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.



God Fixes Messes

Even at five years old, I knew I’d never be another Monet.

My first attempt at watercolors turned into an exercise in frustration and despair. In my mind, I could see clearly what I wanted to paint, but there was a big difference between what I saw in my head and what came out on paper.

With tears streaming down my face, I tried to get rid of the evidence. But my father walked in as I tried to cram the whole saturated mess into the garbage can.

“Hey, peanut. What are you doing?” he asked as he pulled the sopping paper out and tried to pry it open.

“It’s not right. I made a big mess,” I said in the eloquence of a child.

“Here, let’s have a look.” He managed to tenderly separate the sodden edges and splayed the “artwork” on the table, much to my dismay. “This is lovely!” he exclaimed.

I rubbed my eyes, wondering if we were looking at the same thing.

“Look at the beautiful colors and shapes. The graceful swirls and strokes.”

He took me in his lap. And through his eyes. I began to see my painting in a different light.

When it dried, he hung it on our refrigerator where it maintained a place of honor for many years. I remember standing and staring at it. At first it always looked like a big mess to me, but I learned to look past my initial reactions and see a luminous swirl of color—or a unique shape hidden in the brush strokes.

I never did become much of an artist, but I learned an important lesson that day through my father’s eyes. Things aren’t always as they first appear.

As an adult, when I cry out to God and throw my hands up in despair over the messes I’ve made in my life, my heavenly Father reminds me He isn’t finished with me yet. Even though I often fail, His purpose for me will ultimately be accomplished.

When you find yourself in a desperate situation, look beyond the details of your circumstances to see with the Father’s eyes. God redeems your messes, brings beauty from ashes, and fulfills His purpose for you. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Beautiful Feet

My ugly feet embarrassed me.

I never had a passion for shoes. They were nothing more than a covering for my clumsy, dirty feet. I wore them until I could feel the moisture seeping through the holes in my toes. Sandals were not an option.

Several years ago, I traveled overseas as a missionary journalist. I watched people struggle to meet basic needs. Simple acts of kindness made the biggest impact. Tears flowed down a woman’s face as a missionary in Mexico washed her feet and handed her a pair of new shoes. In a slum village in India, a young girl watched me closely from the corner of a shanty. Beneath a burlap dress, her feet were calloused, covered with layers of dirt and sand. I doubt she had ever owned a single pair of shoes.

During a trip to Indonesia, I saw first-hand the damage caused by an Asian tsunami. A cargo ship had crushed more than a dozen shanty homes two miles inland. Just outside the wreckage lay a single toddler’s shoe, covered in mud. My heart crumbled. Tears flowed down my face. My knees sunk into the cracked mud, and my body shook with words I could not find. My previous embarrassment became hideous to me. 

God calls my feet beautiful. They are His vehicle to “bring good news” and “proclaim salvation” to my community and world. How could I devalue His creation so greatly? Every foot is precious. Every toe, valuable. Every person, loved by God and not forgotten.

Often we fail to realize God uses every part of us to take His light into a dark and lonely world, even the parts that embarrass us. Our world may not see us as beautiful or lovely, but God does. The people I’ve met with uncovered, dirty feet reminded me God’s creation is truly beautiful and worthy of His love.

View yourself through God’s eyes, not as culture might see you. True beauty is in the heart of the one who is God’s messenger of good news. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Good Comforting

Regardless of where she went, she couldn’t find comfort.

Leah and her husband were never apart. They even volunteered at the same place after they retired. Both appeared to be in good health, so you can imagine Leah’s shock when Jeff stumbled into the doorway from cutting grass and said he wasn’t feeling well. Within minutes, he had slumped over—never to revive[CS1] .

Although months have passed since Jeff’s death, Leah still mourns and suffers from anxiety and depression. She has been to counselors, pastors, and friends, but nothing soothes her pain. She can’t focus and struggles to make it through each day. Leah left her old church, saying she just couldn’t stand to attend without Jeff. She longs for lasting comfort, but can’t find it anywhere.

Job didn’t find comfort with his fair-weather friends either. He had lost almost everything a person could lose and still survive. And worse, God had permitted his woes to prove to Satan that Job would maintain his loyalty despite extreme adversity. The only comfort Job’s friends could muster was telling him he had sinned. Confess and things will get better was their advice. Job, however, had nothing to confess. He maintained his innocence and muddled through his pain and sorrow.

Job’s friends were typical. They thought they had to say something to soothe his grief—so they did. What they said didn’t do the trick nor was it biblically sound. Telling someone God needed another angel or you know how they feel, is hollow comfort. God doesn’t take life to get angels, nor do humans become angels after death. And no two people experience the same episode in similar ways.

Presence in the midst of grief is better than words. Sharing truth from God’s Word can be comforting, but timing is critical. Sit, listen, and let the person cry on your shoulder. When the time is right, they’ll ask, and then you can share words of wisdom they might need to hear. For the moment, silence is golden and practical help is priceless.

Comforting those who are grieving is tricky business. Before you speak or act, ask God for direction and wisdom.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

 

Surrounded by Enemies

Nothing in my training prepared me for what I was about to endure.

I enjoy working independently—always have. However, in my new position, I had to hire and manage staff, train staff, and market a new program. 

Discernment continually resonated within me. I knew I was in uncharted territory. Morning salutations were often met with contemptuous facial expressions and hostile silence. The onslaught of disrespectful and disdainful words screamed I was surrounded by enemies. These enemies, my staff, resembled wild horses dashing in different directions. Something had to be done. 

My resolution was reading agency policies to the staff—aloud. You can imagine how this played out. The effect was like an unrelenting avalanche. Personalities flared, and attitudes were even worse. There was no place to rest from the constant discord. Nonetheless, I was determined everyone would become a cooperative team.

Slowly, the staff began to work as a group: developing projects and activities and embracing policies that supported the work we were doing. The previous hostile atmosphere was becoming lighthearted and sociable. In the end, the staff learned to work together for a common goal. 

Like the psalmist, in my distress, I prayed to God. I prayed for peace, wisdom, and guidance. I prayed in my home, in my car, and even outside as I walked around my office building. After crying out to God for months, I began to see a change in me. God demonstrated He was not distant, silent, or aloof. He supplied His wisdom during this wearisome ordeal, enabling me to positively influence the staff in the midst of chaos. 

When enemies rattle your emotions, pray for those who spitefully use you. It’s a grueling exercise, but it’s possible to end difficult seasons in peace instead of defeat.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Housing Hassle

"It's love that makes a house a home."

I told my sister we had the love part of the home, but we needed a house to wrap around it. It looked as though there would be another couple of months before that happened.

Our challenge arose when my husband, Ray, took on a new pastorate that required us to move, but the church didn’t have a parsonage. We needed to buy a house. While we began that lengthy process, Ray and our daughter began his ministry as the guest of a farm couple in the congregation.

I remained 115 miles behind with our son, dog, and cat until we could bring the whole family together under one roof. When our daughter left for college in late summer, our son took her place so he could begin high school in this upstate New York community. I continued to keep the pets company.

We remembered Jesus had said foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). We could share in His suffering if we could keep bringing the difficulties of purchasing a house and moving there to Him for help and focus. The words of Psalm 90:1 comforted us: Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

We did make it through. It wasn't the easiest summer, necessitating a 230-mile-round-trip commute each weekend so I could worship and spend time with Ray and our son. The day came when I was able to make my last trip with the dog, the cat, and a tank of goldfish. What a jumbled journey.

The Lord of housing was worthy of our trust. We had a fruitful ministry in that community for many years.

If you’re trying to find a job, a college, a house—or if you’re waiting on a closing—trust the Lord of housing. Let Him be your dwelling place while you wait on Him for direction and forward movement.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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