Home » Posts tagged 'devotionals' (Page 2)
Tag Archives: devotionals
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
“. . . but the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth,
and the desire for other things come in and choke the word,
and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19)
Everyone is angry. Those who don’t approve of the new transgender law imposed by North Carolina; the LBGT community who thinks many Christians are hypocritical in their determination to stay in line with the scriptures; the highly educated, riled by their fruitless efforts to find a decent job; and marginalized wage-earners who picket for a better pay raise. All of us live with a degree of fear because of constant terrorist threats. If that’s not enough to keep you awake at night, consider how consumed parents are over their daily warfare against outside influences on their children.
It doesn’t give us any comfort when, on top of all of our concerns, we must also deal with the political change in our country and a dysfunctional judicial system.
I could probably impress upon you how different things were when I was a girl, but in all honesty every generation has had its burden to bear. I think of the 1940s and 50s when pop, R&B, and jazz artists like Billie Holliday, along with young wayward teenagers, struggled with drug abuse. All Jackie Robinson wanted to do was play baseball, but he had to muddle through years of racial discrimination. It’s the twenty-first century and women are still fighting for equality. Amazing how the poor is still hungry and living in poverty and the rich is much richer and living lavishly—a fact that’s held true no matter which generation you examine.
Pinpoint a day in time and see if there weren’t problems induced by evil forces, cultural changes, different ideologies, wavering opinions, or religious traditions that didn’t create stumbling blocks.
Comparing generations is simply a waste of time, doing nothing more than further alienating us from the young. Evil has always challenged and weakened leadership, and will continue to do so until the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We shouldn’t look at life in generational increments. If we think our country didn’t have evil and complicated issues to overcome generations before, then we have arrived at erroneous conclusions about the realities of the world in which we live. Sin is just as prevalent today as it was centuries ago and it’s constantly spinning and devouring everyone in its path.
It’s more about what you and I do about our relationship with God and man than how we perceive the changing times.
I hate to admit this, but murmurs for a new political party or new presidential candidate sound a lot like the Israelites’ plea for a king. God wasn’t enough for them. Thousands of years later we still tend to think that if we get a new president in office we’ll somehow find our footing and put this country back on track.
Do we need to be reminded who is really in control?
Consider this: God promised Abram that he’d be the father of nations and his sons and daughters would be as numerous as the stars. Through faith Abram believed though he experienced several failures because of his human reasoning (lying about Sarai being his sister; laying with his handmaiden instead of waiting on the promise to be fulfilled).
Unlike Abraham, you and I have the scriptures for daily guidance and spiritual strength. Within it are examples of many who have endured and suffered great trials (for I’ve never wandered through a desert for 40 years, fought my enemy with a sword, or been stoned and left for dead).
The brotherhood needs to renew their focus and concentrate more on their individual relationship with God. Our aim should be to fall in love with the Holy One . . . to place no one above him. That involves a daily dying to self, spending quality time with God, questioning him, voicing our requests, nurturing our families with his holy word, placing the burdens of the church at his feet, and praying for the brotherhood of believers—especially those undergoing persecution.
The Holy One has not left us defenseless as the wicked one would have you believe. God cares about us and provides a way out long before we discover we’re in a sticky situation. The last thing God wants you to do is feel so much weight of the world on your shoulders that it distracts you from what is really important—your relationship with him.
God is so sensitive to our needs that all he asks is that you have the faith of a mustard seed. A mustard seed is not much bigger than the eye of a needle, so why would God request such little faith? Because the Holy Father in all his glory will do the rest.
This past year has been a treacherous mountain for me to climb. My family is dealing with a bone disease and other health problems, in-law issues, personal failures, distrust, and anger. In all the imperfect ways that I’ve reacted to my situation, God kept bringing me back into his presence. I had no one to confide in, no one to ease my burdens with laughter. It is clear that the Holy One is gently telling me that his grace is sufficient.
Like me, you may be on a journey that seems unfair and too heavy. Let me be the first to encourage you that you’re not climbing steep mountains alone. See, that’s what the evil one wants you to believe—that you’re alone and no one cares about you. Too often we forget that we are surrounded by a heavenly host, in a spiritual brotherhood, clothed with godly love. Think of it this way—
You and I are in a canoe, riding the rough waves of life. Violent waters almost overturn the canoe and threaten to throw each of us into an angry sea. But off in the distance is a constant light, guiding us, encouraging us to press forward. Some brothers and sisters are thrown overboard by turbulent waves and we struggle to rescue them. With all our might, we tug and pull, frantic to get them back inside the boat. The reasons our sisters and brothers fell from the boat are numerous, many of the reasons like my own—weakness, fatigue, loneliness, a ghastly past, a hopeless future, a sense of worthlessness. But the light shining in the distance gives us strength then we pass our strength onto another, then another, until an unbreakable chain forms and we’re able to pull another from the vicious grips of destruction.
You and I are never alone. Each one of us is significant. We’re in the canoe together fighting the same fight; battling the same sins; harboring the same anger; constantly being distracted by the evil one. But the light binds and strengthens our faith.
Listen to these scriptures and believe:
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1)
9You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. 10Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 11Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. (Isaiah 41:9-11)
. . . If God is for us, who can be against us! (Romans 8:31)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:8-10)
4My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 6Among the mature, however, we speak a message of wisdom—but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of the mysterious and hidden wisdom of God, which He destined for our glory before time began. (I Corinthians 2:4-7)
Believe and build your future on these words of truth. Do not allow the weight of the world to distract or interfere with your love for the Lord and brotherhood of believers. Replace your fears with faith and don’t grow weary with doing good. The world will always be evil, to one degree or another, but you have been given a way out, an escape from death and destruction. Empower and gird yourselves with the whole armor of God and live by it. For by doing so, you may influence those around you and win many to Christ. (Galations 6:9; II Thessalonians 3:13; I Corinthians 10:12-13; and Ephesians 6:11-13)
Donna B. Comeaux is a Christian writer, poet, and author who resides in Oklahoma. She is married, has two children and eight grandchildren. She is part of the Ruby for Women blog team: http://www.rubyforwomen.com.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him,
you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)
Have you ever lost something valuable?
Recently, I had a conversation with my sisters in Christ and discovered we all had something in common—we had lost precious diamonds. One dear sister told us of the tragic story of how she sat in her car one day and took off her wedding rings to lotion her hands. Afterwards, she grabbed her purse and proceeded to go inside the store, only to rush back half an hour later in desperate search for her rings.
She never found them.
I had a watch my husband bought me in 1987. That beautiful watch had 32 diamonds in it. One day the battery died and I slipped the watch inside my purse with the intent to take it to the jeweler across the street from my office. About two weeks later, I discovered the watch had disappeared.
Had I lost it? Or had it been stolen?
Most women love jewelry. When you lose something so precious, you are sick to your stomach. Sometimes we mourn over these precious minerals for years.
Don’t you feel like this sometimes when you’re robbed of your joy?
We rise in the morning with the intent to follow a schedule, not a rigid one, just one that gives us a sense of direction. We’re open for change. We don’t have preset agendas. We don’t have specific people in mind we need to set straight. Not looking for a fight. Not looking to defend one either.
Our day is highlighted by a nice hard rain from the day before. We smile because it’s sunny, the earth has been nurtured, the flowers are blooming, spring, or autumn is in the air. Birds are singing. Our family is at peace.
Then you get a phone call. Maybe it’s a nasty look. Perhaps someone misunderstood something you said. Or were you cornered into taking the fall for something you didn’t do? In a split second, your whole world comes crashing down. Everything seems to spiral out of control. Whether it’s pent up emotions, or the results of evil hands, you’re in a tizzy.
You convince yourself to take the high road. If you don’t say anything, how will anyone know what you’re going through? So you pick up the phone. You get on Facebook. You send out e-mails. But no matter how many numbers you dial, who you e-mail, or how many social outlets you contact, no one heeds your pleas for help.
The last thing you want to do is sit and cry alone. You’re miserable and you want company—someone to help you muddle through your mess.
I can remember times when a calamity knocked on my door. I won’t lie. I wanted to skip the crying and go right into fight mode. I wanted to park my Christian faith in the middle of a parking lot, or hide it under a blanket. I didn’t want to conceal it for long—just for a moment, until I landed the first blow across someone’s jaw.
It’s times like these that we’re so clouded with what’s going on around us that we can’t seem to remember scripture. For example:
. . .always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to stand toe-to-toe with the evil one and have it out with him. By myself, I’d surely lose that fight.
I miss my 32-diamond watch. It’s worth a lot of money. But here is what I’m determined “not” to lose.
I have no plans to put it up for sale. There’s no bid high enough to auction this precious gift God has given me. I won’t loan it out either. There’s not enough room on my bookshelves to hold it, so there’s no room for it among my fiction novels. I won’t hide it under the cabinet or drown it out with secular music. I don’t have plans to throw it in with the wash. And I sure won’t wring it out with mop water and scrub the floors with it.
See, I can’t even mingle my joy with idle gossip, or ungodly movies, dirty jokes and foul language.
And I’m not about to plaster a For Sale sign on my front door.
What I have in my posession is worth more than silver and gold and sparkling diamonds. My joy down plays the hand-me-down rags I wear around the house and causes me to sing. It doesn’t frown at my bad breath if I choose not to brush my teeth until three o’clock in the evening. It keeps me company when things become a bore. It makes me smile at the little things. It tickles me until I can’t stand it, making me cry and roar with laughter when God exposes the many miracles he wants me to see. My need to complain gets lost between the birds’ singing and the sunshine beaming. And instead of curling my hands to make a fist and fight my next opponent, I’m kneeling in prayer with a smile on my face.
I may not be able to stop solicitations for my joy, but I will definitely use my God-given right to refuse any price offered for it.
So, I declare, no matter what circumstances I find myself in . . .
My Joy Isn’t For Sale.
Philippians 1:3-5 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Philemon 1:7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
2 John 1:12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Poet, Novelist
May 12, 2015
I closed my eyes and prayed. Then I stood at the plate and swung my bat. The ball landed in the catcher’s mitt with a loud pop. I missed. I tucked my bottom lip between my teeth and bore down—HARD. The ball came at me a second time, aiming for the center of my bat. I swung again. Missed. I moved away from the plate then kicked the dirt, telling myself I had to keep my eye on the ball. “Get mean,” I mumbled. I squared my shoulders, took in a deep, deep breath, went to the plate, and determined to hit that ball out of the park.
I hit it alright. Straight up. It landed in the catcher’s mitt before I got halfway to first base. Like the girly girl that I am, I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. I snatched my bat off the ground and threw it in the corner of the dugout.
You ever felt defeated?
Sometimes when I kneel and pray for something, I get off my knees determined to do the right thing, knowing that at my next opportunity, if I aim right, I’ll hit God’s message out of the park. But it never fails that just as I am determined to drive God’s message home, I end up missing the ball.
I had an opportunity a week ago to show a sister in Christ how Satan was using her. I started the conversation with good intentions, but when I saw that Satan was using her to get at me, I got angry. Before I knew it, I raised my voice in an effort to penetrate her weakness. If only she’d let go of anger, I thought. “Forgive others and focus on your own sin,” I told her, “instead of focusing on your brother’s sin.” Then and only then would she recognize how much freedom she had in Christ.
At the end of that conversation, I felt her pain through the telephone line. It took me almost a week to fully see what I had done.
I was so focused on her attacking me, or shall I say, Satan attacking me again, that I missed the opportunity to help her. And I’m not sure if I’ll ever get another opportunity to right this wrong.
When we kneel in prayer and ask God for his guidance, we must let him guide. The minute I felt anything other than compassion during that conversation, I should have stopped and prayed for us. I didn’t need God’s answers in the palm of my hands in order to feel useful. People don’t expect you to know everything. What they expect is human compassion and understanding—to know and feel you’ve been in their shoes.
I have no doubt that if I’d offered my sister compassion and a listening ear instead of a mountain of knowledge and scoldings, I would have encouraged her and helped place her in a position to seek God and trust him.
As it stands, she’s still troubled and I’m disgusted with myself.
Prayer: God, please help me to place my will on the altar. Father, may your will be done in me. Refresh my spirit, oh God, and help me to know that even in my weakness you are strong. As you release your love through me, may it also flow from me to the brotherhood of believers.
Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.
I John 3:21-23
21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 23This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. . . .
“Is Your All On The Altar?”
by C.L. Fairchild
Donna B. Comeaux
Freelance Writer, Author, Poet
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love
one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
I never did well in accounting. As long as assets and liabilities were clearly defined, I’d pass my tests. But terms like “loss contingency,” “LIFO reserve,” or “debt service fund” plummet my hopes of ever successfully completing Basic Accounting.
Often we measure love against our hopes, dreams, and selfish ambitions. As long as others align themselves with our agendas, love is anchored deep. It’s solid. Immovable. But if others succeed in their personal endeavors and leave us behind, they are seen as a threat.
We are to glorify God through our love for one another, not use love as a measuring stick for personal triumph. Think not about how we should gratify our sinful nature, but rather have sincere affections one for another.
Prayer: God, please teach me to love.
Think: For every bill you owe, is your indebtedness to love far greater?
Read: Romans 12:9-10; Romans 13:8-14; I Corinthians 13:1-13
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when
you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. . . .”
Christ fell to his knees in prayer and asked that the cup of persecution and death be taken from him. God remained silent. As a result, Jesus suffered countless hours of torture.
His only response: “I Am He.”
My response would have been to babble endlessly in hopes that I’d say something to save myself.
To endure such gruesome beatings and slanderous accusations without mumbling a word in his defense reads like a prisoner of war tale. It seems impossible to endure so much and say so little. Yet, God never requested the impossible from Jesus. Neither does he request the impossible from us. All that Jesus did we can also do.
Prayer: Lord, embolden me in the face of persecution. Though I am weak, make me strong.
Think: How did you respond to slanderous accusations? Remember how God rescued you from the jaws of persecution.
Read: Hebrews 10:32-39; Revelations 12:17; I Peter 4:12-19; Luke 1:37
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Did you rush through life to store up for yourself fancy houses, educated children, and a nice nest egg for your retirement? Then, years later, downsized, watched your retirement decrease, and contemplated whether your kid’s education was worth it.
Did you neglect to care for the house that really mattered?
You have a house bought at an immeasurable price—God’s holy temple. (I Cor. 6:15-17) Your spiritual body is the temple of the living God. Jesus died for it. Just as a solid foundation supported your home, you must support your spiritual body by feeding on God’s word. Fill your heart and mind with his word until his glory consumes you. God lives! He’s anxious to walk and talk with you.
Prayer: God, help me to commune with you and place my heart on things above.
Meditate: Imagine a garden, a lot like some homes, filled with all the food you could possibly want. No tending, no tilling, no sweating in the hot sun to maintain it. All you do is walk side by side with God in his garden. Stop and think what that might feel like.
Read: Haggai 1-3; John 15:4-10; Act 17:27-28 (NIV)