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.

The Moment Jesus Changed Everything

I have a secret: I’ve spent my entire life trying to make people like me.

I want others to think I’m brilliant, kind, funny, and wise. I spend hours overthinking a joke I told. I try to agree with the people I talk with. And honestly, sometimes I even attempt to say things that will make my friends have conversations with other people about how great I am.

Why? Because I’m constantly fighting a voice inside of me that says, “You’re not enough.” I use approval from others as a way to argue with that voice. But anytime I don’t measure up, the voice comes back even stronger. “See? Told you.” That’s why I find the way Jesus loved the “unlovable” profound.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector—someone everyone hated because he stole money from people. People hated him so much that when Jesus came to town no one would even let Zacchaeus get by them so he could see Jesus. Since Zacchaeus was short, he had to climb a tree to see Jesus.

This was the guy Jesus chose to spend time with. He loved Zacchaeus even when no one else did. He chose to stay at Zacchaeus’s house over all the “better” people’s houses.

And what happened? Zacchaeus said, “Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

The free love of Jesus touched Zacchaeus’ heart powerfully and instantly. Jesus’s actions were so powerful for him—and for us—because we’re not used to free love. Jesus offered Zacchaeus acceptance, and without him having to perform to get it. He was wanted, regardless of how short he was, how hated he was, or how dishonest he was.

I have a hard time grasping the concept of free love too. But the way Jesus loves me unconditionally is releasing me of my need to perform—no matter how often I don’t measure up. And that makes me want to be a better person. Not out of fear, but out of the realization that I am enough. Simply because I am His.

Move through this week knowing you are enough.

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(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

A Spritual Inhaler

As I prepared to return from a missionary trip to Malaysia, I watched a beautiful young high school girl die in her parent’s arms. She had lost her asthma inhaler.

Shame and guilt can also be life threatening if not treated properly.

Because we cannot forget anything unless there is organic damage, we are often at odds with the way God treats our sin. The memory of past sins, especially the more gross ones, can return and produce bad symptoms in our lives. These often pictorial memories resemble reliving bad choices. 

When painful—and sometimes disgusting—memories plague our heart and vision, we must open our emotions to what God Almighty has revealed about His treatment of our sin’s condition.

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow … if you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” Breathing in the emotional content of the Word—such as this verse in Isaiah—mimics breathing in heavens’ clean air and is like using a spiritual inhaler.

Carrying the following verses, which also represent God’s instruction on how He handles sin, gives us a spiritual emergency inhaler to use when guilt chokes us:

“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, and your sins like a heavy mist. Your sins have been wiped away as the morning mist” (Isaiah 44:22).

“Be of a good cheer son, your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2).

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

“In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:30).

Carry your emergency spiritual inhaler to use against sin and its reoccurrence so you can experience the abundant life Jesus came to give.

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(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Defining Hell

I once watched a YouTube video about co-housing. I watched to find out what co-housing was. During the video, someone said co-housing wasn't for everybody. He also mentioned that for some people, decision making with a group might be their definition of hell.

If only hell were a hardship of decision making. Our world today loves to sugarcoat the reality of belief. In a time when everything must gently give us what we want without stepping on toes, the reality of hell is too hurtful. After all, who wants to end up there? Or worse, some believe it’s just a story in the Bible.

The rich man discovered the truth of what hell was and pleaded for a touch of water to cool his agony. It was a sad awakening and one that, once given the sentence, is irrevocable. Worse than the torment is the eternal separation from God. No longer is there a lifeline to hope.

Heaven and hell are opposites, both yielding eternality. God has made a place for us—a place where we can bask in the glory of God. The pathway is clear as to how we reach for this reward: repentance, accepting Christ, and living a life as best we can of fruitfulness in the Word. It’s about faithfulness, belief, and love—even when love hurts—and knowing we have the assurance of God’s forgiveness.

God doesn’t long to lose any of His children. He waits for us to bond with Him through a relationship that can’t be matched by earthly pleasure. Spend time in His Word. Study to understand the great joys found in Christ, but do not be deceived that there is no punishment for sin. Instead, seek the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Feed your soul by reading the Bible, finding a Bible-believing church, giving back to God, and praying daily.  

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(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

A Lesson in Love

My first day as a volunteer tutor at an after-school program didn’t go as I expected.

I expected children playfully running down the street, bursting through the door, and releasing energy pent up from a full day at school. I expected to help with reading and math and play games like Sorry and Uno.

I did not expect a petite girl in a wheelchair who spoke only a few words. She wasn’t there for the homework help I was prepared to provide. She wanted my constant attention, but I didn’t know how to interact with her. I felt disappointed, inadequate, and guilty. I called my daughter, a special education teacher. She assured me I was just overwhelmed with an unexpected and unfamiliar situation. Her advice: “Ask Jesus to help you see her and appreciate her the way He does.”

The next week, the little girl and I sat on the floor and rolled a ball back and forth. The ball went wild and took wacky bounces. She laughed as we retrieved it from around corners and under furnishings. Her laugh was infectious, and, as I laughed with her, I fell in love with her. We had weeks of fun together until it was time for me to say goodbye.

When God sent Samuel to anoint a new king, He instructed Samuel not to choose according to physical appearances but by what was in a man’s heart. As I spent time getting to know this spunky girl with a spark in her eyes, I saw her joyful spirit. Everything we did together was fresh and fun and made her laugh.

I volunteered because God put helping children on my heart, but He hadn’t put me there to tutor. I was there to love one little girl. And she was there to give me a lesson in love.

Don’t judge the people you meet today by their appearances. Get to know them through their hearts.

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(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Always Hungry

Even too much of a good thing can turn bad…and my hunger did.

Once I lost my baby fat, I slimmed down, became as skinny as a rail, and stayed that way throughout school and into my young adult years. A good thing because my appetite raged.

In those years, my eating was more unhealthy than healthy. I loved junk food. Around forty, things changed—but not my appetite. No longer could I eat as much as I wanted, or what I wanted, without it affecting the scales and my waistline.

My two oldest grandsons are just as I was. Throughout the day, we hear, “Meme (or Pop), I’m hungry.” We feed them. Thirty minutes later, we hear their request again. At this point, both remain as skinny as I once was, and their mother still is. Yet, the day will probably come when too much of a good thing will be bad for them, too.

But when it comes to righteousness, or right living, too much of it can never be unhealthy. Jesus said those who hunger after right things will be happy. Living right satisfies, but it’s not the norm. Since we’re born with a sinful nature, we naturally hunger after unhealthy things—and not food, although we could throw that in the mix.

When we accept the offer of Christ’s forgiveness for our sins, He makes us right in position—but that doesn’t mean we’ll always act right in practice. And we often don’t, despite our best efforts. Hungering for right living, however, focuses us in the right direction.

Staying close to God through prayer, Bible study, meditation, fellowship with other believers, and reading good books keep us hungry for the right things. By hearing and seeing God’s instructions in print and through example, we’ll be challenged to hunger after God things, not worldly things.

Not developing an appetite for sinful things also proves beneficial, as does staying away from people and things we know are weaknesses for us and will tempt us. Good friends hold us accountable.

A healthy fear of God helps, too—not fearing He will zap us every time we mess up, but reverencing Him for who He is, for the power He possesses, and for the love He has shown to purchase our salvation.

Develop a good hunger…but for the right things.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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