Recent Written Devotions 2021

November 12, 2021
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Bread Baking 101 by Julie Luetke

     I spent the day helping a sister in-law learn to bake bread.  She had tried six times over the summer and only got close twice. 

     Together, we went step by step with the how’s and why’s of the process from start to finish.  The bread turned out perfectly.  In the final kneading stages the elasticity of the dough was terrific.  Clearly the yeast and gluten had worked throughout the dough.  At this point there was absolutely no way to separate the yeast from the rest of the ingredients. 

     Jesus used bread dough to illustrate a powerful warning to His followers and to us. 

     “Watch out and be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees.”  (Matthew 16:6)

     Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand.  Out of love, Jesus explained that the yeast that goes through the entire batch of dough is like a false teaching or an incorrect interpretation of God’s Word.  It can ruin our faith and cause us to walk away from the only true God. 

     Here is an example.  The Bible tells us that God created the world in six 24-hour days.  Evolution tells us it took millions of years for our world to accidentally become a lush planet of plants, animals and people.  If we think God was not needed in creation, it is a very short step to believing God is not needed in our lives. Days go on one after another.  I grew up in a good home, found my Prince Charming, raised a family and am now happily retired with my prince still at my side.  Do I really need God? 

     You bet I do!  Let me tell you how I know I need my Jesus.  God’s Word has guided me to make good choices, thus given good outcomes in my life.  God’s promises have given me Hope when there was none coming from the world around me.  God’s gift of baptism has lifted the weight of sin from my heart forever.  God’s generosity fills me with thankfulness that lifts my spirit.  God’s peace has covered me inside and out like yeast in bread.  I am His and He is mine.  That is where I want to stay for all eternity.  Thanks to Jesus dying and rising to pay for my sin and giving me victory from death, I will live in heaven with God forever.  See you there.

     “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)

Photo by Theme Photos on Unsplash

A WORD for Women
November 4, 2021
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The Load Bearer by April Cooper

     Imagine for a moment you are an award-winning weight-lifter. You are used to lifting heavy weights daily in practice, and in competitions. But on one particular day, the load was far too much for your strength. The amount of weight exceeded what you thought you could handle. And, just when you felt you were about to crumble, your coach walked by and took the heavy weights from you to ease the pain. Can you imagine the relief?

     Let's move from imagination to reality. How many of us carry far too much weight on our shoulders? Day in and day out, how many times have you tried to carry burdens using your own strength? The burdens of this life can be many and range in topics like employment, finances, relationships, medical, or general worry and anxiety. And, in today's society, safety, sickness, vaccination status and extended outlooks can be included on that list!

     However, scripture is crystal clear. It states, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT) Have you ever tried to put that scripture into action? How about we practice handing all of that weight over to the Lord, right now. Literally. In addition to praying, why not hold out your hands and go through the motions of handing every single thing over to God that you are carrying. Call each weight by name, and hand it over to Him.

     God never told us to carry the load of anxiety, worry or fear. And, He absolutely doesn't require, expect or need us to carry those types of things. He is willing to handle our concerns and worry. We need Him to handle it. He wants to handle it. And, He already said he would handle it. So, go ahead. Hand it over. Hand it all over. He is waiting, and He truly cares. Don't just imagine the relief. Experience it. And let the Lord ease your pain.

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

 
A WORD for Women
October 28, 2021
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Do Not Fear by Julie Luetke & Christine Wentzel

     Ever heard of the phrase “if it bleeds it reads”? It's a newspaper term for the scale publishers use to prioritize their stories. They sensationalize the headlines that take top billing. These exaggerated attention grabbers are easy weapons the devil employs to prey on our common fears. Hit a fear's sweet spot and “bam!” our eyes are off of Jesus.

     Why does fear grab us so? Facing our mortality, our short-comings, our lack of control, all bring out fear in most of us. When Jesus' disciples were in the boat and the wind was churning the waters, Jesus comes walking in on the water. The disciples were terrified! They thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus said, "It is I, do not be afraid." Jesus words took the disciples focus off of the fear and back onto Jesus.

     On a chilly night outside of Bethlehem an angel appeared to shepherds.   The first thing the angel said was, "Do not be afraid." The angel had good news of the birth of the baby Jesus. The fear had to be under control so the shepherds could focus on the birth announcement.

     Fear is paralyzing. We can't think straight to make safe and wise decisions in an emergency if we let fear overtake us. Fear is a most effective weapon in Satan's arsenal. We are reminded: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

     How can we keep from being afraid? As hard as we might like to be brave, fear comes over us like a dark shadow. It's hard to stop ourselves when darkness fills the night and strange sounds echo through the house. We're afraid when a health problem is not solved and we see our loved ones getting sicker and sicker. We may be in danger of losing our jobs. We are afraid we will have no money to live on. Many things bring real fear into our hearts. When afraid we are not focusing on Jesus for as soon as we do, our fear subsides.

     God knows how powerful a tool fear is in the wrong hands so He reminds us often to not fear.

     For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)

     One last verse to help us fight the fear: 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)

     May God bless you with His peace.

Ivan Ayvazovsky, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A WORD for Women