Monday, September 19, 2016

Devotion: A Purpose for Suffering #4

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I used to say, "Don't ask God to give you patience because you will get a lot of trials instead!" But you know what? Patience can't be developed in any other way but through those things that cause us frustration and grief. If everything in our lives went along just like we planned it and nothing ever went wrong in our lives we would have no opportunity to learn patience.

In the verses above, when it says "...that ye may be perfect..." in the Greek it actually carries the meaning of being mature. So when our faith is tried, it is exercising our patience. We are to be joyful because God is giving us the chance to develop patience in our lives. If we don't fight against it, not only will patience be developed but we will grow into maturity.

I don't know what your particular trials are, whether it be pain, a wayward child, death or illness or financial difficulties, Scripture isn't saying for you to be happy go lucky in the face of difficulty, but it is saying that you can count it joy knowing that you have the opportunity to develop patience and maturity in godly character.

There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting and depends on the circumstances, but joy is deep and abiding in the soul even in the face of difficulty because we know God is working all things together for our spiritual good and the spiritual good of others around us. Do you have this joy?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Devotional: A Purpose for Suffering #3

2 Corinthians 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

Just prior to this verse above, the Apostle Paul said, "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: "

Have you ever been to the point of despairing even of life? Have you ever felt like you could not endure any more? Have you been to the place where you realize you have no control over how long you will live? This is where the Apostle Paul had been. This is why he said that he and his comrades had the sentence of death in themselves.

I think what is really neat though is that he didn't leave it there. He goes on to tell us what the result should be when we feel this way. When we feel like we can't take any more, we should let that feeling drive us to God. When we come to the end of ourselves, this is where we learn that we can not trust in ourselves. We can not pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. We have to trust in God, and what a God He is! He raises the dead. If we are trusting in ourselves then we will be miserable people indeed. We must trust in God for our salvation. We must trust in God for our strength in weakness. We must trust in God for our joy in spite of our circumstances. He is faithful, trust Him alone.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Devotion: A Purpose for Suffering #2

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I used to pencil in a small "T.P." by verses in the Bible that I had tried and proven. This is one of those "T.P." verses. God has used and is using trials in my life to bring about the results listed at the end of the verse. I don't claim to have perfected these things by any means and perhaps that is why God continues to take me through the refining fire.

The word perfect means mature. Looking back at my life, I can see where the trials I've been through have had the effect of helping me to mature spiritually. I have a long ways to go, but I do see where this is one of the purposes of suffering.

"Stablish you" means to set fast or firm. Trials have made me dig into the Word of God and send my roots down deep to take firm hold of the Rock. What a blessing this has been in my life!

"Strengthen you" means to make you strong. I can say that my trials have made me stronger in my faith and trust in God.

"Settle you" means getting you to the place where you come to rest in Him. This one has been a little more difficult, but with each trial that comes my way, I am finding that it is getting easier to let go of my worries and simply trust and rest in His plan and purpose for the trial.

The pain of trials is not fun, but when we bow in humble submission to our loving Heavenly Father, He will bring us forth from the furnace as gold in His hands. Do you see yourself making progress through your trials in these areas? Don't give up! God will finish what He has started in you.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Getting Through the Day On Not Enough Sleep

Oh my goodness!  I am so tired I can hardly see straight!  When I don't get enough sleep I feel actually sick at times.  

So how is a body supposed to accomplish the daily tasks when she is so tired and feels more like collapsing?

Well there are a few things one might do.

1. Remove some tasks off the to-do list, so you don't feel quite so pressured to accomplish things when you don't feel good.  Another day is coming when you will feel like doing a lot.

2. Drink extra Green or Black Tea in the morning and take a good dose of B Vitamins, especially B-12 liquid if you have it available.  Don't drink the tea after lunch if you are sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine affects me for up to 12 hours after I drink it and it might sabotage your sleep too.

3. Plan on taking an afternoon power nap of maybe 30 minutes or less.  You don't want to sleep too long or it will mess up your sleep at night.

4. Change up your menu plan if needed to make something easy and quick to conserve what little energy you have.

5. Use the 15 minute timer method.  If you have tasks you want to do on this day, set your timer for 15 minutes and work on the task, then rest for 5 or 15.  

Hope these few tips help you get through the day when your night of sleep was not the best.  Hang in there!  A new day is coming and maybe better sleep.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Mother's Worry and a Lifeline

Okay, I will admit it.  I worry about my kids.  Yes, my kids are adults, but I still worry about their safety.  They are going camping tomorrow afternoon in a remote place where there is no cell service and I worry about their safety.  So many possible scenarios have played through my head and kept me awake at night thinking about this camping trip.

They have camped before, but always with other friends who are well versed in camping safety.  This is their first time with just the two of them together.  So, naturally, I worry.

So, I've done almost everything within my power to ensure they have the means to be safe.  Now, I need to sit back and trust God to take care of them if He so wills.  Ultimately, it is all in His control and keeping.  But don't you ever worry sometimes that maybe His will might be different then your will?  I know I do.  Which brings me to this:

So what if His will is different than my will?  What if?  God has a perfect plan and sometimes His perfect plan doesn't fit with what I want and herein lies the difficulty.  This is where I realize that I don't have control over our lives.  God does.  This is where I have to come to the realization that I am lacking trust in Him and what He deems best in my life and the lives of my children.  This is where I have to get on my knees and just hand them over to Him and know that He will do what He sees best for them and if He sees fit to give them the best time of their lives together and bring them home safely, then I am bellyaching for no good reason.  And if He sees fit for some unforeseen problems to come up, well, He has that under His control too and will use it to teach us all some valuable life lessons.  So it's all good either way.  I just need to re-frame my perspective.

Casting all your worry on Him for He cares for you.  It's not just a cute saying to put on a plaque on the wall.  It's a life line when my mind wants to play out all the worst scenarios. Now I need to hang on to that life line!  

Devotion: A Purpose for Suffering #1

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ¶ Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

As a child, I got called names like, Buckie Beaver and Bugs Bunny. You can probably guess why. Kids are cruel and will point out the faults of others. Mine was buck teeth. In my diary when I was about 13 years old, I wrote a prayer asking God to make it possible so I could get braces on my teeth. I even wrote that if it required surgery to fix my overbite I would be willing to go through it. Being the object of ridicule is a painful place to be as a teenager who wants to fit in with others.

God answered that prayer five years later. The orthodontists and oral surgeon determined the only way to really fix the overbite was major surgery to remove 7 mm of bone from the upper jaw, and break and move the lower jaw forward. They accomplished the first but not the latter because I swelled too much during the first part for them to adequately see what they were doing for the second part. I was happy with the results of the first part and wasn't interested in more surgery, hospital time and having my mouth wired shut for another ten weeks, so I opted out of having the lower jaw done.

I never dreamed that five years after that I would be working as a dental x-ray tech for the surgeon and orthodontists that did my mouth as well as seven other dentists. Patients who were scheduled for the same type of surgery I had would come in for x-rays and God used me to empathize and encourage them by my own experience.

Now, many years later, I deal with other health issues. But God has helped me to be able to comfort others who also suffer because I am in that place and understand what they deal with. I am able to comfort them with the same comfort God has given me. 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 tells us that He comforts us in our trouble so that we can in turn comfort others with the same comfort He has given us.

We may wonder why we must suffer. It is just part of the fallen human experience, but one of God's purposes in allowing His people to suffer is so that we can be comforters of others in their pain. When we do this, it will prevent us from falling into depression because we will be looking outward toward others instead of inward toward ourselves. God has designed it so it benefits both ourselves and those who we comfort. All praise be to our all-wise God.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Devotional:Strengthened in the Inner Man

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,...
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,”
Ephesians 3:14, 16 NASB

How often have you found yourself discouraged because of circumstances beyond your control?  There are many things that can cause us to lose hope. The nightly news, physical illness, relationships, death of loved ones, church problems, marriage problems, and so much more can cause much angst.  

But wait!  We don't have to allow these things to get us down.  God can and will strengthen our inner man by His power according to the riches of His gory.  We have riches untold waiting for us in heaven. We also have the Holy Spirit now to strengthen us as we keep our eyes on the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Are things getting you down?  Get into God's word and be encouraged and strengthened.  Ephesians is the perfect book to read for this. It's a treasure trove of encouragement.  Begin by thanking God for His provisions and your outlook will begin to change.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Devotional: Showing Our Dependence on God

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,”
Ephesians 3:14-15 NASB

I like this.  The entire church of God, all believers whether in heaven or on earth are dependent on God.  We depend on God our Father.  The Jewish religion claimed Abraham as their father.  Islam claims Allah.  The Buddist claims Buddah and on it goes.

But the God of the Bible is the only true God Who hears our prayers and can sustain us. He is the One Who names us as His children when He saves us.

Only He is worthy of bowing our knees before.

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Monday, August 08, 2016

Devotional: Current News and Hope

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,”
Ephesians 1:18 NASB

So the verse above is part of Paul's prayer for his readers.  What a wonderful prayer to pray for our family and friends!  

The news is so hopeless these days!  I've gotten so disgusted with the news lately that I have  unfollowed everything on my newsfeed that has to do with politics and I deleted a news app I had on my iPod because it's always bad news, every single day.  Even the Christian podcasts and live news wires are full of bad news!  

But then I see this prayer of Paul's.  What does he pray for us? 

1. That the eyes of our heart may be enlightened
2. That we would know the HOPE of His calling
3. That we would know what are the RICHES of the glory of His INHERITANCE 

This is a breath of fresh air in the smoke of all the bad news that comes across our news sources!  We need HOPE these days.  Our only true hope is in Jesus Christ.  We have a wonderful inheritance waiting for us in heaven.  Sometimes I get so caught up in all the politics and bad news, I forget that I have hope in Jesus Christ.  I get too focused on the bad stuff and before long it's all I can think about.

I need the eyes of my heart enlightened to know the hope I have and the inheritance waiting for me.  This is what I need to spend more of my time on.  How about you?


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Monday, July 25, 2016

Devotional: Re-framing Our Perspective on Chronic Illness

Galatians 4:13
 ...but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time;

Do you know someone who has a chronic illness and feels discouraged, thinking maybe God doesn't have a place of usefulness for them anymore?  Or maybe you are that person?  I know it's easy to feel like our usefulness for God's kingdom is limited or non-existent when we are dealing with chronic health issues.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians is writing because they have slipped back into the legalism of the Jewish religion, instead of maintaining their liberty in Christ.  He is reminding them of how it was that he first preached the Gospel to them.  He says it was because of a bodily illness that he first had the opportunity to preach the gospel to them.

We don't know all the circumstances surrounding this occasion, or do we know for sure what Paul's bodily illness was.  We do know he had problems with his eyes.  He says in verse 15 of this chapter,
..."I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me". 

The illness he suffered with and the circumstances surrounding the first time he preached the gospel to these people is not important.  What is important is the fact that God used the Apostle Paul mightily, and He used Paul for His glory BECAUSE of the physical illness he suffered from.

Sometimes we need to re-frame our perspective. Have you ever thought of re-framing your physical illness or disability as the platform that God has given you to be able to share the gospel with others?  You are useful to the kingdom of God!  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Devotional: In Christ, All Lives Matter

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:28-29
Lately, we have been hearing a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement. Sadly, it has been filled with violence,  hate, and people and officers have been killed as a result of this movement.  

But that is not the point of this devotional.  Our verse above basically says that for those who are in Christ, it doesn't matter who you are, Jew, Greek, slave, free, black, white, brown, yellow or red, if you are a Christian, you are all one in Jesus Christ and heirs of the good things God has promised to those who are His!  

In Christ Jesus, all lives matter!  It's plain and simple.  Therefore, "while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Gal. 6:10)  "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." (Gal. 6:9)

Let us remember as Christians that all lives need to be treated with dignity.  Remember to do good to all men while we have opportunity.  If all people could take these words to heart and do them, there would not be a reason for movements like Black Lives Matter.  But we see movements like this that spawn violence because we are a fallen people and don't practice what the Bible teaches us about getting along with others.  May we seek to live our Christianity out in a way that is pleasing to God and brings glory to His name.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Devotional: What if Righteousness Came Through Obedience to the Law?

I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.  Galatians 2:21
So, what if righteousness came by being obedient to the law?  What if you could be saved just by obeying all the rules and laws in the Bible, your church and country?  

If that were the case then what would the purpose of Christ's death be?  He died to save us.  If we could save ourselves by obeying the law, then his death is meaningless.

Would it even be possible to obey all the laws and rules perfectly?  No!  So it would be impossible for anyone to save themselves anyway by obedience to the law.  That means no one can be saved except by the death of Jesus Christ in our place.  He fulfilled the law perfectly for us.

Take some time today to meditate on this wonderful fact and thank God for your salvation.


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Monday, July 04, 2016

Devotional: No Longer I Who Live, but Christ Lives In Me

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

When we are saved, our old life is crucified with Christ and He lives through us.  It's the only way we can live the Christian life for God's glory.

The cool thing about this verse is that it shows us that it's not our strength that does this.  It is the strength of Jesus Christ living through us that makes it possible.  This is why He gets all the glory.  If it were up to us to obey rules and laws in order to be a Christian, we would fail miserably, but Christ already did that for us and then He lives His life through us as we yield to Him.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Devotional: Let Endurance Have It's Perfect Work

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4
The photo above is that of my daughter (far out ahead) and her boyfriend behind, hiking toward the goal and joy of summiting the mountain they were climbing.   When my daughter climbs a mountain, she is so excited to go that she wears her friends out in her joy to get to the top.  Her endurance (patience) of the climb results in great reward in going as far as possible to the top.
This verse above comes on the heels of verse 2-3 where James tells us to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience.

The idea of patience is endurance. The New American Standard Bible says, "Let endurance have its perfect work..."

The fact that the verse says "let" endurance have its perfect work, indicates to me that it is possible for us to fight against it.

When we encounter trials we are to count it joy because then we have the chance to let the testing of our faith produce in us this endurance  or patience.

How might we fight against allowing endurance to have its perfect work in us?  The opposite of endurance is resistance, idleness, laziness, apathy and timidity.  If we are not enduring or being patient, then we are resisting what has come to test our faith.  We can also resist by not taking action.

Climbing a mountain is not my idea of fun.  I resist the idea of pushing forward to get to the top.  You might call me idle or lazy.  Perhaps even apathetic to the idea of climbing a mountain. I have no endurance or patience for it.

Endurance is active not passive.  It's always moving forward not backward. When trials come your way to test your faith, endurance (patience) is what propels you on in your faith to keep " looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus is our example.  He endured the cross but looked forward to the joy of sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God when He was finished.  We too are to endure with patience the testing of our faith while looking forward to hearing, "Well done thou good and faithful servant" at the end of our time here on earth.

Let endurance have its perfect work in you and remember that it's not passive, it's active.  Keep moving in your faith and remain focused on the joy ahead of you!
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Devotional: Tender Merices

James 5:7,12

 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Do you ever find yourself wishing the Lord would hurry up and come?  I know I do.

As I watch the news each day and see all that is wrong in the world and our nation, it makes me anxious for the Lord's return.  As I see loved ones suffer and die from horrible illnesses and as I deal with my own physical issues, I find myself wishing the Lord would just hurry up and come take me out of here.

I bet you have had your times of feeling this way too.  But James tells us to be patient while we wait.  God has His time table just like the farmer who plants a crop, He waits for just the right time to harvest.  God isn't ready to harvest yet.

Look to those who have gone on ahead of us and the trials they patiently endured.  See how God was tender and merciful toward them. He will be tender and merciful toward you and me as well as we wait for His return. We may endure hardships in this world, He will go through them with you and in the end God will greet us with tender mercies.

Even now, God gives us tender mercies each day.  Today take some time to sit down and write down some of the mercies God has showered upon you even in your hardships.


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