Let the Son Shine In

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On cloudy days, we say the sun is not shining. It’s not true. The sun is always shining, but clouds cover the earth and block the sun. Plants, flowers and trees concealed from the sun do not receive the sun’s energy for life and growth. Fortunately, clouds move out of the way and life goes on.

Did you know that as the sun is always shining, God is always pouring His amazing grace down upon you? His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). During hard times or suffering we may think God is far away or maybe He doesn’t care. That’s not true. However, our stress and worry are like clouds that block God’s mercies. His love is constant, unstoppable and never-ending.

THINK AOUT IT

Will God take us out of our circumstances? Probably not, but we can access His peace by letting go of the tension and trusting Him to carry us through. When I have been sick with a high fever, all I could think about was my suffering. All I could say in prayer was, “Help me, Jesus! Help me!” I knew in my heart that God would never leave me, that He was right there with me. That truth made me thankful, and I began to praise and worship God in my heart.

I found that praise and worship are powerful. As I waited on the Lord, He restored my soul. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).

PRAY ABOUT IT

Oh Lord, help us to let your Son shine His light into our darkest days. Heal us and revive us so we can serve you again with more strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your Protection

Armor of God collection of elements. Long sword of the spirit, readiness wooden shield of faith, armour helmet of salvation, breathpate, sandals of readiness, belt of truth. Vector illustration

Did you think when you accepted God’s amazing love through salvation that life would be easy? Not so! Trouble is part of life for believers. Our enemy was not happy the day Jesus entered our lives. It was all hands on deck for the devil and his buddies. He uses every doubt or failure or sickness or weakness to discourage us. He is the father of lies and destruction.

Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12). Paul used metaphors from the Roman centurion’s armor to describe the protection we need every day as a Christian. He said, “Stand firm then, with:

The belt of truth buckled around your waist;

The breastplate of righteousness in place;

With your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation,

And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:13-17).

THINK ABOUT IT

Did you notice that? Nothing works without prayer. It’s the glue that holds the armor together. Truth is the foundation of our faith and protects us from the lies and deceit of our enemy. It’s the piece of armor that holds the other parts in place. The weight of the breastplate on a man’s shoulders would bring him to his knees without the support of the belt. In the same way, truth supports the righteousness imputed to us at salvation. The feet were fitted with a readiness for battle. The soldier’s shoes were a combination of sandals and boots–strips of leather, adjustable, with layers of leather on the soles. Think of the gospel of peace as the shoe that enhanced the soldier’s (believer’s) mobility. Then take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Be certain, we are in real warfare, but not without protection. Each piece of armor is for our advantage, and prayer is what God uses to partner with us and make us victorious over our enemy. He is always with us and will never leave us to fight alone.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, thank you for being our defense. Teach us to be aware of the snares the devil uses against us. Help us to know your presence and trust your protection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sick and Tired

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Are you sick and tired? Tired of all the stress and struggle at work? Tired of feeling like your kids’ taxi driver? Tired of the news? the world situation? I have felt all these things. That’s why I love this Scripture: Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

That’s the answer! Rest for your soul. When my head hits the pillow at night, I still feel like I’m spinning, like on a merry-go-round, and I whisper a prayer to God, “Give me rest and peace.” He says to me, “Be still.” It takes a while before the spinning stops, but I keep pleading for help. I fall asleep praying, “Help me, Jesus. Help me Jesus.” And God is faithful. He is always with me to comfort me and give me peace.

THINK ABOUT IT

When my heart returns to Matthew 11:28-30, I think of being yoked with Jesus. In middle-eastern thinking, a yoke is a teaching. It makes the next phrase make sense to me: “learn from me.” I particularly like the next part–being yoked (as with oxen) with Jesus. He is gentle and humble in heart, and I will find rest for my soul. Being yoked with Jesus is like partnering with Him. He is with me to help me, encourage and strengthen me. He bears the load with me. This makes my work easier. Even Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, that you partner with me to lighten my burden and give me rest. Help is what I need. Rest is what I long for. Be in me today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Mystery of the Magi

January 6 is the day during the year when we commemorate the visit of the Magi to Mary, Joseph and Jesus in Bethlehem. The Bible says in Matthew 2 that they came from the East–probably not as far east as China, but more like Babylon or Persia, modern day Iraq or Iran.

They are believed to be astrologers since they followed a star that led them to Bethlehem where Mary and Joseph lived following the birth of Jesus. Was the star part of a natural phenomenon or a miraculous event? It’s a mystery.

Another mystery is in the gifts the Magi gave to Jesus: Gold for a King, frankincense for a Priest, and Myrrh for a Savior. Did they know that the newborn king would be all these in one person?

THINK ABOUT IT

Who is Jesus to you? King? Priest? Savior? Teacher? Comforter? Counselor? Friend? Although Jesus lived on earth only thirty-three years, He changed the world more than any one person ever has or ever will. His great love penetrates hearts and restores souls. His great act of forgiveness on the cross paves the way for us to have a relationship with a living God.

To answer my own question, Jesus his all those to me and more. He gives my life meaning and purpose. Hope has displaced despair. I have peace instead of anxiety and new mercies every day instead of feelings of apathy. Friend, all these are available to you through the amazing love of God. Seek Him. You will find Him. He promised that.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of Jesus, His amazing love and forgiveness. I pray for my friends who have not experienced your love–that you would make them aware of your presence in their lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

One Day at a Time

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To experience the amazing love of God changes people’s lives. At first it might seem daunting or overwhelming to adjust from living for self to living for God. The truth is that the will of God is meant to lived one day at a time.

When the Israelites left Egypt and traveled through the wilderness, God provided mana for them each day. If people worried about having enough for tomorrow and gathered more than the allotted amount, the maggots got the extra.

Jeremiah the prophet said, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22).

Jesus said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).

God’s provision is daily. We don’t have to budget our blessings allowance as if we will run out. God loves us more than we can imagine and He is faithful to bless and provide.

THINK ABOUT IT

Think for a moment about the benefits of living one day at a time.

  • No worries. God has you covered.
  • No anxiety. Joshua said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). God knew fear would be a problem for us. His word says, “Do not be afraid” at least 365 times–one for every day of the year.
  • No grudges. Living one day at a time affords no one the opportunity to hold grudges that turn into bitterness or malice.
  • No jealousy or coveting. We can be content with what we have as we live in God’s will, knowing He cares about our wants and needs.
  • No hate or animosity. Jesus said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
  • No thinkable pasts. Living a day at a time, we do not pine over our past failures and despair; nor do we pride ourselves with great success. We make the best of every moment, every hour, every day as serving God Himself.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you Father God, for your great mercies that never fail. We don’t have to worry that we will ever run out of your grace, forgiveness or abundant life. Help us to remember to live for you each day as if it was all that mattered. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What If?

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People at the end of life usually talk about what is really important to them. Some of Jesus’ last words while He was in this world were, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Although Jesus said these words in the presence of His friends, they were not only for them but for us too. Once we experience the amazing love of God, it is too good not to share. It was meant to flow through us to others. Think of springs of living water welling up in us and spilling over and onto the people we meet. People on the other side of the globe need to know about God’s love, and so do the people in our neighborhoods. Who will tell them? Will you invite them into your home or to church or to a Christian event? Will you be around to answer questions or teach a class or mentor a young person?

THINK ABOUT IT

What if Moses had not written down his experiences with God on Mount Sinai? What if he kept the tablets of the Ten Commandments as souvenirs from his time on top of the mountain? What if Jacob or Isaiah or Jeremiah or Peter, James or John had kept God’s message inside of themselves? What if Jesus hadn’t spent time talking about the Father’s love? What if Paul hadn’t written letters to the churches to explain the truth of the gospel and what it meant? I am so glad these people didn’t think their faith was a private thing and that they took time to teach and to write down the stories of what it means to experience God’s love and how to live for Him.

Why are we afraid to talk about God or His love or His ways? Are we afraid we might offend someone or that we might get rejected or persecuted? All the people mentioned above did offend people. They were rejected, persecuted and even martyred. Did they think it was worth it? Yes, God’s amazing love meant enough to them that they wanted others to receive it. Praise God!!

At the end of time, will you regret that you didn’t tell someone about Jesus? Did that person die before you took the opportunity? Will you be sorry about the things God called you to do that you left undone?

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, thank you for your prophets, preachers and teachers who went before us and told the truth about you and about Jesus; about your love and forgiveness; about peace and hope and blessings. O Lord, empower us with confidence and peace to reach a dark and dying world to help people come to know you and receive your love. 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.

The Lord is My Shepherd

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The Lord is my Shepherd–There is nothing I want or need more than you, Lord.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He provides for me and gives me peace beyond my comprehension.

He leads me beside quiet waters. Like streams in the desert, my Lord gives me peace in the midst of conflict and worldly stress.

He refreshes my soul. In His presence, in the quiet of the morning, He holds me close. He gives me strength and boldness for the day.

He guides me along the right paths for His names sake. As I seek Him, I find Him on the path of life. He teaches me deep things from His word that I apply to every-day circumstances.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, the valley of the shadow of death, I am not afraid because I know He is with me.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. I have confidence as God leads me along right paths. Even if I wander, He is faithful to find me and set my feet on solid ground. Thank you, Lord.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Sometimes I think I cannot bear the conflict or persecution, but you are always with me, encouraging me, making me strong.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Your mercies are new every morning, more than I can imagine but just what I need–not just for me but enough that spills over into the lives of those you give me.

I know your goodness and love will be with me all the days of my life. This is something I testify about to others so they might have the same assurance I do.

The best part is knowing I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I will live in your presence and experience your love and mercy today and into eternity.

THANK YOU, JESUS.

Help for the Suffering

depressed man sitting against the light reflected in the water

Do you suffer from injury, pain, disease or depression? Suffering has been a part of life from the time of Adam and Eve, and we all handle it in different ways. It’s a huge topic and difficult for me to know where to begin, but I want to tell you about the benefits of praise. The Bible records how many people dealt with pain. Job lost his family, wealth and health. I cannot imagine the pain of his boils, so severe he scraped them with shards of pottery–and he complained. Who wouldn’t?

In contrast, Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and put into the deepest, darkest part of prison with their feet in stocks. How unbearable their pain must have been! In the middle of the night they sang praises to God. They got the attention of the other prisoners and the jailer. Then it happened! An earthquake shook the jail. The cell doors flew open, and all the prisoners were free to go, but they stayed for the salvation of the jailer and his family.

Peter and John healed a paralyzed man and used the miracle to tell how the government and the temple leaders crucified Jesus, the Lord of glory, and how He rose from the grave for the salvation of those who believed. The temple rulers ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, but they said, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:19). The officials could not agree on how to punish them and so released them. Peter and John returned to their people to report what had happened and to give prayer and praise to God for His mighty works to save them (Acts 4).

THINK ABOUT IT

Most of us have not suffered like Job, been beaten and imprisoned like Paul and Silas or persecuted like Peter and John. However, things are changing quickly in our world. Are we ready to face persecution and suffering for what we believe? We might have to.

PRAY ABOUT I

Holy Lord, gracious Father, draw us so close to you that we will be confident in the day of testing. Speak boldly in us and give us peace even in suffering. 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.