A Devotion May Be Someone's Only Bible

Peace & Presence

The peace we find in the presence of Christ is like crawling under a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day or feeling the soft breeze on a warm spring morning. Seeking after God is a continual process that grows us into a deep and long lasting relationship with Him. Come into His presence and find peace.

The Fight

Dressed in white full gear and trembling, I watched my opponent from across the room.

That morning I had awakened confident I could fight like a warrior. Just a few days before, I had broken a board with my foot. Now, my knees were shaking from fear. My mouthpiece almost fell to the floor as I got into stance. My form was spot on, but for some reason in that instant I couldn't move.

For weeks I had trained for this moment, but I wasn't prepared for the first blow to the head. I came back, but I wasn’t quick enough. My opponent defeated me. I left the auditorium with my head hung low, a participation trophy in my hand, and tears in my eyes. In my eleven years on earth, I had never experienced a defeat so huge. How could I face my instructor who had so much confidence in me?

A couple of days later, I walked into class still heartbroken—and a little embarrassed. Most of the other kids had won big trophies. My instructor told us to line up and go up against him with our best kick. I stood, watching as everyone was called before me. Finally, my name was called, and I stepped up to face my instructor. I looked for a disappointed look on his face but instead found a great big smile. I will never forget what he said. “Class, I saved the best for last.”

The others had all gone first that day. I had no big trophies to display at home on my shelf, yet my instructor still showed me such grace. He did not care about my rank in the class, or even the fact that I was the youngest of them all. To him, we were equal, and he loved us just the same.

No specific ranks exist in heaven. The poor will not be placed in the poor section while the rich live in luxury. Those who served Christ for years—and knew the Word back and forth—will not outrank those who did not know as much. God will accept us all. His grace is amazing, and His arms are open wide to everyone.

Don’t focus on your position. Focus on the goal.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

The Bad Fruit of Bitterness

When fruit is mistreated—by overwatering or by planting in bad climate—it produces bitterness, which is stored in the root.

Researchers say the chemicals from this kind of food could potentially kill if eaten. Once a plant creates a bitter product, the bitterness must be cut from the root, because it will continue to produce more bitter food. Bitter fruit is sharp and sour. Sometimes it’s even smelly.

We can become like the fruit: angry, unsweet, sour, resentful. Paul says to get rid of every form of meanness, including bitterness. He says to be caring and understanding to everyone all the time. This includes the one who let you down, cheated on you, abused you, and lied about you. And this requires forgiveness.

As with fruit, when we are wronged, bitterness forms in our root—our heart. This may be because of bad experiences. Perhaps we were cheated on, fired, or sued. As with food, bitterness spreads to other areas of our lives. It effects our minds, our will, our emotions, and our health.

Medical professionals suggest bitterness can lead to diseases like cancer. Bitterness is contagious and will affect other fruit in our lives—like joy, peace, and happiness. Our hurting hurts the ones we love. We must quickly uproot that which produces bitterness.

In spite of our good intentions, we still let others we love down. We all have fallen short of the measure. Jesus alone is perfect. When we place others in His seat, we open the door for disappointment.

Let your life produce kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Preparing for Adversity

When humans suffer great loss, either from natural disasters like hurricanes or from personal loss of relatives, it often brings out the worst in us.

The ravaged Atlantic seaboard this year demonstrates how people lost hope when they realized how unprepared they were for the storms. They lost human life, homes, food, possessions, and in many instances, their moral compass.

By the time they discovered which way they were headed, they’d already stolen goods from neighbors and businesses around them in order to survive. Their actions demonstrate how little accountability means. Rather than steadily preparing for storms, they chose to do nothing, including remaining in a high risk area after warnings to evacuate.

In the parable about sheep, Jesus describes how they are confined in a safe place and watched over by the shepherd. Still, a thief will invade the fold to kill and destroy, but he won’t enter through the gate, designed to be opened only by the shepherd. The sheep, because they live every day with their watchman, understand his importance and direction and will follow him to a good life.

When it comes to earthly trials, our threshold holds them at bay when we know the voice of Jesus through the doorkeeper known as the Holy Spirit. This Helper opens the gate to Jesus. We understand the voice and follow in obedience to a way greater than our earthly circumstances. Jesus leads us to safety.

How we choose to prepare for adversity determines how we react under the circumstances. If we add to our stores a little bit of food every month for a time when the grocery store may not be open, we’ll survive the disaster without stealing from the neighbor. If we invest a weekend a month learning survival skills, we’ll do better in hard times.

Don’t let the tough times catch you off guard. Jesus knows the Way. Follow Him.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

A Hole in the Whole

It was a beautiful day when I decided to join my daughter for a hike.

Although it had been two years since I last hiked, I donned my sneakers and went out the door—a decision I would soon regret. After hiking up a winding, steep, wooded trial, we began the descent. During the last quarter mile, I fell, rolling my ankle. The pain was awful. After a visit to the orthopedist, I learned I had suffered a high ankle sprain which would require four to six weeks to heal.

In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul expounds on the importance of believers fulfilling their roles within the church. He encourages the church to walk in their respective gifting so that she can be built up and come to full spiritual maturity.

As I pondered this verse, I questioned what God was after. Why did I sustain this injury? Surely He could have prevented it.

After several weeks of incapacitation, something happened to the rest of my body. The weak ligament caused other parts to compensate for the injured part. My whole body suffered. Needless to say, the laundry wasn’t done as often, the dust settled, and my family had to help with numerous chores. Because of one tiny ligament, the entire household was disrupted.

The Scripture became clear. I had neglected responsibilities, and because of my neglect, there was a hole in the whole. Something was missing.

When we fail to fulfill our calling, the entire body of Christ suffers. When we don’t teach, someone is not taught they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength. When we don’t minister in song, someone isn’t comforted and encouraged.

God has used this experience to show me how important we are to His work. We’re called to build others up, and when we do, the church functions as it should. But God is faithful, even when we’re not.

Press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of for you. Fill the hole in the whole.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Joy and Hope

Have you have ever seen a Coten de Tulear?

This dog breed, friendly and full of life, acts like popcorn being cooked whenever we come home. She seems to be the epitome of joy and brings it to my heart all the time. Although she does give some attention to my wife, she lies on the rug next to me as I write. If I get up for a cup of coffee, she follows, hoping my action will take her to the car for a ride.

One of our friends who trains dogs told us we need to know what her currency is. He suggested it may be a pat on the head, the scratch of an ear, or a taste of food. Cindy, we found out, will do most anything for food, but nothing for anything else. But she doesn’t require food to jump for joy at the sound of the key in the lock, or to run to the door when we enter. Her actions bring us happiness.

David seemed to think God looks at us the same way. God’s heart swells with joy when we run to Him, and we should jump for joy at the hint of His presence. He gives us our daily bread simply because we’re there, anxiously awaiting a little attention from Him. He holds us in His arms, not only to comfort us during trials but also to love us. Like our dog, we should yearn for our Father to come home so we can show unrequited love through outstretched arms and joyous hearts.

Learn to anticipate God so you can offer gladness and joy at the thought of His presence.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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