Devotional Thoughts: Warriors We Are!

Moses speaks to Israel towards the end of his life. His words ring true for us today. Warriors of the Kingdom, we are to be strong and courageous! What we do is not for ourselves but for God almighty! The Israelites are to be led by Joshua into the promised land. Old Testament culture dictated that the nation with the strongest God will win the battle.

I’ve been engrossed in the show Vikings on the History channel. This show displays ancient cultures at war with one another. Whether the gods are pleased or not is a topic of everyday conversation. If Odin is with them they know they will win the battle.

Missionary friends tell me conversations of gods are normal and regular in the countries they live in. This isn’t the case for us in the USA. One who mentions God is a fanatic, a weirdo and can be thought of as ignorant and uneducated. Universalism is leading us to say we, the humans are god.

One of the Viking leaders, Ragnar, is perplexed by a Christian monk he kidnapped and enslaved. This monk, Athelstan, becomes the ruler’s best friend. Ragnar is forever changed by his relationship with Athelstan.

This reminds me I’m a warrior too! Like the Vikings who conquered just for the sake of conquering I can conquer whatever is coming my way in life. My God is with me and will reign forevermore! My God is not like the Viking gods who turn their faces away and abandon their people. My God has made promises and will always keep them.

How can we be strong and courageous today? Thankfully I’m not standing on a literal battlefield today, but I am. I can fight this fight to live as God desires me to live or I can disengage, slump back and retreat. Nobody wants to be the wimp. Strength to fight can only come from God Himself. Let’s get marching!

Devotional Thoughts: Don’t be a Fool

What wisdom and help for everyone under the sun! We all can name scenarios where we have seen this verse played out and we can also name a long list of damage that can be done when someone else fails to try to understand, to ask questions and to just talk for the sake of expressing an opinion.

My husband and I enjoy watching the madness of the TV show 90 Day Fiancé. The show features real people who have engaged in online international dating and are now seeking to marry an international person. I enjoy the cultural contexts of the show and the unique relationship circumstances. At times there’s quite a bit of bickering and a lot of it has cultural differences at its core. Cultural context is vital to these couples understanding one another. A spin off from this show is The Family Chantal. A Dominican man marries an American woman and their families have great drama and do not get along. I believe this started when the American family refused to get out of the vehicle at the Dominican grandmother’s home when they arrived to share a meal prepared by her. They looked at the feral dogs and dirt floor and didn’t even get out of the van! This is a GREAT offense in most cultures! This hasn’t really been mentioned in the show as a root of their problem but it’s certainly a contributing factor.

Last night they used a coconut to pass to the person speaking. This eliminates the opportunity to interrupt and gives greater space to listen. They heard each other. They responded well. Maybe they can get along. We’ll see!

Nobody wakes up in the morning saying they wish to be a fool today! Yet many choose to do ignore the wisdom in this verse on a regular basis. I too am guilty of not listening well. This is timeless advice from God’s word that we can all add to the long list of areas we’d like to improve in.

Let’s stop and hear those around us today. That’s working towards being a peacemaker instead of stirring up dissension. How we speak to others is important.

Devotional Thoughts: Glimpses of Eternity

What we can see will pass away. Those of us who follow Jesus do not belong here and we long for the day we reside in the eternal. Amazing that we can see glimpses of the eternal here and now to help spur us on in our faith. These glimpses are the work of God in us here and now. We live by the standards of another Kingdom that will conquer all evil, sin and death. Evil eventually destroys itself anyhow.

What we can see and touch here will fade away and is already fading right before our eyes. Funny how so many decide to trust only what they can see when all these things are temporary. Our soul can be temporary or eternal; we decide to live for God or not. We sense eternity in the here and now when we connect to God and the fruit of our obedience moves others towards eternity. We rejoice in seeing God in others. In those moments eternity is our immediate reality! May our vast army march on and on until eternity is revealed to all in the here and now.

To the one who does not know God this is nonsense! We are crazy! May God open their eyes to see! May we love them right into eternity. May they catch a glimpse and understand what seems like nonsense.

Devotional Thoughts: Humility Invites Exaltation

Humility is considered weakness in this time period. I’ve admired many humble people over the years for their quiet service to God. Those who walk in humility do not seek to elevate themselves, yet somehow God elevates them! God Is God and we are not! Those who understand this and live by this are already walking in humility. Humility requires us to deeply understand God loves all people and all are equal. Society may say one is better than another but the playing field will be leveled! It is God who exalts, not mankind.

I’m reminiscing about a song we’d sing when I was young, “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (3x), and He will lift you up, higher and higher, and He will life you up.” So simple yet so profound! Practical ways of walking in humility: share what you have, give away, follow authority even when you don’t feel like it, love your neighbor as yourself, stop striving for first place and just serve God and this list can go on and on… I’d enjoy anyone’s thoughts on how they choose humility in their life in comments here. Feel free to comment.

Devotional Thoughts: It’s all God’s Anyway!

King David utters these words towards the end of his life in response to his offerings and the offerings of his people given for the purpose of building the Temple. Unfathomable amounts were given together by David and his people. Their actions bring forth praise. David declares all that’s here on earth belongs to God anyway. For my friend who enjoys numbers, one talent of gold is worth about $25,000 today, a talent of silver, $1,700. Total up some figures and you see earlier in this chapter that the people gave a grand total of $4,436,000,000! Amazing what can be accomplished when God’s people come together!

The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 sounds similar to David’s words of praise here. May no man be glorified because of this effort! David places all glory onto God. All belongs to God anyhow he says. Lesson to be learned here? When we obey, give and sacrifice, others follow. The things of God are contagious! All wanted a part in this effort! This Temple was to be a reflection of God’s glory in and through His people. Today our giving doesn’t go towards where the Spirit of God resides. At the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the veil was torn and the Spirit of God unleashed to live inside us. Now we are the Temple! So in turn our giving looks different. Our giving is for people, not things. While ministry requires certain things, may our giving have a greater focus! May it further God’s Kingdom and glorify God as David and his people did. All to You and for You, oh Lord!

Devotional Thoughts: Green Pastures

I’m not entirely certain how this became such a popular verse to share at funerals. Is it because in our grief we need to declare God is our shepherd, caretaker and guide? Or is it because when we feel anxiety over death we need to be led beside still waters?

I’ve found I do not need to venture far to find still waters and green pastures. My shepherd is always awaiting the next moment I’ll stop, lie down, relax and listen. This restores our soul like nothing else can. This grants us a laser focus that cannot be thwarted. Come what may! I have a divine Shepherd who cares for me! His love has set me free!

Yes, I can wander far away from the boundaries the Shepherd has laid out for me. This is where the enemy awaits to devour me. I must remember a part of my Shepherd’s plan is rest, peace and stillness. Without these I start to think I am self-sufficient. This is a great danger. Nothing of the Kingdom can be accomplished without the Shepherd! All else is meaningless.

Devotional Thoughts: A Great Cloud

One of my favorite verses! I love knowing I’m surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses cheering me on to do right in faith. There’s controversy, however, about who these witnesses are. Some say they are angels. Others say they are the citizens of Heaven who lived before us, some of those our deceased loved ones. While I prefer the second choice I’ll never know until I pass on from this world. Both options are greatly encouraging in my walk with God.

Life is a race. Some of us are carrying around things that weigh us down. When we choose to live weighed down we can barely take a step. When we choose to throw off that weight, confess sin and commit to live differently we can run like the wind! Our cloud of witnesses gets excited and cheers! What’s happening in with the crowd that’s watching us? Are we disappointing them? Are they proud? Are they wanting us to get up and get moving? Whatever the case, today is a new day, a fresh opportunity to live differently. Throw off the weight of sin! Let’s run together my friends!

Devotional Thoughts: Stars

Daniel, a prophetic voice speaks truth that rings out through generation to generation! Those who turn many to righteousness… who are these? The wise? Who is wise among us? My thoughts turn to Billy Graham who God used to bring so many to faith in God. Each one’s life a burning flame, a star! The wise who turn others to God and God’s ways are electrifying people! I think of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther and other famous Christians who lived out this prophecy. The baton is now handed to us. Our time is now. Will we commit to be wise by living in righteousness and turning others to do the same! Will we burn like stars? Please Lord! May it be so!

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” ESV

May we awaken those who are asleep towards everlasting life! We are the wise when we turn someone towards righteousness. What is righteousness? Merrimack-Webster says, “acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin.” Our human sinful nature prevents us from following divine law. We cannot even live this way without giving ourselves over to God. May we let go of the things that way us down so our load is lighter and our flame is brighter. This is how we become stars. We won’t be a Hollywood Star but much greater! Stars that pierce darkness and shine throughout eternity. We are only a star because we reflect the Holy One, this isn’t even our doing. It is the work of God in us if we allow it.

It’s an awesome experience to lie down and stargaze. How do we look to God? Some stars are alone where there’s not many other stars. Other parts of the globe have multiple stars. It’s important we meet together and encourage one another as we all live in darkness. Wherever you are burn bright today!

Devotional Thoughts: Sadness & Joy

We all know people who are easy to be around and bring us joy. This doesn’t mean these people don’t have struggles. They do. I believe their recipe for success is they take their concerns to God first instead of burdening other human beings with them. Yes, we were made to live in community together and to support one another. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever share our struggles. We just should approach God first. What good is it to seek out from another human what only God can give?

Another thought on this verse is I know what it feels like to visit the crushed spirits. I feel I’ve been crushed too. Emotions are heavy especially when we love people and enter into their pain and suffering. This is hard but it’s ministry.

I’m reminded of Robin Williams who made us all laugh while he was alive. He lived with a crushed spirit and took his own life. I remember the shock I felt that the man who yelled out, “Good Mornin Vietnam!” over the radio in a movie that bears that title. The whole movie was about how we have the power to lift someone’s spirit and boost morale or crush people. There’s many we can name who make us laugh but are depressed inside and hide it well because they are so funny. So those who seem to have joy can be the saddest among us.

Joy is so different than happiness. Happiness comes and goes but joy is a gift from God that remains in the heart no matter the circumstance. We know even on the saddest days that we will be ok when we have given our lives over to God. God frees us from the never ending chase after happiness. Joy and contentment only come from God. What a fool I am when I trade negativity for joy.

Let’s allow God to give us joy despite our crushed spirits because this is contagious! It’s like medicine. Who doesn’t love a giant belly deep laugh with friends and family? Who doesn’t love noticing the sweet small things that we’d otherwise miss like a butterfly? Can we commit to being joyful hearts? I think we like to fake it till we make it but I wonder if Robin Williams might tell us that won’t work?

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