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.

Is Your Forgiveness Conditional?

“I’ll forgive her when she apologizes … and not before!”

A statement like that is usually born out of the heat of the moment or a long, festering period of anger and resentment. Even though it’s totally understandable, it’s not healthy or scriptural.

If Jesus had waited on all those who persecuted, tormented, and crucified Him to come and confess their wrongdoing, there would be no forgiveness. Jesus responded in love and in accordance to His Father’s Word.

The truth is, people need love and forgiveness the most when they deserve it the least—even you and me. When Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” He was teaching us that the ability to pardon the sins of others is an act of faith and sheer obedience. It’s not conditional or based on the response of the offender. In fact, it’s not for their benefit … it’s for ours.

God tells us to forgive so He will forgive us. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins (Mark 11:25 MSG).

If your forgive-o-meter shows you are putting conditions and unrealistic expectations on others, or if you’re having trouble getting past a painful or frustrating situation, think about all God has done for you. Think about the sacrifice Jesus made so all your sins could be washed away by His shed blood. Remember the things God has forgiven you for.

God shows each of us love and forgiveness the most when we deserve it the least, and He expects us to do the same.

Are you willing?

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

The Price Is Right

Do you remember Bob Barker—and originally Johnny Olson—calling contestants by name and telling them to come on down because they were the next contestants on The Price is Right? 

When I was young, I remember the Christmas showcase for the viewers at home. Although I wasn't old enough to be a contestant, I wanted to win all those prizes—except the trip to France. Momma helped me, and I bid in Dad's name.

Several weeks before Christmas—while I was staying with a great aunt—I watched the show to see if I had won. I didn't, and I was so disappointed. My parents had gone to a contest where the host said they had won something. But to get it, they had to buy a condo or some kind of vacation spot.

The prize my parents had won was either a car or a grill. I hoped for the car. We didn’t get it. We got the grill. Daddy said we had gotten what we needed.

Sometimes, God does give us the desires of our heart—like the used motor home we bought many years later. But mostly, He supplies our needs. He blessed us with not only one but also two used motor homes—both of which were very nice.

We need to know the difference between our needs and wants. If a child gets everything they want, they will become a spoiled-rotten brat.

Pray and ask God to help you be content, even when He doesn't give you what you want or when you want it.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Harassment or Opportunity?

By 11:00 a.m., four invasions from dubious, uninvited sources had occurred.

What was it I was just praying about? My patience was already strained as I listened to the message from the most recent invader: “Return this call immediately. If you do not, we will suspend your Social Security number.”

Righteous indignation sparked. Okay, you want me to phone right back? I will gladly call and tell you exactly what I think.

When the fake Social Security man answered, my rant began. “How dare you … terrifying innocent people … scammers and liars … abusing the elderly …”

Just as feistily, he retorted, “Why did you call if you thought it was a scam, and who told you to call?”

“God did!” I spat back.

Two thoughts in succession flashed in my mind. God is probably not backing up this call and—wait a minute—this is a God-call! 

My heart instantly softened, and compassion flowed. “Don’t you know Jesus has a better plan for your life? He made you for a purpose. He’s given you special gifts and has a job suited just for you? One where you won’t have to lie. One you can be proud of.”

As I continued speaking, he mumbled at regular intervals. “Yes, ma’am … You’re right … I know … Thank you …”

Sensing his hunger, I spoke on about Jesus’ mercy and love and then somehow found the boldness to ask if he wanted to invite Jesus into his life. When he said “Yes,” I don’t know who was more amazed. I had the privilege of leading him to Christ.

What started as a frustrating day turned into a glorious one once I discerned the heart of God and what He was doing. I wondered how many moments like this I had missed. Is that ringing phone harassment or opportunity for me to proclaim the gospel? Is the grocery stop just a mundane duty for me, or does God have someone He wants me to reach?

Ask God to help you see moments of harassment as opportunities.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

When You Have Nothing Else to Give

The adage “shop ’til you drop” takes on a whole new meaning during the holiday season.

The Christmas season begins well before Thanksgiving when we’re busy putting up our fall decorations, baking pumpkin pies, and picking out the perfect turkey with all the trimmings. Then we put away the pumpkins and scarecrows and pull out the good ol’ red and green. We plan our Christmas dinner, put our cards in the mail, and stress over the perfect gift for everyone on our list. It can be utterly exhausting.

We spend, spend, spend—time, money, and effort—until we have nothing else to give. We feel completely bankrupt when we should be full of the Christmas spirit, letting it spill out on everyone around us.

A few years ago—on a bright, sunny December day—I stood in amazement as a man loudly berated a salesclerk in a local drugstore because the store did not have what he was looking for. He was rude, obnoxious, and completely out of line. The clerk took it like a trouper. She remained calm and never argued with the man, but I could read the hurt and embarrassment on her face.

When the man stormed away in a huff, muttering under his breath, I patted the clerk on her shoulder and apologized for the man’s behavior. I gave her my best smile and assured her she had done nothing wrong. The hurt vanished from her eyes, and she returned my smile.

A smile is an amazing gift. It’s universal, easily accessible, and understandable even to an infant. It can break through the hardest or most wounded heart. A sign in a large department store reads, Smile! Spoil the day for some grouch! (I wish I had smiled at the man in the drugstore.)

With all Job went through, he said, I will forget my complaint. I will put off my sad face and wear a smile. When the holiday rush has taken its toll … when you’ve gone the proverbial last mile and feel as if you have nothing else to give … do as Job did and offer the best gift of all: a smile. It will brighten someone’s day, and it just might make you feel a bit better too.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

Are You Ready?

Many signs await us.

Some signs catch our attention while others escape us. We pay attention to approaching clouds, announcing a sudden rainstorm. When driving, we watch for someone in front of us turning unexpectedly or pulling off a side street. When a ball rolls into the street, we look for the child chasing it. And think of how vigilant we become when a child faces illness. Just as the people of Noah's time did not look for signs to explain why he was building an ark, we might miss sudden brake lights in front of us.  

With Christmas approaching, we often hear "Are you ready?" and we know the question pertains to our Christmas preparations. We make cookies, breads, pies, and candies. Our refrigerators and pantries nearly explode with food. For Christmas dinner, we time the cooking of each dish, ensuring we serve them at the right temperature and appropriate time. We clean our homes, anticipating family visits. We clothe guest beds with crisp sheets and stock guest bathrooms with dryer-fresh towels and washcloths. We trim the Christmas tree and decorate our homes. We clear snow from driveways and sidewalks, making the paths to our homes safe.

Carving out time for Netflix, binging to understand the highly advertised season finale of a favorite TV show, and reading about the latest scandal on Facebook seem easy. All the while, the Word which tells of Jesus’ return quietly sits on our bedside table or bookshelf. Often, we don’t open, investigate, analyze, and explore the signs it gives of Jesus’ return.

Matthew warns us to prepare for the return of the "Son of Man." This entails considering the signs, making preparations, studying the Word, and changing our daily focus.

Be as diligent in watching for the signs of Jesus’ return as you are in preparing for the Christmas celebration.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)

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