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 Norma Mezoe POSTED 6/13/2018 12:00:01 AM ON John 10:10b KJV
“Oh, no! Watch out roses. Gene has a shovel.”
My husband enjoys growing rose bushes, but he is an impatient gardener. When the bushes don’t leaf out in spring as soon as he believes they should, he replaces them. One spring was no different. He dug up two bushes and tossed them aside. Upon examining them, I discovered tiny green spots on both bushes and replanted them in a different area.
Through the following weeks, I watched as more areas of the bushes turned green and sprouted tiny leaves. Soon, the bushes would bloom, and I would be rewarded with colorful, fragrant roses.
Sometimes we treat people as my husband does rose bushes. We look at those struggling with addictions or other problems and consider them to be of little worth. “They’ll never amount to anything. Why waste time on them?” we say.
Jesus had a different viewpoint. He told a parable about an impatient owner of a vineyard (Luke 13:6-9). The man waited three years for a fig tree to bear fruit, but it failed to do so. He told the gardener to cut it down, but the overseer pleaded with the owner for more time. The gardener wasn’t ready to give up on the tree.
Jesus knows the potential deep within the person we might be ready to dismiss as unworthy. He knows if they surrender their lives to Him, they will become vibrantly alive and bloom for the rest of their life. After all, He is the Master Gardener.
Perhaps I need to ask if I’m as concerned about people who have been “thrown away” by society as I was about the rose bushes tossed aside by my husband. What about you?
Help others find the abundant life Jesus offers.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Karen Friday POSTED 6/6/2018 12:00:01 AM ON 1 John 4:19 ESV
My bare feet climbed the ladder, mortified to back out now.
A jump from the high diving board. Could I pull it off with this secret fear of heights? A public embarrassment to turn around and go the same way I’d arrived—down the ladder. To walk past the people waiting in line as pool-siders gawked behind sunglasses.
My twin sister and I went to a public swimming pool every summer. In middle school, I conjured up enough courage to make oodles of jumps off the low-dive. But now in high school, I desired to brave the high-dive.
Mind you, I didn’t plan a crowd-pleasing-eyebrow-raising dive or backwards flip. Olympian blood never ran through my veins. So why all the fretting and heart thumping? Because it was a first. A new experience. A defining moment in life.
At the bottom of the ladder, my twin and I had engaged in a going first tug-of-war. I reluctantly agreed to go first. And this high-diving-board story ends with an inside celebration to remain impressively cool. Hurray, I did it! Again. And again. We both jumped multiple times.
Honestly, I’ve always preferred the low-dive. I’m a low-dive, low-altitude kind of girl. Yet I accomplished something that day. I moved ahead into new territory and overcame a fear.
There’s another who went first—again and again. Someone we never have to implore to go first. He’s where going first started. Jesus went first in love, forgiveness, death, and life. He’s our example to love as He first loved us. To make peace by forgiving others as He forgave us first. And to die to our desires as we carry a cross because He died unselfishly bearing His cross.
As Jesus lived, we live—sold-out for our heavenly Father, accomplishing His will on earth. And since Jesus went first, He provides the power for us to face our fears and new adventures.
So, jump in with both feet. Come in from the sidelines, low-diving board, or high-diving board. Ease in from the pool-side ladder, or make your way slip-sliding down the slide. But, by all means, get into the water.
Live life to the fullest. Make a big splash for the One who went first.
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DEVOTION BY Denise Jenkins POSTED 5/30/2018 12:00:01 AM ON 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Fear often leaves us feeling crippled and helpless.
When our boys Brandon and Taylor were young, I remember how excited they’d get when we went to the “big pool.” The big pool meant no more swimming with the babies. Of course, it also meant they would have to get over their fear of swimming in deep water. We watched as they stood at the edge of the pool—little toes squeezed tight to the pebbled concrete—daring to jump in. They feared the unknown.
Kids do not know how deep or cold water is, they just know parents will catch them and keep them safe when they decide to jump. Often, we stand at the edge of life’s pool. We see what lies ahead, and if we can’t reach it or control it we begin to fear. If we give in to fear, it is the same as giving up. We become paralyzed and controlled by it.
We have all been afraid of something: flying in an airplane, swimming in deep waters, speaking in public, or committing to something. We can’t predict what the outcome will be when we participate in these ventures, and we assume the worst will happen before we even begin. You may have passed up a promising career or an important leadership role because you feared failure.
God knew we would be fearful people, but we do not have to be bound by it. He is our way of escape. We settle in life and become complacent by not stepping out and trusting Him for what He wants to accomplish in our life.
After the death of Moses, Joshua had a task set before him. He had all the talents and abilities he needed to accomplish what God called him to do. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous and not to fear. Our heavenly Father doesn’t want us to settle or give in to fear. He is there with outstretched arms, ready to catch us. All we have to do is trust Him and take a leap of faith.
Name your fears, and ask God to help you conquer them.
DEVOTION BY Maureen Puccini POSTED 5/23/2018 12:00:01 AM ON 1 Peter 1:18 NIV
In backyards, garages, and unused barns, treasure hides under old tarps—unseen by everyone except those with a special kind of eyesight.
To a classic car restorer, the moment an owner pulls off a tarp or raises a garage door is exciting. When he finds the remains of a classic car, his eyes light up. His touch becomes gentle. “This must have been one sweet ride. How much do you want for it?” The price is low because the seller sees only a broken-down wreck. The buyer sees hidden beauty and wonderful potential.
After the owner tows the old car back to the shop, a professional team assesses everything wrong: “Transmission’s shot. She’ll need a new engine. Right fender looks good. Have to buff out this rust, though.”
Restoring a ruined car takes time, skill, hard work, and a clear assessment of the damage. But these dreamers are realists. Our Savior is too. When Jesus becomes our owner, He sees all the brokenness and sin in our life clearly—and His eyes light up. He loves restoring us from our empty way of life.
Redemption takes something ruined and restores it to full beauty, function, and purpose. Our Savior is also our Redeemer. Jesus buys us back from Satan’s junkyard. Then like the classic car enthusiast, He gets to work. First comes the honest assessment: “Damaged self-esteem.The mouth leaks gossip.Temper keeps misfiring.” Jesus sees all our faults and sins plainly, yet knows how to heal what’s broken.
Unlike the classic car restorer, Jesus doesn’t work on corroded engines. He works in our heart—but refuses to do any restoration work without our permission. No Christian has ever been healed or set free against their will. The choice is ours.
Sometimes restoration hurts, but the end result is a healed, transformed inner life and a deeper walk with the One who loves us enough to redeem us.
Let Jesus restore what’s broken in you.
DEVOTION BY Doug Lim POSTED 5/16/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Matthew 10:39 NIV
I was an object at rest—and wanted to remain that way.
Legs stretched out and feet propped up, I parked in front of the television on a warm summer evening, channel-flipping impulsively. Naturally, I purposefully placed a tall glass of ice tea and a bowl of nuts within easy reach.
But this particular evening was unlike previous nights. An uneasiness piqued my curiosity—a sensation strong enough to distract my stare away from the television screen.
I attributed the uneasiness to the tailwinds of the Holy Spirit’s nudging again. It was suggestive of the winds that rushed through the upper room at Pentecost, penetrating the hearts of the disciples … after which they boldly proclaimed the gospel.
This prompting reminded me my life had become too soft and comfy. I claimed to be a Christian, but I wondered if I’d honestly answered Christ’s call to be a true disciple through my commitment to Him. Something hindered me. I feared the cost associated with being a disciple.
I loved my wife, children, gadgets, and channel-flicking. Yes, I loved my own life and the many extras—more than God. The thought of losing the life I had put together for myself and my family threatened me.
Being a true disciple necessitates some self-denial. For the devoted disciple, the path to union with Christ calls for the cross—the cross that comes from following Him daily and faithfully. Only when we deny our life for Christ’s will do we discover the abundant life in Christ.
God calls us to love Him more than others, including our family and friends. But this doesn’t means we must diminish the love we have for the people in our lives. On the contrary, the grace we’ve received from each act of self-denial for Him, whether big or small, makes it possible to live more fully for God and to love others even more.
Do something for God that makes you uncomfortable.
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