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 Gift

We received more than we gave.

The season of giving had arrived. My wife and I had experienced a better year financially than we had in quite some time. Meaning we had a little left over.

As the time approached when our church would issue my annual Christmas bonus, my wife asked, “Could we take one hundred of your bonus check and give it to the worship leader?”

Our worship leader was a good friend. He and his wife had faithfully led our music program for almost a year. Our church had a small congregation with no extra to pay any other staff, so our friend had served for free.

“Sure,” I said. A quick call to our treasurer lessened my bonus by one hundred dollars. My wife and I agreed to keep our plan a secret. We wanted to see the surprise on his face when he received the check from the church.

Meanwhile, the last week of school before Christmas break arrived. Teachers who had joined the Secret Santa group busily revealed our identity. As I checked the teacher’s lounge one last time for my gift and to see whom my Secret Santa had been, I found a small card tucked inside my mailbox. On the inside was a handwritten Bible verse, reminding me that God takes care of those who serve him. No name, but I was sure it came from my Secret Santa.

But that wasn’t all. Folded over was a crisp one-hundred-dollar bill. I smiled. And teared up as I took a photo and sent it to my wife. “Is that a real one-hundred-dollar bill?” she asked.

The following Sunday, the church treasurer handed out salary checks and Christmas bonuses. My wife and I waited patiently to see our friend’s surprise. We smiled as he smiled. But we smiled even bigger when I opened my bonus check and discovered two hundred more dollars than I expected.

Once again, I learned what my parents, my grandparents, and other believers had told me: “You can’t outgive God.” Which is exactly what Jesus teaches. Enough said.

When God prompts you to give, give. He will always return as much or more than you have given. And you’ll never be able to trump the feeling you’ll get.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



One

A tourist strolled with friends through a charming village in France.

As she walked, she glimpsed a chubby baby in his mother’s arms. What a cute little one, she thought. She gave him a friendly smile and received a big toothless grin in return. There they were. She was black and American; he was white and French. Yet they experienced a warm and wonderful connection that superseded race and nationality.

The shocking killings of several African Americans in the spring of 2020 sparked renewed calls for racial equality, equity, and justice in the United States and around the globe. Many efforts are underway in government, businesses, education, and elsewhere to generate a deeper understanding of racism—along with ways to eradicate it. Ultimately, enduring change requires a spiritual solution.

All of humanity descends from one person, and everyone is created in the image and likeness of God. Hating and mistreating someone because of their race dishonors God.

Christians can play a pivotal role in the journey to justice, equality, and mutual respect when we model the unity and love Jesus instructed us to display. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for His disciples, as well as for all who would believe in Him through their word. Sadly, the church still has a way to go before we see oneness flourishing.

What would happen if every Christian tried to build bridges? Learning about both the historical context and present-day realities of racism would be a good place to start. Additionally, connecting with coworkers, neighbors, and fellow believers from different races can demystify differences and generate meaningful dialogue. Doing so will require getting out of our comfort zones. But any momentary discomfort will honor the One who made us from one and to be one.

Honor God by loving all people.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



Sighing in Worship

A sigh. The cleansing breath that comes along from time to time and sometimes accompanies a time of stress or exasperation.

Researchers have identified sighing as a deep breath roughly twice the size of our regular breathing pattern. A sigh can be brought on by stress, anxiety, fear, or frustration. Sighing is a reset for our breathing pattern that puts us back into a healthier breathing rhythm.

Psalm 51 is a sighing psalm. David struggles to regain his spiritual respiratory equilibrium. A serious lapse in his commitment to God had damaged his pursuit of God’s heart. He couldn’t get the mistake out of his head. He had been a screw-up all his life. He knew better than to do what he had done. He wanted to experience gladness and joy again. He didn’t want God to give up on him. But David realized he could do nothing to regain his footing.

We can all identify with David. We have reached the end of ourselves and our home remedies, and we sigh.  Our salves aren’t healing us, and we release what sounds like our last breath. Frustrations and exhaustion have slowed us, and we possess no ready answer but to let out a wordless breath of air. We are signaling God that we are out of strength.

Part of corporate worship is sighing—going beyond the traditional view of confession. Spiritual sighing, just like the physical respiratory act, is a collective reset. In the final verses of the psalm, David turns his attention to the congregation of Israel. His journey from despair has taken him from a lone view of his sin to a healing unity of his people.

Go ahead and let out a sigh in your worship—whether you’re alone or with other believers.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



The After-Christmas Blues

I feel like a balloon losing air and slowly wilting away.

The decorations have been put away. The tree has been recycled. No more presents await opening. The fun and laughter of sharing with family and friends is over, and all is back to normal. But what is normal?

Take a minute to reflect on why we celebrated. Remember the Babe we welcomed once again into our hearts—Jesus, the Son of God, born of a virgin, fulfilling prophecies. He does not fade into the background, only to be brought to mind again at Easter.

No Christmas blues should exist for the child of God—only excitement and anticipation of the future and of knowing the Lord more intimately. Our Christmas celebration may be over, but a New Year of adventure, walking with the Prince of Peace, lies ahead.

We should want to be found watching at God’s gates, celebrating our new life in Him, and listening for Him to speak through His Word. We should treasure every opportunity He gives to draw Him closer to our hearts.

During this New Year, let’s allow our new normal to become “watching at His gates” every day. Let’s take time to worship and to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by feeding on the manna from heaven, the Word of God.

Thank God that you can celebrate His love, goodness, and mercy all year long.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



A Miraculous Christmas Package

From Mary’s earthly perspective, her question appeared reasonable.

Gabriel, the angel God sent to Mary, gave her God’s message. Mary’s first reply to the angel was one sentence. It’s no wonder Mary would have had a question for the angel who gave her such an impossible message. And with her question, she went straight to the heart of the matter.

Many times, looking into the face of the impossible, we question God in circumstances where we feel out of control. I wonder if God ever becomes amused at us when we talk to Him from our human frailty? We want to be in control of our daily comings and goings.

But God knows the beginning and the ending of our lives. He has a plan for us, and we’re foolish to try to develop a Plan B. Plan B will bring us trouble and heartache if it is not in the will of God.

God had a plan for bringing His Son to earth. He favored Mary and chose her to give birth to Jesus. Gabriel further explained God’s planned miracle to Mary and concluded by telling her, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

When we believe God’s Word, we will celebrate the miracle of Christmas with reverence. We will rejoice in awe over the birth of God’s Son—a beautiful miraculous Christmas package sent to earth by our heavenly Father.

Take the opportunity this Christmas season to believe God’s Word. Celebrate the miracle of Christmas: the birth of Jesus.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



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