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.

Love in a New Dimension

We respond to new things differently.

How we respond depends on what we’re responding to. A new season of our favorite TV show. A new book by our favorite author. A new college course to teach. A new restaurant nearby. A new company policy. New eyeglasses. A new commute to work.

How about a new commandment?  

Alone with His disciples, Jesus had much to tell them before He returned to heaven. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer … where I am going, you cannot come. In my place, my Father will give you another comforter to be with you forever. I will not leave you as orphans.”

He also said, “I’m about to give you a new command.”

Say what, Jesus? Another commandment? Don’t we have enough already?

“Here it is, fellas. You are to love each other.”

No offense, Jesus, but love isn’t exactly new. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself” is as old as Moses.

“Okay, fellas, here’s what’s new. You are to love each other the same way I have loved you. In fact, from now on, the sign that you belong to Me will be My love in you for each other.”

Jesus provided Himself as the embodiment and the standard of divine love. He prepared His followers for love in a new dimension—namely, Christian love. His disciples were to love each other, not merely as Jewish neighbors, but as Christians.

Old Testament scholar, Christopher Wright, spells out what this love entails: “When we love one another as Christians, it crosses all our differences and barriers. It’s more than sentimental feelings of being nice. It shows itself in practical, down-to-earth caring, providing, helping, encouraging, and supporting one another, even when it costs a lot or hurts a lot to do so. This love brings people together who would otherwise hate, hurt, and even kill one another.”

No one can see God as He is, yet everyone can see Him in the new dimension of Christian love. Same love, new dimension. Down-to-earth and strikingly visible.

Ask God to help you make love in a new dimension happen.

(Christopher Wright, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit: Growing in Christlikeness (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017), 24.)

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



Pruning

I clipped unmercifully at the evergreen plants in the pot sitting on the patio.

The plants were overgrown and needed major pruning. They resented it. For weeks, they continued to drop brown needles onto the tile floor and look as though they were dead and didn't intend to flourish again.

Weeks passed before I saw new budding. Still sparsely clad in the brown of mourning, they offered me hope with a slither of green. I was relieved. I thought they may not live, but now they brought forth new life. The pruning worked.

I've been pruned before—so much that I didn't want to revive my life. In retrospect, I realize I was overgrown with the desires and wants of this life. The brown, dead needles that stunted any spiritual growth had embedded into the branches of my life, zapping all nourishment necessary for growth.

A major pruning was the only alternative. God did that. I didn't like it, and I appeared dead for a long time. I felt stripped and barren of all I had known in my life.

Eventually, without realizing it, signs of new life sprouted. My life took on a green color. The Word of God became my nourishment as God watered and fed me with His promises.

I didn't prune or water myself. I didn't want to. But the Pruner saw the need and rid me of the dead life that existed. What a joyous event when my branches sprung forth with exuberant life. The buds became full foliage, and the beauty of my soul belonged to Him.

How could I have possibly survived without His pruning?  

If the Pruner sees the need, let Him prune you.  

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



Confess Don't Bury

She can’t help it. Burying is in her nature.

Our small chihuahua-terrier mix is a house dog, but she still wants to do what an outside dog does when given a bone. We occasionally buy her bones she can chew on for a while—bones that will clean her teeth. After giving her the bone, she stands in the middle of the floor and whines. Without me asking, I know what she is saying: “Let me outside so I can bury my bone. Don’t you know that’s what dogs do?”

When I don’t acknowledge her request, she resorts to other measures. She hides the bone inside. Perhaps between the couch cushions or under the blankets in her kennel. Maybe behind a piece of furniture. Some place she knows but I don’t. Days later, she may appear with the bone in her mouth. They last a long time—but only because she hides them.

Burying is also typical human behavior. God’s people in the Old Testament did it. I’ve done it. And many other people have too. We don’t generally air our dirty laundry, especially if it’s something that happened long ago or something that might keep us from getting a job, getting a promotion, entering a relationship, or…getting closer to God.

The trouble with burying sin—in whatever form we try—is that it messes up life. If I bury unforgiveness, anger, selfishness, guilt, or sexual immorality, they have a way of uncovering themselves in ugly psychological, social, or emotional episodes. Not only do they mess up my life, they also mess up my relationship with others—especially with God.

Confession means to have the same mind. So whatever God thinks about sin or my decisions, I should think the same thing. When I confess, I recognize my need for help—and from Someone who has the power to give it. I’m not perfect. I need a Savior. Everyone does.

And when I confess daily, it keeps the lines of communication open between me and God, which is important for healthy living. Confession keeps things above board while burying keeps them…well…buried.

Don’t take on animal behavior by burying what needs to come out in the open. God knows anyway. Let Him know you know by daily confessing your sins and failures to Him.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

 



Great to Be a Christian

While I worshipped online at home one morning, I realized the little birds in the garden were chirping.

So was I. Because it’s great to be a Christian, I was chirpy as usual. I can follow Jesus. It is not always easy to be a Christian, but it is a challenge with benefits. People threw a lot of rocks at Jesus, and still do, yet He shines for His followers.

Believers can face each day with optimism. I believe God exists, the Word of God is true, and that following Jesus is the way for each of us. As I read my Bible, I turn often to this verse, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” This is Jesus’ message to all of us. In the Bible, I can find wisdom. Jesus’ wisdom helps me make better decisions and guides me through each day.

Following Jesus gives me direction, adding to my resilience to manage daily routines. God wants us to follow in the steps of Jesus in our humble, human way. Doing so may not be easy, but if we keep going, the blessings of our Lord will keep flowing.

Are you waking up chirpy because you are glad to be a Christian?  

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



Stars

At six in the morning, the stars shone brightly in the cloudless sky.

An older woman put on her robe, stepped onto her porch, and looked up at the stars. She heard the sound of traffic a few blocks away as workers began their morning commute. Many miles away, a farmer stepped outside his barn and paused to look at the magnificence of the starry night. He heard the sound of a rooster crowing. Further away, a young woman in the mountains stepped into her backyard, beheld the beauty of the morning sky, and heard the gentle sound of a nearby stream.

God’s handiwork is evident to all: city dwellers, rural dwellers, and mountain dwellers alike. People in North America, Africa, and any other continent can see it. It is a gift of beauty, available to rich and poor alike.

The psalmist states that the heavens, including the stars, declare God’s glory. It is hard to imagine anyone gazing at a starry sky and not feeling a sense of awe. The beauty is evident to all. It speaks of a Creator whose masterpiece leaves us speechless.

The psalmist also says the heavens are God’s handiwork. When I think of handiwork, I picture a woman knitting. Her fingers move deftly while she carries on a conversation or watches television. For an experienced knitter, the handiwork is effortless. The psalmist gives us an image of God placing the stars in the sky as effortlessly as a knitter completes a row of stitches.

Perhaps God hung stars because He wanted to remind us of His presence. To give the early riser a reason to pause before rushing into the day. To see a magnificent image and to stand in awe of a Creator who effortlessly placed the stars in the sky.

Take time to pause and praise our magnificent Creator.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



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