A WORD for the Week | Archives 12
276. Rest by Karen Maio
It is a wonderful feeling to wake up fully refreshed, having gotten a good night’s sleep. You feel positive, energetic, and ready to meet the day. On the other hand, we have probably all had days where we tossed and turned all night or perhaps woke in the middle of the night and were unable to get back to sleep, or worse, fall asleep right before the alarm sounds. You get out of bed stiff, exhausted, grumpy, and want to crawl right back under the covers.
Multiply both of these situations exponentially to get a feel for what the future will be like. On the one hand, there is God’s rest - an eternity of refreshment, perfect peace and joy. On the other, hell - an eternity of punishment, darkness, fiery torment and pain. Those who hear the gospel message of Jesus and the salvation he attained for us and receive it with believing hearts will enter God’s rest. Those who hear the gospel and do not believe will enter hell. “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they (Old Testament Israel whom Moses led out of Egypt) did, but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith (but rather complaints, doubt, and rebellion - see Hebrews 3). Now we who have believed enter that rest...Let us make every effort to enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:2-3, 11)
Do not let the “make every effort” confuse you into thinking that means we have to do something to earn our salvation; through Christ’s sacrifice, that is a done deal! We will continue to fall into sin, but the gospel - the good news - assures us that Christ supplied the righteousness required for us to enter God’s rest. Get closer to God’s gospel; stay in the Word. It is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and has the power to strengthen our faith so that we do not “fall by following their (Israelites) example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11), that is unbelief. It empowers us to obey God’s commands out of love for all that he has done for us in Jesus.
Enjoy the rest you have now - the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and the sure hope of heaven - and look forward to an eternity of rest in our Savior’s presence!
“Come unto me, you weary, and I will give you rest.”
O blessed voice of Jesus, which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction, of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that has no ending, of love that cannot cease.
(Christian Worship #336)
277. Dawning of a New Day By April Cooper
For me, one of the simple yet most astounding pleasures in life? Watching a sunrise... at the beach. The sunrise is a gift. A true wonder. A reminder of a new day's journey beginning. How completely amazing to witness the dawning of a new day. The slow, yet fast, rise of light that signifies so much.
To quote the lyrics from one of my all time favorite songs… (“My Redeemer” by Nicole C. Mullen)
“Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
Who told the ocean you can only come this far?
Who showed the moon where to hide ’til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?…”
The sun comes up every single morning at the exact time it is supposed to. Think about that…. the sun knows every single day where to stand. Wow! Too many times, we get caught up, thinking of a new sunrise as the gateway to a new day’s activities, stress, or the normal hustle and bustle that life can give. But, taking a moment to focus on the One who actually holds the sun, and what the sunrise each day really means can start your day off with a sense of peace, tranquility and simple awe. The Lord has truly blessed us in so many ways that we can't even count them all. Every. Single. Day.
"From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised." (Psalm 113:3 KJV) Instead of a new day's activities, stress, and hustle and bustle... think about the sunrise leading to continued breath and life, brand new mercies, grace, and continued love from our Savior.
You may not be at the beach, but the sun rises and sets wherever you are. Take a moment to look at it – and think about it. I am certain that it will slow you down and make you focus on things other than the hustle and bustle. Make an effort to focus on the Lord's abundant blessings in your life. Appreciate life in all that it offers; make efforts to seek that which is worthy every day – all else will fall into place.
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah." (Psalm 68:19 KJV) What better time than the dawning of each new day to focus on the many blessings given to us, and the greatest gift of all, His Son, Jesus Christ.
Lord, I thank you for today, and for every day of life that you give to me, and my family. Thank you that each day is more than just a day to spend aimlessly. Thank you that every new day is a brand new opportunity to worship you, to praise your name, and to live a life that is purposeful and glorifying to you. Help me to walk steadfast in your will for my life. In your name I pray Jesus. Amen.
278. Just Jealous by Janet Gehlhar
We all have envious feelings at some time or another. It isn’t a big deal – right? Wrong.
How often haven’t feelings of envy or jealousy made me feel inadequate? And what followed? Bitterness? Resentment? Lashing out? Isolating myself from that person or group?
The Bible has lots of examples . . . Cain was jealous of Abel and killed him . . . Rachel and Leah both wanted Jacob’s love and attention which led to continual conflict. . . Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery to get rid of him . . .
Envy puts an end to relationships and joy. As long as my focus is on what I don’t have, I’m robbing myself of the pleasure of enjoying what I do have. This is sin.
What’s the solution to stopping envy before things turn ugly?
2) Ask for God’s help
3) Be grateful for what God has given to me
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The next time I feel envy creeping in, I am going to stop it in its tracks by focusing on my blessings, and saying a prayer of thanksgiving.
279. Burning Hearts by Christine Wentzel
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked… Luke 24:32
In the current climes of religious freedoms verses people’s rights, there are a lot of hateful remarks and threats made specifically towards Christians who try to live their lives by the social tenets of their faith. But when another religion makes the same types of conservative stands, they are safe from being reviled. Why the double standard? Aside from the threat of death in some cases, the quotes from their “holy” books do not stir a person’s conscience the way the Word made Flesh does.
The root of the hate speech isn’t in the battle between differing ideologies. It’s because of the internal conflict caused by the innate knowledge of the law (Romans 2:15) authored by the only true God (John 1:1). How can one feel the sting of a guilty conscience from the words of a false god?
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and layed bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
God’s word is alive and active! It is not just ink on paper. Its power stirs people’s hearts for good or ill. That’s what we witness in the passionate response to it; either hateful or loving. We should not be surprised, but rather cheering the Holy Spirit on in His miraculous power. I just want to shout an ALLELUJAH to that!
When you hear or read the negative responses to a God-authored truth, talk to the Lord about the person who is spewing them. Let Him know you’re awake to the fact that He is working on them. The Shepherd is calling His sheep. Pray they will listen. If you are on the receiving end of that hate, remember Jesus felt it first and persevered through it to our victory. We will make it through that valley because our Victorious King rides on before us.
Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
Psalm 147:1, 5-7
280. Every Single Day by Janet Gehlhar
Every day I start out thinking that today will be different. I will get my list done, I will show love and kindness, I will be the person God wants me to be . . . and you guessed it – I fail. Those good intentions aren’t enough. I feel burdened down with guilt. But, then I read a passage . . .
Psalm 68:19 . . ."Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."
Daily. . . not weekly or monthly but daily. What a comforting summary that God daily forgives me, daily gives me what I need for the day, watches over me, understands all the big stresses and the "little" things bothering me and assures me He is in charge and will handle it all. It isn’t up to me.
I'm starting today with praise to God and thanking Him for being in charge of my day. I can have peace in my heart, knowing God is carrying my burdens, working all things for my eternal good.
281. Little White Lies by Karen Maio
Scene 1: “Does this dress make me look fat?” she asks.
“Absolutely!” he replies.
No man in his right mind would answer that question this way! Even if that dress did not flatter her figure, human kindness and a little tact would inhibit the man from such a response. And thus is born the “little white lie”, the deceitful little fib that is ok because the end (no hurt feelings) justifies the means (being dishonest). Or does it?
Scene 2: Dad comes home tired after a long, hard day and relaxes in a chair for a few minutes before helping out with dinner. The phone rings; sister beats her brother to the phone and calls out, “Dad, it’s for you.”
“Oh,” he sighs, “tell them I’m not home.”
Now this bad “habit” is being modeled to the little eyes and ears God has placed under our care and influence where it may be imitated and adopted into their values!
Little white lies. They may seem “little” in our eyes, that is, not that big of a deal. After all, nobody is getting hurt, but often, once you’ve told one, it gets easier and easier to tell another, and little by little, your integrity is being eroded away. You’ve taught your children the 8th commandment, that lying is a sin, but they have caught that the 8th commandment of God’s isn’t really absolute. And if the 8th commandment is relative, then who is to say that the rest of the commandments aren’t, too? And “white”? They’re still a sin and far from pure in God’s eyes. Sin separates us from God, and if left unrepented and willfully reoccurring, can put our soul in jeopardy. It is no longer “not that big of a deal”!
Jesus not only taught us about truth, he modeled the truth. While standing bound before Pontius Pilate, he was asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” If ever there was a time for a little white lie! “Uh, no, I’m not a king; I’m their teacher,” he could have replied, but he (who cannot lie) truthfully answered, “It is as you say.” (Matthew 27:11) Jesus was not only for the truth, he is the truth! Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Instead of lying and saying that the dress did not make her look fat when perhaps it did, the man in the first scene could tactfully say, “I liked the other dress you had on better.”
The dad could model integrity and respect and reply, “Could you take a message, honey? I’ll call them back after dinner.”
Deceitfulness - even little white lies - is usually found out. It is better to obey God and tell the truth.
282. Working for the Good by Christine Wentzel
I recently had an enlightening exchange with a close sister in Christ. The crux of the issue was her wondering if a major decision she faces is the right one in God’s eyes—a familiar challenge for all of us.
We went through some of the pros and cons as well as a plan of action to help solidify that decision. We finished our talk with the assurance that God will bless it either way as it is written in Romans 8:28, “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Later while I was thinking back on our conversation something wasn’t sitting right about where we left things. Yes, the Lord will bless her decision, but did we really digest the meaning of that passage before blithely using it as a period at the end of our discussion?
A slower look at the passage had the words “God works for the good” stand out to me. Long or short, that’s a process to ponder in making a decision. It has me asking a couple of questions.
If she finds that she made the wrong decision, will she be able to trust God working things out to his then her good?
Will He “works for the good” will she put aside her expectations of what that good should be?
I think most of us are too aware that God’s perfect timing is frustratingly slow when we don’t see immediate results, if any at all. Often what we think is good and what God knows is good are two very different treats. Ours tend to be the kind that spoil quickly due to ill consequences. His are the Life-sustaining kind filled with essential nutrients to keep us in tip top spiritual shape.
Taking this into consideration, we can avoid a lot of uncertainty by following the Lord’s advice in making decisions. Here are just a few tips to get started. Then in the end when the decision’s been made, rest assured that no matter what, He will bless it and work it to HIS good which is always our good.
Lay your questions at the foot of the cross through worship, Holy Communion and prayer (Proverbs 5-6.)
Seek the Scriptures through bible study—both personal and communal—and prayer (Hebrews 4:12.)
Do your homework, be brutally honest about your motives, ask for the counsel of trusted mentors and friends and pray (Proverbs 19:20-21.)
Dear Mighty Counselor, I come to you on behalf of those dear readers who are in need of guidance in their decision-making process. Bless this devotion to equip them with a starting point, and lead each one by holy inspiration in the path of Your choosing. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
283. Sifting Through Life By April Cooper
When preparing to bake with flour as an ingredient, it is often times important to sift the flour before adding it to the other ingredients. First and foremost, sifting ensures that only the best, and most refined flour goes into the bowl with no clumps of flour included. And, it lessens the likelihood that impurities such as debris or bugs found in the flour bag are added to your recipe. Sifting flour can also lead to a more evenly measured amount, which means you are not adding too much, or too little based on the serving size of your finished recipe. Overall, sifting can simply produce a better-baked product.
We can apply the same principles for sifting flour to our daily lives. In today's society, there are many clumps and clusters of people who band together with the intentions of misleading others. Impurities have infiltrated even the small things in life, from children's television shows to the media, and everything in between. And, unbalanced mindsets, tossed by the wind, are seemingly the larger number of citizens that represent our society daily. In the spotlight, this gives an uneven representation and appearance to what true disciplesof Christ stand for and believe.
Scripture teaches us "…while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:13-17 NIV)
As followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit helps us sift out everything in this world according to the Word of God. Everything that you see, hear, do, or experience needs to be aligned to scripture when determining your choices, actions and/or reactions.
One of my favorite quotes is by the well-known C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” When looking at the world and all it contains through the lens of scripture, our understanding of the world can become much clearer. Sifting through everything in life helps to ensure only the refined and righteous parts are incorporated into our personal journey.
Lord, thank you for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding found in your Word. Help us to apply daily the biblical principles that you have provided. Help us to measure all that we do, say and experience with your Word so that we will know how to walk upright in all things. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
284. God is Not Saying, “No!” by Janet Gehlhar
When I was young, I was told that God answered prayers with “yes,” “no,” or “maybe later.” Made sense. Later on, a friend told me that God never said no to her prayers. Imagine my surprise! She said that instead of saying, “no,” God said, “I have something better in mind for you.” Wow. Talk about a shift in thinking! But immediately two passages came to my mind . . .
“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 hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Well, of course, that makes perfect sense. While I was hearing a no to my plan, God was merely redirecting me to His plan – the perfect – best-for-my-soul plan.
The disappointment of not getting what I want when I want it is still there. The difference is I now trust God’s plan, while I wait for it to unfold.
285. What are Your Plans for…? Karen Maio
Sometimes our plans collide with God’s. He always wins and gets his way...and that is a good thing because he tells us “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 hope and a future“ (Jeremiah 29:11), and he promises that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28)
At times, one can see the “good” right away, for example an opportunity I was looking forward to arose but was then removed from possibility. Though a little disappointed, I can already see that it would have consumed too much of my time, time that I know can be better spent (writing devotions or songs, practicing with the choir, enhancing my prayer life, spending time with my family, cleaning behind the stove). God was working for the good.
Other times, one cannot see the “good”, only the seemingly “bad”, for example the friend who was diagnosed with cancer and has a long, painful road ahead of her. Yet God continues working for her good, too.
God encourages us along the way, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2nd Timothy 2:1).
Contextually, this passage refers to the apostle Paul encouraging Timothy to boldly continue spreading the gospel despite the hardships they faced. But whatever hardship, trial, or disappointment we face, we can be strong because we can trust in God’s grace, his undeserved love. We know that through faith in our Savior, Jesus, there will be that promised “good”; there will be that happy ending - maybe here, most definitely in heaven. Trusting in Christ’s love for us and his promise to be with us through whatever comes our way, we also know that we can feel peace in our disrupted plans or on our painful journey.
Lord, when things do not go the way we would like or the way we have planned, help us remember that you love us and are all-knowing and can see the big picture of “good” you have in store for us. Grant us peace in your presence and grace. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
286. It’s Always Something By Christine Wentzel
I caught myself doing it again—waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s been a time of separation for many in my circle of friends who had to say, “so long” to departed loved ones. Sometimes when I’m standing in the role of comforter, I’m mentally looking around for my turn at the battle front.
So how do I get out of this waiting for trouble to come? It will come, Jesus says so. But He hems in that bad news with his entire Being. In his warning, protection, grace, hope, peace, and victory I find my peace. This gives me the green light to give my full attention to this moment, to this day whatever may come. I do not have to get myself all worked up for the coming fight when I keep busy making the most out of every minute.
For those of you currently in the front lines of the fight hang in there—Jesus won the war for good—and you have many reinforcements. Ask for help and do not lose Hope.
For me to be engaged in every moment means creating a regular, daily schedule and offering my full attention to the task at hand. For instance, my goal is…
• During times of worship and study to devote myself to my Lord and rebuke all other thoughts.
• During times of work to use my skills and abilities to their fullest.
• During times of connecting with another to allow myself to give my undivided attention.
• During times of refreshment to choose healthy options for this bodily temple of God and savor every bite.
• During times of rest to fully unplug from earthly thoughts and replace them with heavenly ones.
• During times of play to let myself participate, laugh, and have fun.
• During times of mourning to cry with the wounded and be present in their suffering.
• During times of __________ to __________. You fill in the blank.
These exercises will eventually nurture a healthy habit out of being alive and ready in every moment. God willing that by the end of the day I won’t be thinking of that lousy shoe of bad news waiting in the wings. But when it does arrive, I’ll be less stressed, and better prepared for entering the battle.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
287. Before the Storm by April Cooper
Ever planned a weeklong beach vacation and the clear, sunny skies forecast unexpectedly changes on the day you arrive? The meteorologist gives surprising news that the warm breeze and blue skies you have today will soon change to a life-threatening storm that just developed over the ocean. And apparently, the storm is now rapidly on the way. Wow. Talk about change. How do you handle it? The storm has not yet arrived, but you know it's coming. And, there is only so much you can do. Where do you start with the preparation? What should you do first?
In life, the bad news doesn't always appear simply from one moment to the next. Sometimes the bad news is delivered long before the challenge itself actually arrives. Finding out that your employer will have mass layoffs over the next 6 months, or seeing that the damage done to your home by a recent hurricane is so severe the home has to be completely rebuilt with no help from the insurance company, or being diagnosed with a sickness or disease that has no cure...all examples of bad news before the actual challenge arrives.
Scripture says "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV) Essentially, this Scripture teaches us that there is no need to worry. As a Believer, everything, and that means absolutely everything, can be taken to God in prayer. Remain thankful that God is who He says He is. Remain thankful that God has given us the gift of prayer. Remain thankful that the prayers of the righteous are indeed heard by the Lord, according to Proverbs 15:29.
Regardless of how close or how far away a storm of life is, lean on the Lord. Be confident in Him. Write the Scriptures upon your heart. Know that the Lord God "is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV) Do you see a storm on the horizon? Rest in the Lord.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)
288. “Symptoms” by April Cooper
Runny nose? Sneezing? Watery eyes? Look familiar? It is usually easy to identify the symptoms of the common cold. Throw in fever, chills, and muscle aches and it may be categorized as the flu. See any red bumps that progress to blisters? Could be the tell-tale signs of chicken pox, right? Or, how about watery eyes that appear pink or red? The doctor may consider "pink eye" to be the culprit. Our physical bodies alert us with symptoms of all sorts that typically lead to a diagnosis with medication and proper care instructions. But, what about within our spiritual life? Are there "symptoms" that can be addressed there as well? Indeed!
Through the Holy Spirit, God has provided the living Word to address every aspect of our lives. We can learn how to honor and treat our physical bodies by reading Scripture. And, we most certainly can learn how to treat our spiritual life as well.
As a believer in Christ, be encouraged! Here are just a few Scriptures to apply to symptoms that may develop from time to time:
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:17-18 NIV)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
(Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)
Feel overwhelmed or defeated?
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 KJV)
For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.
(1 Samuel 12:22 NIV)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV)
Feel like you want to give up?
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
Feel like your heart has been broken?
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalm 147:3 NIV)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV)
Feel like you have fallen short?
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
(Psalm 145:13-14 NIV)
Feel like you don't belong or have anything to offer?
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us...
(Romans 12:4-6 NIV)
The Bible addresses everything we face in life. Write the Scriptures upon your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. We often go to a medical doctor to treat various symptoms for our bodies, be sure to always turn to the Lord for every symptom, concern, feeling, condition or situation you experience in life. According to Psalm 100:3, Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (KJV) God created us, he knows us best. He can guide us best regardless of what we face. Be sure to give God the praise, the glory, and the honor through it all… He is, indeed, the cure.
Praying the Scriptures:
Heavenly Father, please "Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant." (Psalm 143:7-12 NIV) In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
289. Rejoice in Your Work By Carolyn Webb
Ecclesiastes 3:22 (ESV 2011) - I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot.
Do you rejoice in your work, or are you overwhelmed by it? I'm pretty sure that nearly everyone has been overwhelmed by their work at some point in their life. Whether it is a new mother who had no idea how exhausted she would be caring for a newborn or a someone working 2 or 3 jobs just to pay the bills, I think just about everyone has reached a point where rejoicing in the work before them seems impossible.
I reached that point when my employer was taken over by another organization and our world was turned upside. Every process we knew was replaced by a new process. Familiar faces disappeared as they were either reorganized out of a job or left in search
While trying to turn my sour mood around, I was lead to read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 which starts with "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." The verses go on to list of series of opposites, most notable to me were: "a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance." After reading these few verses, I decided to read the entire book of Ecclesiastes. In doing so I found several passages that really spoke to me. The first verses reflected how I was currently feeling (Ecclesiastes 2: 22-23): "What has a man from all the toiling and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest." Sleepless nights and days of sadness definitely described my current state. And then there was a verse stating how I wanted to feel (Ecclesiastes 3:22): "I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot." The work was not going to change, so it was up to me to choose to be sad about the changes or to rejoice in the work that God had given me.
Life is full of seasons. Some are positive and energizing, others leave us feel drained. In all things God is there with us, providing for our needs. (Ecclesiastes 5:19, NIV 2011) "Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil-this is a gift of God."
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Creator of all, you set the world in motion and created a time for all things. There is a time for work, a time for play and a time for rest. With the writer of Ecclesiastes, I find my days are full of sorrow and my work is a vexation; even at night my heart does not rest. I want to rejoice in my work and to share that joy with others. I want to remember there is a time to work, a time to play, and a time for rest and sleep. Give me the wisdom and discipline to do all things at their proper time. Guard my focus during work so I can accomplish what needs to be done that day. Give me peaceful sleep so I am refreshed. In name of Jesus, who knew when to work and when to rest, I pray. Amen.
290. Crazy Abundance! By Christine Wentzel
If we truly believe everything we have comes from the Lord then we need to take stock of everything that’s His!
All I need to do is look at what is right before my eyes. I’m sitting at a desk with a computer, telephone, pens, paper, digital camera, Fitbit, resource books, Bibles (plural!!), stamps, printers, reading glasses, Kleenex, medicines, credit cards, cash…
If I look to the left or to the right of me, I see a big screen TV, comfortable furniture, beautiful home accents, an air conditioner, a DVD library, and a cabinet filled with collectibles and antiques. I don’t want to turn around or this will really get ridiculous in Your abundance, Lord!
And aside from the abundance of “stuff”, even my health whether optimal or fading will be more than enough to reflect the life of a blessed child of God.
Father of all Provision, this week of thankfulness will end in the temptation to spend beyond my limits. Forgive me for falling into the I-want/gotta-have-it blues that will sneak up on me. Every day I have more than I need to live a life of thanksgiving for my redemption through the blood of your one and only Son. I have more than I need to rest secure that it will continue this way even if every bit of my “stuffing” should be taken way. Holy Spirit, continue to keep my eyes wide open to your immediate provision in my daily faith walk. Let me never forget how much I depend on you and how much I love needing you! In the power of Jesus’ name may it be so.
You prepare a banquet for me,
where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
and fill my cup to the brim.
Psalm 23:5 (GNT)
291. Waiting By Carolyn Webb
It seems like I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately. Waiting in lines, waiting for planes, waiting for my daughter’s surgery to be over, waiting to see if the next treatment for my husband’s health condition will work. Waiting… waiting… waiting….
Advent is about waiting too. For thousands of years God’s people waited for the coming Savior. Then finally, there were signs that He soon would come. John was born to a childless old woman. A virgin was told that she would give birth to a son. The promise was finally being fulfilled. The wait was finally over.
Or is it? Even after the Savior came to the world, we still wait. Philippians 3:20 says “But our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now we wait for the Savior’s return. May we be patient in all the waiting that we do, especially the wait for our Savior’s return. Come Lord JESUS, Come
292. Love Is... by Carolyn Webb
What do you love? I love my husband; I love my children; I love pizza; I love walks on the beach. The English language seems rather limited when it comes to love. We use one word for so many different purposes, and it is the context in which the word is used that gives the word its meaning. Love can be an emotion, a warm feeling of affection, a strong liking, a sexual act, it's a noun, and it's a verb. When you say "I love you", what do you really mean? When someone says "I love you" to you, are you confident that their words have the same meaning?
Our society has a diverse and dilute definition of love. In many cases "love" is selfish or depends upon what another person does. Have you ever heard or said something like this: I made love to 23 different women last year? OR I love him because he buys me lots of fine things? With thoughts like this common in our society, how do we know what true love is? This is what the Bible says about love:
1 John 4:10 – This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 3:4 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 5:3 - In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands, and his commands are not burdensome.
2 John 1:16 – And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
Romans 13:10 - Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
1 Corinthians 13:4 - Love is patient, Love is kind
Clearly when the Bible talks about love, it isn't talking about emotions, physical attraction, sexuality, or simply a strong liking for something. Biblical love is the very nature of God and the Bible is God's love letter to us. God loved us so much that He sacrificed His son to remove our sin and restore our relationship with Himself as His children – no strings attached, not because we deserved it, just because He loves us. Our response to God's love is obedience to Him, following Jesus example: being patient, kind, caring and generous with our time, energy and possessions, regardless of whether the recipient deserve it. That is true love.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8, NIV)
293. Three Makes Perfect By Christine Wentzel
(Jesus the Great High Priest) Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9 NIV)
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was made perfect, meaning his perfection was complete because of choice. “Wasn’t Jesus already perfect?” The ultimate answer is “yes”; however, it doesn’t give an understanding of verse nine’s seemingly contradictory description of his flawlessness.
This was the topic of a Lenten message one Wednesday evening. It had me sitting on the edge of my seat hungry for the answer. I knew this was one of those teachable moments that would help me be prepared to answer the question this section naturally brings to mind. As it was at that moment, I couldn’t—can you?
This Maundy Thursday, come with me and your sisters in Christ back to Gethsemane. Let us lean on each other as we witness Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2), obey his father’s command to take the cup of his wrath over our sins—over humanity’s sins—and drink it. Jesus’ choice to fulfill God’s promise of salvation given first in the garden of Eden made his life of obedience to his father complete and absolute. “It is finished!” Perfection made perfect.
As we fall on our knees in overwhelming gratitude for the winning of our souls for eternal life, we modern-day witnesses have the legacy of the complete revelation of God through the Holy Scriptures. Meditating on his word reveals incredible instances from others who experienced the thrice struggle to choose obedience in the face of fear, pride, or suffering. My prayer is for you to read them, mediate on them, and know your obedience no matter the pressure is being made perfect in Christ.
(Peter Denies Jesus) And Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75 EHV)
(Peter Defends His Actions) But I replied, ‘Certainly not, Lord, for nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth. A voice spoke from heaven a second time: ‘What God has made clean, you must not continue to call unclean.’ This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up into heaven again. (Acts 11:8-10 EHV)
(Carried Up to Paradise) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that he would take it away from me. And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, because my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 EHV)
(Run the Race) In view of the joy set before him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 EHV)
294. Keep Your Eyes Open By Karen Maio
Sometimes people are just oblivious (like the time I arrived home from work and my husband told me he was driving the car next to me all the way to my exit. I tried defending myself that I was paying attention to what was ahead of me, not next to me, but the fact remained that I needed to keep my eyes open all around me). Sometimes people are just too focused on a single task (have you seen somebody using a smartphone walk into a tree or door? While it’s kind of funny, the fact remains that he needs to be looking up and around him.) Sometimes lack of sleep, health issues, or hormonal changes can leave people (women!) walking around in a brain fog (What did I come downstairs for? or, “You never told me that!” Here it’s not so much the eyes, but more the ears, but, still, one needs to pay attention to what is going on around oneself.)
We need to keep our eyes open and not just for our and others’ safety, but for something even more important.
Jesus’s disciples were a little oblivious at times. In John 4:32, Jesus spoke using word pictures as he often did, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” To which the clueless disciples replied, “Could someone have brought him food?”(v33) Jesus went on to explain in v.34-35 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work...open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
This is the real reason we need to keep our eyes open. There are people all around us who are hurting, desperate, oblivious, and need the Lord! If we are too busy or self-absorbed or walking around in our own little world, we will miss the clues, the opportunities to offer an encouraging word or Bible passage, lend a helping hand, or start a conversation that could ultimately lead them to know about the Lord and his saving grace. Sharing our faith is one of the reasons why we exist (to come to faith, to share our faith, and give glory to God), so pay attention, look for opportunities. Keep your eyes open!
Lord, you have given us the privilege of being the ones who get to share the good news of you and the salvation you won for all. Give your timid children courage to speak. Help us find the words and bless them. Send us opportunities and help us to keep our eyes open for them. Amen
295. Spirituality at Work by Carolyn Webb
This question came to me in two different forms: How do we grow spiritually in the workplace? How do I share Jesus in the workplace?
While these aren’t exactly the same question, I think that the answers are very similar for Christians. Here are a few thoughts about how spirituality can be strengthened in the workplace:
1. Align your work with your values. The work I do right now is the work that God has called me to do at this point in time. One of my favorite Bible verses is Colossians 3:23 (NIV) "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for men." This verse aligns my values with the work I do. Aligning our values with our work is an essential part of strengthening spirituality in the workplace. We should never sacrifice our values for money.
2. Lead by example. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Timothy 2:7 (NIV)
3. Follow the golden rule, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
4. Practice gratitude and recognize the good. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
5. Aspire to be a person who brings people together rather than dividing them. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)
While we may find it difficult to verbally witness about Jesus at work, our conduct is a living testimony to our beliefs and to Jesus, our Savior. One of my coworkers commented "I don't know if spirituality is strengthened at work, but it sure is tested on a regular basis." Remember that challenges are what cause us to grow. If we never did weight bearing exercises, our muscles would weaken. Physical strengthening doesn't have to happen in the gym, it can be incorporated into daily living. The same is true of our spiritual life. If we don't face challenges, we can't grow. “We also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:2-4 (NIV)
Spiritual growth and witnessing about Jesus don’t happen exclusively in a church. We grow spiritually when we incorporate our values into every aspect of our life. We bring others to Jesus the same way, through our daily living. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
296. ON SECOND THOUGHT… by Christine Wentzel
I would imagine many people who know me would be surprised to read that I am a recovering second-guesser because I think I come across as a pretty decisive person. Ha, but that statement IS second guessing. Without asking a person directly, how would I really know that—how would I stop the doubts?
Can you relate to second guessing? Do you habitually doubt your decisions? If you do, then you my dear, have to work on strengthening your trust in God that he knew what he was doing when he gifted you your unique abilities.
Think about the responsibilities that take up the most of your time. Do you frequently doubt your decisions associated with them? If so then maybe some of these tips will help you change that.
1) More often than not second-guessed conclusions are wrong because they are not based on any solid facts. It’s guessing—anticipating an outcome that’s usually based in fear.
2) If you’ve been second guessing for a long time then it’s become a habit. Reinforcing with good habits will change it.
3) Ask yourself why you doubt a particular decision. Do you have all the facts? If not then find them. It’s the same as studying for a test in school. You can’t get the best passing grade without it.
4) Is it a decision you wouldn’t mind letting God know about? You know He knows already, but through self-justification one can really fool oneself on this one. If you’re not sure, ask someone who is spiritually mature and knowledgeable in Scripture. Look up Matthew 18:20 and you will know why.
5) Your Creator equipped you with everything you need for the responsibility at hand, because He put you there for His purpose. He knows you can do it and do it well. Trust Him, learn from Him, and then follow Him.
I’m sure our readers can come up with an even longer list, but hopefully this is enough to help you become more confident in making decisions. I can speak from firsthand experience that with faith-building time and practice, it gets easier to do. And you know what? It is stress relieving. No more worrying over if it’s right or wrong. All glory to God that growing in His wisdom with a Christ-like humility; I can make the best decision at any moment in peace.
Start your homework now by reading the entire chapter of Proverbs 3. It was written for such a time as this!
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
297. God Is Right by Janet Gehlhar
I saw a book title that made me chuckle – Maybe God is Right After All by Cynthia Heath. How silly! Of course God is right. But just as fast, my next thought was, “How often haven’t I thought that things weren’t going the way they should, and in reality, I was questioning God’s plan for my life?” My lighthearted feeling was replaced by a sinking feeling. Okay, I admit it – I was arrogant to laugh at that title.
The author asked, “What are the truths you live by? My top three . . .
1) God is in control.
2) God is with me.
3) Trust God always.
When I’m overwhelmed, and wondering why my life is so out of control, I remind myself that God – almighty and all-knowing – is in control. Whew – it isn’t up to me.
Those times when I feel I am all alone and all responsibility falls on my shoulders, I close my eyes and envision God’s arms wrapped around me. As I fill with His Peace, I can take a deep breath and continue on, reminded that God is on my side.
After disappointments and broken relationships, I turn to God who never changes and who ALWAYS keeps His promises.
Jeremiah 29:11 states . . . “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 hope and a future.”
God has a plan, and will be with me in the processing of that plan. I can trust that it will all work out for my good.
Yes –God is definitely right after all!
298. Dress for Success by Carolyn Webb
You probably have heard the advice “dress for success”. There are a lot of tips readily available to tell you what to wear if you want to have a “successful” life. When you get dressed in the morning, what do you put on? What do your clothes say about you? My typical attire is “business casual” pants with a pullover top. It says I’m a conservative leader who is ready to lend a hand if needed. In winter, my sweater, bulky coat, hat and gloves will tell you that I live in a cold climate and I’m more concerned about being warm than I am about my appearance.
The apostle Paul also had some advice about how we should dress:
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patients. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, and overall these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14
When we get ready for the day, more important than our clothes is the attitude that we put on. If we start the day grumpy, anticipating problems, and dreading what could be ahead of us, we are likely to have a rough day and would not be good representatives of Christ. Starting the day with intention of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patients sets us up for more positive interactions with people. We become more Christ-like. As others see our attitude and experience the patience and forgiveness we offer them, they may be more curious about the source of our attitude. This can open the door to discussing how God’s forgiveness gives us joy in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. What greater success is there than to share God’s love and joy with those around us? Put on the right attitude and dress for success!
299. God Forgives by Janet Gehlhar
Do you ever have a certain sin from your past that haunts you? I do. I have repented, I know God has forgiven me, and yet it keeps popping up. I recognize that this is one of Satan's tactics - he doesn't want me to believe that God has forgiven that sin and I can go on. Oh no - he nags me about how rotten I am that I ever did that, what poor judgment I showed, and tries to drag me down and away from the peace of forgiveness.
It is like I am carrying a backpack full of rocks. I repent and lay my rocks at the feet of Jesus, He forgives me, and then instead of going on with a lightened load, I reach down and pick up that backpack of rocks to take with me again. How ridiculous is that? It is like I'm telling God that He can't forgive me! Well, of course I don't mean that... but that is what my actions demonstrate. By behaving that way, it is like saying that Jesus' death on the cross wasn't enough to pay for MY sin.
2 Corinthians 5:21 states... God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might have the righteousness of God.
My sins are forgiven and forgotten by God. He wants me to move forward with the peace of His forgiveness. That's what I'm telling Satan the next time he comes with his lies.
Blessings on your week as you find peace in the unconditional forgiveness that comes only from our loving and merciful God...
300. Spiritual Exercise by Janet Gehlhar
I’m sick of the infomercials with all the exercise and diet plans. How about an ad for a comfy recliner that does all the exercise for me while I nap? As silly as that sounds, sometimes a spiritual diet plan consists of sitting in the pew for an hour on Sunday and hoping to grow fit spiritually and be ready to fight next week’s temptations and struggles.
That cliché of “no pain, no gain” has some merit. If I’m not willing to put forth some serious effort, I’m going to be spiritually out of shape. Face it – one hour on Sunday is not enough to be spiritually fit.
Oh, where to begin . . . it’s too overwhelming. Ah yes, there is Satan’s voice coming through loud and strong. I’m defeated before I’ve even had a chance to think about it.
Small steps is the way I’ve talked myself into habits. Yes, I can stretch for 30 seconds or choose to eat an apple instead of a cookie. How about a 30 second devotion that shows up in my email every morning? (timeofgrace.org) Or listening to a praise song? Sending up a short prayer with each curl as I use my curling iron? A devotion book next to the coffee pot?
Psalm 143:8 - Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Today I’m challenging myself to add a 30 second “God time” into my morning and see how that focus changes my day.