Focusing our minds on Christ. . .studying His word, drawing tight into a relationship that is unbreakable. This is when His Spirit lives in our minds helping us keep our eyes focused only on Him.
DEVOTION BY Marques Cunningham POSTED 10/18/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Proverbs 15:4 NIV
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
What a lie! The words we speak for better or worse will come to pass. Words elevate or destroy. Almost everything in life is contingent on words. Words are as useful as an oasis in the middle of a desert when used properly.
If a friend loses a loved one, our words may be the only consolation for their broken spirit. The lonely elderly man who doesn’t have any loved ones would give the world to hear loving words. Words can instill hope, encouragement, and order in ways that otherwise would be impossible.
Solomon frequently sought out “good and acceptable” words (Ecclesiastes 12:10).
Words can also destroy if misused. Belittling, gossip, slander, lying, and complaining are ways death is produced by words. When we use our words in these ways, we not only hurt people’s feelings, we also speak those horrible words into existence.
The creation is an example of how powerful words are. The detailed seven-day account explains how God created a different aspect of life on a daily basis through the power of His words.
Through words the contents of the heart are revealed. “A good person brings forth out of his mouth that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil” (Luke 6:45).
Many will deny the Lord and be doomed to an eternity in hell over words. “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mathew 12:36). This includes fussing, cussing, gossip, lies, false accusations, complaining, and every other useless word.
There is power in words. Use yours for good, not evil.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Nate Stevens POSTED 10/11/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Luke 14:28 NLT
When on vacation, charging things to your room is an easy, stress-free luxury. No need to carry cash, credit cards, or even your wallet. Simply say, “Please charge this to my room.”
But afterward …
My wife and I recently enjoyed vacationing on one of Hawaii’s beautiful islands. Our resort offered extravagant amenities along with the pampering expected in such a setting. One such amenity was charging everything to our room–dining, shopping, tours, and excursions. Whatever we bought on the resort property could be charged to our room.
The carefree ability to charge things to the room clouded the “but afterward” of getting the bill when we checked out. Fortunately, we are financially responsible, and our final bill was what we anticipated. However, I’ve heard horror stories of giddy spending sprees ending abruptly when faced with a staggering, unexpected bill.
With a career in banking, I understand the benefits and consequences associated with easy access to charging—especially using credit cards. If managed responsibly, the convenience comes in handy. If not, the consequences can be damaging for years to come. Prudent foresight removes the regret of hindsight.
One of Steven Covey’s mantras is, “Begin with the end in mind.” Jesus encouraged first counting the cost before starting an endeavor.
Living life with a long-term “but afterward” approach seems more prudent than a carefree, spendthrift, short-term orientation. Willfully choosing to touch a hot stove brings pain and possibly a scar. Our God-given freedom to choose doesn’t save us from the results. All the more reason to make wise, unregrettable choices.
Even when we think we know how something will end or believe we will get our desired outcome, Solomon warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:25).
Align your desires and choices with God’s moral standards so you won’t be left staring at a “but afterward” bill too high to pay.
DEVOTION BY Ezeh Goodness POSTED 10/4/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Proverbs 17:22
Careless driving, rising tempers, and foul language are a source of traffic fights among some taxi and minibus drivers in our city of Benin, Nigeria.
One traffic incident I witnessed took a different turn. A bus was almost hit by a careless taxi driver. I expected the bus driver to get angry and yell at the other driver, but he didn’t. The bus driver relaxed his stern face and smiled broadly at the guilty-looking taxi driver. And the smile worked wonders. With a raised hand, the taxi driver apologized, smiled back, and moved away—the tension diffused.
A smile has a fascinating effect on our brain chemistry. As a biochemistry graduate, I understand smiling releases brain chemicals called endorphins, which have a relaxing physiological effect. Not only can a smile diffuse a tense situation, but it can also diffuse tension within us. Our emotions affect us as well as others.
The Bible teaches us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:31–32).
When anger, tension, or bitterness threaten our relationship with the Lord and with others, remember that “a cheerful heart is good medicine”—good medicine for our own joy and well-being.
Remember how you feel when you are angry or have an argument with someone. Then imagine how next time you could wield cheerfulness instead.
DEVOTION BY Kimberly Rempel POSTED 9/27/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Psalm 23:2
One week had passed since I transplanted the tender tomato plants.
Every day I checked on them, eager to see them thicken and shoot up tall and strong. To my disappointment, their tender stalks leaned as though they were too tired to stand. Their thin green leaves curled and sagged. They looked pitiful and ruined.
Despite appearances, growth was happening. Growth at the roots . . . beyond sight. The young plants had been uprooted and placed in new soil. The change set their growth back, but only temporarily. Their work was intense and critical and had to do with roots, not leaves or fruit.
We often struggle with setbacks when we leave one soil and are planted in another. When we change jobs, become parents, are struck with illness, lose a loved one to death, leave a ministry, retire, or any number of life-changing circumstances.
When we find ourselves in new and challenging circumstances, we want to learn, adapt, and flourish. Instead, every day feels new, uncomfortable. We’re completely out of our element, and this is scary. We feel like we won’t make it.
When I think of those tomato plants and their struggle, I’m encouraged. It’s okay to struggle and not have fully grown fruit in my life. It’s okay not to know what to do or how to feel when my mom has cancer or when my friend dies or when relationships fall apart.
Confusion, fear, and doubt will come. My leaves will curl and my stem weaken. I’ll need to rest. In that exhaustion, my roots will find their strength and life in Jesus who revives my soul. He is the one who restores, refreshes, and renews. Whatever soil I’m in, as long as my roots are reaching for Him, I will thrive where I’m planted and fruit will come.
If you’ve been transplanted to new soil, give yourself grace for the transition. Trust that God is still working in you and in your circumstance. Let your roots grow deep in Him.
DEVOTION BY Robert L. Segress POSTED 9/20/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Exodus 3:2
What or whom we are controlled by will determine how we live and what people think of us.
The story of a burning bush that would not be consumed is one of the most striking word pictures painted by God’s Spirit. It graphically reveals that Almighty God can burn and yet not consume, if He so wishes. The bush is also a graphic picture representing both God and His children. Believers have the Holy Spirit and God’s inspired Word living within them. Jeremiah said, “His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it in, and I could not” (20:9).
Failing to release the divine living in our soul allows the body to ignite fleshly lusts. The smoldering fleshly cinders that are always at war with the Holy Spirit will gain control. We will either release the Spirit’s fire or release our lustful nature sparks. If you’ve ever exploded in wrath or had temptation take control, you are your own best example of the war between the Spirit and the flesh.
But the heat from the Spirit’s fire will quickly overcome its restraints, leaving only the ashes of disappointment. God’s children must allow the Spirit’s holiness to control their lustful fleshly tendencies and the Word of God to master their lives.
I learned later in life that Christians should constantly share love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control or they will experience lives that ooze the foul odors of their flesh.
As believers, we have God’s divine fire living in the core of our personalities. If we fail to share God’s holy love with those around us, we will break into imitation love—which is self-centered and lustful. When we don’t release the fire of God, we release the lusts of the flesh—which are non-discriminate, over-reactive, and self-centered. With the Spirit and the flesh, it is an either/or situation.
Release the fruit of the Spirit in your life, and you will be shocked at what God will do through you.