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 Denise Loock POSTED 10/9/2019 12:00:01 AM ON Colossians 1:10 ESV
I once suffered from walk withdrawal.
Prior to my family and I moving from New Jersey to North Carolina, I was preoccupied with packing, transporting, and unpacking. Consequently, I neglected my daily morning walks.
And it showed. When I woke up in the morning, I was stiffer than usual; when I went to bed at night, it took me longer to fall asleep. My neck seemed stiffer, and my joints seemed tighter. The lack of exercise also affected my mood. I was more lethargic physically and less focused mentally. It was a lose-lose scenario.
A lack of spiritual exercise also adversely affects our lives. When we allow busyness or schedule changes to interfere with our spiritual exercise time, we experience a variety of setbacks. If we neglect prayer and Bible study, our wills stiffen, and we may resist the Spirit’s prompting. Our patience tightens, and we snap at family members, friends, and coworkers. We’re lethargic about God’s faithfulness and goodness to us. We’re less likely to detect temptation and more susceptible to error.
Fortunately, both problems have a simple solution: walking. I’ve experienced walk withdrawal before. I know as soon as I take my morning walk again, I’ll feel much better, both physically and mentally. Sporadic exercise, like climbing up and down stairs as I lug boxes and furniture around, is no substitute for longer outdoor walks, which increase my cardiovascular fitness, enabling my heart to pump blood and oxygen more efficiently.
The same is true in my spiritual life. As soon as I take that extended morning walk with God again, my spiritual health will improve. When I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me each day as I read my Bible, my will becomes more supple and my attitudes relax. My resistance to sin strengthens, and my desire to please God intensifies. Investing twenty to forty minutes a day in my spiritual cardiovascular fitness increases the patience, love, mercy, and grace the Holy Spirit can pump throughout my life.
God knows our spiritual health depends on a consistent daily walk with Him. That’s probably why the word walk is used over 200 times in the Bible. Like physical fitness, spiritual wellness requires dedication.
Take time each day to check your spiritual fitness level.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Darrell Waters POSTED 10/2/2019 12:00:01 AM ON Job 1:8 KJV
She had twisted intestines, which caused her and her parents much suffering.
The little girl’s parents had other children to raise, but had a strong faith in God. Their pastor helped them a lot. One Sunday morning, their pastor preached about life’s storms and said that storms could be a time when we need to see if everything is right between us and God.
After the service, a lady met the mother who had the sick child and told her she should check for sin in her life. The tone of her voice sounded cruel and judgmental. The statement sent the mother plunging, as if down a steep cliff, into a time of deep bitterness toward God. Fortunately, her husband stayed strong in his faith, but the mother stopped attending church.
God eventually healed the little girl, and her mother repented and went back to church. But the same hateful woman was there and criticized her in front of the whole congregation when the mother shared her and her daughter's testimony.
God bragged on Job to the Devil, but neither Job nor his three friends knew it. That's one reason the Devil attacked Job. After using wisdom and keeping their mouths shut for seven days, Job’s three so-called friends started talking and viciously accused Job of having sin in his life. They would've been better off to keep their mouths shut and let Job talk.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is keep our mouths closed when someone is going through an extreme tragedy. If we say anything at all, it should be, "I love you, and I'm praying for you”—as we put our arms around them.
Ask God for wisdom to know how to be a blessing to someone who's hurting today.
DEVOTION BY Martin Wiles POSTED 9/25/2019 12:00:01 AM ON 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV
She entered the gate, but never made it beyond the bingo tent.
My maternal grandmother rarely ventured far beyond her homestead in Vance, SC, but the Orangeburg County Fair was one place she never missed. My grandfather entered the gate, visited the livestock barn, and then meandered to the Pavilion where he sat, watched people, and waited on my grandmother—who was next door playing bingo.
What the chances were of having a winning card, I’m not sure, but my grandmother counted on the fact she might have it. For hours, she listened as the announcer called out numbers, hoping she could shout, “Bingo.” I’m sure she won a prize occasionally, but bingo wasn’t the only way she lived by luck. Superstitions and old wives’ tales peppered her life’s beliefs. Although she was a woman of faith, she made many a decision based on superstition—what she considered luck. How she reconciled the two in her mind, I never understood.
Fortunately, Mom didn’t adopt her style of living, so the things my grandmother believed became humorous to me and my family. Mom and Dad taught us to live by faith, not superstition or luck.
According to Paul, living by faith is the correct way. After meeting the risen Christ on the Damascus Road, he lived by faith. Prior to that time, he depended on ceremonies and laws to gain God’s approval—which never worked. Now, he relied on faith.
Luck has no part in the believer’s life. I may say, “I’m feeling lucky,” when I play a game, but deep inside I don’t believe in luck. Luck relates to chance, and the Bible doesn’t teach that things happen by chance.
God controls everyone’s life whether they acknowledge or believe it or not. I choose to believe it. Everything entering my life comes from God directly or is filtered through His permissive will. Whether or not I understand the events is immaterial.
God promises to bring good out of all things for those who follow Him. Through the periods of faith-stretching He sends—and through the trials He permits—good erupts. Luck, or chance, doesn’t enter the picture. Rather, He guides events by His loving hand.
Don’t try to live life by something that doesn’t exist. Live by faith in a loving God.
DEVOTION BY Kay Ellis POSTED 9/18/2019 12:00:01 AM ON Matthew 11:28 NIV
I lost my marbles when I met Jesus.
I’d been collecting marbles throughout my life, dragging them around in huge sacks. They were my greatest successes and disappointments—my biggest struggles, my most harrowing tales. I thought they had value, so I clung to them in hopes of cashing them in someday.
That day came. My health deteriorated. Friends betrayed me. I accrued a tremendous debt—a financial debt I owed to the bank and inner debt that left me feeling bankrupt. I tried making new friends, but they treated me worse than the old ones. I applied to a master’s program in England. I couldn’t afford the visa. I entered a writing competition, submitting the most inspiring story I’d ever written … my story of how I’d acquired my marbles. I didn’t even get an honorable mention.
“But look how valuable this is,” I said to people as I reached into one of my heavy sacks. “This marble represents the friends who’ve used me. And this.” A different marble. “This represents all the traveling I’ve done. It means I’m knowledgeable and cultured.”
I even showcased my most heart-wrenching tragedies—like the house fire I’d survived and the abusive relationships I’d been in. These marbles were near to my heart, but I began to realize they meant little to other people.
Disillusionment crushed me. I’d been lugging around these marbles, thinking … believing … the world wanted them, that people would give me something in return for them. Things like attention, affirmation, and acceptance. I would’ve settled for a little sympathy, but I got nothing.
Sin carved a path of destruction in my life, putting me in dangerous situations and leading to many hardships. I’d come to be proud of these experiences, calling myself “awesome” and “a survivor.”
But when I met Jesus, He revealed the true nature of this mentality. He wanted my marbles. When I gave my life to Him—my experiences, good and bad, the brokenness from my past, the pride I’d attached to that brokenness—He gave me eternal life.
God promises to carry our burdens. If we burden ourselves with marbles, thinking they give us value, we forget the only One who can redeem us.
Lose your marbles by giving them to Jesus.
DEVOTION BY Robert L. Segress POSTED 9/11/2019 12:00:01 AM ON Job 31:15 NKJV
“I’m pale. The bags under my eyes are purple. My lips are drawn tight in a straight, thin line.”
A young mother named Hillary Savole wrote these touching words shortly after the birth of her little daughter, Esme.
On May 18, 2019, the Wall Street Journal shared the story of Esme’s birth: “limp, blue, and struggling.” Then they made public a touching story about more than three billion DNA letters that “help determine our basic makeup, from our healthy risks to what we look like.” The paper’s comments were featured on page one, next to Esme’s picture and her story.
I was shocked and thought, Can we even begin to fathom the fact that Almighty God uses more than three billion letters of code to produce each baby? No wonder each baby is unique and special, each having the same need of food, water, and touch, and each having the same potentials, such as creativity and being a child of God.
Each child is a gift of God’s love, even if they have a slightly different code than the average baby. These special ones bring diversity to the world and an illustration of what could be. They are given to people with open hearts and souls whose prayers of concern, love, and trust make the world a better place. Unfortunately, many others take the miraculous for granted and devalue God’s choice in favor of women’s rights.
Without children, our world would be an overly quiet, serious, and boring place with self-centered adults robbing each park of beauty and joy.
Ask God to help you respect what He goes through to produce each baby.