A Devotion May Be Someone's Only Bible

Spirit & Soul

Spirit and Soul is all about eternity. Life ever after with a God who has prepared a place in advance for us. Dig into the Word. Search out your heart. Contemplate where you will spend eternity. . .then choose to offer your life to God.

When I Am Afraid

On May 22, 2017, Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb at the exit of Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Twenty-three adults and children were killed, and 250 were injured.

Less than two weeks later, seven people were killed and almost fifty injured after a van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge, and attackers stabbed shoppers in Borough Market.

Thankfully, few of us will ever experience a terrorist attack, but less-dramatic events can also make us feel frightened and anxious. These are natural responses during a crisis or a stressful challenge, even for strong Bible-believing Christians.

Being afraid when your spouse is talking about leaving, when you’re about to be interviewed for a must-have job, or when you take that must-pass calculus final is natural. And who wouldn’t fear being bullied at school or contracting a life-threatening disease?

This psalm speaks to me when I struggle with fear. But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. The words when I am are especially meaningful. They remind me that admitting I’m afraid isn’t the same as confessing a lack of faith. On the contrary, recognizing our fear and being honest with God about our emotions help us admit how much we need Him.

Being afraid doesn’t necessarily mean we’re weak Christians. Life is filled with challenges and causes for anxiety and fear. It’s what we do when we’re afraid that defines our faith.

Putting our trust in God enables us to take the weight of our situation off our shoulders and place it onto His. As we lean on His wisdom, power, and goodness, we’re able to handle life a little better.

We may still experience fear even when we practice putting our trust in God—especially when our circumstances involve those we love. Thankfully, there is no limit to how often we can go to God and say, “Father, I’m really scared. Please help me trust in You.”

When things or people frighten you, place your trust in God. He is more than able to carry your burdens.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

You're a Keeper

“Throw that one back.”

Memories of fishing with my dad lingered in my mind. A girly pre-teen, I refused to bait the hook with worms.

There’s something I quickly learned about fishing—not all fish were keepers. Maybe it’s the sport of fishing to brag you caught a fish and then threw it back. Perhaps a desire to tell a big fish story. The thrill of using your hands to describe that you caught a humdinger. And sometimes the fish caught isn’t the one you want. You keep some; you throw some back.

After my early fishing adventures, I learned there’s keeper-lessons in life. A boyfriend decided another girl made a better catch. Friends didn’t view me as a keeper and went fishing.

I continued to wear the I-must-not-be-a-keeper badge in adulthood. Deceptive inside chatter tried to convince me. You’re in the company lay-off because others performed at a higher level. She stopped reaching out because you’re not her first choice for a friend. See, no one wants to keep you.

Each time someone threw me back in life’s pond, my heart made a note. You’re not a keeper. The enemy hopes we’ll buy the world’s slick-selling guise: “Keep the deserving, throw the others back.”

Unwanted pets become abandoned pets. Children in an orphanage or foster care wait and long for adoptive parents to choose them . . . love them . . . and keep them.

We compare ourselves to the people culture deems as keepers. The mom every kid wants. The picture-perfect wife. A friend who’s best-friend-forever material. All good catches.

But—and this is a monumental but—the Lord consistently reminds me, “Karen, you’re a keeper.” The world shows no mercy to the undeserving. But God’s kind mercy washed my sin-stained soul and chose to hang onto me.

Out of God’s great compassion and loving mercy we’re kept. His unfathomable mercy assures, “I’ve caught a humdinger. You’re the one I searched for and wanted. My prize. You’re my catch of the day. You could never do anything to be thrown back.”   

The merciful Lord Jesus will never, ever let you go.  

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

No Other Name

Any name we’ve ever heard, famous or not, becomes a memory.

Someone lives their life, does their thing, and passes on. Their name may show up in a magazine or a history book, but their work is done. Their name may be famous, bring in some bucks, spice up an article, but they have no power. For the most part, their name has lost its authority.

Michael Jackson was the biggest pop star in the late twentieth century. His name was celebrated while he lived and after his death. Elvis Presley’s name is still highly recognized, but Elvis can’t sing any new songs. Everything they did is past tense. We remember these famous people but cannot call on them to help us, sing to us, or lead us spiritually.

Religions scattered throughout the world have honored revered leaders. Sports figures are held in high esteem. Singers, actors, politicians, and musicians have followers. The stars’ names are well-known, and yet they have no more power; they only have a past.

The priests, Sadducees, and others asked the disciples by what name they taught. Peter told them it was Jesus Christ. Then he shared the message of salvation through Jesus’ name.

During Bible times, Jesus claimed His authority by speaking peace to the storm, healing the blind man, and bringing change to lives. His name remains present tense and active. Jesus’ name exhibits the power to heal and the power to change a life and has authority over all creation.

In Acts 2 we are told to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the third chapter, Christ’s disciples—Peter and John—invoked the name of Jesus to heal a man crippled since birth. We continue to call on Jesus’ name—a name that continues to have power for those who believe.

Not every famous person is known by everyone, but some day Christ will be acknowledged by everyone. Every knee will bow at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2:10).

Jesus lives, still offering salvation when we call on His name—a name with a past but one that offers us a future.

Claim the power in the name of Jesus.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Slivers of Blue Sky

I awoke to a conflicting yet beautiful morning sunrise.

Walking outside to see the skyline in its full expanse, instead of the photo view I had from my couch, I stood in awe. Dark, ominous clouds hung in the sky like threatening bullies. At the same time, thin slivers of blue sky—like streaks of contrast on an artist's canvas—scattered among the darkened rain clouds, trying to push them away. To the left, my eye caught a glimpse of the sun, slowly rising to break through the tall trees and bring the bright hope of sunshine.

I continued staring while I sipped my first cup of coffee. Choices abounded in my mind. Would I focus on the large threatening clouds or on the thin slivers of blue sky pushing through the darkness? Or would I choose to focus on the hope of sunshine?

God speaks in many unexpected ways. The conflict in the skies remind me life can often be like that skyline picture. The dark, ominous clouds remind me of the issues we face in life that try to keep us in despair, depression, sickness, finances, and family issues.

The slivers and streaks of blue sky remind me of the presence of the Holy Spirit. He offers me glimpses of hope and strength in the midst of difficult times. His ability to push away the dark clouds of life encourages me.

The sunshine—hunkered down in the tall green trees, preparing to rise and break through—reminds me of Jesus' words to shine as "lights in the world." His light overcomes whatever darkness I face. Choosing to focus on the light of God's Word renews my strength.  

Every day, choices abound in our lives—physical and spiritual. The morning skyline reminded me that in the midst of looming darkness, we get to choose. What we choose affects our attitudes and reactions throughout the day.

God's Word says we are reflections of Him, and He always walks in the Light. With His help, you can too.

(Photo courtes of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Hopeful Goodness

Bracing myself for the fall, I gripped the sidebar until my knuckles turned white.

I remember the day well. An amusement park ride, “Free-fall.” The wait in line gave us ample opportunity to watch and ponder the decision to follow through with the adventure. My fear of heights gave way to assurance from college friends. I could do this. They would be with me.

Strapping in with other thrill-seekers and traveling to soaring heights, I could see the entire park from the top. As the sound of an electronic release bellowed behind us, the bottom fell out, dropping us with terrifying speed and force that took my breath. Elated the ride finally came to an end, I unbuckled and resolved for the rest of the day to keep my feet on the ground.

We aren’t always prepared when the bottom drops out of our world. Sometimes we don’t have a warning to strap in, brace ourselves, and tightly grip something—anything. We didn’t even volunteer for the ride.

Life has a way of dropping us with stunning speed and force, taking our breath. And it robs our hope in goodness. If we could just plant our feet back on the ground.

Our heart free-falls, determined never again to be a thrill-seeker. Fear and hopelessness become constant, unwelcome companions. “We’re in this together,” they promise.    

When life isn’t good, we wonder if life will ever be good again. We search for hope—something to grip when everything else has fallen away.

As a pastor’s wife, I’ve had to answer the tough questions: “Why did this happen? Has God abandoned us?” I went on a quest for hope and discovered hope’s power lies in truth: God is good, full of mercy, and steadfast in love—no matter what happens. That’s the place hope rises.

God promises assurance for the adventure. Hope in His goodness: “We’re in this together. Bring me along for the ride. I can see your entire life. My view is from the top. I will be with you.”

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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