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 Angela Jamison POSTED 12/13/2017 12:00:01 AM ON 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
During the month of November, I scrolled through Facebook and was inundated with “I am thankful” posts. They were beautiful, encouraging—but short-lived. So far in December, they are few and far between, and by January they will probably be extinct.
The fact that it’s difficult to acknowledge and appreciate blessings on a regular basis throughout the year is disappointing. But I’m as much a culprit as anyone else.
As the holidays come and then leave, I will understand the pressure that comes with paying the Christmas bills. When the school year begins, continues, and then ends, I understand the pressure of keeping children on task. I understand the frustration of homework, projects, and parent-teacher conferences. After summer ebbs on, I understand the guilt of not having a family vacation.
Giving thanks amidst the piles of bills, the worry of success, and the guilt of being good enough is difficult. Life overwhelms us. We spend our days trying to keep our heads above water, but we are still directed to give thanks in all circumstances. Doing so is God’s will.
Giving thanks is not just for November—or when it is easy. God’s wants our thanks when times are good and when they aren’t. He is present in both cases.
As we examine our positions in life, let’s hone in on the blessings and give thanks for even the smallest portions. Satan thrives on misconception and enjoys obscuring the positive and exaggerating the negative so that we believe we have nothing to be thankful for.
Regardless of what season you find yourself in, give thanks to the One who carries you through your days and lays your path. Give thanks in all circumstances, especially when it’s difficult.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Ezeh Goodness POSTED 12/6/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Exodus 32:24
The English teacher reneged on the agreement to take the first general class, and I was called upon to teach the course.
The call was unexpected. Ordinarily, subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, and agriculture are my area of interest. Thankfully, my experience as a journalist paid off. The manager of the establishment upheld my teaching after the lecture. The students did as well, but not verbally. I read it on their faces. A drama played out in the middle of the period.
After giving out my techniques for making As in the subject, we touched on past university entrance exam questions. As the whole quizzical class cascaded, I gave a good account of myself without generating ripples—until we got to a question dealing with stress pattern. The answer to the question was hotly debated, which warranted a student to check my answer in her dictionary.
Minutes later, a voice reverberated, “Tutor!” The student carried a copy of the dictionary towards me, pointing to how the word was transcribed. “Mistakes are made,” I said in defense. I looked regretful, yet I kept blame at arm’s length and couldn't admit I had personally failed.
Some mistakes are just mistakes, driving us in the wrong direction. Mistakes such as forgetting to set a timer and burning dinner or miscalculating a checkbook balance. But then there are the deliberate deeds that go far beyond. God calls those sins.
Aaron avoided personal responsibility when the people—while in the desert—built a golden calf to worship. He might as well have muttered, “Mistakes are made.”
Blaming someone else rather than admitting our own failings is easier. Equally dangerous is trying to minimize our sin by calling it a mistake instead of acknowledging its true nature.
When we take responsibility by acknowledging and confessing our sin, the One who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Take God up on His offer of forgiveness.
DEVOTION BY Ginny Merritt POSTED 11/29/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Psalm 86:1 NASV
I had completed ten each of body-strengthening exercises on the fitness equipment near the high school track, but couldn’t figure out how to get up.
My Healthy Hearts women’s group were there together, but we were not high schoolers.
And there I was, lying on a bench with two hydraulic levers above me that I had been pushing up and pulling down. After an hour of sweaty exercise, I was ready to get up—but couldn’t.
The bench was narrow with no room for me to push up with my arms. I tried pulling down on the levers, but when my shoulders reached their level my legs wiggled all over the place. I collapsed on the skinny bench. I tried again. Same results.
Our trainer, Cailin—affectionately known as "TL" for Torture Leader—had gone to the track to pick up her cooler of water and was unaware of my dilemma. The other ladies had gathered at the far end of the fitness area. My only solution was to cry for help. I used that one helpful word: "Help!" I didn't need to explain my dilemma; I just needed to cry out.
My cry worked. Ladies spun around in alarm and rushed toward me. Sweet Anna was the first to arrive. She bent forward, stuck out her two hands, and grasped mine—pulling me up to a seated position. We all laughed as my muddle became evident and my rescue was accomplished.
Our vigilant heavenly Father is on the ready to grasp our hands and pull us up, too. We only need to recognize our helplessness, know His nearness, and use that one helpful word: "Help!" He knows our dilemma. He will bend down, extend His everlasting arms, and pull us up.
Cry out to God. He’s always ready to help.
DEVOTION BY Bernadean J. Gates POSTED 11/22/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Isaiah 43:1 NCV
An ambulance’s siren pierced the quiet of our rural community.
I later visited with Pete—our newest neighbor—to find out about his father-in-law’s condition following the emergency transport. Joe—our rural community’s volunteer fire chief—told Pete the EMTs called him as they drove the twelve miles to our community. He told them, “Don’t give me an address. Just give me the name.” Joe knows every person living in our small area. He led the ambulance driver right to the door of Pete’s father-in-law.
I told Peter how Joe’s personal knowledge of those living in our farming community had made a difference for my family. A few years ago, Joe pulled up, parked on the crest of our hill, and let his emergency lights illuminate the night sky. Minutes later, the emergency vehicle pulled in to transport my father. What a comfort Joe’s appearance on a scary scene was to me.
God knows those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus. Their names are familiar. No emergency arises but what He knows exactly where we are and how to help us. His knowledge about us gives us security during the tumultuous moments in our lives. We have no need to fear.
We have the confidence of God’s presence after we become His children—no matter how terrifying or serious the situation. As our volunteer fire chief’s arrival brought a sense of support and encouragement, we can be assured the One who rescued us from our sins by His Son’s sacrifice will be by our side no matter how dire the condition.
Rest in the fact that God knows your name, where you are, and what you need.
DEVOTION BY Ivette Ellis POSTED 11/15/2017 12:00:01 AM ON 2 Corinthians 4:13 NIV
Unbeknownst to me, a perfect part-time job was on the way.
As I crunched the numbers in my checkbook once more, I looked at the balance as if it would magically be much larger than it was two seconds earlier. It wasn’t.
“No worries,” I said to myself. The idea of supplementing my husband's income through a part-time job seemed like the best course of action.
In the meantime, my husband and I applied for a mortgage loan modification which would significantly lower our payments. As we clutched hope, we resolved to believe God regardless of our dubious feelings. Often, we felt like cliff-hangers who refused to acknowledge precarious attempts at climbing a mountain. We spoke only about the faithfulness of God, knowing He would make a way for us.
In January 2014, I began working part-time as a hospice social worker. In May 2015, our mortgage was reduced to almost half of the original payment. During this period, believing God without doubting and verbalizing our thankfulness for His continued faithfulness opened the door for God to answer our prayers. Faith became the anchor we held onto as we waited for God to work out the details.
When the challenges of life overwhelm us, only faith lifts us up and away from fear and worry. Our faith-filled words foster the demonstration of who God is: faithful. Believers trust God and then ignite their faith in Him by the words they speak.
Speak words of faith and watch what God does.