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 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.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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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.
DEVOTION BY Lana Newton POSTED 9/4/2019 12:00:01 AM ON Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV
Placing the chilly dish in the hot oven, I envisioned the moment I would pull it out again.
Bubbling edges would surround the tempting, crispy top, and creamy, cheesy, steaming potatoes would fill the center. I’d originally mixed up enough for two casseroles, baking the first one Christmas morning and sticking this one in the freezer for another day. Even though I moved this second one from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before, I couldn’t tell how thawed the center was before baking it.
After starting out with the oven at the same temperature, I decided I might need to watch this casserole more closely. Several minutes later, I smelled the crumbly top, starting to brown. I knew the center couldn’t be hot, so I turned the temperature down and kept baking it. The process was more delicate today than on Christmas morning. I spent more time checking and adjusting until I achieved the desired results.
Some people are like the casserole’s center. God has already softened their hearts and made them ready to receive the gospel while others remain cold to our witnessing attempts. To the latter, too much trying on our part seems to make them crustier toward God’s Word. Reaching them may require turning the heat down and being patient as we continue to love them and pray for God’s softening of their hearts.
Only when God makes a heart ready can we see a heart that was once cold as stone become on fire for the Lord, bubbling over with the love of the Savior, ready to go tempt someone else with the Good News they now harbor in their divinely warmed heart of flesh.
When our heart has been warmed by the Father, it’s time to look for signs of thawing in those around us. Often, it’s through us God chooses to touch those hearts, applying just the right amount of heat at just the right time.
Look for someone whose heart you need to touch.
DEVOTION BY Radice Banks POSTED 8/28/2019 12:00:01 AM ON Proverbs 24:16 NIV
My collegiate basketball coach, Coach Temple, had a favorite drill during pre-season conditioning: “the ladders.”
I still dread the thought of them. Ladders are a form of interval training that are divided into two segments of timed, full-court sprints and rest. The sprints increase in frequency and intensity while the rest periods decrease over an extended period. During those rest periods, Coach Temple would remind the team that the ladders built grit. If wanted to win, we needed more grit.
Angela Duckworth, in her powerful book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, states that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence.” Grit. We won’t find the word in Strong’s Concordance, but there are several examples of it throughout Scripture.
God did not fill the Bible with stories of people who accomplished supernatural feats but with those who stubbornly rebounded from disappointment, discouragement, and defeat. They doggedly held on to the promises of God despite their circumstances and plight and were filled with an unwavering expectation that God would use them despite their deficiencies. They had grit.
Caleb demonstrated grit when his military recognizance team declared that the odds of conquering the Promised Land were too great: “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we are well able (Numbers 13:30).
Ruth demonstrated grit when facing poverty and possible death. She told her mother-in-law Naomi, “Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Sometimes, our lives resemble the “ladders.” We face an ever-increasing intensity of trials and problems with only small respites. God could be building grit in us, not because He is a tyrannical coach gleefully enjoying our pain and exertion, but because He is a loving Father who wants us to win.
Don’t shy away when God tries to build grit in you.
DEVOTION BY Cindy Sproles POSTED 8/21/2019 12:00:01 AM ON John 16:21 NIV
It’s my birthday. I celebrate it four times a year. All right, you’re wondering how I celebrate my birthday on a quarterly basis.
It’s simple. My actual day of birth is number 1. When August 21 rolls around, I call my mother and sing happy birthday to her. After all, she birthed me. That’s number 2. Then on Chase and Cameron’s birthday, I lay claim to a third and a fourth birth day.
You may laugh, but it was me who gave birth to those boys. Me who huffed and puffed my way through labor without pain medication or an epidural. It was me who pushed until I thought my head would blow off. So yeah, their birthdays are actually my BIRTH days. I figure I did the work; I earned the celebration.
I tease about my birth experience, but the truth is I only remember the joy of my boys’ entrance into the world. I know there was pain, but I can’t remember how it felt.
Early on in Scripture, God declared to Eve that He would make her pains in childbearing severe. I don’t know a woman alive who would say God didn’t keep that promise. The physical side of carrying a child and then giving birth is nothing short of … well … painful.
But here’s what is so special about our God. In His deep love for us and through His immense forgiveness, He shows us mercy by allowing us to forget the anguish, yet relish in the joy. What a loving Father.
God is a wonderful parent. We still feel the consequence of Eve’s sin … of our own sin … yet we can’t remember how bad it felt. Just that it hurt. Whether it be in childbirth or simply in our daily life, God works in and through us to discipline us. By that same token, in His deep love, He forgets. Only a great Father could have devised such a miraculous love.
Yep … today is my birthday. The real one. The day God told my mother, “It’s time.” And the day He breathed life into me outside of my mother’s womb. I’m grateful. Grateful for my pain of childbirth so I could see the joy in my sons.
When pain rips open your heart, remember the incredible gift God has given—to remember the pain, but forget the anguish.