Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Still Small Voice

Do you ever search for direction from God? When I need his guidance, I would like to get some type of huge announcement or spectacular display so there’s no doubt what God wants me to do. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear an audible voice like that of Morgan Freeman, see an enormous billboard, or feel the heat of a burning bush? We watch and wait for an extraordinary sign that will announce His will, but God is often found not in the extraordinary, but in the ordinary.

In 1 Kings 19, Elija is in quite a mess after proving Baal was not the mighty god that many prophets claimed. His life has been threatened. He is feeling very alone and possibly sunk into a deep depression due to the circumstances. Elijah truly needed a sign from God.

Verses 11-12 say, “And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”

When Elijah needed to hear God’s voice, there were massive events that Elijah probably assumed would lead to hearing from God. But even when God wasn’t in any of those moments, Elijah had enough faith to keep waiting. Eventually he heard not a loud booming voice, but instead, the still small voice of God.

When someone whispers, we have a tendency to pay closer attention. I know my eighth grade students all strain to hear every word if someone in the room is whispering. As I get older, I have discovered that I must focus even more to hear a whisper as I get older. If only we all strived that intently to hear God’s still small voice.

So why would God speak to us in such a quiet voice? Maybe His desire is simply that we draw near to Him. Stop looking for a huge announcement. Slow down, tune out all the distractions, and just focus on what He has to say. If we truly want to hear God’s voice, we need to purposely go to a quiet place and listen closely for that still small voice.

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It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We’ve probably all said it or at least thought it when an unexpected crisis left us gasping for breath. Accidents happen. Bad decisions are made. Illness suddenly strikes. Death occurs. These events are not a part of our plan and will shake us to our core.

Before David was crowned king, he experienced one of these life shattering moments. In 1 Samuel 30, he and his men returned home to find their city in ruins and their families had been taken captive. Verse 4 says, So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

The remainder of chapter 30 tells how David faced an unexpected crisis and provides some valuable lessons for our own challenges, even the small stuff.

1. Find strengthIt’s okay to cry, but find strength from the Lord as David did. (v. 6)

2. Pray for God’s direction – David inquired of the Lord (v. 8). Don’t react out of anger but instead seek God first.

3. Fight the enemy if God leads – Don’t allow Satan to knock you down and win. Get back up and fight! (v. 8, 17)

4. Some people may not stick with you or may turn against you – David’s men turned against him (v.6) and some were too exhausted to go to battle with David (v. 9-10). Unfortunately, your problems may be too intense for some friends to handle. Be thankful for those who offer support.

5. Minister to others despite your own crisis – David took time to stop and care for a man in need (v. 11). Ministering to others’ needs can relieve some of the stress of your own situation.

6. Share God’s blessings and grace with others – David shared the plunder with all (v. 26) Don’t keep to yourself God’s blessings through this crisis. You never know how it may help someone else.

When life isn’t going the way you thought it would, are you going to allow the unexpected crisis to break you, or will you jump up ready for battle? Satan will be waiting to crush your spirit, but instead go to God and ask Him how you should proceed. There is no crisis greater than God’s power and direction.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. There are many seasons in life, and some will be difficult. But praise God there will also be many times to laugh and dance!

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New Year, New Commitment

Well it’s that time again. Time to reflect on the past year, time to consider behaviors and attitudes that need to be adjusted, and time to refocus on those things that are most important.

As a new year approaches, Psalm 91:1 seems to be standing out for me. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

What is this secret place? It is a place of constant communion or close fellowship with God. When we stay closely connected to Him, we will also reside under His shadow where we will find rest from the heat that often makes a situation seem unbearable. His shadow also provides a shade of protection and a refuge from the storm. It’s a place where we can find comfort, peace, and safety.

When I am far from God, not relying on Him or worshipping Him daily, then I am also far from the comfort of His shadow. That’s when I find myself sweating the small stuff and frustrated that the heat is so intense. I may feel desperate, begin to doubt God, and take matters into my own hands. What I need is to move back to that secret place and recommit to Him.

Whether your New Years’ Resolution is to do away with bad habits or to improve some aspect of yourself, the most important key is to habitually dwell in the secret place because doing it alone often leads to resolutions that are quickly tossed aside.

This year, before making any other resolution, make a new commitment to live in the shelter of the Most High,

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I am with You

Two years ago my daughter and I flew for the first time. We were both a little anxious about the entire process from security to landing and even how to make our way out of the airport. Since we were alone, we had no choice but to be strong, push forward, and walk through this journey together.

I had prayed many times for God to give us courage and for protection, and thankfully the entire trip was very smooth compared to all the concerns which had rushed through my mind in the days leading up to our flight.

My daughter, Lindsey, was anxious but also excited for her first flight. I, on the other hand, am afraid of heights, terrified on roller coasters, want to feel in control, and had the intentions of never, ever flying!

She immediately opened the window to see everything going on. I sat afraid to even look until the plane seemed to have leveled off and was no longer ascending higher into the air. When I finally did look out that tiny window, I was amazed at the beauty and comforted by the peace that I felt.

After landing and meeting my husband and son-in-law, we began to look through the pictures Lindsey had taken from the air.

When I saw this photo, I was immediately drawn to something that we had not seen as we were flying . I quickly zoomed in and very clearly saw an image which to me represented Jesus.

I was moved to tears. It seemed as though God was showing us that He had been with us throughout the trip. Although we did not see this image in the clouds when the photo was taken, He was there! It reminds me of the disciples in a boat as a storm raged all around them. They were so fearful, but Jesus was right there with them in that boat!

This zoomed-in photo has been the screen saver on my phone since that moment. It is a constant reminder of God’s presence through this earthly journey.

Two weeks after that flight, our family faced a raging storm when my husband was struck by a fire truck. It was a difficult time and still is sometimes, but I know without any doubt that God is with us!

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Regardless of what you’re going through or what emotions you are struggling with, God can give you peace in the storm. You can face anything with confidence that God is with you. Whether it’s an exciting moment that causes just a little anxiety or something that causes great fear and a loss of control, He is there!

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God’s Mighty Works

When life is tough and nothing seems to be going right, remember and focus on the mighty things that God has done in the past. He has led you through troubled waters before and made a way where no way seemed possible. He is still a God of miracles and mercy!

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Eagle’s Wings

Do you ever feel like life has pushed you off the edge of a cliff, and you are flailing about in slow motion just waiting to crash into the hard ground? The good news is that God is right there ready to catch you.

As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them up on its wings, so the Lord alone led him. – Deuteronomy 32:11-12. When the baby eagle has grown enough to learn to fly, the mother eagle pushes him from the nest and lovingly hovers near. When necessary, she spreads her wings, and catches that little one in the safety of her protective wings.

Like a baby eagle, sometimes we must be pushed out of the nest in order to grow and learn to fly on our own. At times, God allows situations to come into our lives in order to grow our faith, to teach us to trust Him, and to remind us of His loving presence.

When it feels as if your life is out of control and you’ve been pushed from the nest, remember that God is hovering, ready to swoop in, and carry you on His wings. He will not let you fall. You just have to focus on Him, and He will lead you just as the mother eagle leads her young.

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Ready for Change

Students and teachers all over the country are preparing for a new school year. Even though they may be returning to the same school, there will be an element of change such as new teachers or students, new friends, different classes, different expectations. They prepare by purchasing new clothes and new school supplies, making plans, and building expectations.

What do you do when you’re expecting a change in your life? In most instances, we also begin making plans and gathering the necessary supplies to make that change easy and successful. We often do whatever is necessary to be sure we are ready for that change.

One Sunday, the preacher asked how many of us came to church expecting change and how many came prepared for change. Thankfully he didn’t ask for a show of hands because honestly that question knocked the air out of my sails. I was forced to admit to myself and God that I’ve just been going through the motions lately.

I am normally a person who prepares for change. I’ve spent most of the summer preparing for the change in my teaching position. There were so many things to do and learn, and my primary focus was on getting ready for the change. But lately I’ve failed to prepare my heart and mind for the change that God wants to do in my own personal life, in my walk with Him, in my heart, and in all other areas of my life on a regular basis.

As Christians, we are called to be more Christlike, and let’s face it, we are far from that goal. It’s an ongoing project that will not be complete until our time on earth is done, so we must take every opportunity to seek those changes which need to be made.

God calls us to be different from the world in Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. In order for us to be transformed, we must be ready to change.

Spend time in prayer before church services and ask God to prepare your heart to be willing to recognize any change which He is calling you to make. Spend time during the week reading His word and taking time to hear what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. Change doesn’t just happen. We have to prepare and plan for it. Get up and get ready for God’s change in your life. You’ll be glad you did!

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