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.

Fret Not

James Naismith was almost thirty years old when he left an athletic director position at McGill University in Montreal.

Naismith was responsible for teaching physical education at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was assigned the task of creating an athletic re-direction for his young athletes during the cold and harsh winters of New England, but he rallied to the task and created a game called basketball.

Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. This psalm is well-known and contrasts the way of the righteous with the way of the wicked. Three times in the first eight verses we read “fret not,” which is the Hebraic word charah and denotes a burning and kindling.

Charah in this context can be translated worry. The passage indicates that the righteous behave differently than the wicked—who are consumed with worries and anxieties. Instead of worrying, the righteous trust in the Lord, delight in Him, commit their lives to Him, and rest in Him.  

Our lives can be less stressful when we practice what the Scriptures teach. Our diversions will not lead to creating a game like basketball, as Dr. Naismith did, but they will make life more meaningful. What a welcome re-direction to worry.

Ask God to help you trust, delight, commit, and rest in Him.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



Penned for a Purpose

He had all the room he needed, but it wasn’t enough.

I lounged on my grandparents’ wraparound porch in Vance, SC, enjoying a summer afternoon and looking out over the open fields and forests that surrounded their home. In his earlier years, my grandfather had raised cows, but now he kept hogs. His hog pens encompassed acres of land. Enough that any pig should have been satisfied.

As I relaxed, I noticed one swine saunter to the fence, insert his long snout under the bottom, raise it up, and slither underneath. I hollered for my grandfather, who quickly corralled the wayward animal. But I wondered why the hog wanted to get out. He had more than enough space. What made him want to enter a field much smaller than the one in which he was penned.

My grandfather put his hogs in a pen for a reason. Had he not, they would have wandered into fields where he had crops planted or run into a nearby highway and risked death. But they didn’t appreciate his efforts. They wanted what they shouldn’t have.

Paul had a similar problem. He didn’t say humans have an animal nature, but we do share at least one common characteristic: we want what God says we can’t have. Paul didn’t understand himself, just as I didn’t understand the hog’s actions.

I admit I’ve experienced Paul’s dilemma. God says, “Don’t do _____,” and that’s exactly what I want to do. The pen restricted, but the hog wanted the restriction removed.

God’s boundaries have purpose. He doesn’t give the “Thou shalt not’s” to make our lives miserable. Just as parents and teachers have a purpose in setting boundaries for children—and just as Pappy had a purpose in erecting a fence—so God has reasons for restricting our behavior. Love is always His purpose for whatever pens He pens us in.

God knows danger lurks beyond the fences He erects. For the hog, it could have been death. For me, it might be sins that would ruin my testimony and my effectiveness in God’s service, habits that would eat away at my health, or unwise decisions that would take me down a path God doesn’t want me to walk.

God pens us for a purpose. Respect the boundaries and know He builds them out of love.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



The Wrong Voice

I was confused. I had missed the turn, but I kept following the blue truck.

The signs indicated I was not where I should be, but I kept going for several miles. The dark blue truck looked like my husband’s. When it turned into a business center. I turned too.

Then I squealed. I braked. Moaning, I hung up the phone. I had followed the wrong truck. I could not believe I had done such a thing. I would never intentionally forsake my husband for someone else.

My husband and I often leave one vehicle with a daughter fifty miles away for her use when she needs a second set of wheels. My phone rang near the appropriate turn, so I didn’t notice my husband taking the correct turn. I kept pursuing a similar truck—same color, same model—leading me where I wasn’t meant to go.

Tearfully, I called my husband. I heard his compassion and concern: “Stay where you are. I’ll be right there.”

A simple diversion derailed me. How many times have I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time because I heard another voice, followed another opinion, turned my eyes and heart away even though I knew the signs were not quite right.

But when I cry out, “Oh, my Lord, I have gone in the wrong direction,” He whispers, “Wait, I am coming.”

God knows and loves you. Listen for His whisper when you listen to the wrong voice.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



No 1 Relationship

My senior friend settled into the dementia ward well.

I stopped at her room door and asked if I could come in. She recognized me, called me by name, and with a slight smile said, “Yes.”

Our years of friendship didn’t require much talking. Her hearing is gone, and her memory is fading. I read promises of God from the Word to her and we prayed. Somehow, she always knows when to say, “Amen.” Then we just sit, and I stroke her arm as she snoozes.

My mind drifts to the times when we were so excited to share what the Lord was doing in our lives. We encouraged each other through trials. She counselled me when I needed it. Her favourite comment was, “Trust Jesus. He knows the way.” Now just being together is enough.

Jesus waits for us to visit with Him too. Sometimes just being together is enough. At other times, He has so much He wants to tell us. He knows our future. He wants to know how we are, how we are feeling, and what we are doing. He knows who we are and wants to recognize us, call us by name, and welcome us into His presence. Often, we are too busy or tired to spend time with Him. We may even doubt He values us.

In Luke’s story, Jesus confirms a woman’s right to be a disciple. He chats with Martha as she serves Him in her home. He speaks to Mary, Martha’s sister, who is sitting at His feet listening to His words.

Jesus teaches us all a lesson through this encounter. Serving Him is not as important as visiting with Him and listening to His words.

Allow God’s Spirit to woo you into His presence. Your relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship you will ever have.  

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



Welcomed

Few things are as nerve wracking as deciding if my presence is desired whenever I enter a new environment.

Whether it’s visiting a new Sunday school class or a neighbor, I want to please people with my presence. I’m not saying they have to throw me a party or bake a cake, but a warm smile—along with sincere and friendly greetings—goes a long way on the welcome wagon.

When I travel, one of the things that determines how much I enjoy that place and will want to visit again is how friendly the people are and how welcomed I feel.

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. I love the ESV’s translation of this verse because it uses welcome where other translations use receive or accept. Jesus didn’t just accept or receive me. He welcomed me. I picture Him throwing the door open wide and grabbing me up in a hug of pure joy, as if I were making a long overdue visit.

This verse instructs about our relationships with others. Jews should welcome Gentiles, and Gentiles the Jews. The strong should welcome the weak, and the weak the strong. The coffee lovers should welcome the tea drinkers, and the tea drinkers the coffee lovers. The contemporary worship music lovers should welcome the singers of old hymns, and the singers of old hymns the contemporary music lovers.

Sadly, some don’t feel welcomed at church. Not knowing whether we’re in place where we are wanted is nerve wracking. And a steeple on the roof or a cross on the wall doesn’t communicate welcome. Their presence may testify that everyone should be welcomed, but they lack the ability to generate the feeling of being welcomed.

The word welcome makes me feel wanted, not just tolerated. It tells me someone is delighted to see me and that my presence brings joy. And that someone is Christ. God doesn’t receive us begrudgingly into His kingdom; He welcomes us.

Let Jesus fling open wide the doors of your heart so you can welcome newcomers into your church, your neighborhood, your communities, and everywhere else.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)



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