Category Archives: Devotionals

January 2015

Farewells and New Beginnings

“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end. “ Jeremiah 29:11

Farewells are hard. We have all experienced them.  We shed tears, and our hearts break.  Recently I lost my Doberman pinscher, Jordan.  He was my “empty nest” baby.  His death brought home again all the losses I’ve experienced in life. 

During prayer one day it dawned on me that the Bible was full of farewells, beginning with Adam and Eve.  Genesis 3:23 reads “The Lord God sent him forth from the garden.” Imagine the pain, deep sadness, the sorrow in the hears of both God and His two errant children.  Then there’s Cain.  He was sent away after killing his brother.  One son fleeing the only home he knows; a father and mother left to mourn the death of a son and the loss of another.  No doubt these farewells caused heart-wrenching tears.

I thought of Noah.  Everything he knew was gone.  Then there are Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Esau, a family torn apart by deceit.  Joseph – jealousy separated him from his father and brothers.  Moses fled Egypt, fearing for his life.  Young Esther was wrenched from her home and placed in a pagan world.  Widows Ruth and Naomi sought a new life after loss, and Daniel, taken by force, had to serve a foreign king.

Saying goodbye to friends and loved ones is painful.  I could related to the pain found in these stories nut what I came to realize is that with each ending is a new beginning.  As I mourned the losses in my life I was not able to see new beginnings, but they were always there.

Even the New Testament is full of farewells, but the one found in Luke 24:52 had the biggest impact: “And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”  Jesus told the disciples that although He was going away, He was preparing a place for them, and one day they would be together again (see John 14:2).  This is the promise and hope I cling to.  It has helped me to deal with the varied losses in my life.

The future spoken about here is for us to live forever, and the hope is the soon return of Jesus.  He will gather the heartbroken, the sad, the lonely, the depressed, the ill, and the waiting multitudes to Him.  He will wipe away our tears.  There will be no more goodbyes.  This new beginning will last forever!

Written by Kathleen Sowards for the Breathe Devotional

A Homerun Christmas Gift

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.  3 John 1:4 

The Christmas season is here! It is time to pull out the shopping list and find the perfect gifts for those special people in your life.

I remember one of the best Christmas days we ever had as a family. My wife, Debbie, loves gifts. It is one of her love languages. I don’t speak that language too well, so communication on that end has not been stellar over the years. But this one Christmas several years ago, I jacked it out of the park.

When Debbie’s mom died, Debbie was given all her jewelry. Debbie’s mom had redone her wedding ring some years earlier, taken the diamonds out of her original set and placed in another ring. Debbie never liked the new arrangement. She had mentioned a time or two about her desire to restore the original wedding set. So, as a surprise to Debbie, I had the original wedding ring redone. It looked GORGEOUS and had so much sentimental value to her. When she opened the box and saw that ring, she began crying big tears of joy. (Then I started crying, and the girls started crying, but they were good tears.) It was the perfect gift for Debbie. I was so thrilled that I blessed her heart with something so special.

THE PERFECT GIFT FOR JESUS

Wouldn’t it be awesome to give Jesus a gift this Christmas that would bring great joy to His heart? Did you know that special gift is out there? It is within reach of every single one of us.

John said, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4). The thing that rejoices the great heart of God is not diamonds or gold (remember that He paves the streets of heaven with gold), but simple obedience to Him. Jesus said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me” (John 14:21). Walking in the truth shows God you really love Him, and that brings Him great joy!

I believe the key to walking in the truth is to walk honestly and humbly before the Lord. God is not looking for sinless perfection from you or me. That is a good thing, since you and I cannot live a life of sinless perfection. What God is looking for is openness and honesty before Him. When we mess up, He wants us to fess up. God hates it when we cover up. He cannot work in a heart that is full of cover up. Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” 

This Christmas season make it your goal to give to God what He really wants – to see you walking in the truth. Take Him at His Word and start doing what He says. It is a home run gift for God this Christmas and every day following.

Written by Pastor Jeff Schreve, www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/christmas-devotionals

 

November 2014

Prayer: A God-given Purpose

Prayer is the opportunity God gives His children to become intimately acquainted with Him. As a conversation with God, prayer enables the believer to build a personal relationship with The Lord. Prayer is an expression of a believer’s dependence on God and, at the same time, an affirmation of God’s promise to the redeemed for spiritual power.

The primary purpose of prayer is to seek God’s will (1 John 5:14). Jesus in His model prayer told His disciples to ask according to the will of God (Matthew 6:10). When a believer talks to the Father, each request for help and every desire for guidance should be asked in the name of Jesus. All of the conditions related to prayer are bound up in this phrase – “according to His will”.

Prayer provides an opportunity for adoration, praise, thanksgiving, confession of sin, and requests for self and others. Numerous formats for prayer are possible – in fact, prayer is as unique as each person- but all prayer has a central purpose the opportunity to express yourself fully and honestly to the Lord, to listen for His reply (very often in the form of insight, assurance, and joy), and to participate in the “mystery” of seeing God’s purposes on this earth accomplished.

Prayer also offers an opportunity for Christian fellowship and guidance for the church. Prayer is not intended as a means of impressing others or manipulating God (Matthew 6:5,6) but as a way of genuinely seeking God’s strength and direction.

Further Reading – Daniel 2:23, 1John 1(Confession), Psalm 95 (Gratitude), Psalm 149 (Praise), Jeremiah 33, Hebrews 4, 3 John (Prayer)

Extract from the Study Bible

October 2014

More Than Anything

Bible Texts: Matthew 19:26, John 6:40, 2 Peter 3:9

Jesus plainly stated that if we trust Him, He will grant us eternal life.  This promise is meant to give us hope and peace.  But I have to be honest and say that I find it difficult to feel the job He intended His words to provide.  Is it possible you can hear about something so many times that it ceases to have an effect on you?  I think about how many times I’ve heard my pastor extol the “blessed hope” of the resurrection, about how many times I’ve talked about it, sung about it, and read about it.  Still, at times the resurrection seems like a far-off hope that is only relevant to those who are near death.

Do you wonder if the promise to eternal life has any practical implications for the here and now? If so, I would answer this way:

Learn to love your neighbour Because there is a resurrection, your neighbour today might just be your neighbour forever.  Remember, the resurrection isn’t just for you and your friends.  God wants to save everyone (2 Peter 3:9).  In that “everyone” there’s bound to be some people you won’t like.  For example, the co-worker who tried to undermine you, the person at church who spreads rumours about you, the friend you disrespected and to whom you never apologised, or the person who is living an alternative lifestyle.  We won’t be able to agree to stay away from each other in the hereafter.

Find a specific reason to love your neighbour This is not an easy task, but if there were ever a situation where the promise of Matthew 19:26 applies, it is this.  Some people seem impossible to love, but Jesus said that “with God all things are possible”.

Forget about all the times people have wronged you Let God take care of these situations.  Ask Him to help you forgive these people.  Some of them just might be living near you in Heaven!

SDA Collegiate Lesson Study

 

September 2014

Woman on a Mission

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?'” John 4:28-29 (NIV)

When you leap into the arms of Jesus, you never know where He’ll carry you. As a new Christian, I was certain God called me to a distant mission field. Really distant: Indonesia.

True, I’d only been a believer six months, after a wild and wooly decade as a seriously Bad Girl. I also had no husband at the time, no COLLEGE DEGREE and little knowledge about Indonesia other than where it landed on a map. Still, I knew that Christians were called to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15, NIV). Shouldn’t I go too?

When I threw myself at a mission board, certain they’d be thrilled to take me, the director was very kind. He listened, nodded, took notes. And then he said the last thing I expected to hear: “I’m sorry, Liz. But … no.”

My heart sank. I thought if you offered to live in a hut and eat beetles, they’d say, “Great! Sign here.”

Then he explained why I wasn’t the best candidate for foreign missions: “Liz, you’re already well versed in a culture most Christians know little about.”

I knew where this was going. He meant my old life. My Bad Girl life.

His voice softened. “Do you know the story of the woman at the well? After she met Jesus, she went back to town, where everyone knew her sordid story, and she told them about Jesus. That’s what you need to do.”

“You mean the people I used to hang out with?” My cheeks grew hot even thinking about it. “The people I partied with? The men I slept with? Those people?”

I could feel Indonesia slipping away as I pictured the faces of friends I knew well — and who knew way too much about me. People as lost and confused as I’d once been. People who needed to know Jesus.

“Never fear,” the director said as he placed a gentle hand on my shoulder and escorted me to the door. “God will take care of Indonesia.”

So, I went back to Louisville and told my story. No hut, no beetles, yet a mission field for which I was already qualified, simply because I spoke their language. And because I loved them.

Soon one coworker came to know Jesus. Then another. Then a third. Who knew?

God knew. But He never forgot my heart for Indonesia.

Twenty years after my no-go with the mission board, I stood in my publisher’s booth at a Christian booksellers convention. The guy in charge of international rights pulled me aside and said, “Liz, please meet Yani with World Harvest.”

A tiny woman with thick, black hair looked up, her face radiant, “I am in the process of translating three of your books into my country’s language.”

“Wonderful!” I beamed at her. “What country might that be?”

She beamed back. “Indonesia.”

Oh my. To think that my words would travel there, even if I never did! Only God could manage such a thing.

And He wasn’t finished. When I shared my experience at an evangelism conference, one of the guest speakers approached me. “Liz, would you like to speak in Indonesia?”

My heart skipped a beat. Would I?! I could barely get out the words. “W-who would my audience be?”

“Women,” she assured me, then smiled. “Missionaries.”

Lord, the tenderness of Your mercy overwhelms me. You miss nothing. You care about everything. You answer our deepest longings, according to Your perfect will and perfect timing. You know our mission fields, Lord, far better than we do. Help us serve You, wherever You send us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 2:8b, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (NIV)

Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV)

© 2014 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.

 

August 2014

Simple, Believing Prayer

And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. —MATTHEW 6:7

We must develop confidence in simple, believing prayer. We need the confidence that even if we simply say, “God, help me,” He hears and will answer. We can depend on God to be faithful to do what we have asked Him to do, as long as our request is in accordance with His will. Too often we get caught up in our own works concerning prayer.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that prayer is simply conversation with God. The length or volume or eloquence of our prayer is not the issue, it is the sincerity of our heart and the confidence we have that God hears and will answer us that is important.

Sometimes we try to sound so devout and elegant that we get lost. If we could ever get delivered from trying to impress God, we would be a lot better off.

Several years ago God caused me to realize that when I had occasion to pray out loud in front of other people, I really was not talking to Him at all. I was actually trying to impress those listening with my eloquent, spiritual-sounding prayer. Simple, believing prayer comes straight out of the heart of the one praying and goes straight to the heart of God.

First Thessalonians 5:17 says, Be unceasing in prayer [praying persever-ingly] or as the King James Version puts it, Pray without ceasing. If we don’t understand simple, believing prayer, that instruction can come down upon us like a very heavy burden. We may feel that we are doing well to pray thirty minutes a day, so how can we possibly pray without ever stopping? We need to have such confidence about our prayer life that prayer becomes just like breathing, an effortless thing that we do every moment we are alive.

We don’t work and struggle at breathing, unless we have a lung disorder, and neither should we work and struggle at praying. I don’t believe we will struggle in this area if we really understand the power of simple, believing prayer. We should remember that prayer is made powerful by the sincerity of it and the faith behind it.

By Joyce Meyer – from her website, hosted August 01, 2014 http://www.joycemeyer.org/Articles/Devotional.aspx

July 2014

Nature’s Free Gym

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.  Proverbs 18:16, NIV

My doctor advised me to exercise a lot to reduce my blood pressure and cholesterol.  I wanted to join a gym, but I couldn’t afford it, so I prayed about it and waited for an answer in God’s good time.  Some weeks later I decided to send a gift to my friend Rosa’s children.  When I got to the post office, I learned that mailing it would cost double the amount of money I had with me.  As I was determined to post the gift, I had to walk all the way back home to get the extra money.  I walked more than four miles that day, and though I was tired and weary, I was happy I had sent the parcel.

Later, when checking my e-mail, an advertisement popped up that helped to calculate number of calories burned.  After doing the calculations, I realised that I had burned 500 calories during the four mile walk.  No? Yes!

See how God works? I was worried about gym fees, and He led me to His natural free gym.  I realised that every day I could walk in a big park, listen to the birds sing, and watch the butterflies dip and float while bees busily went from one beautiful flower to another.  I could watch squirrels chasing each other up and down the tall, shady trees and enjoy the cool wind and the warmth of the bright sun – all for free, and burn as many as 250 calories an hour.

How awesome: no need of gym fees.  Two weeks after beginning a daily walk I went for my regular checkups, and my doctor was amazed.  

“Both your cholesterol and blood pressure have been reduced, and you have lost two pounds! What have you been doing?” He was delighted, and from then on I walked an hour every day.  Not only did it help me keep fit, but I enjoyed nature as well.

I knew that walking is good for us, but I never knew it could be so effective until the day I walked back home to get more money so I could send the gift.  Jesus said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 19:19)  He is right.  I did it to put a little smile on Rosa and her boys’ faces with that gift, and I ended up putting a big smile on my own.

My advice, gained from my own experience, is to do something to make someone happy and see how much happier you will become.

Mabel Kwei, Breath Devotional

 

 

June 2014

The Big Small Stuff                     

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  John 16:24

I find it very interesting that our Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need even before we ask, but He still wants us to ask. This was the situation shortly after my husband and I relocated to another country to further our studies.

As I unpacked I found that a number of our things had been adversely affected by their stay in storage, including a light blanket that we would need for the coming winter.  We had recently been gifted with a washing machine to help us settle into our place, so I happily washed the blanket – only to have it completely disintegrate in the wash.  Even worse, the shredded pieces of fabric now blocked the washer’s drain.  After several days and many failed attempts to remove the blockage, I became dismayed.  I had no idea what else could be done to clear out the clogged drain.

Of course, before long we needed to do some laundry, but we couldn’t.  Not with this clogged washer.  I was completely frustrated.  I’d worked and worked to unclog the drain.  Now what was I going to do?  In anger I cried out to the Lord, ” God please work a miracle for me and fix this washing machine!”  It was as though God was standing right beside me waiting for me to ask Him for a miracle, because as soon as I finished praying I filled the machine, then in faith, attempted to drain the water I’d just put in it.  To my surprise and delight, the water gushed out even faster than it had when we first used it.  The clogs were all gone!

It was truly a miracle, and it convinced me that our God still cares about the “big small stuff” that perplexes us, and uses them as an opportunity to show us that He cares.  Every time I use the washing machine I am reminded of the miracle that took place and that God hears and answers our prayers.

Whatever your challenges, no matter how big or small they seem, they matter to God.  Commit them all to God.  Will you ask God to fix your “big small” problems today?  I am sure He will be glad to help if you just ask.

Taniesha K. Robertson-Brown, Breathe Devotional 

May 2014

First Impression by Lil Saunders

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1,2

I heard him before I saw him; the tip of his umbrella tapping on the floor as he approached. This was his walking aid. A few weeks before he had hidden behind the local shops within the small shopping precinct to count his collection. He was the local beggar on the High Street.

As he tapped his way into the shop crowded with customers, I ignored him totally. I was convinced he was coming to beg money from me or the customers and I didn’t want to encourage him. He stood patiently waiting to one side, saying nothing. Having dealt with all the other customers, I finally turned to him and asked him if I could help him. He handed me a slip of paper. On it was an order for a packet of hair colour 613, hair length 18ins and a bottle of glue. Guilt washed over me and I breathed a silent prayer, “Lord, forgive me for judging this customer.”

My preconceived ideas of this gentlemen had placed him in a category where he was not connected with any immediate family, and now, here he is in my shop buying products that were popular with the younger generation. This experience taught me an important lesson. It made me reflect on my behaviour and my attitude towards others.

It is so easy to judge others by their appearance, and while we are content with our relationship with friends and families, we hold at arm’s length the beggars, the homeless, the teenage mothers, the drug addicts; the very people in our society who are crying out for help. Matthew 7:1,2 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others you will be judged, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.” In verse 4 we are told to look at ourselves. Look at your faults and shortcomings before you look at those of others. How many times have we judged others without knowing their background?

  • In our ever changing world we are daily encountering people and communities that present a new experience. How are we responding to these individuals?      
  • That experience made me realise that the world around me is changing and that I need to adapt, and not to be so judgemental when dealing with my fellow man.
  • The ability to be adaptable and embrace others will be one of the characteristics of God’s people at the end of time. One of our favourite authors tells us, “God in his providence has brought men to our very door and thrust them as it were, into our very arms, that they might learn the truth” (Ellen White Evangelism p 597).
  • Look at the opportunities I will miss if I keep judging others! Matthew 7:12 reminds us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. May God help me to remember that each person is a precious individual to Him, despite their circumstances, and to treat them as my own family.                                                                                                                                

 

April 2014

Don’t Ask Me

John was 13 years old and regularly met with a group of friends after school. They did all the usual things that boys do, tearing round on their bikes, throwing stones in the local river, climbing things that shouldn’t be climbed…..

Martin was slightly older than the rest and one day he said to his friends:

“Let’s do something exciting! I have this great idea, we could sneak out of our houses after midnight and go around knocking on peoples’ doors and run away.”

“We’d get caught!” exclaimed John.

“No we won’t,” Martin replied, “Who would be expecting thirteen year olds to be out at that time of night? They’ll blame it on the older lads”.

It all sounded so feasible and fun, that John decided to go along with it. Just after midnight he slid down the drainpipe outside his bedroom and ran off to join the gang. They had a brilliant time hiding, watching irate neighbours coming to the door in their dressing gowns.

The next evening there was a knock at the front door. It was Mr Jones from down the road. He confronted John’s mother with the fact that he had looked out of his window and seen the lad running away down the street.

Mrs Owen looked shocked and said “No it wasn’t my son; he would never do anything like that. I’ll bring him to the door and you can ask him.”

John, of course, denied it all, his heart pounding.

“There!” said Mrs Owen, “I told you you were wrong, my son wouldn’t lie, he’s a Christian.”

The same evening John laid on the bed in his room feeling hideously guilty. He had let his family down, and his church and God.

Read Matthew 26: 69-75 for the account of Peter’s denial of Christ.

  • What effect did this denial have on John,  that was similar to Peter’s?
  • What has been your reaction to a bare-faced lie?

Additional Reading 

  • Proverbs 28:13           
  • Luke 15: 11-24
  • 1 John 1:9