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 Martin Wiles POSTED 2/20/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Matthew 22:3 NLT
“Uncle Martin, would you marry me?”
I knew I was my niece’s second choice, but her first choice was unavailable. My Dad—and her Papa Buddy—had died eleven years prior.
“Of course, I will.”
I didn’t mind being second choice in this case. I was glad she thought enough of her old uncle to ask him. But when my wife and I received the invitation and learned where she and her fiancé planned to marry, our eyes lit up.
That they didn’t plan to marry in a church didn’t surprise me. Not that they had anything against church. The marriage trend just happened to be toward barns and other outdoor settings. Theirs would be held in a ritzy retirement town in the mountains of North Carolina.
And the event would not merely be a one-day affair. The rehearsal would consume one half of a day, the wedding an entire day, and brunch one half of the next day before the new couple took off on their honeymoon. I’ve attended a number of weddings but never such a fancy affair as this. I only hoped I could measure up to the expectations of the gala affair.
Sure enough, the days of the grand event arrived, I passed muster, and everyone had a grand ole time.
As fancy as my niece’s invitation was, God’s outshines it. Jesus compares it to a man who held a great wedding feast, but when his servants scattered about to tell the guests the feast was ready, the guests all made excuses for not coming. So, he sent his servants to get anyone who wanted to come.
God calls the wedding banquet He wants us to attend salvation—choosing to follow Jesus as our Savior. We don’t have to attend, just as I didn’t have to marry my niece and her fiancé. I could have concocted some excuse, but I would have missed out on a majestic occasion—but one that wouldn’t even begin to compare to heaven.
Accepting God’s invitation puts us in good graces with God and prepares us for a life and an eternity such as we could never imagine. An affair extravaganza. An abundant life. Life as it should be. Life as He created us to live. All God requires is that we accept His invitation.
Don’t discard God’s invitation. The feast is one you won’t want to miss.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Grant Roth POSTED 2/13/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Matthew 5:38 NIV
My older brother ran down the stairs, tears streaming from his eyes.
A few seconds later, I descended the stairs, trying to catch him on my three-year-old legs. When my brother and I arrived in the living room, our mom was startled and concerned. She asked my brother what was wrong and why he was crying. My brother mustered an answer through his tears, "Grant hit me for no reason."
Before my mom had a chance to respond, I exclaimed with agitation, "That’s not true! He’s lying! I didn't hit him for no reason. I kicked him for no reason."
When I reflect on that story, I chuckle. But I also feel terrible about the way I treated my brother. He didn't deserve the treatment I gave him.
Jesus highlighted His followers’ tendency to twist God’s Word to justify seeking revenge. Many of Jesus’ followers thought if they were mistreated they should mistreat in return. But Jesus commissioned them to respond in a counter-cultural way … to go above and beyond the expectation. Jesus says if someone steals our shirt or coat, we shouldn’t retaliate. Instead, we should offer them another article of clothing just to break the expectation.
Sometimes we're treated in ways we don't deserve. A friend abandons us, a coworker gossips about us, a family member manipulates us, or a boss undervalues us. Our tendency is to retaliate and to get even with those who mistreat us. Jesus wants us to respond differently … to love without holding anything back.
When you’re treated in ways you don't deserve, respond with love, not revenge.
DEVOTION BY Penny McGinnis POSTED 2/6/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Psalm 38:14-15 NIV
I have a confession: I like to fix things.
If something’s broken, I’ll tinker with it until I mend it or realize I can’t. But I don’t just want to repair broken objects. I want to take control of my life and fix what I see as flaws. And I am not good at waiting, as someone once pointed out to me. I’m afraid I’m the girl who prays, “God, can you help me, and, by the way, can You do it now?”
God doesn’t work that way, as the psalmist relates. God's timing is seldom the same as what I perceive as the best.
When I attempt to take control, anxiety, selfishness, lack of trust, and a number of other sins creep in and scream at me. They say, You know best. Why wait on God? Just do it. Wrong! God knows my heart, sees my circumstances, and wants the best for me. So why do I doubt and try to hurry through life? Because I choose not to trust the One who made me. Sad but true.
The One who set my life in motion knows the plan for my life. I need to slow down, pray, listen and, yes, wait. God will reveal my future, step by step. That's one of the many things I appreciate about Him. He loves me enough to make plans for me.
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you seek to follow Jesus. Listen for God's voice.
DEVOTION BY Linda Shoaf POSTED 1/30/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Revelation 3:19 CEB
In less than three years, I went from perfect vision in both eyes to legal blindness.
The thoughts of permanently losing all vision, which seemed inevitable, frightened me. In time, I regained acceptable vision in one eye. But for decades following, I experienced roller-coaster feelings from hope to despair. The uncertainty and frustration devastated and sometimes paralyzed me.
Eyesight isn’t the only vision we can lose. Those feelings of despair also plagued me when church leaders unexpectedly announced discontinuing the outreach programs. Why would they do that? The answer was simple but sad. As a body of believers, we had failed to share the good news of Jesus Christ to those around us. Our vision had become blurred. No longer did we feel a sense of challenge or concern for friends and neighbors.
Jesus described the church at Laodicea, a thriving city of great wealth, as neither hot nor cold. They thought they had everything they needed, but God declared them poor and blind. He urged them to turn from their indifference.
Like those believers, our church body had become self-satisfied, concentrating only on its own needs. The fields were ripe for harvest while we remained blinded and lukewarm toward serving, ministering, and witnessing to those outside our congregation. Because of our inaction, many within our community never heard or learned about eternal life.
Decisions and behaviors identify us as Christians. Unfortunately, in my decades of life, I have met unbelievers who looked and acted more like Jesus’ followers than my fellow believers—or, at times, even me. Just as I had lost my physical sight, we can lose spiritual vision—the ability to see God’s divine purpose for us to go into all the world and share His love and plan of salvation.
Losing one’s eyesight is a terrible thing, but how much worse for Christians to lose spiritual sight.
If you are living a lukewarm life, ask God to empower you as a faithful witness and as a server for the physical and spiritual needs of others.
DEVOTION BY Tonya Cotto POSTED 1/23/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Hebrew 4:12 NRSV
In the Midwest, springtime can be brutal.
One day, hats, coats, and boots are needed. The next, shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops. The wacky weather patterns last for several weeks and can be frustrating.
Meteorologists are in charge of helping us navigate this torturous path. Seven days a week, they spend hours using their knowledge and technology to determine the forecast. Each day, they broadcast their findings. And those who watch or listen leave their homes fully prepared to face what the day may bring.
But in the United States, only around thirty percent of the population watches, reads, or listens to the weather. That leaves a large number who leave their homes ill-prepared for the day’s weather events.
Unfortunately, just as many Christians daily leave their homes without the knowledge and wisdom they need to get through the day. According to a 2009 Barna study, only one-third of adults read their Bible one or more times a week. Just like their non-weather-watching peers, they live unprepared for the challenges they may face.
Without seeking guidance from God’s Word daily, we are left uncovered—like being in a rainstorm with no umbrella. No Scripture to meditate on to walk us through the harshest storms. No words to convey our thankfulness when life is more than we can express.
The Bible is more than a book of words and stories. God gave it as a guide to help us navigate the terrains of life. The Scriptures provide insights which prepare us for any season of life. Why not take some time every day to read your Bible? Doing so will equip you for what lies ahead.
Make a plan to incorporate daily Bible reading into your schedule.