A Devotion May Be Someone's Only Bible

Faith & Family

Faith is a vital role in the family unit. It draws us together. Holds us tight. Binds us with the ties of God. Keeping faith in our families secures the values of Christ are embedded in our children

Sacrifice of Praise

Two days off from work and I was ready.

My supervisor had been upset all week—stressed because of a personal problem—and appeared to take her anger out on me. As I pulled into my driveway one Friday, I was thankful the work week had ended.

I was driving a friend’s car because my old car was in the shop again. As I sat in the driveway, I reached into my purse for my door key—but it wasn’t there. It was inside the locked house.

Winter had arrived, and snow covered the ground. Wearing high heels, I slipped and stumbled through several inches of snow to a building for my stepladder. Carrying it back, I placed it under a kitchen window.

I pried off the screen and crawled through the window. As I did, the phone rang. Hurrying to answer it, I hit my arm. Picking up the receiver while rubbing my aching arm, I tried not to cry as I received more frustrating news.

After hanging up the phone, I sat at the kitchen table realizing I had two choices. I could give in to despair or praise God despite my problems. I chose the latter. My praise became a gift of sacrifice to my Lord.

Offering praise is the fruit of our lips, and God lovingly accepts our offering. He blesses when we willingly offer our praise to Him.

Eventually, the car problems were solved and tensions at work eased.

When you are tossed upon a turbulent sea of stress and fear, choose to offer God a sacrifice of praise.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Seeking the Gift or the Giver

Why we follow God is crucial to our spiritual journey. 

When I worked with YWAM, we did an evangelistic outreach on July 4th at the National Mall in Washington, DC. We gave away chicken to draw people to our table so we could share Christ with them. Two hippies walked past our table. While one of them munched on a piece of chicken, I heard him say, “Yeah, just tell them you love Jesus and they will give you one.” I didn’t see the other guy come back, but if he did it would have been about his stomach, not his heart.

Jesus saw through the hypocrisy of many who sought Him. They pursued the temporal blessings rather than the eternal ones. They cared more about the gift than the giver.

I once attended a church where we believed God heard and answered prayers. People came with many needs. Some needed physical healing, others had marital problems, and still others needed financial miracles. On many occasions, God met those needs. But sometimes He didn’t.

Attendance waivered for some who didn’t have their prayers answered. Then we didn’t see them at all. Perhaps they were seeking the gift more than the giver.

Anytime we want what we can get from God more than we want God, we create an idol in our lives. Parents love to bless their children, but there are times when giving them what they want may not be the most loving thing to do. God also occasionally withholds from His children out of love.

God is good all the time. He is loving when He answers our prayers, when He says wait, and when He says no. Don’t love God only for what you can get from Him. Love Him because He is a loving Father. Seek the giver, not the gift. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

Let Him Say So

Routine. In prison routine is everything.

Perceived safety comes by having everything happen the same way day after day, week after week, month after month . . . and yes, year after year. There is safety in what is expected. The unexpected, the un-routine, gets you hurt. When daily routines go off the tracks, stress levels skyrocket. 

Another stressful time for anyone incarcerated are the holidays. The loss of family and holiday traditions play tricks with a man's head. I know. They did with mine. The memories of Thanksgivings past haunted me. At the same time, those memories blinded me to any sense of thanksgiving in my present circumstances. 

But giving thanks in all circumstances was exactly what the Word said I should do—especially in prison. The Word is filled with examples of thankful praise in prison. The Lord brought this home the first Thanksgiving of my incarceration. On that morning, an early announcement that we had the day off and that the chow hall would not be open for breakfast turned my world upside down. Instead, the chow hall would open at 10:00 am and remain open until 3:00 pm. We could go through the chow line as many times as we wanted. And not a chow line with the usual barely edible institutional food we were used to. Real roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, rolls, and fresh salad greeted us. All we could eat. 

That night as I stretched out on my bunk after the lights went out—still so full I could barely move—I thanked God for bringing alive His word. And I thought about what I had to be thankful for: I was breathing, my stomach was full, I had family who loved me, and most importantly, I had Jesus, the Son of the Living God, who loved me. Me . . . Kevin Spencer. Wow. And what could I say to Him, but, “Thank You, Lord.”

Your circumstances are never bigger than your thanksgivings. What are you thankful for today?

Let Her Say So

I must have looked like a caged tiger trying to shake off a tranquilizer, as I paced around the outer parameters of my jail cell.

It was the week of Thanksgiving, and I was certain no judge in that small southern town would be available to release me so I could be with my young son for the holiday. A lower bond was my only chance. I got lucky. By Christmas, however, I faced a similar predicament, with a twist.  I was innocent this time, but it was the most serious crime I had ever been accused of.  

I didn’t know it, but the road ahead was a journey I couldn’t avoid. Walking laps helped release my anger, but it was no escape from the magnitude of my situation. I knew I was losing everything, I knew I’d be a convicted felon, and I knew life would never be close to normal again. I was right.

Every year at this time, we’re encouraged to give thanks. As a Christian, I have struggled and prayed over this. I love you, Lord, but you know my life stinks! Please don’t expect me to be thankful. I ain’t feelin’ it.  

One lesson I’ve learned is to leave my feelings out of it. When I do, all is well with my soul.  When feelings take over, I have an ungrateful heart that is cold and indifferent to God’s mercy and love. Still, I’ve never been sure how to give thanks for “everything” without being pretentious.  One day I received a simple answer. We are to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. 

It made sense. I’m sure the apostle Paul never said, “Thank you, Father, for these irritating chains and iron manacles ripping into my wrists and legs.” But Paul did praise God through his suffering. The prophet Daniel also gave thanks when he learned evil men wanted to destroy him. They were doing what is asked of every Christian: enduring hardships with gratitude, having faith, and being thankful.   

With Jesus in my heart, I always have something to be thankful for. I didn’t like falling, but I praise God for raising me up. I miss every lost year with my child, but I’m so thankful to God for my son’s precious life. 

Choose to be thankful—regardless of your circumstances.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

In Control, Even in Chaos

Sometimes, conditions are perfect for massive storms to develop in our lives.

In 1979, a tropical disturbance formed in the Pacific. Initially, the storm was too small to name, but several meteorological conditions fueled it, and it soon morphed into Super Typhoon Tip. At its peak, the system stretched more than thirteen hundred miles, making it the most massive storm of all time.

As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.This verse reminds us that when the world feels as if it’s crumbling and everything seems to be going wrong, God is still in control. Joseph was dumped in a cistern by his brothers. Reuben, the oldest, intended to rescue him later, but when he momentarily stepped away, Joseph’s other brothers sold him as a slave to a band of Ishmaelites passing by on their way to Egypt.

Joseph was thirty when he entered Pharaoh’s service—fifteen years after he was sold. During those years, heartache occurred. Joseph may have had sleepless nights when he thought, If only my dad hadn’t given me that coat, elevating me above my brothers. If only I hadn’t shared the dreams that made my brothers jealous. If only Reuben had come back sooner. If only those Ishmaelites hadn’t passed by. If only ...

Ultimately, Joseph’s pain was purposeful. God was in control—even in the moment when everything went wrong and he was sold as a slave. We know this from Joseph’s own testimony. When he was reunited with his brothers many years later, he told them, “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”

Our life storms may start off small, but as negative moments, words, and decisions build, they can morph into massive storms.

If you are going through difficult times where everything seems to be going wrong, or if you are struggling with regret because of the what ifs, remember God will use your pain for His glory. It is not senseless.

Lean into God for comfort during your storms. Ask Him to reveal His purpose in your pain.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Receiving the Moments

Stepping forward to shake the hand of one of my favorite authors, my heart quivered to think I was actually talking to her.

With clumsy words tumbling from my lips, I knelt beside her chair for a picture. Then, my movements became as awkward as my words. Losing my footing, I grabbed the end table beside me to catch my balance, but the table—including the large plant it held, along with me in my clumsy glory—fell headlong into an empty fireplace. Fortunately, the scene was only witnessed by a few dozen people, the friend who invited me to the event, and Elizabeth Elliot.

That moment met with embarrassment and found me mentally slapping myself for not being able to hold myself together for a few minutes. Yet the story it gave me to tell always brings laughter. And laughter itself is a gift.

Tiny moments of life impact our hearts. An interaction doesn’t go the way we hoped, and the spirit we meet it with has the potential to carry us either into a corner where we are left hiding or into a state of brokenness. In my brokenness, I don’t deny the way I feel but rather receive my feelings as a gift from God for His purpose and in His timing. And this within the beautiful day He has made.

Many times, I’ve hidden when such feelings met me, and still God waits for me to boldly show Him my awkward pieces. His comfort always makes me fresh again.  

For every instance the Enemy hopes to back us into a corner, God waits for us in the sweet broken place. The day is His and we should rejoice.

Hold your moments loosely, knowing the day belongs to God. In the end, doing so will give you the gift of gladness—maybe even laughter.     

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

All Posts