Devotional Thoughts: God and Nature

God’s glory and handiwork is all around us. Problem is I find I miss it many times because of my busyness. I’m running to and fro concerned with the tasks at hand. Moments of just stopping can be so Holy. Without these I cannot hear God or appreciate the very beauty God has bestowed over all creation.

God’s glory is declared all around us. Some mistake this as nature itself but nature is just another reflection of God. God uses what He created to draw us to himself. We are drawn to nature because of the One who created it. God is much more beautiful than anything God created.

The sky especially sparks moments of wonder in our minds and souls. When gazing at the stars we have a sixth sense that there’s something more, something greater. We feel small but connected viewing the stars and sky. None of this is by accident. God planned it this way.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a sunset. I know I’m missing out and need to place space for more holy pauses in my life. These moments with God fuel me, encourage me and bring me peace.

In this day and age we spend such great volumes of our time in front of screens. Might we be missing God’s glory that’s just a few steps away, right outside our door. Step outside and experience God’s handiwork. There’s nothing more amazing!

Devotional Thoughts: Fighting, Revenge and Silence

Israelite slaves have just followed Moses out of Egypt. Liberation, hope, excitement and disbelief! Fear set in… Moses, have you brought us here to die? It’s better for us to live as slaves than to die here in the desert! Nobody could have ever predicted what happened next! Moses had been with God. He had his instructions. He was an incredible leader. The people complain and Moses raises his staff and walls of water swell up! God’s people cross over the Red Sea and the enemy is swallowed into the sea.

This verse I featured in the pic on this post comes from the ESV. Instead of be silent other versions say, be still, and hold your peace. I don’t know about you but I think being silent is pretty much something that has left the building in our society. We all have an opinion on everything and feel like it’s our God-given right to express it all over the place. Yes, these Israelite slaves were doing just that, expressing fear and discontentment with Moses and where he led them. Their experience of breaking free from slavery wasn’t enough of a miracle for them to trust Moses and believe he is God’s chosen leader for them? I don’t care who we are or what circumstance we find ourselves in there’s always the opportunity to complain and bring others down or to just hush, be silent, be still and trust God. When momma said, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all,” she may or may not have known this concept comes straight out of the Bible!

This verse doesn’t just address this but also says the Lord will fight for you. How many of us really believe God fights for us? Most of us are probably pretty oblivious to how God advocates and fights for us. Our job isn’t to fight! It’s God’s job! Our job is to be quiet, trust and obey even when we are sitting in the middle of the desert and we feel like complaining, crying and questioning. We cannot even see what’s on the other side. God knows tomorrow, and the next day and the next. If I’m a follower, a disciple, a child of God who who walks in God’s ways I need not fight. I need to be quiet, be still, be silent and let God handle His job. God doesn’t even need my protection. God wants me to do His work here in the world, not share my personal opinion and critique everything. The one who is caught up in this lives in their own bondage. Let’s do our best to be quiet, trust, be calm and keep walking. God’s got this. Let revenge be of the Lord. Nobody can level the playing field like God can!

Devotional Thoughts: Seeking God

I’ve learned in my life that the greatest blessings come when I seek God first, when I seek to eliminate sinful things one by one. I’m so much better at this than I was as a young person seeking out my place in the world. Choosing these Kingdom things brings with it a wealth of gifts we cannot even foresee before we made the choice. We cannot see what’s behind that door or down that road until we make the selection. Choosing to seek God and to walk in God’s ways has brought a peace into my life. I have an assurance. These are holy things that are God given.

I just returned from a vacation on a ship with my husband. Amazing how they were trying to convince us what we needed as we sailed along: 600 dollar photos, spa treatments, free money now for making a deposit on a future vacation, and the list goes on and on… all these things are fleeting and will be gone pretty quickly. It’s when I seek God first that the greatest of riches come. No, I’m not speaking of a prosperity gospel here, I’m talking about those priceless things that even the richest man cannot buy.

This verse is a promise given to those who dare to seek. Seeking can come with an element of fear for sure, but the greatest disappointment will be for the one who never searched for God, The one who lived their own selfish way without regard for God. So as we cruised along I knew I’m not lacking. I don’t need all those temporary things they’re trying to sell me.

Our best time was time with friends before we even stepped foot on the ship. Friends made in seminary bring sweet fellowship, one of those heavenly gifts to the one who seeks God. The other sweet gift was taking one of our young men who is in the Marines to dinner and connecting him so he can grow more in his faith. These things make a heart sing in ways no material possession can!!

Seek first the Kingdom of God. Doing this adds inexplicable joy into one’s life! Let’s examine our priorities today and press on brothers and sisters!

Devotional Thoughts: Asking & Abiding

Asking, prayer, abiding… only those who abide in Christ know how to ask. Of course, anyone can ask but those who abide share God’s desires. They are called to live the life God has laid out for them. This kind of praying is deep. It’s connected to the Kingdom. It’s not even from this world. Those who abide know this place. They have experienced the deep pain that only God knows and sees. Those who abide also know God is alive and well and listens. God guides and directs those who abide. Those who choose not to abide do not understand. Here’s the verse that precedes this verse:

6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. ESV

Those who abide are like a flourishing greenery. Those who do not abide are withering away, dry. They seek what those who abide have without even knowing it. God loves each one. Life is a supernatural gift given by God. We cannot waste this gift. It’s short, our time here.

Abide, draw near to God. Listen to the soft, holy voice waiting to speak into your soul. This feeds the soul like nothing else can. This gives peace. This gives purpose and this gives a life that flourishes by God’s standards.

So, when I ask I first need to abide. Then my asking is aligned with God and is granted. When I’m able to see this in this life it’s amazing and confirms I belong elsewhere. Our asking truly reflects our faith. God is faithful.

Devotional Thoughts: Ask for The Gift: The Spirit

God desires to give us the gift of His Holy Spirit. This verse instructs us to ask for the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is our Guide our Comfort, our Strength. Yes God will grant this indescribable Gift to us! We need only to ask and follow. Those who do not follow don’t even have it in their heart to ask. they need to know and it’s up to us to tell them.

Verses 9-12 that precede this verse say,”9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”

We do not have because we do not ask. Those shallow in faith ask for success, personal advancement, material things and selfish wants. What could happen if we all just prayed for the gift of the Spirit this week? Ask! Knock! Our Heavenly Father has a great Gift! It’s the gift of Himself! There’s no greater Gift. Without the Spirit I am nothing.

Even the most horrible people can be good to their child. God is lightyears greater than any gift I can give my child. So then we can conclude the greatest thing we can pass on to our children is God Himself who will walk with them long after we’re gone.

The Spirit is just as much God as God is God. Three in One. I don’t know about you, but I will ask, seek and knock so I can be all God wants me to be. God loves us in an unfathomable fashion. No, none of us deserves this. We are unworthy but God is so good to us anyway.

Devotional Thoughts: Fathers & God

Happy Father’s Day! I know there are many compassionate fathers in the world. For them we are all grateful. They reflect for us the love God has for us. They help us know love so we can in turn love others.

For many others Father’s Day is a painful reminder their father abandoned them, abused them or simply has passed away and the void of their presence is deeply felt. It can be bittersweet.

No matter what our circumstance is, please know God is tender towards his children. God desires to bless us. If we lack blessing it’s because we choose to live our lives apart from God’s ways. Yes we all reside in this sinful world but we have the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide us, sustain us, empower us and walk with us if we choose. A compassionate father does not force himself upon us and neither does God.

We subconsciously see God as like our earthly fathers. This needs great evaluation as no human can measure up to God. It’s so easy to be misguided. Read the Bible and let God speak for Himself today.

Devotional Thoughts: Children & Parents

Ephesians 6 is about submitting to authority. It begins telling us to honor our parents. Other translations use the word obey instead of honor. To obey is to honor our authority figures. After this verse it says those who do this live long upon the earth. Yes, those who submit to authority live longer. They get into less trouble. If children can submit to authority at home they can also do this at school and later on in the workplace and in society as a whole.

This verse doesn’t address what to do if our parents lead us to do illegal things. It doesn’t address situations of abuse. It’s assumed here that the child has good parents. This is a letter to the church who should be made up of believers, followers of Christ. Those who follow Jesus should be good to their children and lead them in the ways of God. No parent is perfect. Our job is to submit to Christ. In doing this we model for our children this command given to them.

There’s a domino effect I see in families. Disobedient parents probably had disobedient parents. What we experienced as a child has an incredible influence over us. This is so powerful that some say we even view God through the lens of our fathers. This is dangerous! If my father was stern I think God is stern. It’s best to consciously recognize this, set it aside and try to see our fathers through the lens of God. This is a whole new outlook on life. It can set us free from the shortcomings of our parents. Or, we can just move along in life and repeat the sins of our parents. We do this without even knowing it’s happening, or we can evaluate with God’s help how we parent. This is hard.

No matter who our parents are we are told to honor and obey, but if a parent is pushing a child towards sin, of course God stands with the child to disobey the parent.

I’m wondering if the commandment here is referring to the Ten Commandments? If so, the first commandment is, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” This is from Mark 12 but quoting Deuteronomy 6. This commandment covers everything. If we can obey this one all else falls into the proper perspective.

Devotional Thoughts: Fatherless and Widows

God fills in the deep gap for the orphan and the widow, the segment of society who has no advocate. I’ve had teens tell me God is their Father because there’s no presence of a father in their lives. Scripture is full of commands for us to speak up for the weak and to be an advocate for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Orphans and widows certainly fit this category.

Widows today in the U.S.A. aren’t in the same situation they were in when these words were written. Women were so oppressed they were close to nothing without the help of a man. Sadly, this is still true today in many other countries. Gender equality is at the heart of the widow not being able to care for herself. Women are paid less than men to do the same job for example, even right here in the United States. In another countries there’s many jobs women wouldn’t even be considered for.

Still today there are numerous orphans in need of care all over the world. While this verse says fatherless and doesn’t use the word orphan, orphans are certainly included. Fatherless also embraces those growing up with single mothers. This is so common in our culture. The single mother might have the most difficult place in our culture today. She works hard, gets paid less than a man would and goes home to care for her children all alone. She is tired. She is weary. She is afraid of missing work because of a sick child. Who is her advocate?

If we are following the narrow way that leads to eternal life we should be advocates as well. Here’s a verse that speaks even more deeply on this topic:

James 1:27

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Every single one of us should have a widow and an orphan we advocate for, at least one of each! I don’t even want to hear any more selfish excuses of how that would break your heart to get involved and that your own self comfort reigns supreme in your life! I’m tired of listening to weak reasons and excuses.

Stand up Church! Step up to the plate Body of Christ! You are lacking in your faith if you’re not caring for the orphan, fatherless and the widow! I don’t know how, you say? Here’s a few ideas: become a guardian ad litem, foster, adopt, get involved in your local group home, support a single mom and her children, help widows fix things in their homes, spend time with them and there’s so many more ways! Call me!! I will connect you! Do not neglect the weak. It’s the weak in faith who do this. The strong set aside excuses and fear and engage in the lives of the struggling. What will you choose today?

Devotional Thoughts: Love and Sin

www.bible.com/111/1pe.4.8.niv

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

What a beautiful thing. Our love for one another can cover our sins that divide us . I believe this verse is referring to the relationships we have with one another. The verse that comes before this one, verse seven, says, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” Verse nine then says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

I’ve learned that I cannot genuinely love some people without God’s help. Some people have hurt me, offended me and it doesn’t come naturally to love them. I cannot do this without God. Only God can change my heart. Yes, sometimes we need to pray and ask God to help us love someone. Love is doing what’s best for that person, not what’s best for me. Love apologizes. Love sacrifices and eventually love heals.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that verse seven, the verse that preceded this one tells us to be self-controlled. Self control will keep us from sin. It also commands us to be sober-minded. There’s a lot of terrible things that can happen when I’m not sober. I can neglect my children and something bad can happen to them. I can hurt myself and someone else when I’m not sober-minded. Clear mindedness is the best place to be where I’m well-aware of my words and my actions towards others. The sober-minded sin less.

I think the point of this verse today is that we have all hurt someone and we’ve all been hurt as well. Love heals what our sins have done to one another. If I choose to love I choose to do the hard thing that sometimes feels very unnatural. Our minds tell us to place ourselves above others but this isn’t the way of our Lord. We are to love, even when it’s hard. Verse nine tells us we are not to even grumble about loving or showing hospitality to others.

Love, the kind that comes from God can stay the course, finish the race and even bring others into the Kingdom. What sins are we aware of today in our relationships with our fellow believers? Choose to love them today. If we don’t know what to do we need to give that to God and ask for guidance, commit to obey and keep walking.

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