A WORD for the Week | Archives 10

226. Dancing for Baal by Diana Kerr

 

The story in 1 Kings 18 almost makes me feel bad for the prophets of Baal. In this epic showdown of Elijah versus Baal worshipers, a bunch of hopeless men strive desperately to elicit a response from their fake god.

In an attempt to call on Baal to prove his existence and light an altar on fire, these prophets make total fools of themselves. They dance around the altar, shout loudly, and even cut their bodies to get what they want from Baal.

They get nothing in return. “But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:29). It’s hard to read this account and not think, “Duh. What a joke. I could have predicted that. That’s what they get.”

And yet a glance in the mirror shows me dancing and shouting like a lunatic for my own “Baals.” I may be “smart” enough not to bow down to a chunk of stone or wood, but I bow down to other things. I dance for my own Baals—praise, success, perfection, reputation, and love. When my striving isn’t enough, I strive harder, craving validation and fulfillment through them. But none of those gods give me what only God can give.

I like Elijah’s approach a lot better: a simple word and God answers. A single sentence and God provides. The dancing and shouting for Baals will tire you out and get you nowhere, but the real God doesn’t require a song and dance.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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227. Outwardly Dying, Inwardly Renewed by Diana Kerr

 

Here’s a cheery thought for you: you’re dying.

Whether you like to admit it or not, whether you think about it or not, whether you’re 23 or 93, you’re aging and therefore dying. Every tick of the clock brings you closer to the end of life.

Some of you are probably hyper aware of this reality. You have wrinkles and aches and pains that remind you of this truth all too often. You watch your strength, energy, and eyesight fade; and it’s worrisome. Often, it’s downright frustrating. If you’re not quite elderly but struggle with some sort of illness, you’re probably wise to this feeling as well.

If your imminent death wasn’t a passing thought for you previously, maybe I’ve got you thinking about it now. Maybe you’re suddenly reminded that you have slowed down a bit lately. Don’t lose heart. Don’t freak out. There’s hope for all of us, whether your concerns are those subtly emerging crow’s-feet or perhaps something more serious like your pesky dependence on a walker. You don’t need a vibrant body to have a vibrant soul.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). 

God may not miraculously restore your health, but he’s not going to let you flounder. He knows a secret, and he wants you to know it too: a strong spirit—a strong faith and a strong prayer life—is the ticket to the best life.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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228. Great Expectations by Diana Kerr

 

It’s almost comical how perceptive women are to their husband’s flaws. “You really shouldn’t eat that. You’re getting a beer belly, and you haven’t worked out in weeks.” A patient husband might accept the nagging, while another might not be afraid to point out that his wife isn’t exactly the same size she was on their wedding day either.

It’s too bad we’re so good at holding others to higher standards than our own. We expect better behavior from spouses, children, siblings, coworkers, friends, and pastors than we expect of ourselves. When they don’t live up to our expectations, we sometimes even call them out.

We’re not the only ones suffering from this hypocrisy disease. After King David killed off his mistress’ husband, the prophet Nathan visited him and told him a story. The fictional story was of a wealthy man who killed another man’s only lamb. David failed to see that the story referred to him, and his response was all too familiar to our own in this type of situation: “David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity’” (2 Samuel 12:5,6). Ouch. Wrong answer, David.

Thanks to Nathan, David eventually learned his lesson, and it’s a lesson for us too: don’t set the bar so high for others when you can’t even make it over the bar yourself.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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229. Chosen by Diana Kerr

 

Were your parents excited about your birth? Maybe your answer to that is an obvious “yes.” Maybe you found out at some point growing up that you were unwanted. Maybe you don’t honestly know. Maybe you’ve never met your father or you don’t remember your biological parents.

No matter your circumstance at birth and throughout your life since then, you’ve no doubt experienced the pain of not being chosen or wanted. Maybe one of your siblings was clearly the favorite child, maybe you watched someone else get the final spot on the varsity team or be awarded a job you wanted, or maybe you feel invisible to your own spouse sometimes. It hurts to feel unwanted. Despite those pains, and whether you were born into loving arms that were anxious to hold you or into a situation of regret or disinterest, you were and are wanted by God. Isaiah’s confidence in the Lord’s longing for him is a confidence you can adopt too: “Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name” (Isaiah 49:1).

Whoa. What a cool thought! Before your parents ever laid eyes on you, before they fought over whether to name you John Jr. or Steven, God knew your name and he wanted you as his. In fact, it goes back further than you think. Before God even created the very first parents, he knew you were coming someday and he chose you, specifically you, for his team. 

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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230. Kiss Those Trophies Good-bye by Diana Kerr

 

Do you consider yourself a nostalgic person? Do you hang on to old photos and mementos? Over the years I’ve kept an almost embarrassing amount of awards that I’ve received. I’ve got a bin full of trophies and plaques, a tub of medals, a box of ribbons, and multiple copies of newspapers with my name in them. I could go on, but I think I’ve shamed myself enough.

My collection of accolades isn’t wrong, but maybe my reasoning behind it all is a little faulty. As I consider why I hold on to the past, I tell myself it’s because I don’t want to forget—I don’t want to lose the memories. The little truth woven into that is that I want to remember how great I was. I worked so hard to achieve those accomplishments, and tossing a trophy makes me feel like that accomplishment is gone.

Whether I get rid of the trophies someday or never at all, eventually they’ll be gone. All of them will—all of our literal and metaphorical trophies—our homes, our clothes, our sports memorabilia, our great bodies, our fame or success . . . God tells us in Isaiah 65:17, “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”

Our earthly trophies will not only be gone; they won’t be memories anymore. Does that realization change the way you play the game of life?

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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231. Follow Your “Please” With a “Thank-you” by Diana Kerr

 

Those silly lepers. We read Luke’s account of Jesus healing ten men with leprosy and think, “I’d never be like that. I’d be the one who came back to thank him.” 

I thought this myself until God brought me major healing from a crippling chronic illness. For years I prayed for relief and promised God I wouldn’t forget him if he spared me from the pain. When the day arrived that I was officially free from medication, I praised and praised God. I vowed I’d never stop. I’m sorry to say my gratitude for that incident has since become a little lackluster.

It’s natural to quickly shift our energy from gratitude back to asking. God gives us something wonderful, but we focus instead on the long list of other things we still want from him.

Luke 17:17,18 might make us cringe: “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’”

God loves to shower you with blessings, but he’s not immune from the pain your lack of gratitude brings him. It’s like a father completing a tree house for his son, who never stops to thank his dad and climbs right up to play, ignoring dad until he realizes he needs him to build a tree swing too.

When God answers your prayers and blesses you, don’t immediately move on to the next want on your wish list. Don’t let your “pleases” outweigh your “thanks.”

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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232. All the Instruction We Need by Diana Kerr

 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wished the Bible offered you more specific instruction or advice. (My hand is raised.) Wouldn’t it be nice to have a burning bush in your front yard from which God would speak to you with a booming voice whenever you had a difficult decision to make? “Don’t take the new job offer.” “Let your sister’s family move in with you.” “Stay away from that overly friendly woman at work—you’re married and she wants to be more than friends.”

The truth is that God gives us plenty of instruction, but we often fail to follow it. Right after Moses gave the people of Israel the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, he gave them this crowning piece of advice: follow these commands if you know what’s best for you. “Be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (Deuteronomy 5:32,33).

We long for more pointed recommendations from God, but so rarely do we heed the instructions he does give us. A lot of our problems or decisions would be non-issues if we simply did what God commanded and walked in obedience.

The best part? His commands are not to punish you. He gives them to you “so that you may live and prosper.”

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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233. Control Freak by Diana Kerr

 

A Christian devotion seems like a highly inappropriate place to lie, so I’ll be honest with you: I like control. There, I said it. I do! I like things to go my way and to go according to my plans. Seriously though, how many people can genuinely say that they prefer to let others dictate their lives? Or that they hope any intentions for their day get thrown out the window by unexpected circumstances?

Today’s world gives you lots of opportunities for control. Be honest with yourself—don’t you love all your options and the ability to dictate your life according to what you think is best? These days, you can control when you have kids; when you watch your favorite TV shows; and whether you want 2%, skim, soy, almond, or coconut milk in your latte.

Honestly though, controlling everything gets exhausting. Deciding all your plans for yourself doesn’t always go as well as you think it should.

Reality check: breathe a sigh of relief, because God’s got an agenda for your life even if your own agenda is falling apart. Plus, his plan is way better. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we . . . might be for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:11,12).

Hmm, my plans versus the plans of a God who knows everything and is working everything out for his glory? I’ll take God’s plans, please.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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234. Don’t Look Back by Diana Kerr

 

Have you ever considered how much you have in common with Abraham’s nephew Lot and with his family’s escape from Sodom and Gomorrah? I’m guessing you haven’t. So let me pose a few questions:

How many times have you hesitated when God urged you to flee, to follow his lead elsewhere? Even when he’s doing it for your own good? “When [Lot] hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them” (Genesis 19:16).

On top of your resistance, how many times have you tried to negotiate with God or convince him to change his plans like Lot did? “But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it?” (verses 19,20).

And then, when you’re finally on the run, turning your back on that thing you know you need to leave behind, how often do you look back with longing and sadness? “Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (verse 26).

I’d rather be like Lot’s Uncle Abram instead. In Genesis 12, God tells Abram to pack up and move to a mystery destination. The next thing we read is, “So Abram went” (Genesis 12:4). No whining, resisting, or doubting. That’s God’s kind of obedience.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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235. Enslaved by Choice by Diana Kerr

 

Growing up, I loved historical fiction novels. Series like the American Girls or Dear America intrigued me with their historically accurate stories of girls my age who lived in earlier time periods in our country’s history.

Whenever I would read a book about a slave girl in the 1800s, her story would fill me with emotion. I could feel just a fraction of her bondage and frustration and hopelessness. Still, I longed desperately for her freedom. In her case, there really was no way out of that slavery.

That kind of slavery is so unfamiliar to us, yet we experience our own bondage internally thanks to sin. Slavery to sin is a very different kind of bondage, but it stirs up some of the same emotions in us, doesn’t it? We feel trapped, frustrated, and hopeless.

Unlike literal slavery, however, there is a way out. Isaiah 9:4 reminds us of Jesus’ great emancipation: “You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.”

Too often we feel weighed down with the burden of the poor choices of our past, or even those of our present reality. We allow sin and Satan the oppressor to keep us captive, when in reality we are free.

Friends, Jesus didn’t just remove your burden and oppression, he shattered it. There’s no need to live in slavery when you’re actually free.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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236. Filled Up by Diana Kerr

 

It’s crazy how deeply empty a lot of people feel these days. Do you pick up on that emptiness? Do you notice it around you? You probably feel it yourself to some degree. We have so, so much that fills every piece of our lives—things that fill our closets, time, pantries, minds, attention, inboxes, garages, and on and on. Unfortunately, the more we try to fill ourselves with those things, the more empty we feel. No amount of earthly stuff can make the void go away.

We strive so hard to make our lives feel full, but the true solution requires no striving. True fullness comes from knowledge of a simple, beautiful truth. “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

“Wide and long and high and deep.” Paul’s not talking about the dimensions of a boat or a garage. The message he sends is this: Christ’s love is expansive enough to fill our void.

“That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” This is Paul’s prayer to the Ephesian Christians, and it’s my prayer for you—that you allow God, through his fullness, to make you truly full.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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237. Get Out of the Way by Diana Kerr

 

Full disclosure: I frequently doubt my ability to carry out the work God has given me to do. Writing devotions and blog posts that thousands of people read and running a life-coaching business is challenging and terrifying. I experience moments of inadequacy a lot.

I bet you doubt yourself too sometimes. I bet at times you feel incapable to lead a large team of employees, to organize that huge event at church, to serve as a teacher to the young children who are our country’s future, or to raise your own children without messing them up. You question why God put you where he did and try to convince him you’re not fit for the job.

Moses tried the same thing. (Spoiler alert: God didn’t buy it.) “‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’” (Exodus 4:10-12).

Moses made it all about himself, when it was actually all about God. It’s easy to doubt when you focus on yourself. God reminds us to get over ourselves, to be obedient, and to let him work through us, inadequacies and all.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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238. Owning Up to Our Sickness by Diana Kerr

 

At age 17, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, I had an explanation for my many years of joint pain. But I was in denial. I begged my mom not to tell people about my diagnosis. If I thought about my disease or talked about it, I knew it would be real. I just wanted to pretend to be normal instead.

Maybe you’ve tried the same tactic. You ignore a sickness or pain thinking it will go away. Sometimes it works, but often you can’t wish away a health problem. When you finally admit your body’s weakness, you can take steps to get better and seek help.

I’m not in denial about my physical illness anymore, but being the very flawed person that I am, I fall into a similar state of denial sometimes about my sin and imperfection. Matthew 9:12 shames me and blesses me all at once: “Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’” It shames me because I feel unjustifiably “healthy” in my spiritual life too often. It blesses me because it reminds me that I am sick, but I have Jesus.

When I talk with friends, it sounds like many of us feel that confession is one of the weakest areas of our prayer lives. We want to improve in that area because it’s crucial.

If we’re too proud to admit that we’re sick, we don’t need Doctor Jesus.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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239. Shut Your Mouth by Diana Kerr

 

I have a love-hate relationship with the wise instructions of the book of Proverbs. Do you know what I mean? One minute I’m feeling a little smug as I read the verses. “Well, that verse doesn’t apply to me,” I think. Then, if I’m really feeling full of myself, my thoughts might wander to the kind of people to whom I think the verse does apply.

Inevitably, the next verse I read always stings me with a lesson I need to hear.

Proverbs 13:3. Ugh. A lesson I need to hear. “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” At first glance, we might read that verse and think of a time when someone said something awful to us. “I still can’t believe she said that to me,” we think. (Have you noticed how Facebook and the online world make it really easy for people to go after each other and be downright nasty?)

Let’s try the reverse. Can you recall a situation when you opened your mouth and wish you hadn’t? When you spoke rashly? Any type of poorly chosen words apply, and all of us are guilty to some degree. Angry words, prideful words, words of gossip, or any other hurtful words—even if unintentional—all cause big problems.

All of us can think of other people who need to guard their lips more carefully, but it’s better for everyone if we remember that we fall into the “needs improvement” category as well.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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240. So Many Choices by Diana Kerr

 

A few years ago, researchers at Cornell University found that we make 226.7 decisions about food in a single day. I’m not sure how they came up with that number, but we humans make a lot of choices.

Often, we make choices rather unconsciously. In some cases, that’s fine. I would hope you don’t expend a lot of mental energy trying to decide whether to use a spoon or a fork to eat your cereal or whether to use your car’s turn signals on the way to work.

However, some decisions are more important. Some of them do require at least a moment of thought. Are you going to jump in on the gossip about your boss after the meeting or make an excuse to head back to your desk? Are you going to allow an argument with your spouse to escalate or change the tone of your voice and speak gently instead?

The people of Israel made a lot of poor choices throughout Bible history. Jeremiah encouraged them to acknowledge the two paths before them and choose wisely. “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16). Why? To honor God and to live in obedience, yes, but as Jeremiah continues, “You will find rest for your souls.”

As you make hundreds of choices each day about which path to take, some may be insignificant, but others may have more serious implications.

 

Choose your path wisely.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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241. The Lies of Busyness: “My busyness pleases God.” (part one of a five-part series) by Diana Kerr

 

Look at my calendar and you’ll see a lot of stuff—deadlines, commitments, responsibilities. I’m sure some people would be impressed at all the “important” things I keep myself busy with.

In the United States, our society prizes busyness. “How are you doing?” our friends ask us. “Busy!” we reply, waiting for the sympathy or gold medal we think we deserve as a result of the chaotic life we’ve built for ourselves. Who cares if other people are impressed though? The question is, Does our Creator approve?

Why are you busy? What’s the point of it all? Psalm 39:6 sums up one of my greatest fears for us Christians in our hectic world: “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing” (Psalm 39:6 NLT). Doesn’t that almost give you chills? Merely moving shadows. Busy rushing that ends in nothing. The last thing I want is for most of my life to be pointless in the scope of eternity, but the truth is that much of my busy rushing is pretty pointless.

Busyness by itself isn’t wrong, but busyness requires intention. Pray that God will guard you from pointless busyness and that if you are busy, that you’ll live busy with a purpose.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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242. The Lies of Busyness: “Work and ambition are wrong.” (part two of a five-part series) by Diana Kerr

 

“Mary has chosen what is better,” Jesus said in Luke 10:42 when he visited Mary and Martha’s home. While Mary was listening to Jesus, Martha had gotten distracted with housework. We Christians hear this story and often hang our heads in shame, heaping guilt on ourselves for being productive.

In the previous devotion, we looked at the problem that results from pride in our busyness. On the flip side, many of us suffer from guilt over our busyness as well. 

The truth is that work is one of our God-given functions. Countless people praise God through various types of hard work. They use the intellect and circumstances God has provided them with to preach, teach, build companies, raise families, and on and on. Numerous Bible verses praise having a strong work ethic. Work or ambition in and of itself isn’t the problem. What the issue comes down to is heart, motivation, and priorities.

If our motivation is to serve God with our work but also make time with him our #1 priority, we’re on the right track. There’s a time to be still and to be in God's presence, and there’s also a time to work and get stuff done. In those times when we’re doing work, let’s approach it according to Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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243. The Lies of Busyness: “There aren’t enough hours in a day.” (part three of a five-part series) by Diana Kerr

 

Have you ever said something like that? I totally understand. Sometimes life feels like you’re running on a treadmill while someone keeps pushing the button to increase the speed faster and faster.

Twenty-four hours never feels like enough. If only we had more time! A couple extra hours a day would make all the difference! Or maybe an extra week to be able to catch up, right? (How do I know your thoughts? Because I have the exact same thoughts myself.)

The truth is that God will accomplish through you what he needs to accomplish in the time available. Our almighty God is the one who came up with 24-hour days after all. If God thinks that’s good enough, it is. I love the end of the book of Job when God challenges Job’s frustrations and puts him in his place for questioning God: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. . . . Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” (Job 38:4,12).

In other words, God’s the boss man and he knows what he’s doing. You can wish for more time, but you’re not going to get it. You can’t make your days longer. What you can do is your best and leave the rest in God’s hands. After all, if everything in life depended on us, no amount of hours would ever, ever be enough.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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244. The Lies of Busyness: “I don’t have time to rest.” (part four of a five-part series) by Diana Kerr

 

A couple years ago, I heard about how one of my former professors makes a conscious effort to seek Sabbath rest on Sundays. I was intrigued. How did she manage to “give up” so much precious time on Sunday and still get all her errands and cleaning and to-do lists done? I started reading up on the Sabbath and its value for today’s Christians.

What I learned surprised me. Numerous books and articles I read pointed to a biological need for consistent, weekly rest. Could it be possible that God actually designed our bodies to need a day off each week? Was the scientific evidence true—that mental and physical rejuvenation for one day a week actually causes people to get significantly more done in six days than they can in seven days when they don’t make time to rest?

               

Mark 2:27 indicates that the Sabbath is something God intentionally created for our good: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath’” (NLT). Jesus isn’t explicitly clear what those needs are, but we know that we humans need rest. We need refreshment. Most of all, we know that we need to stop and pause and fill our cups with God, even if it’s not on Sundays or for an entire day.

 

Making time to rest in the Lord can be really challenging, but the benefits of that rest are worth the effort.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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245. The Lies of Busyness: “I need to fix this on my own.” (part five of a five-part series) by Diana Kerr

 

Now that we’re on the final day of this series on busyness, you might be feeling there are some areas of your life you want to change. You might be thinking that the solution is to somehow find a way to do better than you’re doing now—to set goals to spend your time more wisely, alter your thinking, or challenge your motivation.

When you think about how to actually make those goals happen though, your stress level rises. It feels daunting to think about tackling those overwhelming changes on your own.

Don’t underestimate God’s role in your busyness and the changes you want to make. Yes, you can make a lot of progress with strategic prioritization and some valuable time-management tips, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t turn to God for help. God invites us to come to him over and over throughout the Bible, to call on him in all circumstances. If you’re overwhelmed with the current state of your busyness, go to God. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Ask God for his guidance as to how to move forward, for his wisdom in setting your priorities, and for his help in keeping your motivation in check. Remember that you don’t have to be perfect. God’s love for you does not depend on what’s on your calendar today. Enjoy peace and rest in that precious truth.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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246. What if You Believed God’s Promises? by Diana Kerr

 

Do you believe the entire Bible? Most of us would say, “Yes. Of course.” But do you really? When it comes to God’s promises, do you believe and internalize them deep down in your gut?

I once heard a pastor say that most of our Bibles are missing some pieces. They’re incomplete. Why? Failing to believe the promises of God is like ripping out chunks of the Bible.

We don’t always believe God will never leave us or forsake us. We don’t always believe God’s Word will not return to him empty. We don’t always believe we are forgiven. We don’t always believe God cares about our insignificant problems, or even about us. We don’t always believe God will work out problems for our good.

We claim to believe the Bible, but we doubt the validity of God’s promises. It’s not always a conscious, blatant doubt, but more so a doubt that shows itself in our worries, anxieties, frustrations, and guilt.

Joshua spoke some beautiful words about God’s promises during his last days on earth that are just as true for the Israelites as they are for us today: “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14).

Read that verse over and over. God has a flawless track record. We have good reason to be confident in believing his promises.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
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247. Win-Win by Diana Kerr

 

Have you noticed that when you’re busy or stressed, one of the first things to go is the time and energy you spend on others? In an effort to get through a busy season of life or a stressful day, we turn inward and focus on ourselves to try to get by.

Unfortunately, that tendency can be rather counterproductive. Studies show that those who encourage or compliment others, who volunteer, or who give away money or resources become happier as a result of those others-focused acts. Proverbs 11:25 seems to back up that data: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Dear family of believers, isn’t that so true? “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” I’m sure you can think of a time when doing something for someone else lifted not just his or her spirits, but your own as well. (It probably made God smile too.)

My husband and I have been having fun being more generous lately. When it comes to deciding how much to spend on a gift for someone or whether we should pay for a friend’s meal, he likes to say, “Will we miss that extra $20?” We never do.

Everyone needs boundaries, and no one can give and give of themselves endlessly without ever filling themselves back up. Thankfully, the beautiful truth is that if we’re intentional about how we pour into others, God often fills us up with even more than we just poured out.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
A WORD for Women

248. Fathers, be Good by Diana Kerr

 

The song “Daughters” by famous musical artist John Mayer has a chorus that begins, “Fathers, be good to your daughters; daughters will love like you do.” He goes on to say that those daughters, influenced by their parents, become mothers and, therefore, continue the chain of influence on the next generation.

 

Without a doubt, fathers make an impact on their sons and daughters, especially in their early years. My mom always said that fathers are so influential that most girls end up marrying someone like their dad, for better or worse. I was blessed with a godly, supportive, amazing dad, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone.

 

What legacy did your father leave you? Was he “good to you,” as the song “Daughters” says and as God’s Word instructs? Or did he leave you with some scars? God provides biblical guidelines for fathers, but sin taints parenthood. Ephesians 6:4 is a classic verse for dads: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Unfortunately, some of us can probably relate more to the first half of that passage than the second half.

 

So how do we handle Father’s Day? First, thank God for your father and for any lessons he taught you, either through positive or negative actions. (If Dad’s still around, thank him too.) Second, thank your Father God that he fills in all the gaps where earthly fathers don’t always measure up.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
A WORD for Women

249. The Waiting Game by Diana Kerr

 

What are your Advent memories from your childhood? I remember coming in from afternoon recess at school, getting settled in my desk, and my teacher lighting a candle on the Advent wreath before opening up a worn-out book to read our afternoon devotion. I loved Advent and cherished that season.

 

Advent was filled with lots of waiting and anticipation as a child. Where has that gone? As adults, most of us have more anxiety than anticipation as the deadline of Christmas draws near.

 

Because we’re adults, though, Advent should be even sweeter than it was when we were kids. With each year of life, we experience more pain and burden, and we sin more sins. We need Advent. We need a Savior. We need rest from our burdens, and that rest can come only through a special little baby.

 

What would it take for you to truly anticipate the peace of Jesus’ birth this season? What would it take to be still and rest in God’s presence, rather than be a busy, frantic ball of stress? What would it take to set aside some of the earthly stuff and focus on waiting for the Lord? Whatever it takes, it’s worth it. The writer of Lamentations, amidst overwhelming challenges, encourages us in this situation. “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (3:26).

 

This Advent season, quiet the outside noise and slow down. Slow down enough to enjoy the waiting game of anticipating salvation’s coming in human form.

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
A WORD for Women

250. Facebook Friends: What’s the point?

 

Happy Friendship Day! You get one guess who created this holiday—yep, Hallmark! Shocking.

Sorry, Hallmark, but I have no plans to send your greeting cards to my friends today. There are just way too many: 1,337 to be exact.

I’m talking about my Facebook friends. Yes, I know, that seems like an excessive amount. Honestly, I actually know all those people.

Still, that is way too many friends to maintain relationships with, which makes you wonder, What’s the point of all those Facebook friends? Most people’s instinctive answer would be, “To keep in touch.” But is that really our goal?

Have you realized how easy it is to let the devil suck you into comparison on social media and in wanting to make yourself look good? Envy, jealousy, pride, and boastfulness all show up so easily, tainting our friendships in real life and online.

For me personally, it takes conscious effort to use social media as a tool for good instead—for encouraging and for sharing my faith. When you’re about to post something on Facebook for your friends to see, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you doing this to build people up or to bring them down? To encourage and inspire or to make them feel jealous or lesser than you? “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

 

Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit www.timeofgrace.org

 
A WORD for Women

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