Trust is hard. It’s easy to say there is trust but actually taking the step – making the leap into mid-air without a visible net is the most difficult thing man can do. But with the Spirit of God our leap lands us safe in His palm.
DEVOTION BY Melissa Labieniec POSTED 7/27/2021 6:00:01 AM ON 1 John 4:18 NIV
The fluffy bunny caught my eye.
At first, it just sat there, staring at me. It could have passed for a lawn ornament. Gazing intently at me as I strolled closer, nerves finally won over, and away it hopped. Fast. I mean, really fast. Poor thing. I never saw anything move so quickly. It was scared. First, frozen in fear. Next, fleeing in fear. I said aloud, “No little bunny! It’s all right. You have nothing to be afraid of.” As if it could understand me.
My promise to the bunny was of no use. The little ball of fur was out of there. It didn’t know I was just going to walk on by. I wasn’t the enemy, nor a predator.
What struck me most was that even though I knew I’d never hurt it, the bunny didn’t know the same. Given the chance, I would’ve loved it. I knew my intent and it was good. But to the bunny, I was dangerous, even though nothing was further from the truth.
During the rest of my walk, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I let fear, instead of God, control my life. How often did I sit paralyzed? How frequently did I run away? Had I ever reacted like the bunny, missing out on something good?
Bunnies don’t have the capacity for love the way humans do, so it had an excuse. I didn’t. If I love my Father in heaven, why would I be fearful? If I know He loves me, why don’t I trust His intent?
The truth is His perfect love casts out every single fear. God is in control of the situation. He knows we have nothing to be afraid of.
Perhaps, we often feel like the bunny. We sit frozen in fear. Or we want to flee in fear, instead. But sometimes we are scared of something that isn’t scary at all. The fear driving us to freeze or flee is not real. God’s intent for us is always good. He wants to love us.
Ask God to help you trust Him when your fears are unfounded.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Susan LeDoux POSTED 7/20/2021 6:00:01 AM ON 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
One summer, our son brought us two large bags of freshly-picked blueberries from his farm.
Blueberries are my favorite fruit, so I stored them in the freezer to enjoy them for months to come. Later, when I grabbed a bag to add some to my yogurt, I encountered a solid chunk of blue. Each berry had fused with its neighbor, and there was no separating them.
Determined to eat blueberries, I attacked the solid mass with a wooden spoon, but to no avail. That is, until I turned my weapon to the edges. Then I was able to break off enough precious berries for my yogurt.
God loves each of us as individuals, though we are many. He sent His Son to save us, then established His church to preserve us in His saving grace. Kind of how I used my freezer for the blueberries. Through the unity of our faith, we become a rock that is impervious to frontal attacks by that roaring lion, the Devil.
But those blueberries, weakly attached at the edges in a frozen chunk, broke off easily. Being spiritual or good without clinging to the strength of a faith community—or attending worship occasionally or only for social reasons—places us at the edge of the Christian faith and makes us easy pickings for Satan.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I sorely missed physical fellowship with my church family. Sometimes, after singing a rousing hymn, we would spontaneously break out in applause because our communal praise simply overwhelmed us.
I could have said watching church service from my living room was not the same, and that I had other things to do on Sunday. Yet situations and attitudes like that separate me from my church family just when I need their faith and grace the most.
I will not live on the edge of my faith. I will worship and communicate with, pray for, and help my fellow believers. And the Devil can go find his blueberries somewhere else.
What keeps you from fellowshipping with and helping other believers?
DEVOTION BY Ken Barnes POSTED 7/13/2021 6:00:01 AM ON Job 42:5-6 NLT
I once had a big disappointment.
I lost a job I thought was rightfully mine. As I walked through this experience, I saw that God was the same, in good times and bad ones, when I won and when I lost. I viewed God in a different light. Seeing God this way did not make me better than anyone else, but it did make me better than I had been.
For some strange reason, it appears we can only understand God's character by some form of pain. Although we can know God intellectually without God's dealings in our lives, if we want to know Him personally, we must bear a cross. Even Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered.
Knowing about God is not the same thing as knowing God. It was not until Job had experienced painful circumstances that he saw God through his own eyes.
Throughout Christian history, people have embraced a suffering theology and tried to inflict it on themselves. It never works. Wanting to suffer is a bit sick. Humility is never accomplished by what we do but by what God does. If we try to bring humility about by human effort, we will become proud of our humility.
Our part entails obedience, which keeps us in a place where God can work. Human nature causes us to run from adversity, which will result in our fleeing from God. But we can't know God by running in the opposite direction.
When we see God for who He is and see ourselves for who we are, humility results. And this is always demonstrated by repentance. Suffering enabled Job to know God in his heart, not just in his mind.
Ask God to open your eyes so you can see yourself. Then, don't be surprised by how He answers your prayer.
DEVOTION BY Andy Hollifield POSTED 7/6/2021 6:00:01 AM ON James 2:17 KJV
A small note of Scripture taped to the check-out desk caught my attention.
I mentioned to the scheduler that the verse—“He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God”—was one of my favorites.
The scheduler said a co-worker had given it to her during a rough trial in her life. Although some time had passed, she remembered the person and their actions fondly by leaving it taped to the desk. She could've read the Scripture herself, but doing so wouldn't have meant as much. Someone had seen her struggling, prayed for her, and did some little thing that wasn't expected. She still received a blessing from the note.
Two stories in the Bible exemplify this kind of encouragement. One, when Moses' father-in-law suggested he appoint judges to handle the more trivial matters of the Israelites. He didn't have to offer advice, but he was concerned for his son-in-law.
Another, when a Shunammite woman and her husband built Elisha a small room in their home—a selfless act they didn't have to do and that no one expected. They helped the prophet of God and gave him a place to rest and pray.
Often, our little effort means everything to someone else. We never know what others are facing and how our small gesture will comfort them. Our acts demonstrate that God hasn't forgotten where they are or what they're going through. We might just walk away with a great blessing, praising the Lord in our hearts.
Talk is cheap, but your actions will speak louder than words and last a whole lot longer.
DEVOTION BY Robert L. Segress POSTED 6/29/2021 6:00:01 AM ON 2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV
One afternoon long ago, I biked with a high school friend.
He turned to me and said, “Bob, you should join my church because you can do anything you want.” When I asked him what in the world he was talking about, he replied, “You can do anything you want and then just go to church and confess to the priest, and he will forgive you, and then you can go back to those things.”
I had just begun to learn what the Bible said, but his conclusion did not sound right. Later, I heard a professor state that the older he became, the more he understood that repentance, or firmly turning away from sinful thoughts and behaviors, was the foundation of the Christian life.
As young adults often do, I thought I knew everything and thought the reason the professor felt that way was because he was old, and his days of charging into new things were behind him. I felt confession was all a believer needed.
I wish I had listened to him. As I have aged and come to understand that relationships are far more important than accomplishments, I have learned that confession without a repentant spirit is often just a temporary mental ascent.
Repentance is foundational to the Christian life. An example is observing the Lord’s Supper. Without a repentant heart, a person takes the Lord’s Supper unworthily and eats and drinks judgment upon themselves. Interestingly, unworthily partaking of the Lord’s Supper is the reason why many Corinthians were sick and died. Serious results.
Before we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we should examine ourselves to determine if we are truly repentant about the sinful behavior being confessed and willing to turn away from it. If not, we should not partake less we bring judgment on ourselves.
Examine yourself to make sure you have a repentant spirit.