God Will Not Forget

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A doctor asked me when I was a teenager if I wanted to have babies. It seemed like a silly question at the time, but I said, “yes.” I wanted to get married some day and have a family. The doctor commented that child bearing would be easier if I wasn’t overweight, so I lost the extra pounds. It was so much easier then than now!

The miracle of new life came to me, and I loved taking care of my babies. Holding, feeding, dressing, and bathing my babies were precious moments I didn’t forget as they grew into toddlers, then children, then teens and adults. I loved and prayed for them and still do.

Today my heart breaks to know how some babies are treated. They are not treasured but abused, and I am thankful for organizations that rescue suffering children. We need more and more of them because the abuse is out of control.

THINK ABOUT IT

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16). This is good news from God for everyone. Whether you have suffered from abuse or illness or other infirmity, God has not forgotten you. He loves you with an everlasting love. You may think because you suffer, God doesn’t care. That is not true. You can know His presence and love. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Is it hard to believe that God’s mercies fall down on you all the time? It’s true! So you ask, “How can I experience this amazing love?” The key to receiving God’s love is in the asking. Prayer unlocks the door! God stands at the door of your heart, waiting for you to invite Him in. You may not know how to talk to God. At first I didn’t either, but I found some of the most powerful prayers are “Help me, Jesus,” “Thank you, Jesus,” and “I love you, Lord.” Be blessed today as you seek God’s presence in your life.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Holy Father, thank you for your amazing love. Thank you for your faithfulness. Be present in our lives today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Yehudim

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The Hebrew word for the Jewish people is Yehudim. It means praise, thanksgiving and worship. A Jewish existence is that of praise and worship, thankful for all they have. How then did the name, Jew, become a profane term or a curse word? Because of sin–our own selfish, self-centered choices to live for ourselves and not God.

Jesus’ life as King of the Jews is a perfect example of Yehudim–praise, thanksgiving and worship. Yet, He was hated, persecuted and finally crucified. The sign over His head on the cross said, “King of the Jews,” and that is what He was/is. Jesus lived and taught what it is like to live for God. He lived a life of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus’ life was that of praise and worship. Even in death on the cross He glorified the Father in Heaven. His resurrection was an act of giving and faithfulness.

THINK ABOUT IT

Jesus was not destroyed by all the evil attempts on His life. He overcame evil with good. He blessed those who cursed Him. He even died for their forgiveness. If this is how Jesus lived, believers are called to live by His example. We are to be Yehudim–praising and worshiping God, thankful for all we have.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you Father God for Jesus. Help us to live our lives by His example and teaching. Empower us with your strength and boldness to stand firm in this dark world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Summer Harvest

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What thoughts come to your mind when you think of summer? Time at the beach, river rafting, lake fishing, kayaking, hiking trails, mountain biking? Summer is the time for vacations and relaxing, but that’s not all. It is the time between the Spring harvest and the Fall harvest. Is there a Summer harvest?

One hot summer day after a long journey, Jesus came to Jacob’s well and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. It was the middle of the day–not when most women came to the well. But Jesus had to talk with her. She had questions about worship, and she was the first person to whom Jesus announced that He was the Messiah. Inspired by such news, she ran into town and to tell others about a man who knew all about her. Could He be the Messiah?

While she was gone, the disciples returned and urged Jesus to eat something. He said He had food they knew nothing about. They thought someone else brought food to Him, but He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:34-35).

Jesus was talking about the harvest of redemption when He said, “Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. One sows and another reaps . . . I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits or their labor” (John 4:36-38).

THINK ABOUT IT

The woman at the well understood! She was the first evangelist in the Bible–not educated or prolific in speech. Moved by her time with Jesus, she shared things Jesus said. Could He be the expected Messiah? She got their attention, and they went to the well to hear what He had to say. Then they believed.

Listen! Jesus said to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). As you go on your way, will you consider how you can enter into a conversation with others to tell them how they can experience God’s amazing love and inherit eternal life? Someone needs to know!

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for Jesus who demonstrated simple ways to strike up conversations that impact people for eternity. Open our eyes to see opportunities and empower us to reach out with your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Reflections of Christ

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People who follow a king in some way reflect his image. Do you find that true of Christians you know? The people I know who love and follow Jesus exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Well, for most of us, it’s a work in progress.

You may ask, if Jesus is King of the Jews, then why don’t the Jews follow Him? Maybe they have the gift of the Spirit, but they do not believe Jesus is the Messiah or in His sacrifice for salvation. But the mystery is that they reflect the life of Jesus in ways we may not.

Jesus was an outcast, a man of suffering, falsely accused, mocked, persecuted and executed. The Jewish nation has also been an outcast, hated, persecuted and executed in the holocaust. But, you might say that Jesus was resurrected, and He was. So, too, was the Jewish nation. The Jews were gathered from all the countries where they had been scattered over the whole world, and they became a nation again in 1948. No other nation has done that.

THINK ABOUT IT

The Jews have unintentionally reflected the image of Jesus, the King of the Jews. How much greater should our intentions be as we know and follow Jesus? We are His light in a dark and dying world.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, help us to conform to the image of Christ–to show love and compassion as He shows love and compassion. Humble us to live at peace with those around us. Raise up your people to bring love and justice into this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Help with an Attitude Adjustment

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Are you easily controlled by your circumstances? Then I have good news for you. Things that happen in our lives are not always fun or pleasant, but there is a way to change how we respond.

We have three incredible resources–time spent in the presence of the Lord, our Bible and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Making good use of these changes our perspective in nine ways as we develop the gift of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.

  1. Love–Freely we have received God’s love and freely we should give love to others.
  2. Joy–A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).
  3. Peace–The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
  4. Patience–Be patient with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).
  5. Kindness–Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).
  6. Goodness–Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act (Proverbs 3:27).
  7. Gentleness–Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5).
  8. Faithfulness–Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other (Psalm 85:10).
  9. Self-Control–Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city (Proverbs 16:32).

THINK ABOUT IT

I don’t always wake up with joy, but when I open my devotional guide, my heart begins to say, “I love you Jesus.” As I linger in God’s presence, my composure changes and the day has a beautiful beginning. However, things happen during the day, sometimes hurtful or frustrating things, and I have to pray for an attitude adjustment. God is faithful. His mercies are new every day.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for your love, your presence and your word. Let these change the way we respond to challenges we face each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Five Steps to Abundant Life

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A branch that falls from the vine looks fine for a while, but when it can no longer draw nourishment from the vine, it dies. We are like that too. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Our Father, the Gardener, throws away dead branches and prunes good branches so they will bear more fruit. Pruning might be painful at the time, but it is beneficial. God disciplines us and teaches us how to bear the fruit of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). This cannot happen unless we abide in Jesus. The result is an abundant life. How do we abide so we can be fruitful? Pastor Warren Wiersbe said it this way:

  1. The more we know Jesus the more we will love Him.
  2. The more we love Him the more we will obey Him.
  3. The more we obey Him the more we abide in Him.
  4. The more we abide in Him the more fruit we will bear.
  5. The more fruit we bear the more abundant life we will experience.

THINK ABOUT IT

If you and I abide in Jesus, we will have abundant life. God will fill our lives to overflowing, and they will spill into the lives of those around us. It’s a kind of spiritual chain reaction that begins with spending time with our Lord–reading His word, lingering in His presence and heart talks with Him about all that concerns us. He loves us and never grows tired of hearing our prayers. He never sleeps or slumbers. He is always available whether it is the dark of night or the light of day. That is a True Friend, indeed.

PRAY ABOBUT IT

O Lord, send your Spirit on us. Draw us to your word. Speak to us and bless us so much that we will be your witnesses in this dark world. Let your light shine in us so others will experience your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Victory in Brokenness

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What do we do with shattered dreams that come from natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes or forest fires? Loss of home, possessions, health, wealth, loved ones, employment . . . Most of us fall into despair like the darkness of night. We feel helpless. Friend, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Robert Schuler said, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.” People who find strength in the Lord find peace in the midst of terrible circumstances. God can bring beauty from ashes, peace from conflict, and victory over despair. When everything looks hopeless, look up. God is with you. He will never forsake you but will help you get through bad times. We have a Friend in Jesus who saves us from a life of sin, which separates us from God. Then He walks with us in good times and bad times. He never sleeps or slumbers. He never grows weary of hearing our cries for help. We can trust in Him.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted . . . and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:2-3).

THINK ABOUT IT

If we put our hope only in things we can see or touch, we will be disappointed and discouraged. A man once lost all he had in a hurricane. The disaster relief team prayed for him after they spent a day clearing away trees and debris. He said, “I haven’t been to church in a long time, but I think I’ll start going now.” One of the men who worked on his property asked him what had changed his mind. He said, “When all that was left of my house was a few boards, I found written on a door frame, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand.'” Tears rolled down the man’s face as he thanked the men who worked and prayed for him.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, I pray that you help the many people who live in challenging circumstances to live by faith in you, not in the things they see. Be their rock and their refuge in times of deep despair. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Praise, Thanksgiving, Worship

Statue of King David in Jerusalem

The statue of King David with his harp stands across a passage way from the City of David in Jerusalem. Although God loves all people, the Jews are His chosen people. The root of the Hebrew word for Jew is praise, thanksgiving and worship. King David personified these in His writing of many of the Psalms. “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!” (Psalm 34:1-3).

So why have the Jews been so hated? They were enslaved in Egypt, destroyed by the Romans, nearly annihilated by Hitler, scattered over the whole world, run out of Brittain and Spain. The elite Jews, the Pharisees, hated Jesus–the King of the Jews, and finally crucified Him. Yet, He rose from the grave and is alive today through the person of the Holy Spirit, who comforts and counsels us.

THINK ABOUT IT

Jews have excelled in science, music, entertainment and sports. Accomplishments and awards last only a little while. Even in as short a time as five years, few people remember the names of Olympic gold medalists, Emmy or Grammy award winners. Yet, all we do for God’s kingdom will last forever. What do you think the difference is? 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Do everything in love,” and 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” What we do or say impacts the people around us, and if we do it in love, it brings glory to God. Lives are changed for the kingdom.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father, for making a way for us to be in the family of God. Help us to always be mindful that our gifts and callings are from you. Help us to use our talents and abilities in ways that honor You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Touch of Spring

Garvan Woodland Gardens, AR

The daffodils and tulips that grow in the cold and darkness of winter bud and blossom in the Spring. We welcome their color with joy and anticipation of warmer days and the flowers to come–roses, camellias, azaleas, crepe myrtles, hydrangeas and gardenias, to mention a few. It’s like the earth is casting away the old and putting on the new.

Our lives as Christians have a touch of Spring when we put away the old sinful nature that grew in our own darkness–things like anger, fear, anxiety, malice, destruction, greed–and we put on the new, forgiven life, a fulfilled life, knowing our God is always with us, always blessing us. A God who never sleeps or slumbers.

THINK ABOUT IT

Like the flowers, we bear fruit that attracts others to us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit makes us love others and do good, even to those who don’t like us. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). How will the world know about God’s love unless we love them? How will you use your gifts and callings to reach a world that desperately needs Jesus?

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for the loveliness of Spring. Let it be born in us so others might experience your amazing love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Roots

A perfect tree with green leaves in the shape of sphere with roots underground. This is a 3d render illustration

What is the most important part of a tree? We might think it is the part above the ground because it is what we see, but the root, the part we don’t see, is what makes the tree beautiful. The root provides food and water for growth and strength to endure storms.

It is that way with us too. People might judge us on our outward appearance, but our value is inside, the part of us people do not see first. We get food for physical nourishment so our bodies grow strong. We also feed our minds with what we read or watch on movies or TV.

As a young mother I told my children, “Garbage in, garbage out.” I wanted them to choose wisely what they read, watched or listened to. It’s easy to become self-indulged or self-centered by soaking in all the things that are important to us. That’s how I was for too many years, more than I want to admit. That mindset took me down a road to destruction. Nothing good came of my selfish endeavors.

I finally asked God for help and began to read my Bible. I learned about Jesus, His compassion and love for me. I learned about His promises and character. Then I wanted to be more like Him, to show love and compassion, forgiveness, mercy and hospitality. This is the part that grows on the inside but eventually can be seen on the outside. People see the good things we do. They see joy and peace instead of anxiety, anger or malice. These are roots that help others.

THINK ABOUT IT

When Samuel went to the home of Jesse to anoint the new king of Israel, God said, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Out of all Jesse’s sons, God chose David, the youngest boy. He was out tending sheep. Do you wonder what set David apart from the others? He had a heart for God. We can develop a heart for God by reading His word and spending time with Him in prayer. He is waiting to hear from you, and He’s always available. He neither slumbers or sleeps.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Father God, help us to be more like Jesus. Help us to have a heart like His–compassionate, forgiving and merciful. When the going gets tough, help us to turn to you and know our own strength so we might become the people you created us to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.