A Devotion May Be Someone's Only Bible

Spirit & Mind

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.



5 Steps to Productive Labor

The process of childbirth is called labor for good reason: it is hard and painful work. 

As a young soon-to-be mom, I was terrified of needles so close to my spine so I chose natural childbirth. Going into labor through the natural process unprepared will lead a woman to tense, scream, close her eyes, and fight against her body. But the prepared mom goes into labor working with her body.

The spiritual labor process also has an unprepared and a prepared way. If we are unprepared, we will fight against God’s will, but if we’re prepared we will work with God’s will.

There are things we can do to ensure productive spiritual labor.

Preparation. Good nutrition, rest, water, and practice are a must for effective labor.  When laboring spiritually, we must nourish ourselves daily in God’s Word and be refreshed by His Spirit.

Fasting. Fasting is a good way to create an “emptiness” on the inside to make room for the work of God within us.

Strategy. We must have a birth plan. We cannot wait until the middle of labor to learn how to do something. Labor rarely goes as we plan. Like breathing patterns, prayer ruts are easy to fall into. Prayer has many facets. We can step out of the norm and pray a different way—with thanking, declaring God’s promises, asking, or crying out. Changing positions in labor speeds the process. Sometimes, we must change our prayer position too.

Focal Point. In the labor process, the worst thing is to focus on the pain, which only increases it. A focal point—a place “outside the body,” works to pull us out of ourselves.  Vision is our spiritual focal point, keeps us focused on the end of the process, and renews our hope. At the point of pushing, it is easy to hold our breath and close our eyes instead of looking for a sign of the baby’s appearing.

Labor Coach. A labor coach keeps mom on track, reminding her time is short and encouraging her. We should never go through spiritual labor alone. We need friends to hold up our arms during the process.

Think of a few things you can do that will lead to productive spiritual labor. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

The Pages of Life

Electronic books make having lots of reading material available with the touch of a finger.

While the owner of an eBook can carry volumes in the weight of a few ounces, nothing replaces the feel of a hard cover or paperback in the hand. I enjoy the texture of the pages as they are turned and the smell of the ink on the paper as a story comes to life.

Books can last for years and be read over and over by different people. As the book is passed down in libraries or borrowed from individuals, a little of the reader stays with that book. Names, phone numbers, and addresses mingle with the story when the stroke of a pen takes ownership of the prized possession. Sometimes little notes that give a glimpse of the personality of the book’s owner are inscribed inside the publication.

As the parchment ages, the distinctive smell of an old book can’t be erased. The tome has absorbed from those who have held the volume in their hands, and maybe some of the dust collected on the top when in a dormant stage has added to the character. Colors can fade and scratches and dings can mar the cover, but those are all things that make each book individual and valuable.

Humans are stories on the earth. As we age, our pages crinkle and yellow. Sometimes we are in a dormant season of life, but we still have a place and purpose on the shelf. We may have the smell of an old book—but only because the years have left some scars and dents.  

As a child of God, our place is in the library of heaven. When we are taken off the shelf of our present existence, we will have new leafs and covers. The fragrance of eternity will replace the smell of age.

Don’t despair because of the worn surfaces of your soul. Rejoice because those pages are valuable and tell your story like no one else can.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

The Handler

The lead ewe stood stock still, occasionally stamping one foot on the ground. The Border collie did not flinch. 

I knew who would win this stare down. I had seen it many times in the paddock or in the stock yards. The Border collie was well trained. The ewe was all bluff.

Once the game was over, the ewe led the flock of sheep through the open gate, the dog trailing quietly behind, gently nudging the stragglers until all were through and the gate secure. Then she trotted over, sat at her handler’s feet, and waited patiently for her pat and praise.

Even when I was distracted and forgot to acknowledge a job well done, I could still rely on her to fulfil her role. She was faithful and trustworthy, eager to obey and quick to respond to commands. She knew she was loved, and pleasing her master seemed praise enough.

So often, we try to be like the lead ewe. God directs us in the way we should go, but we play a bluff game. We try to be boss for a while, stamp our feet, and stare down God’s directive. Then we finally give in when we realize God has the Holy Spirit, like a dog handler, lovingly watching our every move—ready to redirect or discipline if necessary.

Good sheep dogs take time to develop and mature and so do fully committed disciples of Jesus. God wants us to be well trained by His Word in the things of life. This takes time. Time spent with Him, reading and meditating, practicing what His Word tells us to do until we are obedient, disciplined, and useful in His service. Maturity is simply knowing we have pleased the Master.

Being a trustworthy servant will lead to being a friend of God, and that is something to cherish. Imagine the look of pleasure and love on Father God’s face when He looks at you and affirms a job well done. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Shielded

Never had a game evoked such fear in me.

As a middle schooler, I was weak, shy, and non-athletic. I dreaded physical education class—mainly because of one game: dodgeball.

I was always the last one picked when the team captains made their choices. Skinny, freckled-faced, glasses. Nothing that would make them want me on their team. I made sure to stand behind everyone else when the balls started whizzing by, but eventually I was exposed. It was then I began using my shield.

Getting hit on the torso or below the waist was bearable, but a hit in the head could be tragic. Mom had strictly instructed me to guard my glasses with my life. She and Dad could not afford to replace them. As the balls made their aim at me, I shielded my head with my arms and hands. 

As a teenager, I tortured my two younger brothers with the same game by lining them up on the edge of our open carport and throwing balls at them. They, too, used their arms and hands as shields, but doing so didn’t stop them from cascading from the ledge to the ground below when they were hit.

David was a warrior and very familiar with a shield. While he didn’t use one against Goliath—the giant he fought—he did in many battles after that as he protected his nation against their enemies.

Thousands of years into the future, the apostle Paul would say faith is the believer’s shield. As my hands shielded me from slams by the dodgeballs, so my faith shields me from the darts of my soul’s enemy. When I believed in and accepted Christ as my Savior, God gave me the righteousness of Christ. Though I take many hits in life, that body armor of righteousness—along with my shield of faith—keeps me from being defeated.

Faith helps me move forward, even when I can’t see the way. Faith prompts me to obey God’s plan, even when it appears illogical. Faith keeps me determined in my walk with the Lord, even when I sometimes want to give up. Faith shields me from persistent and uncontrollable doubt, anger, frustration, anxiety, worry, depression, and fear.

God gives all His children a shield. Take yours, so you can fight life’s battle with a guarantee of success.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Fisher of Men

Peter was a fisher of men—but not initially.   

The apostle tops my list of outstanding Bible characters. God transformed this ordinary fisherman into a dynamic leader of the early church. The folly and humanness in his early life make him a saint that’s relatable and one we can learn from.

Peter was a man of contradictions. He was impulsive and strong-willed, yet capable of great love and loyalty. He left everything he had to follow Jesus. When something needed to be said, he said it—but was quick to blurt out words before thinking. A man of faith, he was both courageous and fearful.

Once, Peter left a boat and walked on water to go to Jesus. When he saw the wind, he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. He cried out for help, and Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. Christ rebuked him gently for doubting. 

Peter was the first disciple to confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). He boasted he would never forsake Jesus, but in an hour of crisis after Jesus’ arrest, Peter denied even knowing Him. When Peter realized what he had done, he wept bitterly.

Yet Peter’s story doesn’t end in failure. Jesus loved him, forgave him, and restored him. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached boldly, and 3,000 people were converted. The simple fisherman became a mighty fisher of men. Persecution followed, but Peter rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake.

If you have experienced failure, remember God can use it for your good by bringing you to a deeper trust in Him. There may be consequences to face, but failure can be a stepping stone to future success.  

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.) 

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