A Devotion May Be Someone's Only Bible

Spirit & Heart

Where your heart is, there is where your treasure lays. Our hearts guide our emotion and decisions. Unless God is the center of the heart, things are askew. Allowing the Spirit into the matters of the heart promises the faithfulness of Jesus in our lives.



Let the Redeemed Say So

He says so:

New Year’s Eve exploded into a full-scale riot in my sixty-man jail pod. 

I’m not sure how it started, but suddenly there was fighting. Shanks (homemade knives) came out. People were sliced and cut. Blood was everywhere. I climbed to my upper bunk and put my back against the corner, holding tight to my own uniquely crafted weapon. I eyed my opened cell door and prayed.

I couldn’t remember how long I had been in jail. After my arrest, I shut down—withdrew into myself, communicating only when necessary. I ate sporadically. I quit shaving. From the top of my head to the bottom of my beard, I was physically a mess. It was summer and hot when I was arrested, but then it’s always hot in Florida.

Christmas was pretty much a non-event in jail. Alone on my bunk, I had read the Christmas story in Luke from a little New Testament that fit in the palm of my hand. The story I had read since childhood rang familiar, but some of the elements seemed to strike a chord beyond the words.

For the first time, I was actually reading, pondering, and considering the words. They touched my heart in ways more significant than ever before. I began to realize the stories I had heard since my early years in Sunday school—and Jesus’ words, Come to me all you who are weary—were things I had never contemplated enough. Again and again, Jesus tells us to “come” to Him. I read through the four gospels several times until the life of Jesus simply stuck in my mind and heart.

The madness raged outside my cell. I cried to the Lord, pleading for Jesus to “come to me.” And He did. My body tensed at the sound erupting near my doorway. Startled by the loud noise of a grinding metal door closing me in, my soul was covered by relief. The correction officers had responded to the riot and were storming the pod.

Safe for the moment, I pulled a blanket over my head to hide the tears. God's love delivered me once again from my distress. His peace flowed through me. The words I had spent the last week planting in my heart suddenly sprouted. I belong to Him. Redeemed.

May all of us who have been redeemed of the Lord say so.

~ Kevin Spencer

_______________________________

She says so:

“End this God. Bring me peace.”

I quietly spoke those words as light filtered through a beautiful stained glass window above my head. I had sat alone in churches before, but this December afternoon was different. In the silence of that sanctuary, I had a rare moment of clarity. Life, as I was living it, could not continue.

I didn't know Jesus back then, but I did talk to God sometimes. As I prayed, I somehow knew He understood I needed the craziness in my life to end. But I didn’t know how difficult that “end” would be.

A few weeks later, I was in jail in solitary confinement. As I eased onto the edge of a metal cot, I remembered that previous afternoon. “God! What on earth were you thinking? This is not peace.” In the days leading up to my arrest, anger became an acid burning through my veins. I was numb to all pain and unconcerned about the consequences of my actions. I was falling hard and unaware God had already sent the Prince of Peace to catch me. 

I came to realize we serve a most unusual God, and sometimes He answers our prayers in a most unusual way. God knew I needed to stop running. He knew what it would take and how long. And He knew who to send.

I was locked away for a month before I finally agreed to allow a woman to minister to me. The guards opened a small tray slot, located on the lower half of my cell door, so we could talk. I wasn’t ready to hear about Jesus. But as I kneeled down to peer through the small hole, I realized how ready I was to have a conversation with another human being—no matter what it was about.  

Months later, I fell to my knees again on that same concrete floor and asked Jesus Christ to be the leader of my life. It changed everything. The freedom I had fought for suddenly became less important to me. For the first time in my life, I knew a different kind of freedom. I knew I was a redeemed child of God. 

For the rest of our lives, may we continue to say so.

~ Patricia Lefler

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Measuring Our Worth

Kidnapping is a lucrative business.

I come from a region of Africa where kidnapping entails stealing a person and keeping them in a secret place, along with demanding a ransom for their release. The volume of ransom is determined by the caliber of the detainee. While a commoner might only bring one hundred thousand dollars, the rich and affluent could bring more than one hundred million.

Kidnapping took a deeper dimension with the abduction of schoolgirls. As many as two hundred girls were abducted from their boarding school by heavily armed Islamists who arrived in trucks, vans, and buses. The group wanted to institute an Islamic caliphate in the country and was opposed to western-style modern education—which they claim lures people away from the teachings of Islam.

The sect began to target schools, killing myriads of students. They broke into schools, pretending to be guards and telling the girls to get out and come with them. In their innocence and with their impressionable mindset, the students—who were in their final year of secondary school—obliged and were kidnapped.

The scale of rescue efforts was unprecedented. Nationwide prayers and fasting were made. The kidnappings sparked an international outcry, with global protests held against the perceived slow response of the government. The federal government spent more than $1.2 million on the case.

But God went to a greater extent than the federal government to redeem humankind. His efforts shock me. Through the death of His only Son on the cross, the Father paid the price to rescue us from our sin.

God loved us so much He gave His Son to die on the cross. He then raised Him from the dead to ransom and rescue us. That is what you are worth to Him.

When you want to measure your worth, measure it by what God did for you through Jesus Christ. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Keep an Eternal Perspective

Wet socks. That’s the reason I cried.

I’d been backpacking for three days in the rain on an adventure course, and was awakened while it was still dark to put on yesterday’s cold, wet clothes. I couldn’t help but cry from the misery of my present circumstances. Even worse, I didn’t know when our trip would end or when the rain would stop.

No matter what difficult circumstances we’re facing or how unordinary and just plain boring our lives may seem, we can rejoice knowing these are only temporary situations. Heaven has no pain or boredom, and our earthly lives are but a speck in the scheme of eternity.

Perhaps an even greater comfort than knowing our troubles are temporary is knowing we can benefit from them. God uses every trial—no matter how seemingly insignificant or mundane—to produce for us a greater eternal glory.

God uses our hard times to sanctify us. That means the Spirit of God is working in us to make us more like Jesus Christ. We should greatly rejoice that the power of God Himself is at work within the depths of our soul, creating meaningful beauty from our ugly ashes.

With this great knowledge, we can place our attention on the unseen. Instead of focusing on our financial troubles, we can focus on the trust in God they are producing in us. With our difficult co-workers and classmates, we can focus on the patience and forgiveness we are learning.

Each suffering and every difficulty is creating an even greater unseen work within us. Look beyond your circumstances, and find contentment in Christ. He holds eternity in His hands.

Let’s take our gaze off our circumstances, and stay fixed on the One who can create purpose from our pain.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Thanks for Everything

“Thank you for the world so sweet;
Thank you for the food we eat;
Thank you for the birds that sing;
Thank you, God, for everything. ”

I prayed Edith Rutter-Leatham’s, “A Child’s Grace,” many times when I was small. Only recently did I pay close attention to the last five words: “Thank you, God, for everything.” Everything.

Thanking God when I’m hurt, when I’m disappointed, when someone I love faces illness or death, when I face them myself, and when God says “No” or “Later” is difficult.

Often, I don’t thank God. Looking back, I see how those hurts left physical or emotional scars. Yet they also increased my awareness of suffering around me and how God can minister through me. Disappointments helped me distinguish between selfish desires and legitimate needs. Illness and other life storms heightened my appreciation for every moment and for the support of family, friends, and a Savior who died for me.

Paul experienced the extremes of life. Sometimes he lived with more than enough. At other times, he lived in great want. He knew good health, and he knew the ravages of illness. He lived through times of safety, and he lived through shipwrecks, persecution, and beatings. He enjoyed freedom of movement, and he endured life in chains. Whatever his circumstances, Paul praised God and shared God’s message of salvation.

We can do the same. God walks with us and carries us through our ups and downs. Because of God’s never-failing presence, we can—like Paul with a genuinely grateful heart—Rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).

Ask God to help you give thanks in all circumstances. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

What You Do Is Important

I struggle sometimes with feeling as if I’m not doing anything important—or that what I do doesn’t matter.

When reading these verses from Isaiah, "But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose,”  I think: Me too. That’s how I feel. I wonder what my work amounts to and question my purpose. I see the accomplishments of other women, and it leads to feelings of discouragement … even wanting to give up.

Comparing myself to someone else, I lose sight of what I have to do—what God has called me to do. In my sight, it seems insignificant, like so much less than what someone else is doing—so small. But in God’s sight, no task is small. I have to remind myself that what He calls me to is important—no matter the size or outcome.

Whether you’re parenting one child or a dozen, writing for one reader or 100, ministering to one person or a roomful, it is important. Even when we feel we have nothing left to give, God has all we need, and He will work through us for His purpose and His Kingdom. Where we see no purpose, God sees great purpose.

Isaiah’s time and strength were not wasted. God knew the work Isaiah was doing, and Isaiah trusted God with the results. He did the work God called him to and left the outcome in God’s hands.

The same is true for us. Our time and energy are not wasted, even if we can’t see the effects of our labor. Like Isaiah, we can do the work and trust the rest is in God’s hands.

You may never know if someone was touched by something you said or did, but God knows. And that’s all that matters.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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