Devotion

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

1 Corinthians 4:2-4

For years, I have noticed blackbirds swooping at hawks, basically attacking them in the air. This year, I saw the phenomenon six or seven times, much more than usual. I felt sorry for the hawk, such a beautiful and majestic animal. I imagined the hawk out on a leisurely flight, when out of nowhere three blackbirds dive bomb him. The hawk would fly away with the other birds still pursuing. I wondered if they ever gave him any peace.

Then, I realized how many judgments I had made in that scenario. Maybe the hawk had attacked the blackbirds first. Or perhaps the hawk had swooped in on the blackbirds’ nest, intent on having a baby blackbird for breakfast (try saying that five times fast). How was I to know what happened before the scene that I witnessed?

This became a lesson to me in judging. How can I judge another person when I don’t know what’s going on in their life? And even if I think I know what is going on in someone else’s life, I still shouldn’t judge because I don’t know what they’re thinking about what’s going on. My judgments are probably wrong.

And we can flip this around also. Don’t worry about what others think of you when they judge, because they don’t really know you, they don’t know what you’re going through, and they’re probably wrong.

God is the only one with true sight—internal and external. Make your peace with Him and move on.

Dear Lord, help me to remember that You are my only judge and You show me mercy whenever I ask for it. Help me to release other people to Your judgment, not subject them to mine. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Devotion

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me for you are my rock and my fortress.

Psalm 71:3

I’ve studied the craft of writing for many years. One of the things suspense writers work on is leaving a scene at the moment of the most tension.

Imagine a scene from the novel I just finished. The heroine is kidnapped by the bad guy and he is forcing her to climb a large mountain, tethered to him by a rope. Partway up, she falls into a hidden ice crevasse—a huge crack in a glacier—where she dangles above the darkness suspended only by the rope the bad guy holds. That’s where I leave the scene.

Rather than end the chapter with her getting out of the ice crevasse and all is well, I leave the reader desperate to turn the page and find out what happens next. Tension keeps the pages turning.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t do that to us?

He never leaves us at the moment of our highest tension. He doesn’t set us swinging at the end of a rope wondering if anybody is around to help.

He is always right there, using one hand to hold us up and the other to wrap our heart in his peace. If you are struggling today, cry out to Him. He is able to take all of your tension upon Himself.

Dear Lord, thank you for Your faithfulness. You never abandon me. Your perfect love surrounds me always. Help me to remember this truth. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Devotion

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Phil 3:10

Ever have one of those days or seasons in your life where everything comes at you at once? When that happens, some people yell at God, asking Him to back off a little. Now, I don’t mind a little attitude directed at God. He’s heard me sass Him more than a few times. But it seems to me we might be sending our attitude in the wrong direction.

Certainly, God allows things into our lives—He’s the one in control after all—but that doesn’t mean He’s throwing all this stuff at us. Satan is more than willing to chuck our way anything he can find.

Yes, God allows it, because He knows we can stand up to the devil—with Jesus’s help. And anything that makes us lean more on Jesus advances God’s perfect will.

So you could tell Satan to back off instead, but I think we should take our big attitudes and tell Satan to bring it on! The more grief he gives us, the more God can be glorified.

Don’t be afraid of the evil one. Fear is his only weapon. The deeper the pain we experience, the greater the joy of deliverance.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us Your way to overcome the suffering and evil of this world. Help us to lean on You. We need not fear, but we need Your strength. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Devotion

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:7-8

This devotion is for those who have loved ones or people close to you who do not believe in Jesus. For me, this would be the rest of my immediate family and several friends. When I try to explain what life is like with Jesus, they can’t understand because they haven’t experienced it. Sort of like trying to tell someone what it’s like to fall in love. They can imagine it, they can watch it on television, but until they fall for that special person, they can’t understand.

Sometimes I get discouraged as I wait for my loved ones to fall in love with Jesus. Part of the reason for this is because no one knows the true dynamic interaction which happens inside a person. Each person has a choice and must choose Jesus or not. And yet God also says He is the one to open hearts (John 6:44).

Are my loved ones not choosing God or is it not the time He has chosen to open their hearts? Either way, the wait seems too long for me. When I get anxious or impatient, I try to remember the verse above. This verse says that if we remain close to Jesus, we can ask whatever we wish and we will receive it—as long as it’s in God’s will. Since God wants none to perish (2 Peter 3:9), then the salvation of our loved ones must be in His will.

Keep believing. Practice patience as you trust God’s timing. Stay close to Jesus and earnestly pray for those who need Him.

Dear Lord, we release our loved ones to You. You love them even more than we do. Let our lives show them the joy of knowing You. And bring them to You in Your time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Devotion

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles an creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:7-8

The other day I betrayed a confidence. Not on purpose, and it was actually out of excitement for the other person, but my tongue slipped just the same. The shame of it ate me up inside for days.

James understood how hard it is to tame the beast in our mouths. Over the years I’ve seen the reality of Luke 6:45—For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

What we harbor in our heart comes out of our mouths. Of course, we try to control it, keep a lock on our lips, but when we let our guard down even just a little, what’s in our hearts comes out through our mouths.

I tend to have a dry sense of humor, some might even say sarcastic. Years ago the remarks which would slip from my mouth would be sharp and cutting, not meant to hurt anyone, but certainly not kind. My heart overflowed and sewage came out. God has dealt with many of those heart issues in me and I’m grateful that my slips now come from excitement and happiness, although I still need to listen closer for the inner promptings of the spirit telling me to keep my mouth shut.

If you have trouble, as I do, wrangling the beast we call a tongue, try committing this scripture to memory. It has done amazing things in my life.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Dear Lord, cleanse my heart, so my words can honor You. I give You the keys to my heart, so You may be the gatekeeper of my mouth. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Devotion

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

I watched a TV show the other night where this guy took on a challenge to get a date from any girl using only baby talk. You can probably guess he didn’t have any luck at all. A grown man talking like a baby wasn’t attractive.

And yet, when my youngest daughter says “nola bar” for granola bar, I think it’s the cutest thing in the world. Why? Because she isn’t supposed to know better. She isn’t mature.

When we examine ourselves, can we say we are spiritually mature? After accepting the amazing gift of salvation, our spiritual work isn’t done. God wants us to grow and mature in our faith. The author of Hebrews makes this point in the verse above.

Maybe you’re a new Christian and you’re exactly where you need to be. But if you’ve been a Christian for a while, God has a plan to help you grow. This could mean getting involved in Bible Study, Mens/Womens groups, Journey groups or even starting a daily time with God. It doesn’t matter where you start from, just move toward Him.

Dear Lord, thank you for the way you have made us to need You. Help us to stretch our spiritual wings and soar. Keep us growing, keep us humble and above all keep us focused on You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Devotion

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 13:20

Who are you walking with? Are your closest friends walking down a spiritual path?

We are called to be a light to those who don’t believe in Jesus. Some people think this means we should walk with unbelievers to show them we care.

I agree, to a point. Of course we should show everyone Jesus’ love, but we cannot tread down a path of unrighteousness and stay pure before God.

While we must not condemn unbelievers for what they do, we also cannot condone sinful behavior. If we’re walking with God, then we will be strong enough to come beside them, turn them gently and guide them in a different path.

Dear Lord, give us your love for those who don’t know you. Help us to look past their behavior and into their souls. And give us the strength to turn them to You and away from sin without falling into sin ourselves. In Jesus’ name, amen.