, when they move out, when they get married…and even when they’re on their own, the fervent prayers continue. I’m thankful for role models like Hannah, who entrust their children to God and praise Him in faith!

Serving God Can Bring Surprises

Washington Gladden (1836-1918) was known in his day as an outstanding preacher and advocate of social justice. He did much to fight corruption in that era.

When he wrote the words for “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee,” it was intended as a devotional meditation. Later, when it was suggested that it be turned into a hymn, he chose a tune by Percy Smith.

In Washington’s life-time, he was widely known for his preaching and writings. Now he is best remembered for this hymn.

We never know fully how God will use us in our life-time or after we’re gone. What we think is so important now may fade with time. Conversely, some of what we consider fairly insignificant acts of service now may be what is remembered most when we’re gone.

Therefore, let us humbly pursue God’s will for us, serve as we feel led, and trust that He will be glorified.

Be Flexible

Tom and I like to play a game called rummikub. The object is to create either runs of the same colored tiles (ie; orange 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) or a grouping of the same number in different colors (ie; the number 5 in three or four different colors). It’s necessary to be flexible in your strategy. For example, I may have the orange 8, 9, 10, & 12 and I think I want the orange 11, but as things play out, I realize it’s best to let go of my idea of completing that run, and use those numbers to create other options.

I have found that life is like that. I’m headed in one direction that seems to make sense, and then circumstances change and I have to decide if I’m going to cling to that path or let go and try something new. It takes time and prayer to discern whether to persevere on a particular path or change directions. But I have found that if I’m truly open to God’s leading (ie, willing to go a new direction) and if I’m patient, He will eventually make it clear as to what I’m supposed to do. That applies to major decisions, like career choices and where to live, as well as smaller decisions like what to say or not say to someone. The hard part is surrendering my ideas of what’s best, or what I want, and being open to God’s leading. The surrender process also takes time and prayer, but God is faithful if I’ll wait on Him. I may not always understand why He’s leading me in a certain direction, but He will make it clear what I am to do. May the Lord empower us to surrender and be flexible, so He can fulfill His glorious plan for us.

Don’t Give Up!

I watched the Super Bowl game with my husband and son, last night. The New England Patriots were way behind the Atlanta Falcons, and the commentators said that, never in Super Bowl history, had a team come from that far behind to win a game. I confess that I didn’t think they’d be able to do it, but they did–in overtime.

There are many verses in the Bible that talk about the importance of persevering. But I confess that it’s tempting to give up when circumstances cloud the goal line. God’s timing often takes us into “over-time” and it’s easy to lose sight of the vision or dream we once had as the years roll on and prayers seem to go unanswered. I’m thankful for the people in my life who encourage me, just as the football fans rooted for their team. I also hope to be an encouragement to others in their struggles.

I’m thankful for the promises I find in the Bible, and for the ways God rekindles my hope when I need it most. Nothing could have looked more like defeat than Jesus hanging on the cross. But He knew that victory was right around the corner, and there are victories right around the corner for us, too. May God guide and strengthen us along the way, and may we all be good at cheering each other on!

Giving As To The Lord

Ultimately, everything belongs to God. He blesses us, and then expects us to bless others. It’s interesting to look at some of the Old Testament passages about giving a portion of everything to the Lord in view of how that might apply to us today.

First, we’ll look at Leviticus 27:30-33: “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” (How do we use what God gives us? Selfishly, or unselfishly? Do we ask Him how He wants us to use what He gives us?) “If a man redeems (wants to buy back) any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it.” (It can cost us in blessings to hold onto, or try to take back, what we are called to give away. Do we really let go of what we feel called to give away?) “The entire tithe of the herd and flock–every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod–will be holy to the Lord. He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.” (If we try to hang on to what God calls us to sacrifice, we could lose what we tried to hang onto plus more.)

Next, we’ll look at Numbers 18:26-29: The Lord, via Moses, instructs the Levites to give a tenth of what they receive as a tithe. Verse 29 says, “You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.” (Do we give the Lord our best in everything, or does He get the left-overs?)

Finally, we’ll look at Deuteronomy 12:11-14 & 19: The people are told to bring their “burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the Lord. And there rejoice before the Lord your God…” ( Do we come before the Lord with a rejoicing heart, as we offer everything to Him that is on our heart to offer? Are we willing to offer sacrificially our “choice possessions”? Is there anything in our life that we wouldn’t willingly and cheerfully give away if He asked us to? Do we ask Him to help us to be willing to part with those things?)

Verse 13: “Be careful not to neglect the Levite (pastors, missionaries, etc.) as long as you live.” (Are we careful not to neglect those who are living on the tithes of God’s people? Do we pray about which ministries the Lord wants us to support, and then support them?)

Jesus summed this all up when He told us that whatever we do for “the least of these” we do for Him. (Matthew 25:40) The purest motive anyone can have in helping another is to do it for Jesus. Sacrifice is never easy. But it helps when we remember all that Jesus sacrificed for us. May He help us to follow His example.

Devotional: God’s Guidance & Peace

Words can’t express how much I appreciate God’s guidance in both small and large decisions! Of course, I’m thankful for the guidance He gives in the Bible, teaching me what’s right and wrong morally, and the examples He gives of how to live. But I also appreciate the guidance that comes through His Holy Spirit when I’m feeling overwhelmed or confused. The supernatural peace that fills my soul when I’ve discerned His answer is wonderful beyond description!

One night, I asked God for guidance about something seemingly small: what to do with all my journals. No one but God would understand what I was wrestling with nor would they understand why I was feeling overwhelmed. But He understood and He heard my cry for guidance. I awoke with the answer and was flooded by His supernatural peace.

Then, I opened to the next page in the devotional 101 Hymn Stories and tears of gratitude rolled down my face as I read the words of the hymn “He Leadeth Me” by Joseph Gilmore. That was God’s perfect timing for me to open to that hymn when I was feeling so thankful for His guidance and peace.

I love those little “God touches”, whether it’s opening up to a reading that’s perfectly timed, having a hummingbird or a rainbow appear at the perfect moment, receiving a note of encouragement when most needed, or so many other examples of how He showers us with individualized love gifts. God’s guidance and comfort go hand-in-hand, and I’m so thankful for both!

Questions for meditation:
1. What perfectly timed love touches from God have you experienced recently? Thank Him for those.

2. What decisions has He helped you to make this week? Thank Him for His guidance and peace.