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.

Insufficient Funds

To my embarrassment, the grocery-bill total was greater than what my wallet contained.

Hoping no one noticed the exchange taking place, I quietly pointed out which items to remove from my grocery order, items we could live without until my next paycheck. Although this happened a few times several decades ago, I still recall it with a twinge of embarrassment and shame.

As I thought of what Jesus Christ did for us, this decades-old grocery exchange came to mind. Having insufficient funds to pay for bread, peanut butter, and a few boxes of mac and cheese is nothing compared to our inability to pay the staggering price to redeem our souls. A price so high and a debt so great that we are left entirely helpless and hopeless.  

And yet God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

This giving of His Son is not a pretty pastel-colored spring scene. It is a blood-spattered, spit-dripping, whisker-pulled, muscles-contracting-and-torn scene of a great exchange. On that first Good Friday, the only begotten Son of God ransomed us with His life, paying the slave price for us. He exchanged His righteousness for our sin so that we can stand before God sinless. We add nothing but a grateful heart for what He has done.

Unlike my grocery bill which only caused embarrassment, us having insufficient funds to pay for our sin debt has eternal consequences. Either we pay the debt ourselves by an eternity separated from God, or we humbly reach out and take the gift offered on our behalf.

Ask God to help you grasp even a thin thread of what He has provided for you through the ransom paid those many years ago.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Busted Down the Middle

The ceramic wall hanging, featuring colorful birds, caught my eye.

I gravitate toward songbirds. They seem happy, and their flashes of red, yellow, or blue often wow me. Sometimes even their names entertain: American goldfinch, indigo bunting, black-capped chickadee.

The uplifting lyrics from an old hymn on the wall décor clinched the deal: “This is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.” I put it up in my kitchen where it added a cheerful personal touch . . . until our roof needed replacement.

There was no mistaking the roofers had arrived early that first morning. I was still in bed when I heard kerplunk, drag, kerplunk, drag. Then pound, pound, pound. I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. The kerplunking was the worst. The workers dropped big sheaves of packaged shingles on our housetop. The house shook with each thud. As the morning wore on, we became accustomed to the noise and periodic shaking . . . until we weren't.

The new sound was a shattering, but of what? The noise came from inside the house—the kitchen. My plaque lay broken on the granite countertop. An ugly jagged crack split it diagonally into two pieces. The imaginary chirping of my vivid birds and singing of my cherished lyrics had been silenced.

As I tossed the broken pieces into the trash, the irony came to me. Can I still praise my Savior all the day long when a favorite possession is ruined? How about when a hope of mine is busted down the middle, or when a promising relationship fractures? Can my heart still whistle a happy tune?

When such things happen, God’s character has not changed, our salvation is still amazing, and God’s love is not lessened. Because of those truths, we can choose to praise Him.

Ask God to help you praise Him all the day long, in the good and the bad. 

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Can't Entertain God

I’ve discovered I can’t entertain God.

I suppose the first entertaining I did—other than as a child wanting attention—came at the first church I pastored. Someone concocted the idea we should have a womanless beauty contest, so a few deacons and I dressed as women, paraded before church members, and let them pick the winner. I lost. Not long after this, the school where I taught held a similar contest. Guess who was selected to enter? I lost again.

A few years later—when I wanted to grow a beard, but when doing so as a preacher wasn’t widely accepted—I portrayed the prophet Jonah in a church drama. I entertained and got to grow a beard in the process. 

I can’t remember doing any other entertainment until mid-life when I began teaching middle school. Although I didn’t do womanless beauty contests or dress as biblical characters, I entertained them with stories of “old times.” I also made sarcastic remarks—roasted them, according to their lingo—when they asked irrelevant questions or questions I’d already answered.

God’s people in Isaiah’s time tried to entertain God, but He wasn’t interested in their theatrics. They brought sacrifices, which He had commanded, but He told them He didn’t want them because they attempted to mix entertainment with hypocrisy—a mixture He didn’t find entertaining.

Our Creator wants obedience from us, but we can’t impress Him. He’s perfect; we’ll never be. No matter how hard we try, we’ll never live up to the standard of perfection He requires. Thinking we can translates into only entertainment. As hard as we may try, our efforts will always be imperfect. Our sinful nature gets in the way, which, even when transformed at salvation, still troubles us.

Grace provides the good news. By God’s grace and through His forgiveness, we can obey, not entertain, God. Also, the Father clothes us in something we can never earn: Christ’s righteousness. Our works can’t save us, but Christ can and does.

What we can do for God is obey and show our appreciation for what He has done for us by serving Him and others. Then He’ll accept our acts of worship, and we’ll experience joy as we never experienced before.

Don’t try to entertain God. Just obey and love Him.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)


The Greatness of Work

The rain was relentless.

The sound drowned out any sweetness of the birds or the breeze, and its roar filled my ears like a lion protecting his territory. The thickness of the deluge appeared like early morning in the mountains when the fog covers the peaks, blurring the view of what might be in the distance.

My work stopped. As I raced to the confines of our outdoor building, I saw the seed I’d just spread catch up in a trail of water and wash who knows where. Someplace would have pretty green grass in seven days.

I sat on a bale of hay and watched the water pour by the buckets full from the sky, and I wondered for a moment how the people in Noah’s time felt to see rain fall for the first time. I imagined my seed as tiny people, banging on the ark’s door, begging to be let in before the flood carried them away.

Still, the rain brought me a time of rest. I swiped sweat from my forehead, leaned back on the hay bale, and thought of how I had labored through the week. Work and more work. From my writing to the simple upkeep of our home. Everything required manual labor. People needed more and more of my time, and it was all w-o-r-k. Yet, it seems this is what God gave to us as He sent Adam and Eve from the garden.

The psalmist found great joy in his work and the work of the Father, listing all the magnificent things that resulted from God’s creative work. He praised God for His greatness, creativity, and splendor. And to think, the psalmist recognized it was all for us.

God is great in His ways—even in the tasks He assigns us. Be they work in our home or a ministry, we discover the rewards of our work in the blessings of God. He is pleased with our efforts, and when we offer our work—regardless of what it is—to Him, I feel sure He smiles. Our Father doesn’t shun work. After all, He worked hard for six days and rested on the seventh.

When work overtakes you and weariness sets in, remember how much God loves you. Work in His name and offer it to Him as a gift. Our God loves our efforts. There is greatness in work.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

When the Bible Gets in the Way

I once left my leather-bound Bible on the back seat of our car after attending a conference.

Living near a lake, we often load beach paraphernalia, such as dripping inflatables, in and out of the car. A week went by, but I used a different Bible in the house and had not missed it. One day, my husband blurted, “Could you please take your Bible out of the back seat? It is getting in the way and causing a lot of problems.”

He was right. It's an expensive Bible and should be treated with care. As I retrieved it, his words reverberated in my ears, but in a different way than he intended.

God’s Word does get in the way sometimes. It gets in the way when I'd rather live differently than how it says I should. It causes lots of problems because it is hard-hitting. The Bible points out my sins of commission and omission. When I can't think of an overt sin, undone good deeds stare at me. It is also uncannily effective at knocking me off my high horse.

It sounds sacrilegious, but perhaps life would be easier without it. The Bible sometimes urges me to make some changes, which I don’t always enjoy. But if I avoided the Bible and its commands, I'd also miss out on its promises and wisdom. How would I get to know God better? How would I be reminded that even those commands that seem bothersome are for my good?

Happier without it? Not on your life. I want to keep God’s Word deeply entwined within me as I journey this side of heaven. It's not in my way. Rather, I treasure it. I want to consistently use it and remember the promises of liberty and blessing, not bondage and misery.

How can you let God’s Word get in the way of your life?

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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