Focusing our minds on Christ. . .studying His word, drawing tight into a relationship that is unbreakable. This is when His Spirit lives in our minds helping us keep our eyes focused only on Him.
DEVOTION BY Sally O'Connor POSTED 2/24/2021 6:00:01 AM ON Isaiah 40:8 NIV
Long ago, when I was a brand-new believer, I remember walking by the L. A. "River" and experiencing a revelation—one of those moments when God opens our eyes on a deeper level.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I was familiar with the river, but on this afternoon, I saw it with new eyes. I saw how we had made a concrete wash of the river. I thought about the weight and quantity of concrete that covered the soil and life underneath so the water could run smoothly in all seasons. I thought about how it might have looked after they initially laid the concrete: solid, flat, and desolate, but practical.
Many years later, I could see plant life—lush and large in places, poking its way through the layers of concrete. I found it amazing that a grass blade or a weed seemed more powerful than the tons of a manmade substance designed to suffocate and smooth the life beneath it.
If God’s fallen creation has more power than the work of our hands, how much more does His Word and His kingdom.
We have nothing to fear if we know and love the One who spoke the stars into being. He can bring about His kingdom and His will, even through the most imperfect vessels. Remember those who govern our countries are just men and women—as mortal and broken as any other human beings on the planet. And the ways of people may pass, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
Regardless of your circumstances, don’t fear.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Nydia DiCarali POSTED 2/17/2021 6:00:01 AM ON Genesis 42:36 NLT
When things go sideways, it seems they occur in quick succession.
Several years ago, my dishwasher broke, resulting in water causing extensive damage to our wood floors. Shortly after, our septic tank overflowed, and then a furniture delivery led to a paint job.
Unexpected costs and unforeseen circumstances can deplete us, causing us to feel like everything is against us. I realize these are minor inconveniences compared to life-altering events others may face. I’ve been there too.
The patriarch Jacob experienced his fair share of loss and grief. Some know what it is to lose a child, a spouse, or a lucrative career. Like Jacob, we may wonder why everything is devolving. Does God see? Does He care?
God’s dealings with us may seem harsh, but we must trust His heart. He has a purpose and design in allowing pain. We worry because we can’t see the cross-stitch He weaves from the fabric of our lives. Although we can’t see the pattern, our loving Father masterfully creates something beautiful from the ashes of our lives.
God has a mysterious way of narrowing our circumstances until He has us where He needs us—perfectly still, whether by pain or loss, so that He can work. Little did Jacob know God would use his circumstances to rescue an entire nation. In the end, God redeemed all Jacob had endured. Every ounce of his suffering brought about a greater good for God’s people.
The trials of life are meant to teach us God’s ways. He does not waste pain. Instead, He uses it to make us firm, steadfast, and faithful.
Perhaps you’re wondering why God has allowed adversity in your life. Having walked through trials, I can confidently say, you can trust His heart. He is working all things together for your good. Rest in that truth.
DEVOTION BY Ken Barnes POSTED 2/10/2021 6:00:01 AM ON 1 Chronicles 28:3 NIV
I have had some ups and downs in my service for the Lord.
I once served as a ministry leader and had great hopes and dreams. Not long after I started, I was abruptly taken out of my leadership role. Some years later, I was asked to serve on the board of directors for this ministry. I had to ask myself if I or God owned my dreams. To this day, I serve on this board and get great pleasure in seeing some of the plans I had accomplished through another leader.
David was excited about building the Temple for the Lord, yet he could not build it. The test for David was whether his dream was God’s or his. David seemed to have the same anticipation for seeing his son, Solomon, build the Temple.
Who gets to accomplish the work isn’t important. The point is whether God’s plans are being fulfilled. President Reagan had a plaque on his office wall that read, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” The same applies in Christian service.
Many do not see their dreams fulfilled because they are unwilling to give them up, not because they are not faithful enough. When we give them up, we allow others with a little different skillset to come in and take responsibility—people, who because of their calling and gifting, can take the work to a higher level. Paul reminds us that it’s not important who plants or waters. What’s important is that God brings the increase.
A strange dichotomy exists in the Kingdom of God. If we give something up, we keep it. When we lose it, we find it. If God has the ultimate ownership of our plans and dreams, He has the right and responsibility to decide who and how they are accomplished. It is not about us but Him.
Are your dreams God’s? If so, then they are bigger than you, and He is the only one who can fulfill them.
DEVOTION BY John Zimmer POSTED 2/3/2021 6:00:01 AM ON 1 Samuel 7:12 NIV
Part of my morning routine entails placing three items in my left pants pocket.
The two coins and a small rubber chicken head are keepsake mementos of three relationships. Just as my wedding ring serves as a reminder of a special promise, these three hidden parts of my daily garb remind me of two special friends and fourteen years of work with the American Red Cross (that's the chicken head, but don't ask.).
People collect or place memorials. We commemorate. Whether a birthday, anniversary, or day of personal loss, we pay tribute in some fashion. This helps keep the priorities of our life in perspective. When I feel that jingle in my pocket, I remember friendships that can't be described in words, and I revisit great stories of my career with the Red Cross. Small things can summon big memories.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us." This Scripture tells the story of a great victory for Israel over their enemy, the Philistines. Israel's preparation was not military training, but rather a return to the pure worship of God. They discarded their idols and gathered for prayer and fasting. God heard their prayers and defeated the Philistines without the people of Israel lifting a finger. It was a miraculous intervention by God, and Samuel marked the spot with a rock he called Ebenezer, which means, “rock of help.”
Thousands of years later as a young pastor, Robert Robinson penned the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which references this passage. Allow me to paraphrase: “It is here we remember that it is by God’s help we have gathered.”
Just as those keepsakes in my pocket help me remember special people and times, the cross commemorates a holy relationship with God and fellow believers. Our worship should always include remembrance. The cross is the memorial that reminds us what was given for our salvation. It is our rock of help—the place we revisit and remember.
Remember that the life-giving sacrifice God has provided is not only for you but also for those with whom you worship. Then, raise your Ebenezer together.
DEVOTION BY Andy Hollifield POSTED 1/27/2021 6:00:01 AM ON John 9:5 KJV
“Captain! I'm not sure I can do this! What if I mess up? What about the sandbars and rocks in this channel? What if I get off course in the dark? How will I know before it's too late?”
Those were the frantic words of First Mate Alexander as he steered the ship through Ripside Channel for the first time.
“I once stood exactly where you are. You'll do fine. Besides, I'll be standing right here and won't let you mess up,” the captain replied. “Let me tell you how Ripside Channel got its name,” he continued. “Years ago, so many ships couldn't navigate the channel, so the community folks decided something should be done to help protect their sailors. They decided to place a light on top of a high pole in three places. One right on the beach and the other two spaced further back inland. The trick was to line up all three poles and lights until it looked like only one light. Once they did that, ships could sail safely through the channel.”
One hour later, a deep sense of relief swept over First Mate Alexander as the tugboat lights came into view. He'd successfully navigated Ripside Channel at night. This was one night he'd always remember.
As Christians, we'd do well to follow the captain's advice. We should line up our lives so we only see one light: the Savior, shining like a beacon in our darkness.
Although life's sea has many dangers and disappointments, our Captain has already charted the course and walked in our shoes. If we focus on Him—no matter the severity of the storm—we’re promised safe passage onto that heavenly shore.
Make sure you follow the right light.