A Devotion May Be Someone's Only Bible

Spirit & Heart

Where your heart is, there is where your treasure lays. Our hearts guide our emotion and decisions. Unless God is the center of the heart, things are askew. Allowing the Spirit into the matters of the heart promises the faithfulness of Jesus in our lives.

Good News from the Dead

One spring day when our boys were small, I brought home a turtle I had found on the road.

They excitedly helped as we made up a box with a water dish, grass, and stones. But our turtle wanted nothing to do with his new home. He never drank the water, nor ate a single piece of bread. Each day he grew weaker, until by the end of the week he lay motionless. We felt the best thing was to return him to the swamp where he could spend his final days in peace.

Though we explained that Mr. Turtle was sick and needed to be set free, our boys were sad over his leaving. I parked the car and carefully took him out of his box. I walked a few paces into the woods and placed Mr. Turtle onto the mossy ground. At first He remained motionless, but then slowly he eased his feet out of the shell until his claws touched the ground. He poked out his head, stood up, and clambered down the hill as fast as his turtle legs could carry him. We burst out in relieved laughter.

Two thousand years ago when Jesus walked up Calvary's hill destined for death, His disciples felt just as we do. When they saw a huge stone rolled over the entrance to His tomb, they gave up hope and went into a room, locking the door behind them. But when things seemed darkest, on the morning of the third day, Jesus sat up, put one foot and then the other on the ground, and walked into the day so that all of us who believe in Him could follow. 

All of us have sometimes felt imprisoned by fear, bitterness, or pain—just like Mr. Turtle in his box. It seems as if it would be much easier to pull back into our shell and give up, but because Jesus got up, we can put one foot in front of the other.

Don’t let fear, bitterness, or pain keep you imprisoned. With God’s help, you can come out of your shell.  

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Love God, Love People

The hashtag #LGLP is everywhere these days. It’s catchy and cool, and many Christians are using it on social media. But does it really do justice to the text it is supposed to represent?

Saying we love God and people is easy. But love is such a generic word. Without some qualifiers, the saying could mean I love God as much as I love my dog, apple pie, or a Starbucks latte on a crisp autumn morning. But the truth is, I do not love my dog or those other things the way Jesus says I am to love God.

And people? Well, I mostly love people, except the guy who cut me off on the freeway and the teenager who drives through my neighborhood with his music turned up loud. I definitely don’t love them like I love myself.

If Jesus meant the above kind of love, He would have said just that. But three of the gospels record Him saying much more. Jesus spells out the quality of love we should have for God and for people. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. With every fiber of our being, every thought that crosses our mind, and every ounce of our strength, we should love the Lord. That’s a deep, all-encompassing love.

Jesus says I am to love my neighbor as much as I love myself. I once had a woman say to me, “Well, that’s not hard. I hate myself.” Ouch. That’s not a quality kind of love for either herself or her neighbor.

The reality for all of us is that we do love ourselves, and we prove it every time someone says something that offends us. We will defend ourselves, we’ll see our point of view as the right one, and we’ll often go on the attack. But we rarely love those close to us as much as we love ourselves, much less our neighbor.

Examine the quality of your own love for the Lord and others. Then commit to learning to love the way Jesus commands.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

The Eye of the Storm

During Hurricane Florence, the news reports dominated the television.

In one news clip, the reporter could hardly remain upright because of the wind. Within thirty minutes, the same reporter stood in relative calm with the sun breaking through the clouds. The news correspondent was in the eye of the storm.

This is similar to walking with God. Everything seems to fall apart around us. We experience emotional turmoil, yet deep down, we have a sense of calm or well-being. We should not feel this way, but we do. We experience what the Bible calls “God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”

Sometimes, disappointments, discouragement, financial issues, or relationship problems surround us. God has a way of giving us peace that we cannot understand in the midst of the storm.

But why do we sometimes feel this peace and at other times do not? Part of the answer comes in the previous verse (v.6). Paul says we are to pray with thanksgiving.

Praying with thanksgiving shows we believe God is the same in good times and in difficult ones. It reveals that we know He is still in control. He can alter the situation, change us in it, or do some of both. We can pray and fret at the same time. God does not cause all our circumstances, but He does allow them.

When we are in trying times, we should remember the lyrics of Ryan Stevenson's song, "Eye of the Storm." In the storm and in the war, God remained in control and guarded his soul. God was his anchor, and God’s love surrounded him.

Accept God’s sovereign will, and you will have peace in the eye of the storm.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Heed the Warnings

Late frosts weren’t unusual in my warm southern climate.

This particular spring, however, had been unusually pleasant. All the green thumbs couldn’t wait to put aside winter’s dullness and enjoy the beauty of bright blossoms.                                            

On this balmy March day, temperatures danced into the 70s and 80s. Breezes hummed through trees as buds swelled, ready to burst into bloom. Eager gardeners scurried to set out early tomato plants. Flower beds blossomed with colorful flowers taken from greenhouses and nurseries.

Then I heard the weather forecaster warn, “Expect freezing temperatures before morning.” Two cold fronts approached and would plummet temperatures into the 40s with bitter cold sweeping in during the night.

Some ambitious gardeners heard the forecast and prepared their tender seedlings. They dashed about, covering sensitive vegetation and bracing themselves and their new plants for one last winter hurrah. Many gardeners did not. By morning, snow blanketed the ground—the only snow that winter. Tomato plants of the unprepared succumbed to the drastic shock. Delicate flowering plants peeked frozen heads through their unwanted cover of snow.

I thought how these weather predictions reflect the warning God’s Word reveals about the return of Christ. Many hear, yet fail to believe biblical prophecy. Jesus’ disciples asked Him what to expect before His second coming. He warned of false claims and many events to occur. Today, as more and more clues appear, few heed the signs.

Although temperatures plummeted that March night as forecasted, Christ’s arrival will come unexpectedly. No one knows the day or hour, but when He returns, He will judge the world with fairness. Prepared believers will rejoice, but the unprepared will have no second chance.

God wants everyone prepared for Christ’s return. Be willing to warn others to be ready.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

The Rewards of Obedience

After praying for a year for the chance to write professionally, God led me to write a column for my local weekly newspaper.

One morning I received an email from my sister-in-law’s mother who alerted me to this opportunity. I have now been writing for Community News for ten years. I had no idea God would give me the opportunity to write Christian material in a secular newspaper. It’s been a gift to encourage both friends and strangers through my column. When people tell me they enjoy and look forward to my column, I’m encouraged and humbled.

Another surprising bit of guidance resulted from a conversation with my therapist. She suggested I seek work cleaning houses. I’d been praying for months for a way to earn more money. Within a few weeks of our conversation, I started cleaning a neighbor’s house. It’s not glamourous, but it’s honest work, and I thank God for the extra income.

Leading music during Vacation Bible School, teaching children’s Sunday school classes, and playing my trumpet in my church’s praise ensemble are other ways I serve God. I never expected to receive these responsibilities, but I’ve been blessed by each one. When I run into a child I haven’t seen since last year’s VBS and her eyes light up, that’s my reward. The shock on a Sunday school student’s face when he, the son of dairy farmers, understands Jesus lay in a feeding trough and was found by shepherds warms my heart. Seeing smiles on the faces of my church family after playing my trumpet during offertory also encourages me.

God directs us toward His purposes. And sometimes His will surprises us. We never know where we will find joy in God’s service, but He gives us a sense of satisfaction when we serve Him, because we are obedient. And obedience is a reward in itself.

Obey God, and see what He gives you to do.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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