Devotional: I Want to Give It All Away

Often my children remind me just how greatly and simply they understand the principles of the Lord. They are a constant reflection of Christ’s words in Matthew 18:3 – “Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. At 8 & 6 years old, my kids just “get it”.

On the way to church Sunday, my son announced that he was bringing all his money to donate to Jason (an orphan boy the Sunday School classrooms support each year). He’d gathered every dollar in his possession and had his treasure clutched between his tiny fingers, ready to give it all away to a child he’s never met. Instantly, his generous spirit laid bare an overarching principle that I still struggle with well into my 30s. “Ours” is really God’s. He doesn’t need our stuff…but wants to bless our lives through giving. Continue reading

Devotional – Casting Cares

One of my favorite things about writing down my devotionals is that I can come back to them and see how much (or in this case, how little) I’ve grown. I wrote this in 2011 – and the words convicted me this morning every bit as much as three years ago.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

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Devotional – Secrets in Public

John 7:4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.

What a great verse. So incredibly appropriate for me today. Somehow, I mixed up my daily readings and did today’s devotional yesterday. So, I’m doing what should have been yesterday’s today. But God knew I needed this exact verse this morning. It’s always amazing to me when I see so clearly that the Lord is showing me something. When He meets me right where I’m at and opens His word to me.

This premise is pretty basic. If you are willing to be openly known, you won’t be doing things secretly. Another translation talks about being a public figure and having secrets. You only need to look at Tiger Woods to know how that turns out. Continue reading

Devotional – My Squirt Little Brother

1 Samuel 17:8 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

One of the most well-known stories in the Bible, the tale of David and Goliath was one of my favorites as a child. To this day I love the trust David displays in the Lord. The unwavering knowledge that since God was with him, nothing could destroy him. He went out to battle ready to face what none other would because he knew firsthand the faithfulness of God. And didn’t doubt Him for a second. What I have never caught before in reading this chapter in 1 Samuel is the reaction of David’s brother. The anger and snide remarks seem to betray loathing for David’s faith in the Lord. Or maybe Eliab’s history with David made him unable to see the mighty call God had on his brother’s life. He took David’s sureness of the Lord’s might as bravado, conceit and wickedness. I wonder how often my familiarity with people in my life taints my view of them. Instead of seeing them as God does, I judge them based on past experiences. Continue reading

Devotional – Using His “Mom Voice”

1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied:    “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

We view obedience as such a nasty word. We require it of children, so once we reach adulthood we feel vindicated in stomping our foot and saying “Nobody is going to tell me what to do anymore!”. Sometimes we disobey God with the best of intentions. We think we are pleasing Him with our efforts. That thru service to Him, sacrifice in our lives and giving to others we’ll be bringing pleasure to the Lord. Other times it’s more blatant – like the king of Israel in chapter 15 of Samuel. He knew what God had commanded him to do, but in his own pride, thought he knew better. The spoils of war were not the offering God asked for, but Saul thought they would be a good enough replacement for the obedience he would not give to the Lord. Many times I bring my own version of “the fat of rams” to God as an example of how much I love Him – when all He’s asked of me is to hear His voice and obey it. God doesn’t ask for showy gifts or lives lived in utter sacrifice and deprivation. All He wants is for us to be His kids. To know Him and follow His guidance in our lives. Continue reading

Devotional – (sigh)

Mark 8:11-12 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”

Wait. Jesus sighed? Like I do when I’m frustrated? When I’m sick of being asked the same thing over and over? He felt that way too? As I read this passage today, I was struck with the humanity of Jesus in the simple act of sighing. I looked up the Greek word for “sighed deeply” here and guess what. It’s the only place in the entire Bible the word (anastenazō – to draw sighs up from the bottom of the breast, to sigh deeply) is used. The only place! Apparently I express frustration through sighing a whole lot more than people in the Bible. If stories are ever written about my life, the phrase “She sighed deeply and said…” will be used constantly. Continue reading

Devotional – Walking Away

Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

I read once that integrity is doing the right thing – even when nobody is watching. The fact is, it’s really difficult for our private thoughts and actions to mirror those up for public consumption. Even harder for me than achieving personal integrity is the unrest I feel when in my relationships with others, things don’t add up. There’s a disquieting of my mind as I try to think thru conversations and understand the motivation of others. There are things in my life I don’t want to talk about with others. Areas I’m ashamed of. While I can be honest with myself about where my personal convictions stand, I will never know the whole picture behind someone else’s actions. I cannot possibly hope to understand what drives others responses in life. The full truth of where they are. But God does. Continue reading

Devotional – You Can Bring Your Shoes

Mark 6:8-9 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.

Jesus was sending his disciples out to preach repentance. They were going to heal the sick and drive out demons, but they were not to take with them money, food or a change of clothes. Why?

It’s amazing how much I depend on God when I’ve reached the end of my rope. When I have nothing on the journey to sustain me, it’s much easier to turn to the Lord to fill my needs. Obviously I’m making some assumptions here, but if the disciples had been given several weeks of spending money for hotels, a carry-on of clean tunics and enough groceries to last their trip – do you think they would have been in a place of reliance on God? Continue reading

Devotional – Momentary Troubles

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

These verses today reinforced for me something I heard in my church service on Sunday. Here’s what I wrote in my notes: “When we take anger and turn it inward, it becomes depression. When we take anger and turn it outward, it becomes gossip. When we take anger and turn it downward (start listening to the lies of Satan), it becomes oppression. Only when we take our anger and turn it upward does it find the appropriate vent, and we are able to move on.” Sometimes, we have a right to be hurt. We have a valid reason to be angry. It’s what we do with those emotions that determine the lasting effect of them on our lives. Anger resolved improperly only becomes a bigger problem. We vent to other people and turn into gossips. We harbor resentment and it eats us alive.  But the process of allowing anger to exist in a healthy way is hard – because it requires us to turn our emotions over to the Lord. Continue reading

Devotional – Factory Settings

Romans 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Last night I had a total flip out. Completely lost it. I felt like I was going to vomit I was so incredibly upset. I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed for about 10 minutes. I cannot remember ever doing that before.

Here’s the story:

I’m working on a wedding slide show for my baby sister, who’s getting married in about a month. I went to retrieve some photos from my back-up hard drive, which I purchased specifically to hold the thousands upon thousands of pictures that were clogging up my C drive on my main computer. I’ve been systematically moving my photo files over to the back-up drive and then (after checking to verify they are in fact copied on the back-up), deleting the files off my main computer to free up space. I’m sure you can all guess what’s coming – when I went to pull up the “Windsor 2010” file, which held about 700 photos from our recent all family vacation in Windsor, it wasn’t there. As in, not where I filed it. I didn’t panic until I’d done my customary search thinking I just mis-filed it or hadn’t actually transferred it to the back-up drive yet. But it wasn’t on my C drive either. Wasn’t on any drive I searched. Wasn’t anywhere.

I started to flip out thinking of how on earth I was going to tell my parents and siblings that all those hundreds of photos – including the “formal” family shots we’d taken hours to shoot were gone. Then I hit the wall…the thing that put me over the edge. I realized that somehow the back-up drive had auto refreshed…and had copied exactly what was now showing on my C drive. Which meant that it wasn’t just the Windsor file that was missing…all the photo files I’d deleted from there were now erased from my back-up. Files which included every picture I’d taken of my daughter since she was born 4 years ago. Every. Single. One. Gone. The moments after her birth, Christmases, birthdays, her first smile, first bath, first everything. All of them erased in some horrible factory setting auto-refresh. Continue reading