Spirit and Soul is all about eternity. Life ever after with a God who has prepared a place in advance for us. Dig into the Word. Search out your heart. Contemplate where you will spend eternity. . .then choose to offer your life to God.
DEVOTION BY Crystal Dininger POSTED 12/7/2023 6:00:01 AM ON Matthew 14:28–30 NIV
From where I sat, things looked pretty daunting.
Massive skyscrapers that seemed to go on forever surrounded me and loomed over me like the problems and obstacles I faced. I felt small and insignificant and wondered how things would ever work out. Aside from glass, metal, and steel, I saw only a small patch of blue sky.
A beautiful spring day adorned downtown Atlanta. I was seated at an outdoor café across from the hotel where I attended a conference. The more I looked around, the bigger the buildings seemed. Despite the lovely day, I wrapped myself in the burdens I felt—until the Lord gently reminded me I focused on the wrong thing.
I felt as if God told me to focus on the sky. As I gazed on that small patch of blue, He reminded me the sky was much larger than those skyscrapers and, indeed, covered the entire earth. Just because I could only see a small portion didn’t change its size.
Getting caught up in our circumstances and the things around us is easy. After all, that’s the daily grind and life in general. But when we shift our focus to the Lord, He reminds us He is still in control and much bigger than anything we face.
Peter discovered this. He walked on water, just like the Lord, until he took his eyes off Jesus and noticed the storm around him. Only then did he begin to sink. Only in Christ can we face the storms and be held up.
Where is your focus? How can you learn to shift your focus to Christ during challenging times?
(photo courtesy of pixabay.com.)
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DEVOTION BY Diana Derringer POSTED 11/30/2023 6:00:01 AM ON 1 Kings 19:3 NIV
How quickly we can plunge from mountaintop highs to the depths of despair. We return from a retreat, revival, or mission trip overflowing with enthusiasm. Then we’re slapped in the face with the day-to-day reality of people who fail to understand or try to undermine our service to God. We might even ask ourselves, “What are you doing here?”
Elijah was no different. That brave man of God single-handedly faced down 450 prophets of Baal but soon cowered in a cave, ready to die.
When Elijah ran from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, he focused on his feelings rather than God’s facts. He feared what people could do to him rather than remembering the power of the one true God. When he listened to God’s gentle whisper, he once again recognized what God had done, what God was doing, and what God could do through him. His experience serves as a reminder for modern-day believers as well.
Elijah earlier confronted Ahab and Jezebel and their prophets with God’s boldness. He not only prayed for fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice but made such an event seemingly impossible by soaking the entire offering, wood, and ground around it with water. God can also miraculously transform our lives when we offer all we have, saturated with our limitations and the world’s skepticism. God makes the impossible possible.
While Elijah wallowed in depression, God fed him physically, spiritually, and emotionally. How often do we fail to care for ourselves adequately? We lack the physical nourishment, spiritual sustenance, and emotional feedback to face our daily battles. But God stands ready to walk us through our valleys—to take us from discouragement and defeat to reassurance that we are never alone. The battle is already won. God offers daily strength for whatever lies ahead.
Twice, God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” God was prepared to give new direction to Elijah and those who would follow in his footsteps, but Elijah had to listen. When he did, God told him he was not alone, to get out of that cave, and to get back to work. When we feel out of sorts, God allows for adequate recovery. Yet we, too, must eventually get up and move again.
How can you forget your human frailties and focus on God’s facts?
DEVOTION BY Cindy Sproles POSTED 11/23/2023 6:00:01 AM ON Colossians 1:3 NIV
I’m banking on thankfulness—even though thankfulness was the furthest thing from my mind as I sat in an Urgent Care, bleeding profusely. Especially when the nurse asked me not to get blood on the floor.
Anger shot through me as blood dripped from almost every orifice on my face. A vessel in my nose had ruptured, and it bled like a water hose. Worse yet, no one at the Urgent Care seemed concerned about the severity of my issue. Instead, they dawdled while a puddle of blood formed at my feet. So, when the receptionist asked if I could move to the waiting room—with blood gushing—thankfulness was nowhere in my vocabulary. It was more a, “Oh, for Pete’s sake.”
The apostle Paul begins his book to the Colossians with a word of thanks. He wanted them to know how much their faithfulness and love meant to him and that he always thanked God for them. Even when Paul suffered hardship, he remained thankful. To his credit, it sometimes seemed as though his joyfulness was superhuman.
I’d failed to remember to be thankful—even in the face of difficulty.
We often lose sight of being grateful. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when things are not rolling the way we’d hoped. Even when we may be justified in our frustration, it doesn’t change the fact that we need to be thankful in every situation.
Difficulty doesn’t diminish thankfulness. I’m the first to admit that when hardship attacks, it’s difficult. But even in the face of imminent death, Christ was thankful. I might not have received the care I needed in an appropriate time frame, but there was a room full of others in need. Healthcare workers were doing the best they could. Where was my gratitude for their efforts? It’s easy to justify my frustration, but really, is it justifiable?
The holidays always bring an added gift of kindness. Take hold of it as if it were the hand of God reaching down, and remember to be truly thankful even in the face of hardship. Grateful. Joyful. After all, Christ was.
In all things, give thanks.
(photo courtesy of pixabay and geralt.)
DEVOTION BY Philip Siebbeles POSTED 11/16/2023 6:00:01 AM ON Luke 9:28, 32 NIV
“I want to show you something,” I told my wife.
One of the perks of having a computer is the pictures. Every morning when I press my screen button, a delightful scene awaits my viewing pleasure: A line of mischievous sea otters afloat on their backs. A night shot of downtown New Orleans at Mardi Gras. The great wall of China. An Italian village lit up at night, or a solitary bird. Sometimes I am compelled to call my wife to come and see. One day I saw a closeup of a mother polar bear snoozing on the snow with her tiny cub nestled beside her. I called my wife for her to see.
As Peter, James, and John followed Jesus up the mountain, they probably wondered what the trip was about. Jesus didn’t tell them. Even if He had, they wouldn’t have understood. But the underlying expectation was that He wanted to show them something. And He did. He wanted to show them a side of Himself they hadn’t seen before, an essential side they could not possibly have known apart from divine revelation.
Luke says they saw Jesus’ glory in His physical appearance. They had already seen it many times through His miracles, which always involved changes outside Himself. Now, for the first time, they saw His glory as a change within His physical being. But not just for show.
The disciples needed this glorious vision to bring perspective to a largely negative picture. A week earlier, Jesus had warned them of His approaching death, a violent death that would disfigure His appearance horribly. But the cross was not the end.
The Holy Spirit often beckons us and says, “I want to show you something?” Show us what? Not another curious piece of Bible trivia but rather a more intimate knowledge of God’s incredible love for us. An awareness that jolts us out of our spiritual rut and moves us to act out His love to others.
When the Spirit says He wants to show us something, we often must go out of our way. How can you be more willing to alter your plans to obey God?
DEVOTION BY Grace Assante POSTED 11/9/2023 6:00:01 AM ON Psalm 119:103 ESV
When I explore a county fair, street festival, or farmers’ market, I always end up in front of the funnel cake food truck. “Yes, sprinkle mine with cinnamon and powdered sugar, please.” I love sweets.
Recently, another woman and I began exploring a discipleship program called Sonship. This is my third time through the lectures and workbook assignments in the last seven years, and I’m excited to be taught by the Lord again—this time with a new friend.
For the first lesson, we sat across from each other at my kitchen table with our Bibles open and our workbooks alongside. As we dove into the material, my friend had a question. She picked up her Bible, held it out to me, and pointed to a passage. I was astounded at the page.
Underlined sentences and circled verses. Arrows swirling up, and arrows swirling down. Handwritten scribbles covering the margins. Yellow, pink, and blue highlighting. Obviously, she had studied the words many times, and she was asking me a question. I quickly felt inadequate but prayed for the Lord’s help.
As a woman twice her age, I felt convicted … then comforted … for the Lord is quick to forgive when we confess our sins. And what were my sins? Not savoring the beauty of God’s Word and not being thankful that I’m free to read His Word without persecution.
God’s Word is sweeter than any food I put into my mouth, even the exhilarating sweetness of honey. From Genesis to Revelation, we can read God’s plans and purposes for us, His unique creation. We are not the product of random chance in a disinterested, disorderly, and chaotic universe—as secular evolution teaches. We are God’s beloved people.
I’ll paraphrase John MacArthur’s introduction to his Study Bible (NASB, 2020). The Bible is the Christian’s story written by God to you. In reading it, you’ll learn why He made you, what you were before you came to Christ, and who you are in Christ—and adding to the sweetness, what God promises for you in eternity.
Pick up God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to help you find the sweet words therein.
What are some ways you can sweeten your Bible study?