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 Loree Johns POSTED 10/15/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Psalm 34:7-8 ESV
Sneaking here, sneaking there, driving cars fast, and throwing caution to the wind—my high school years were not pretty.
I slipped past the traffic laws a few times. Policemen recognized my unusual surname and asked if I was related to the local mayor. Chatting amicably, they bequeathed me a smiling admonishment and asked me to tell my father “Hello.” I thought not. Years later, I confessed my deception—when my madcap past lay buried and I was certain he would chuckle instead of lecture.
I think of the secrets we hide so well. We pretend to skate along just fine when we barely hold it all together. We shroud our shaky faith in a pious stance, or fake a thousand-watt smile to cover our anxiety, our financial crisis, or our failing marriage. We hide the cracks from our friends, our children, and often our spouses. We ignore the “thin ice” signs.
Instead, for self-protection, we plow deep into a snowbank of pretense—because previous hurts run deep or because we fear what others will think of the truth. Or maybe we ingest the hissing lie: “Everyone else seems to handle life just fine. What’s wrong with you?”
But at other times, we freeze into a statue of rooted stubbornness declaring, “I don’t need God. I can handle this myself, thank you very much.” So we suffer in silence while God watches with sadness, yearning to deliver us from our woes.
When life steals our peace and sanity, we should admit we need help. Our Lord waits patiently with the refuge we need. No more secrets. No more faking fine. Just a learning to taste, see, and trust in a good God who cares.
Don’t try to fake fine when you’re not.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Annie Yorty POSTED 10/8/2020 6:00:01 AM ON James 1:12 NIV
“I can’t do it, Mom!”
The insistent wailing of my daughter twanged my last nerve that cold mid-winter afternoon. Everything within me screamed along with her to just give up. That was years ago when Alyssa was seven years old. Born with special needs, she has always struggled with fine motor skills despite years of occupational therapy. But I was determined to teach her to tie her own shoes.
Several months earlier, I had analyzed the dreaded task and broken it down into its smaller parts: pull up the tongue, yank the laces, cross the laces, bring one lace under the other, tighten the laces, make the “bunny ear,” run the other lace around, and, finally, the coup de grâce, push the bunny through the hole and pull it out on the other side to tighten the tied laces. Then I came up with various exercises to strengthen her hands, arms, and shoulder muscles for the task ahead.
Since September, we had spent thirty minutes every day doing exercises and working on individual components of tying laces. Those thirty-minute stretches weren’t pretty, but we had progressed to the final step by January. Then we hit the roadblock. Pushing the lace through the hole and pulling it out the other side. Impossible.
James wrote about perseverance for moments like this. He said if we keep striving toward the goal, God gives a reward–a crown of life–to those who love Him. He does not, however, promise the striving will be easy.
Taking steps forward is often its own reward and motivation. But when we’re stuck, the rubber meets the road. It’s when, clinging to the certainty that with God we can keep going, we push forward toward the goal despite hardship and pain.
A couple of months later, God gave us victory over the shoelaces—but not without tears and frustration.
Commit to persevere through whatever trial you’re experiencing. The crown of life awaits you.
DEVOTION BY John Zimmer POSTED 10/1/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Acts 2:42 NIV
"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."
This saying is one of those wisdom-teaching mottos that teaches common sense as well as helps us discern counterfeits in life. It is also a good tool for self-evaluation. In matters of faith, how we look, how we walk, and how we sound are important.
Our worship is the most telling evaluation of who we are—not only during our Sunday morning hour of praise and liturgy, but also for the worship we do throughout the week. The Spirit gives us an all-the-time worship that helps us grow and keeps us on mission.
This everyday and everyway worship falls into four categories, each having its own unique features. The most commonly practiced worship is lone worship—our devotional times with God that may include Bible reading, praying, meditating, singing, and listening.
Second, there is serendipitous worship—an unplanned, un-orchestrated praise or lament that springs from the soul in response to an event or thought. A miracle, crisis, or inspirational word from a friend or mentor might reverberate within our soul, generating a few words of response or a holy gasp. An unexpected glimpse into God's extraordinary ways interrupts our routine, and we worship.
Third, there is lifestyle worship—characterized by our daily God-oriented actions. Lifestyle worship assumes, anticipates, and acknowledges God in all the areas of life. This worship is reflected in a pilgrimage that is spiritually purposeful and carries out investments in the eternal rather than the temporal.
Finally, there is corporate or congregational worship, which includes connection with fellow congregants. Elements of gathered worship include encouragement and ministry and should be intentional parts of the liturgy. Our faith family is a part of our mission, not an obstacle or distraction to our worship. Our embrace of God should include the faith family. Our responsibility in corporate worship is not to silo ourselves into holy cells, but to reach out and hold one another up. Our love for each other compels us to be inclusive in our worship.
If you're a duck, join the flock and start acting the part. Quack a little louder this Sunday.
DEVOTION BY Norma Mezoe POSTED 9/24/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Hebrews 13:5b NIV
I sat by my husband’s side and watched the nurses disconnect the ventilator.
The doctor had asked if I wanted to continue with the ventilator or disconnect it. He explained how the ventilator was the only thing keeping my husband alive. Gene had signed a living will, saying he did not want artificial means to keep him alive. I wished to honor his request.
Within ten minutes of removing the ventilator, a nurse checked for Gene’s pulse and respiration. He was gone. Shortly afterwards, a hospital employee came into the room and gave her condolences. I explained that as a Christian, God had always met my needs, and I knew He would continue to do so.
A noticeable silence enveloped the room as the woman stood before me. Then, with tears in her eyes and sorrow in her voice, she said. “I am a Christian also and a single mother of three young children. I am going through some hard times, and I’ve been struggling.”
I assured her God was with her and could be trusted to bring her through whatever she faced at the present time or in the future. I also shared that the Lord doesn’t always take away our trials and heartaches, but that He promises to walk with us through the deepest and darkest valleys. Such periods teach us to let God guide us, as well as help us trust His faithfulness more fully.
The young mother thanked me for sharing and for giving her the encouragement to believe God would provide for her needs if she allowed Him to do so.
If you are a Christian going through a trial and anxiety threatens to overwhelm you, God has promised you are never alone. Perhaps you have never asked Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and to come into your life as your Lord and Savior. What better time than the present to make that decision?
DEVOTION BY Roy Proctor POSTED 9/17/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV
A boy’s personal room acts as his secret place.
A time comes in every boy’s life when he profits by having his own room. In his personal privacy, he sorts out the things of life. He may have an airplane hanging from the ceiling, a large picture of his favorite sports star, or athletic equipment of his choosing.
If he is fortunate to have a wise father, he may ask him for wisdom concerning some issues of life. Maybe he failed at school or at a sport he tried, and his father can help him deal with it.
His secret place is granted by his parents, yet he determines who enters—maybe a close friend, but surely not his siblings. Even his parents knock on his door, asking for permission to enter. Such a place is a valuable tool for his personal development.
Yet a better secret place exists—a perfect one, the dwelling place of the Most High God. This place never closes. He whose eyes roam throughout the earth, searching for those whose hearts are inclined to Him, invites us into His personal presence. And any person can enter that secret place because of need or simply just to be in God’s presence.
Human nature tempts us to resist God’s overtures toward us. Our fleshly nature places desires within us to figure life out by human means. Some feel as if God is angry with them. But God wants us to overcome our reluctance and enter a relationship with Him. He wants to know us on an intimate basis because He longs to see us develop successful and joyful lives. We do this by taking time to learn about Him, studying His Word with an open heart, accepting His truths, and letting His love flood our hearts.
Determine to dwell with the Lord consistently. Then you can say, “God is my refuge and fortress. In Him will I trust.”