Friday, April 30, 2010


Anonymous Submission

This Week's Verse: 1 Timothy 6:18, "Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them." (NLT)

I have been blessed throughout my life in various ways. Whenever bill time came around each month, there is always enough money in the checking account to pay those bills. I have need of very little and feel led to help others when I see a need.

I have in the past been able to help others with their financial needs. I don’t say this boastfully because, just like this devotion, I do it anonymously. I try to live as it says in Matthew 6:2-4, “When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you.”

A couple years ago, I knew of a family that was struggling financially and I felt led to help them out. Another time I felt God telling me to give money to another family that I perceived as a whole lot wealthier than me. I thought You’ve got to be kidding. These people are far better off than I am! Why do they need any money? Especially mine! Are You sure? (Don’t you question God when you think you’ve heard from Him, but just don’t want to be obedient?) But in the end, I was obedient and gave them the money God instructed me to give.

I’ve also been involved in WBGL's "Random Acts of Christmas". I’m not trying to brag, just to set an example of how God can work in our lives and the lives of others if we are obedient. Obviously, we can’t help everyone all the time. God will speak to you if you are to help in a situation.

Since these “acts of charity”, I have been overwhelmed by the ways God has given back to me. For instance, I was at a store about to purchase an item that was supposed to be $250. When all was said and done, it ended up only costing me $80! Another situation happened when I went to pay the dues for an organization I belong to. The regular membership dues were over $200, but this year I received a discount and they only cost me $60! About a month ago, I ‘pre-figured’ my taxes just to see how much I was going to have to owe this year. I estimated that I was going to have to pay over $900 (Federal and State combined). But a few weeks ago, I was doing my taxes and noticed a tax credit that I had overlooked and another deduction that I had not figured in. So now, instead of OWING $900, I am getting a REFUND of $702 from the Fed and I only owe the state $105. Holy Cow! That’s a total variance of $1500!!! (Thank God for procrastination!!)

Just remember, money is not really ours to begin with. We are to be good stewards of our money, but not to hoard it for selfish desires. Give from your heart and you will be blessed in return. But please don’t give just to manipulate God into re-paying you. God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7).

I read a facebook status that said, “God can do a lot more with what you don’t have, than you can do with what you do have.” Listen to His voice and you will be rewarded.

Father, thank you that You continue to bless us in many ways. Help us to not be caught up in the world and place more value on things than we do You. Show us the areas where You would have us to serve and give. Helps us to be better stewards of the gifts You give us. In Jesus name, Amen.

Is God calling you to give to someone today? It doesn’t have to be monetary; perhaps there is something you have that you could give to someone. It may be just the giving of your time. I encourage you however to give without looking for something in return. Give from your heart that God has spoken to.

Power Verses:
Luke 6:38, "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you."(NLT)
Mark 12:42-44, "Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, 'The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford—she gave her all.'"(MSG)
2 Cor. 9:7-8, "You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others."(NLT)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just Ask

by Bethany Lashbrook

This Week's Verse: Isaiah 55:6, "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near."(NIV)

Have you ever wanted something, asked the Lord for it, and then before you could say the words “maybe I didn’t mean to ask for that” you had already received it?

Matthew 17:20 states: He [Jesus] replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Isn’t this inspiring? Jesus is telling us so simply, believe and you shall receive. I think sometimes my faith must be smaller than that simple little mustard seed because many times I have asked for something not really believing that God would actually give it to me. But, He does. Why is that?

I can think of many instances where the Lord has quickly answered. A year ago, I asked the Lord to make me a part of something that would get me out of my comfort zone. A response was quick and to the point: minister to those Jesus would minister to. Jesus didn’t tour churches. He didn’t hang with the rich, the classy, and the educated. He wanted to teach the lost and the confused.

Since this request, a small group of adults from our church visits our local jail once a month to talk to the inmates about Jesus and how He has worked in our lives. Two years ago, I would have thought this idea was crazy. But, I asked. He gave.

Within the last month I asked: “Lord, how is it that some can get in front of a crowd at church and look calm?” Well, several weeks ago at our Easter service, I was asked to give a cardboard testimony. It’s as simple as it sounds. My testimony – shortened from a book down to several words that fit onto a sheet of paper no bigger than a television screen. I stood in front of over 500 people in our congregation that day baring my soul. I asked. He gave.

And, most recently, within the last week, I asked the Lord for direction in a relationship of mine that has been struggling for years. Did you see that – YEARS. And do you know what I did (because He nudged me)? I asked this person to go on a walk with me. After years of issues, months of miscommunications, and lots of conversations that have led us nowhere, the Lord answered a simple request. I asked. He gave.

As I age, I am understanding more that God wants to answer my prayers that mean something to Him, not just to me. Really, what does He get out of a money tree growing in my yard (yes, I have prayed for this!) or my daughter’s team winning their soccer game! But, He does get satisfaction knowing that I am out of my comfort zone, sharing His word with others, and restoring friendships.

Now ask. He'll give.

Dear Lord, thank you for answering our prayers, even when we are not quite sure that we should have asked for them. Thank you for helping us become more of who You made us to be, and less of the worldly woman that sometimes we would rather be. Lord, we could never fully understand your Way or understand your giving to us as You did on the Cross, but for that, we are so very thankful and grateful. Father, help us to remain your servants, and do so with grace and pleasure and dignity. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Application: Are you struggling in your prayer life? Try some of these things to help “spice up” your prayer life!
*Too busy? Pray on your way to or from work.
*Not good at praying? Just pray the Word.
*Don’t know who to pray for? Just close your eyes and the Lord will give you a name.
*Need something new? Try a new location: think, “prayer-chair”. Who says you can’t be comfy while praying?
*Need a prayer warrior? Ask a friend, a spouse, or a child to pray for you.

Power Verses:
Psalm 17:6
, "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer."(NIV)
Philippians 4:6-7, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Proverbs 2:6, "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dogging Jesus--Fast on His Heels

by Mollie Thompson

This Week’s Verse: Psalm 25:4, "Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths."(NKJV)

I just watched Susan Boyle’s first audition for Britain’s Got Talent again. She just amazes me. Here is this forty-seven-year-old woman walking onto this stage that is reserved for the fresh and the young. Sometimes it is shared with those who dare to be ridiculed. She’s dowdy. She’s all alone in this world. She suffered a slight bit of brain damage at birth because of a lack of oxygen, so she’s not keenly bright.

But because of a promise she made her mother before she died, Susan walks onto this huge stage in front of millions of people. She knows what people think of her. She has been bullied, and has not been highly thought of throughout her life. Even the judges are snickering at her and she knows it. She knows the crowd isn’t impressed – until she opens her mouth to sing.

Her voice is to die for. Five succeedingly high notes and she hits them all. Even the words to the song suit her. She gets a standing ovation. So what does she do when her performance is over, when she is to stand in front of the judges and let them critique her? She’s already summed up their responses. She did it for her mother. Now she’s walking off the stage to go on home. But wait. They are telling her to come back. She doesn’t realize she has finally been appreciated. She doesn’t realize that, yes, she really is someone special. People actually love her. They want more of her. Even the female judge likes her which really astounds Susan. The world is enthralled with her.

Have you ever walked in Susan’s shoes even just a little bit? Have people made fun of you and so you already have your mind made up beforehand how it’s all going to turn out? You’ve bombed before--okay, God, I think you’re telling me to do this, and so for you I will do it. But then I’m coming back home and licking my wounds. I’ll go do it for you, but then that’s it. You know, sometimes life is just hard like that.

God’s ways are higher than ours. How He gets us to the point of being blessed may not look like the best way to get there. And by the time we get there, if we have truly stayed on the path He’s laid out before us, we will have been so humbled by life’s trials that who really cares about being exalted?

But wait! Isn’t that the best way to be? When Susan got to the top, she remained humble. HUMBLE. She’d been trained by the trials and tribulations that bring humility. That’s the big deal. It’s when we get to thinking more of ourselves than we ought that we blow it with our pride. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

The big deal is in learning God’s ways. It’s by staying on that path that is not always the most enjoyable. Sometimes that path just downright stinks in our estimation. But if we stick to it, if we keep following even when we don’t like it and even when it gets really hard, then we will have our reward in the end. And when that reward comes we will be able to stay around and enjoy it.

It’s that fast road to the top that has a slippery slope down the other side – sort of like Chutes and Ladders. But if we stay on the path God has for us and if we allow Him to teach us His ways, then we will be standing on a firm foundation, and we will be able to mount up with wings like eagle’s and soar.

Father, what You ask of us sometimes is really hard. Help us to remember that You never leave us, You never forsake us or abandon us. Help us to learn and to know how much You love us and cherish us, how much You want the very best for us. Allow us to feel Your loving arms holding us tight in Your embrace. Let us smell the sweet fragrance of Your presence. Send encouragement when we get so down that we don’t think we can take another step. Oh, Father, thank You so much for loving us. Thank You so much for that while we were yet sinners you sent Your only begotten Son to die for us on that awful cross so that someday we can sit in Your lap and then know a joy unspeakable that is full of Your glory. Thank You, Abba. In Your precious Son’s name, Jesus. Amen.

If you are not going through something hard right now, you will. And when you do, remember it is in those difficult times that we are more likely to press into the love of Jesus. It is in those times that we are more apt to learn more of God’s ways. We are more apt to listen to His heartbeat because we have our heads pressed up against His chest waiting, listening for what to do next. Oh, how deeply Jesus wants us to know His love for us. How much He wants us to see His tender mercies He gives us like manna each morning.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 5:21, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (NKJV)
Hebrews 12: 11, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."(NKJV)
Jeremiah 31:3, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you."(NKJV)
Psalm 23: 4, "Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me."(AMP)
Habakkuk 3:19, "The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills."

Friday, April 9, 2010

Re-Run: It's Time to Wake Up

(*This post is a re-run of a devotion that originally appeared on this blog in September of 2007. It's a wonderful reminder of how God meets us where we are but loves us too much to leave us there.)

by Karen Keim

Verse of the Week: Psalm 73:28, "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works."

Okay. So here’s the deal. There’s three things I haven’t been very good at lately: 1) exercising; 2) eating breakfast; and 3) spending some good, quality time with the Lord.

I have good intentions, mind you, to do all three better. But I just can’t seem to get there. Every night when I go to bed, I say to myself, “Now, I’m going to get up an hour earlier tomorrow and go for a walk, eat breakfast and spend some time with the Lord.” Well, guess what! Sleep (that’s spelled S-A-T-A-N) always wins. The alarm goes off that hour early, and I think, “Just 15 more minutes.” (Snooze) “Okay. Just five more minutes.” (Snooze) “Well, it’s getting too late now. I might as well just sleep until my regular time.” (And don’t tell me you haven’t been there, too!)

Well, guess what! This morning I beat satan two out of three!!!! Yea!!! Now, which one of those three do you think I just couldn’t work in? Yep, you’re right! EXERCISE! But I had my egg sandwich (with catsup) and I had some quality time with the Lord. And, boy, did He have some things to tell me!

Here’s how it went.I started out praising him for winning the morning battle, telling Him how awesome He is, read a nice little devotion – you know the routine. Then I picked up my Bible and said, “Lord, speak to me through Your Word today,” and I just popped open my Bible, feeling certain that whatever page I opened to, He would have some plain, simple message for me.

Well, hmfph! I opened to Ezekiel 24, where God is giving Ezekiel the words He wanted him to say to the rebellious nation of Judah. It’s all that symbolic jargon. You know what I’m talking about, the kind where as you’re reading, you think, “Yada, yada, yada, whatever that all means!” I almost gave up on it and said, “Let’s try this again,” and opened to another passage.But I remembered how I had asked Him to speak to me and felt that he had led me to the passage He wanted me to hear, so I kept reading.

I get to the part where God tells Ezekiel that with one blow He’s going to kill the person that Ezekiel loves the most! I’m thinking, “Oh, dear, Lord, is that what you wanted me to hear? Is it my husband? Is it one of my boys?” I read on, and God told Ezekiel that He was making Ezekiel an example to the people of Judah of what he was going to do to them. He said (Ezekiel 24:25, God’s Word translation), “Son of man, on that day I will take their stronghold away from them. It makes them happy and proud. It is their hearts’ desire and the thing they love the most.” In other words, the thing the people of Judah loved the most was getting in the way of their obedience and relationship with God.

Hmmm. “Is that what you wanted to say to me, Lord? What is the thing I love and desire the most? What is the thing You want me to give up before You have to take it away from me so that I will put You first?”I laid my head back and closed my eyes and began to think . . . . is it my husband? Is it my son? Is it this, is it . . . and then all of a sudden, as I am about to drift off into my inner thoughts (okay, fall asleep!), it hits me! My eyes pop wide open and I almost laugh! It’s SLEEP! It’s as simple as sleep!

See, sleep is one of my favorite things to do. I took a survey the other day that asked, if you had an extra hour of time given to you, what would you do, and there were four or five options, like read a book, watch a movie, take a hot bath, or SLEEP! Mine was definitely SLEEP! I don’t know if it’s the empty nest thing going on or just old age, but I just can’t seem to get enough sleep these days. I wasn’t always that way. Sure, I liked my Sunday afternoon naps, but given a choice of doing just about ANYTHING these days, I’ll choose sleep. And I do it well! I NEVER have trouble sleeping. Now, if you are a person who has trouble sleeping at night (like my husband) you know what a blessing it is to be able to sleep without difficulty, and I truly believe it’s a blessing!

But I’ve come to the point where, as I said, I would rather sleep than do almost anything else – including spending time with the Lord! It’s what He calls in this verse “my heart’s desire and the thing they love the most.” It’s what’s getting in the way of me being obedient and connecting with Him in the way He wants me to.

So what’s it going to take, Karen? Are you going to give it up willingly, sacrifice a little extra sleep for a little extra time with the Lord, or is He going to have to take it away from you by removing your blessing of being able to sleep with no trouble?

What about you? Maybe you think I got a little carried away here in analyzing what the Lord was saying. Maybe you’re saying I’m making it too simple, comparing something as BIG as destroying the nation of Judah with something as SMALL as removing my ability to sleep.

But I don’t think so. God’s word meets us where we’re at, and He speaks to us in small, simple ways.

Father, thank you for your patience. Help us to put You first, making YOU and time with YOU “our heart’s desire and the thing we love the most”. We love you so much. In Jesus name, Amen.

Are you listening? Is there something you need to give up willingly so that you can be obedient to what He’s calling you to do? Is there something you need to be sacrificing so that you can spend more time with Him? I promise it will be worth it!

Power Verses:
Psalm 143:10, "Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God. Let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground."(American Standard)
John 10:17, "The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again." (NLT)
Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before me." (NIV)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Opened Up

by Kathy Lay

This Week’s Verse: Mark 7:34, “(Jesus) looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!" ). (NIV)

We’ve finally reached that much-anticipated time of year when life begins to burst forth all around us. Isn’t that just like God to time the celebration of his Son’s resurrection with the new life springing up in nature right before our very eyes?

We feel rejuvenated by the sun’s warm rays. We inhale and savor the special smell that blows in on the spring wind. We pause to appreciate the blooming of a myriad of different buds. And we marvel at life—though, it temporarily rests, it faithfully returns.

That’s what Jesus’ death and resurrection mean to us too. In this week’s verse, Jesus commanded the blind man’s eyes to be opened. Opened eyes resulted in an opened and changed heart. Jesus had a new devoted follower. That’s the miracle of allowing ourselves to be opened to the Man who opened the grave.

When we die to ourselves under His Lordship, we inherit life. Both here, to the fullest, and in heaven, for eternity. With Him!

Around us, the buds were shut. They’re starting to open and they’re so beautiful.

Jesus’s body was shut up in the tomb. The tomb was opened. And beautiful life—eternal life—was made possible.

Sometimes we shut him out of our lives. May our hearts be always open.

The result will be your blossoming. How truly beautiful.

Father, we rejoice in the resurrection! Just as you walked out of the open grave, open up new life in each of us, even as we open up to receiving it. Thank you for that marvelous Resurrection Power that you want to display in our sometimes closed-minded day-to-day existence. We claim it now, in Jesus' Name!

Are there areas of your life you've closed off to the Lord? Ask and allow Him to open them up and fill them with His Resurrection Power. He will allow you to bloom! What better way to celebrate Easter?

Power Verses:
Revelation 3:8, “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me."(NLT)
Song of Solomon 6:11, "One day I went strolling through the orchard, looking for signs of spring, Looking for buds about to burst into flower, anticipating readiness, ripeness. Before I knew it my heart was raptured, carried away by lofty thoughts!"(MSG)
Isaiah 35:1-2, "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy..."(NIV)