A WORD for the Week | Archives 14
326. Lord, You Know by Erica Koester
I coached a women’s’ cross country team at a Christian college. They told me about a long-standing team tradition. When a race started to get tough mentally and physically, they would simply pray, “Lord, you know.” This prayer is taken from Psalm 139(1-4, 23-24):
“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. …Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
This portion of Scripture strikes such a balance of comfort and conviction. I cannot help but be convicted as I consider all of my anxious thoughts and offensive ways. Those sinful thoughts and actions, which are a result of a tight grip on earthly desires and the tight grip that sin has on my life – the Lord knows them. However, it is so comforting to be reminded that God knows something else. He knows our hearts and knows every word before we even speak it. He knows our worries and our fears. But he doesn’t just know us in our weakness, he does something about us. He leads us to know him, and He leads us to His everlasting love.
Next time you are overwhelmed, pray those three words. Your Heavenly Father fully knows you, and fully loves you.
327. Do we have to die? By Talia Steinhauer
Science Talk Question: Why can’t our bodies live forever? In other words, do we have to die?
I challenge you to discuss this with someone in the next few days. Try talking about it with a Christian and then again with a non-Christian.
We were asked to discuss this in a science class one time in college. I said to my table “Yeah that’s super interesting, especially because people used to live much longer- like Adam for over 900 years.” Everyone at my table stared at me like I just said something insane like there being a God above all gods who sent his perfect son to the earth to die for my and their misdeeds. THEN, set us right with that holy God in one fell swoop so we will live forever if we believe him!
Oh wait, it’s true! “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
So now with that real happening in mind, how can we discuss this question with unbelievers? Continue to point them to God’s word, and how that has worked wonders in our lives. Give a reason for the hope you carry for admiring and appreciating a God who brings us back to Life!
328. The only name to remember by Karen Spiegelberg
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that anyone reading this has been to an event where you check in and you’re given a tag that reads HELLO, my name is ______. You scribble your name and go about the function. You may hope that people will remember your name or at least pronounce it correctly. And trust me, my last name is often butchered in pronunciation!
Psychologists say that a person’s name and getting it right is important to individuals. Why? The only possible reason is human ego. Recently, as I was listening to “Only Jesus” (by Casting Crowns), the message grabbed me. The lyrics tell of how this world tempts us to think that we need to make a name for ourselves, one that will be remembered. The refrain then says, “But Jesus is the only name to remember… I don’t care if they remember me, only Jesus.”
King David in Psalm 113 knew that of our God and Savior. “Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.”
This world will indeed entice us to make our own name important. But, remember what happens to your name tag when you leave an event. You peel it off and throw it away. That’s where our own name belongs—in the garbage. Jesus is the only name to remember. Let his name and his name only be praised and revered forever!
329. “Do you now believe?” by Christine Wentzel
“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home.” John 16:32a
This Eastertide of 2020 is the first of its kind in American history. A plague that started in China near the end of 2019, swept across the globe and landed in the United States around the beginning of March which also coincided with the Christian observance of the Lenten season (a 40-day time of reflection, repentance, and rejoicing for Jesus’ work of our salvation which concludes on Easter Sunday.) There was an announcement that the country (and the world) was shutting down—this included the closing of all public places to worship. These tidings of great sadness held the echo of thousands of doors being slammed in our faces at once.
Before we could wrap our heads around this unprecedented event, a period of temptation was upon all bible-believing Christians. At the order for the world to stop in its tracks indefinitely, our enemy, the devil, began speaking his infectious lies. At the time of this writing, for good or bad, we all wait for the invisible virus to pass over us in our sequestration.
Here comes the incredible part for the Christian, we can’t help but to see the parallel between this Holy Week and the first one. Let’s draw our attention to the last Passover supper with Jesus and his disciples. Jesus spoke that his time of revelation has arrived. At this, the apostles in training had their “aha” moment. They were in a congratulatory mood, resting in their unswerving solidarity for their king of the Jewish nation. But Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God, looked at each of them and asked. “Do you now believe?” (John 16:31) The emphasis was on the word “now” as if he meant, “Oh now you understand what I am saying? You’re so sure about that, but I’m warning you, the hour of my suffering and your temptation is coming, in fact, it’s here.”
Jesus knew that within a few short hours, these same confident soldiers of faith would scatter faster than one can shout, “Covid19!” Yet, before they headed over to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would be arrested that very night, he left them with this sad fact and one of our favorite promises today, “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not going to be alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that you may have peace in me. In this world you are going to have trouble. But be courageous! I have overcome the world.” John 16:32b-33 (EHV)
In the trauma of knowing their leader was crucified and dead, the disciples hunkered down in confusion and disappointment. The bottom fell out of their expectations—will the same fate come to them? After three days of confusion, their women excitedly ran in the room and announced that GOD is here? What?!
Because of God’s inspired word through these witnesses and many others, we know the rest of the story. Every word spoken by Jesus about his Father’s plan to rescue all people from eternal death and give them eternal life with him came true. While they were huddled together in fear and wondering, our triumphant Savior ended the finality of death. While they were praying in desperation, our Lord of Lords, alive and well, walked a victory lap through hell and bound the hands of Satan to destroy his effectiveness. While the women came to the tomb to give their teacher a proper burial, Jesus, the son of God, stood before them and told them to “go tell.” When the risen Christ appeared out of nowhere and in the flesh to his disciples, the word of life after death was out, and it swept away the believers’ hopelessness for the rest of time.
Now here we are some 2000 years later in the exact same week. We carry the exact same Good News that offers up a eternal life, and a new purpose found only in the risen Savior. For the first time, the noise of the daily grind is quieted. With the world’s attention on alert for a plan to put itself back together, the rescue message of Easter will be clear and loud. The Holy Spirit will prick or enliven deadened hearts, strengthen the weak, and encourage the strong. In picking up the broken pieces of our lives, let us never lose sight of the ultimate victory our Lord won for all of us. Stay close in God’s Word and his people. Be a help to those in need. The storm will pass over. GOD is here!
330. Grandma Got It by Julie Luetke
My grandma was born in 1898. At the age of 20, the love of her life died of the influenza at the end of WWI. Years later, she was widowed a second time when my grandpa died.
When I was growing up back in the 1960’s, my twice-widowed grandma would come and stay a few days at a time, 3-4 times a year. At one visit something was happening that I thought she should be upset about. She stood at the kitchen sink and told me she wasn’t afraid and had no need to be. She explained that Jesus was with her if she lived or died, if life was easy or hard. My grandma was tightly wrapped in the blanket of Peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Peace and quiet are two things many of us have a fresh experience with during COVID 19’s stay-at-home time. Peace and quiet for the soul is the kind of peace my grandma was showing me. I didn’t fully get it as a 10-year-old, but I get it now. Jesus has already won in the COVID 19 war. He may still let it play out a bit longer, but the victory is won for us. When Jesus won the victory over death and sin by His death and resurrection, He won over COVID 19 too.
His truth will be your shield and armor.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the plague that prowls in the darkness… Psalm 91:4b-6
These things cannot harm us - not really. Not unless the LORD permits it. And we cannot evade their harm - unless God blesses our efforts. God may permit us or someone we love to get the virus, and even to die, but that cannot separate us from God eternally. When we are sick God will make us better or make us perfect in heaven with Him. That should not fill us with fear, but peace.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18
Through patient endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Jesus is not anxious about us and we shouldn’t be either. He’s got this.
331. Wake Up Call…Call to Action by April Cooper
Do you remember your parents waking you up as a kid when you almost overslept for school?
Or maybe that has happened recently as an adult. Your spouse woke you up just in time to get your morning on track? Or, what about at a hotel? Have you ever had the front desk ring your room so you wouldn't be late?
What do they all have in common? They are all wake up calls! And with every wake up call, immediate action must take place in order to get things running smoothly.
It is highly possible that at this exact moment, the entire world has just received a wakeup call. With COVID-19, the everyday pace of life has slowed down for most people, and daily routines have completely changed. Every person in almost every region of this country and within other countries across the world has been forced to stop and rethink how they do everything. From grocery shopping and eating inside restaurants to matters of the heart like visiting family and friends, to church attendance...every little (and big) thing has now changed.
That, my friend, is a wakeup call.
A wakeup call to weigh the priorities we've held high, or not. A call for restructuring what matters most today, and tomorrow. And, a call to outright determine what your heart and mind has given attention towards most. How much have you had to change with the onset of this 2020 pandemic? Your response to that question may indicate your call to action.
As the body of Christ, our call to action is the same as it has always been. To name a few at the top of the list: love the Lord, love our neighbor, study the word, pray constantly, rely on the Holy Spirit, and make disciples of men. Are these action steps you take regularly?
Scripture says "So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13-16 NLT)
Today is a great day to create your action plan. And, help someone else create their action plan… and introduce them to the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.
332. One A Day by Christine Wentzel
When your heart is not in it, read one bible passage a day. When it’s the last thing you want to do, read one bible passage a day. Trust me; any and every step towards Jesus, especially in times of mental distress, will never go to waste. In fact, start here:
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
When I was first conscious I had a “mental problem”, life as I knew it was over. Confident I spent weeks growing more and more scared over sudden attacks of fetal-positioning fear. I just managed to keep my public mask on, but not with God. I quit personal bible reading since I couldn’t focus on it anyway. I made no effort of faking it with him. I think I didn’t care or I was giving him the silent treatment in anger, or both. One day pulling out of particularly bad attack, I grabbed the good book and let it fall open. Not out of anything superstitious. I look back in my mind’s eye and see a crying child yelling “Okay! I’ll do it!” Whatever, my churning mind was in vertigo. I read the first thing I could focus on then shut it closed (“there!”). But I came back the next day and read one more passage even though nothing seemed to sink in. I was beyond worrying about that. I figured if God can’t handle little ole me reading without comprehension then he’s not big enough to take this panic away.
“For the word of God is alive and active.” Hebrews 4:12
Day after day I read one…passage…at…a…time. Soon, I found myself reading beyond the one passage. One day I followed the footnotes. One day I wrote down a passage with meaning (!). In those times of reading, my body stilled, my breathing slowed; I read more and wrote down more. Before I knew it the internal buzzing subsided, I realized Jesus had his hands in mine the entire time. With my head still cowered down, he lifted my chin and opened my eyes to humility. I had to ask others for help. I needed a team in his name to make this peace last: God first, his family, my family and friends, and doctors.
For many years now, I live in open mental-health recovery. I bear scars that from time to time (Bizarro World times) the devil likes to tap on with his horny finger so I don’t forget. Silly imp, it does make me remember—I am loved enough to be saved. I hold the memories of rescue and the proof of it in my life today. Go ahead and tap. That’s the best you can do on me because of King Jesus.
I know I’m talking to YOU out there. You know who you are. Please open your bible right now. Read the first passage you see. Stop if you want for now, but come back every day and read one more. Don’t give up. I promise you, GOD is here.
333. Quarantined by Karen Maio
Quarantined...stay at home order...social distancing...face masks...Covid-19 pandemic...these are crazy times!
During this time, when I am tempted to complain, I remind myself of all of God’s blessings. He is with us throughout this difficult time. He has kept everyone I know and love safe and healthy. Even if we were to get sick, we know that would be part of his loving plan for us. He continues to meet our needs for food and clothing and even toilet paper. Greater than our physical needs are our spiritual needs - forgiveness of sins and the sure hope of heaven - which have all been met through Jesus’s death on the cross. His encouraging and faith-strengthening words are readily available in our bibles, and we have ample time on our hands to read them! The wonders of technology even bring our pastor and the Word into our living room every Sunday morning.
But, I have to tell you, I will be SO glad when I can go back to church! I long to hear the words of the Gospel, in person—to taste again the precious body and blood of our Savior, and to see my brothers and sisters in Christ once again. I imagine you may feel the same way, so say it with me: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” Psalm 122:1
May we never again take meeting for worship for granted or give in to a sinful urge to not go to church. Rather, let us joyfully sing (hopefully in the near future):
To Your temple I draw near; Lord, I love to worship here.
Here are sacrament and Word; Here believers meet their Lord.
(Christian Worship, Hymn 226)
334. That’s no cliché by Karen Spiegelberg
What do you think of when someone says, “That’s so cliché”? According to Oxford Dictionary, a cliché is: A phrase that is overused and shows no original thought.
Would you ever think that a Bible passage could fit the category of cliché? What about John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, or Romans 8:28, three of the top passages that are quick to be recited or used? Of course not, you think! And yet, recently I heard an author that I respect refer to those passages as cliché. (Insert sad face emoji here.) Sigh. They might be used often but no part of God’s Word can be classified as overused or not showing original thought.
Every bit of the Word, the Bible, is equally valuable no matter how often it may or may not be applied. There are plenty of examples to prove it. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Did you catch that? All Scripture, not some. Let’s go to Romans 15:4: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Everything that was written. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus himself tells us, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Every word from the mouth of God.
And so, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (1 Colossians 3:16). Another well-used passage but, that’s no cliché!
335. Ocean Love and Fear by Julie Luetke
When the ocean is calm, we let our toddlers play along the shore. They sit in the sand and let the gentle waves wash over their little feet and legs. We watch them and smile as they learn to love the ocean. Children and adults tease the waves by running towards them and away before the waves can catch them. Few would argue that the sound of the gentle waves isn’t calming. It can even lull us into peaceful sleep.
When the ocean is calm it is only hiding its power. The ocean is still the most powerful natural force on earth. A tsunami can appear and wipe out a city in seconds--yet it is the very same ocean.
God tells us to love Him and fear Him. You might love the ocean but you also fear it. You respect the power it holds. While playing in the sand along the shore, you may have tried to build a moat around your sand castle to keep the waves out. You found it didn’t work. The ocean is strong and the waves never stop coming. God is strong and is always with you. He is strong enough to destroy but strong enough to heal, too. God is always with you wanting to help, wanting your love.
Now is always the best time to get to know the God who made the ocean. He is found in the Bible. There are 66 books in the Bible. A good place to start is Matthew. Matthew quotes the Old Testament often and will help bring the whole Bible together for you. Next up, in my opinion, is John. John quotes Jesus’ teaching more than his miracles. You will read the very words of Jesus and learn to know why He came to live a perfect life, die and rise from the dead. Jesus is that God who commands love and fear. Go to the Bible and learn to love God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit above all things. Learn to fear and respect His power to love and to help you. God isn’t going anywhere. Just like the ocean.
Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
336. Questioning God by Janet Gehlhar
In the New Testament book of Luke beginning with chapter one, verse 5, we learn about the Jewish priest, Zechariah, when he heard from the angel, Gabriel, that he and his wife would have a son in their old age. Gabriel told Zechariah all kinds of great things that would happen in his son’s (John, the Baptist) life. Zechariah’s reaction, “How can I know this is true…?”
I venture that in hindsight Zechariah was kicking himself. Who questions an angel sent from God delivering good news?
And yet I find myself questioning God daily. Yes, Lord, I know you forgive me, but even “that sin?” Yes, I know you are always with me and I don’t need to be afraid, but do you know what is going on in the world right now?
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
My prayer is that the Lord would take what I know in my head and connect it to my heart. I don’t want to question my forgiveness, God’s presence in my life, or why things are going the way they are going. God has promised me peace in the midst of turmoil and has already provided me with that security.
God’s ultimate plan is in place. He is working all things for my eternal good. Thank you, Lord.
337. Enough Diana Kerr
I know we much prefer to sweep these under the rug, but I want you to think about your worries and fears. Think about the what-ifs, the worst-case scenarios, the things that feel like they would be the end of the world if they happened to you.
Infertility. Life-changing illness. Job loss. A cheating spouse. Those things would be tough. So tough. And if I wasn’t a Christian, I’d be terrified at the thought of those things.
But you and I are different. In the midst of our pain, the God whose blood was enough to redeem us is also a God who is enough to comfort us, enough to bring us peace and joy, enough to help us get through each day. See, at the root of our fears and worries is often an unconscious belief that God isn’t enough, that if you lost one of the most important things in your life you couldn’t get through it. But God is enough.
I hear God’s words to Paul in my head in my moments of struggle or worry: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When I’m feeling weak or fearful, I whisper or pray, “God, you are enough. I know you are enough.” I do this over and over, reminding myself of how his power shines in my weakest moment and that, no matter what, he is sufficient and I’ll be okay, not to mention that my place in heaven is secure.
Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org
338. Priorities for a Bride by Julie Luetke
What a special day this is. Even more, what a special day your wedding day will be!
You’ll probably go on a honeymoon, and be so happy to start your life as the wife of the man you love. Has anyone told you the honeymoon won’t last? They are right, but probably not for the reasons you think they mean.
Life gets so full of things to do, places you have to go, places you want to go, work you need to do, work you want to do, people you need to connect with and people you want to connect with. Your house will get dirty, the laundry will pile up, your temper will flare, your job will be demanding, and from time to time, the chaos will get to you. The tears will feel like flowing if they don’t in reality. You will long to get organized and be the wife you dreamed to be.
Early in my marriage of over 40 years, a friend gave me a book that has been a blessing to me, my daughters and daughters-in-law, sisters, and many women of all ages who felt the chaos overtake them. It is called the “Christian Priority Planner”. The advice it gives is only a few steps and a few Bible verses, but well worth following:
Early in the week take a few minutes to make a very short plan to do one thing specifically for each of the areas of importance in your life.
One thing for your Lord: Matt. 6:33 Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
One thing for your husband: Prov. 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
One thing for your children: Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
One thing for your home: Prov. 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
One thing for yourself: Matt. 19:19 “love your neighbor as yourself.”
One thing for outside the home: Matt. 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Here are some suggestions on how to plan each item:
For the Lord—memorize a verse and post it on the fridge or a mirror.
For your husband—make a meal or snack he loves, or clean out his car.
For your children—take a walk to a park for more than 10 minutes of play, or a board game played with your full attention, or handing a dish of popcorn to a teen doing homework.
For yourself—you pick, but don’t neglect this one. Remember the words on an airplane, “Place the oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth before assisting others.” If you don’t recharge your own batteries, there will be nothing of you for anyone else.
For outside the home—call your parents, visit a friend in the hospital or care facility, set up for communion at church, be a chaperone to a school trip, send a birthday card to a friend.
I admit these steps are easier to follow at times and harder at others, but I have found it brings order to my life because I have gone back to my priorities…my Lord, my husband, my children, my home, myself, and others.
A prayer for the bride: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for giving _________________a husband to love her and make a life together. Bless this bride with wisdom and the gift of organization. We humbly ask that Your peace will reign in her heart and in her home. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
339. Satan is the King of Post-it Notes by Talia Steinhauer
Recently my 2nd grade class had the lesson Jesus is Tempted. One of my boys raised his hand and said “When the devil tempts us, it’s like he’s putting a Post-it note on our brains.”
I laughed to myself for a second, as I do many times during the day, but then thought about it and realized he was spot on!
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Matthew 4:10b
The devil tried insanely hard to tempt Jesus. He targeted all of the areas that he knew he had a chance to make Jesus mess up in. Jesus was hungry and isolated and yet he never once faltered.
So what do Post-it’s have to do with Satan? Every time the devil tempts you with something, it’s like he sticks a Post-it on your brain. A few minutes later, another Post-it is added. All of a sudden, your brain is covered in Post-its, and you’re knee deep in the devil’s temptations. How can you possibly think clearly or follow God’s plan for your life when you’re so distracted with Post-its?
So how do we get rid of these Post-its? We pray to God for strength every time we are tempted. We pray that he helps us keep our eyes on him. What happens when we do that? A Post-it is removed from our brains one at a time.
The best part about Post-its? They’re temporary. They can be removed. So, nice try Devil, but you can’t take over our brains with temptations, because we have the best post-it remover ever.
340. Racism: What Does God Say? by Julie Luetke
If you believe God favors one race above another, you don’t know God. God is love. The second greatest commandment is: Love your neighbor as yourself. From the story of the Good Samaritan, God shows us that our neighbor is everyone.
The one verse of the Bible that explains the Gospel in fewer than 30 words is John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Read that verse again. There are no exceptions. God loves the world and sent His Son to save everyone in it…everyone!
The topic of racism doesn’t seem like it could be that simple. God has much to say about race. The Bible is full of examples. Here are just a few:
Genesis 1:27 and 31 says: So God created mankind in his own image…male and female He created them…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Adam and Eve carried within them the DNA for every race. We have no idea the color of their skin. Their children could have been of many races. Not one of us is above another in God’s sight.
Romans 3:22-24 There is no difference between Jew and Gentile [everyone who is not a Jew], for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. On Pentecost God showed His love for people of many countries, cultures, and skin colors.
Acts 2:9-11 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. The apostle John describes the vision of heaven!
If you are feeling the sting of being judged by your skin color, I pray these verses give you confidence that God loves you and wants you in heaven with him for all eternity. If soul searching finds you guilty of less than true love and compassion for all people, ask God for forgiveness and look to His example of love.
Pray: Lord, kindle love in me for people of every nation, tribe, people and language. Amen.
341. You have been chosen Diana Kerr
My family is unapologetically in love with all the Toy Story movies. (My mom cheered, clapped, and cried in the theater during Toy Story 2.) Remember the first movie when Buzz and Woody end up inside a claw machine at the arcade and Sid picks them up with the claw? “He has been chosen! He has been chosen!” all the toy aliens left behind inside the machine repeat. They’re totally psyched for Woody and Buzz; being “chosen” is a big deal.
You can probably guess where I’m headed with this. You and I are chosen too, but by our gracious God, not some kid at an arcade. Most of the time, though, we have identity amnesia, and that’s a problem. See, 1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Chosen. Royal. Holy. God’s special possession. This is what we are. One of the problems when we forget this lies in the second half of the verse. We were meant to declare God’s praises, but we obviously don’t do this much when we forget our identity.
Read the verse again and let it soak in. Your identity is incredible and wonderful, and you have done nothing to deserve that. You have been chosen and redeemed by a God who’s crazy about you. Own that identity, acknowledge the gift that it is, and go praise God publicly.
Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org
342. The perfect life by Karen Spiegelberg
It was all over the national news. A massive hurricane had wiped out enormous parts of southern Florida. Newscasters were interviewing a woman whose home was in the path of the destruction. The woman was weeping heavily as she exclaimed, “We finally had everything and now it’s all gone. We had the perfect life.”
I am not judging this woman because I don’t know exactly how I would have reacted in the same situation. I pray that I would be one of those folks who generally say, “It’s just stuff that can be replaced. Thank God we’re alright, though.”
In 1 John 2:15, the apostle warns the early churches and us: “Do not love the world or any-thing in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” Believers are to love God and one another, not the world or possessions. In his message, the word “world” is referring to our broken and self-centered way of living. In 1 John 2:16, he continues, “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has or does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
This fallen world will pass away and so will our possessions whether by hurricane, fire, or the end of time. But we have everything because of what Jesus has won for us—the possession of eternity in heaven. The perfect life!
343. Your Time and Place by Erica Koester
Consider all of the unique factors in your life: your physical location, your job, your friends, your spiritual gifts, the things you’re passionate about. It’s interesting that, when you look around, you will find nobody who is exactly like you. God made every single one of us unique, and He placed each of us where we are for a reason.
Acts 17:25b-26 reminds us that our lives are not random or meaningless:
“… he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
Now, consider all of your unique factors in the context of those passages. God has a purpose for your life! He has placed you where you are, and put people in your life for a reason. He has gifted you in certain ways, and put certain passions in your heart for a reason! Pray to God that he would help you see where he wants to use you. Of course, salvation in no way hinges on our works.
Rather, with deep gratitude in hearts for what God has done for us, we will joyfully steward everything He has given us! May you be reminded that God uniquely created you! May we all live our lives to His glory, in thankfulness for all He has done for us.
344. Waiting Without Worry by Janet Gehlhar
I’m waiting for an answer from God. I’ve been waiting for many months. I don’t want to worry, but I confess that I’m impatient as I wait. What if God is telling me that it is best for things to remain as is? What if God says I have to wait many more months? What if . . . Well, the “what ifs” are leading me away from God. Enough of that! How can I wait without worry? What does God tell me in His Word?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says . . .Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
I Peter 5:7 says . . .Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
John 14:27 says . . .Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Reading these passages reassures me - again – that it isn’t about me and my timing. He truly understands my angst and reminds me that He will take it all. I desperately want peace, and He has already given it to me. God is handling everything. Amazing isn’t it?
I will continue to “cast my anxiety on God” every morning, and be reminded that He has a plan, He cares and He will do what is best.
345. DE-CLUTTER – by Lori Malnes
We are approaching the anniversary of finishing the big “Phase 2” of the renovations we did inside our house. Realizing this, my husband and I were reminiscing about all the stuff we got rid of in the process. So. Much. Stuff. And Dave and I are not even hoarders!
The Bible also talks about getting rid of stuff, but a different kind of “stuff”.
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 1 Peter 2:1
The “stuff” the Bible asks us to get rid of are things that create barriers between us and God – our own idols, bitterness, anger, hypocrisy, deceit, unkind speech – any sinful thought, word, or behavior that separates us from God. On my own, I cannot rid myself of any of these things no matter how hard I try or how much willpower and self-control I muster. On my own, I will always fail.
As a believer, however, I have God’s own Spirit living inside me – He is the one that can do the heart cleanup within me. I know that when we went through our house, we found things we hadn’t used in years but still had kept around. I think the same can be said of the things God asks me to get rid of in my heart – I am reluctant to let go of my idols, bitterness, anger, etc. so I just tuck them away until they just blend into my life.
Search me, O God, and know my heart. Create in me a clean heart.
346. Let There Be by Talia Steinhauer
One of my favorite sayings is, “How cool is it that the same God that created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too.” Have you ever really thought about that saying and the magnitude of its meaning for your life?
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. Genesis 1:14-15
The same God that created all of that, with his words, knows that you have an important role to play on this earth. Think about all of the time and money that we have spent on studying the universe. The same universe that was created by the same God that created you.
So how do we repay God for creating us? We sin. We disrespect him. We deny knowing him. Yet he never stops loving us, because the same God that created the galaxies sent his one and only son to save you from your sins and bring you to heaven with him.
Take a moment tonight to walk outside and look up at the moon and the stars. Send a prayer of thanks to the God that he not only created the universe all around you, but that he created you, and cleansed you by the blood of his Son.
347. Freely Give by Diana Kerr
We humans can be really stingy sometimes, can’t we? Stingy with our possessions, stingy with our time, stingy with forgiveness . . .
It’s like we think we’ve earned all the blessings and gifts we hoard, like we did something to build up this stockpile of love, grace, and riches we claim as our own.
Crazy enough, we actually have done literally nothing to deserve grace and forgiveness, so they are certainly not ours to hoard. And as far as physical blessings, yes, some things in this life require effort on our part, but honestly no matter how hard we work, we get zero results unless they’re given to us by God.
How does this realization change things? How does it change the way we view that homeless person by the freeway exit ramp, the needs of our church, or that coworker who drives us crazy?
Jesus sent out his disciples to perform miracles in his name, sharing a beautiful truth wrapped up in a simple command: “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
In other words, what you’ve been given you got for free. So give it out freely, for free.
We will never exceed or even match the generosity of our Lord’s spiritual and tangible blessings to us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep his generosity and goodness top of mind and then watch how our grip loosens on what we have as we freely pass on to others what he’s freely given us.
Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org
348. God never takes His eye off of you by Lori Malnes
My delightful granddaughter just turned one-year-old this past February and is a constant-curious-sharp-as-a-tack-toddling ball of energy! My daughter and son-in-law have a small bathroom between their kitchen and garage. The other day, while fixing a meal in the kitchen, my daughter took her eyes off my little granddaughter for just a minute only to find her happily playing with the toilet paper in the bathroom! Since I’m Grandma and don’t have to clean up the mess, I can laugh and rejoice in my cute little granddaughter!
God, our heavenly Father, never takes His eyes off of any of His children – nothing we do or anything that happens to us ever gets by His watchful eye. When disappointments happen, God doesn’t say, “Oops, that one slipped by me!” Or when we fall down, God doesn’t say, “I didn’t mean for that to happen.” And I know there are countless times that we are not even aware of that He has stepped in and steered us clear of some disaster or swooped us off our feet before we fall. He watches over us and is involved in our lives – for each and every one of His children, each and every second of each and every day and night. Nothing, no nothing, is out of His sight, out of His power, out of His control. No matter what happens or what we do, we can trust Him always – He sees – He watches – He moves and acts – He has a plan for our good and for His glory. What a terrific reminder no matter what each day may bring! What peace that brings!!
What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
349. Praying to an All-Knowing God by Carolyn Webb
There are days when I struggle with even the most basic concepts of Christian life. Recently the struggle was with the topic of prayer. Why pray for God to do something when I don’t know what God’s will is and He already knows how everything will turn out? How weak is my faith if I can’t just pray for something once and be confident that God has it all taken care of?
After reading many Bible passages about prayer, the thing that gives me greatest comfort is the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As true God, Jesus knew God’s will like no human could. Yet as true man, Jesus took his weakness and concern to God in prayer: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38)
Three times Jesus prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
We know God did not provide another way for the world to be atoned with God. Jesus had to endure suffering and death for us, but Luke tells us how God answered Jesus prayer: “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43) I find it interesting that even after the angel appears, the intensity of Jesus’ prayer increased: “being in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44).
Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane assures me that it is pleasing to God to bring requests that seem impossible, to pray for the same thing repeatedly, and even to continue to pray when the answer appears to be “no”. Ultimately God will provide the strength needed to get through whatever is allowed into my life.
Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18
Pray: O heavenly Father! That you care about me so much is beyond my understanding! Thank you for Your great love and mercy! Help me understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love is for me! Let me never doubt but always rest in that truth. And LORD, may that love flow out of me to others – may I share this love with others who don’t know of this love You have for Your children. Use me to increase Your family. Oh, how wonderful and awesome You are!! In the name of Jesus I pray. AMEN
350. 30-Day Philippians 4:8 Social Media Challenge by Emily Krill
Anyone else been having a kind of love/hate relationship with social media lately?!
Back when I first joined, it seemed like a fantastic decision. Whenever I wanted to, I could see adorable babies and puppies, virtually go along on my extended family’s exciting vacation adventures, reconnect with old friends, etc. For the most part it was really fun and interesting!
But, over time, I noticed that the images and words on my news feeds were leaving me feeling empty [rather than full] and jealous [rather than joyful]. After thinking and praying about it, God told me I needed to change the way I interacted with social media. We are giving it a Philippians 4:8 overhaul. Philippians 4:8 says:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
For the next 30 days, in light of Paul’s advice to the Philippians, I’m going to try doing things a little differently. This means:
The things I share should be about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. This doesn’t mean posting only the “polished” parts of life - I will still strive to be authentic. It does mean, though, that I will run the words and images through a Philippians 4:8 filter before I hit post. I want my in-person AND virtual run-ins with people to leave us both feeling encouraged and uplifted.
The things that show up on my feed from others should be about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. I don’t need any extra temptation in my life - if something is causing me to sin, God gives me permission to cut it out! (Matthew 18:7-9) If a friend’s or family’s posts are not cultivating Philippians 4:8 values within me, I will a) pray about it and b) unfollow or “temporarily snooze” that person.
If you want to join me in the 30 Day Philippians 4:8 social media challenge, email me at Emily@messyworship.com so I can pray for you and hear all about how it’s going. Maybe 30 days is just the beginning of something bigger!