Daily Devotion

His Guiding Hand

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my down sitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

As believers, we can have the confidence and assurance that there is the Master with the all seeing eye and ever present hand to go with us along each step of our journey.  This has not always been a reality to me. As I was a boy growing up in the small town of Patterson GA (700 residents at that time), I was aware that there was always someone watching me, but I thought it was the neighbors (Mama’s nosey informants), or one of my siblings!

It seemed to me that you could go nowhere or do anything that someone would not know and it would sometimes beat you back home. I happened to be talking to one of my cousins this week from out of town who, without knowledge of me writing this devotion, told me of a similar incident in her life where someone called her dad when she violated a rule and he met her at the door when she arrived home.

Remember, God is not always a hand to chastise and correct us when He sees we have done wrong, He is desirous to be a hand that guides us that we will enjoy the abundant life He has designed for us!

Psalm 139:7-10 ¶ Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Derwin Griffin



The Man Believed

John [4:46]-54

As a child I was enthralled with the original Star Wars trilogy. I had them in a boxed VHS special edition set. I wore them tapes out. I loved how Luke and Yoda could move things around and were just masters of the force. Being young (and stupid I suppose looking back) I thought there was a chance I might be a Jedi and that I could use the force.

One evening while watching my dad saw boards in the shop, I found an acorn and sat down on a milk crate and held it in my hand. I closed my eyes and focused hard on the acorn, trying to make it fly. I knew from Obi Wan I had to feel the force flowing through me. After no success I asked daddy if he thought I could do it. He came and stood by me said to try it again. I closed my eyes and thought hard and…. I felt the acorn rise from my hand! I opened my eyes and it was gone. Astonished I looked at my daddy to see him beaming. He said try to make it come back. I closed my eyes and concentrated and I felt it come back to my hand.

A few years passed and I grew to understand the force wasn’t real. It was a fictional power. I had believed I could do it from watching a work of fiction. Instead of putting my belief into something man made, I should have put my belief into something real, like the official in John [4:46].

The official (he was of Capernaum) found Christ in Cana. When he found Him he asked Him to go and heal his son in Capernaum. Christ gives him an unusual answer. “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

I must admit. I’m in that same boat sometimes. I need to have proof of something before I will admit to its authenticity. My dad has to have surgery on his ankle soon, and if you came up to me and said his ankle was healed without surgery I might not believe you. But the official approached him again, begging Him to come help his child. Christ gives him a little clearer answer this time, “Go on home, your son is ok.”

What did the man do? He believed. He believed the words that Jesus told him. After he believed he went on his way (there’s a lot there that can be covered another day). He got halfway home and he met his servants who told him the good news, your son is alive and well. We must do the like official from Capernaum. We must believe in what Jesus has told and taught us in His Word. We can’t put our faith in the force (Star Wars) or the things of this world. We must believe and trust in the sure foundation that is Christ.

Riley Lee



Like a Mirror

Matthew [5:16]  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

I’ve seen quite a few things written in these days about being the church. How the church is not the building. How the church continues even though we can’t go to the building right now in the way that we did in the past.  All true.

But think about this…. We Christians are blessed and saved and want to bless others, but we are still fallible. We make mistakes and say the wrong things. It is Jesus that people need at this time.

What we say and do needs to be like a mirror so that we reflect Jesus. When someone looks at what we do, they should not see us, they should see Jesus. Because He is our only Hope in this world.  Oh if people could just see Jesus!!



Satisfaction

I just finished reading a book entitled; Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen. It’s a challenging book that points to our need for dependence and faith in God above our belief and effort that we can create. Today’s short devotion reminds us a woman who after meeting Jesus fully committed herself to Him.

Her faith came about as she rested in the reality that Jesus knew her – and loved her.

“He told me everything I ever did” John [4:39]

As the Samaritan learned so too we can learn; God knows us fully. He loves us fully. Our faith in this truth will lead us to do as she did – to share with others this great news of Living Water.

Daniel Harding



Old Times and Old Timers

Luke [24:13]-35

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke [24:25]-27

Growing up I rather disliked the phrase, “We are going to your grandparents”.

Grandparents (to a teenager) are dreadfully boring. All my papa wanted to do was talk about cows and go out in the woods and chop up trees with his hacksaw. I made the mistake of going with him one afternoon and the old man nearly worked me to death. And grandma just wanted me to put up curtain rods and stand there and tell me what I’m doing wrong and about memories of her yester years. To me those were dreadfully boring times.

I think that many of us find hearing about old times pointless. That may spill over to reading the old testament. In my younger days reading about plagues, laws, and people with names like Ismerai, Jezliah, and Joab didn’t thrill me much. I didn’t see the point. And there was a couple of fellows walking to Emmaus that might have felt like we did. But they met a traveling companion that changed their minds. 

While He walked with them Jesus started at Moses taught them how He was everywhere in the Old Testament scriptures (which the Jews would have known). It’s easy for us to just quickly breeze over those texts and not look deeper. But here is an example of what we are missing if we just read them without digging deeper. 

In Exodus 26 God is giving instructions on the construction of the tabernacle. I freely admit just reading the description of the coverings, boards, and hardware is boring. Taking time to study the entire process gives us a picture of our church today.  

The outer covering was badger skin. This is what everyone would see from the outside. From my research it would be ugly to look at. Not pretty at all. But underneath that is the covering of rams skin. Dyed red. To us that represents the blood that Christ shed for us. And in the innermost parts you will see the curtains of fine twined linen. Things that are beautiful and pleasing to the eyes. 

And this is (to me) foreshowing how we and the world see the church. From the outside it’s ugly. Nothing to entice you to come in. But once you look deeper and see the whole picture you see how beautiful it is. And the more we look and learn about God the prettier the picture gets. 

It takes time and effort to look deeper into those Old Testament books, but there are countless pictures of Christ and His love for us. 

Riley Lee



Bent Trees

“At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.” NIV Job 14:7

In 2005, we lived in Southwest Louisiana. It was the worst hurricane season on record for our region.  The beginning of September, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Mississippi, Alabama Gulf Coast, it was devastating for that side of our state. On the heels of Katrina two weeks later, a hurricane formed in the Gulf that most forecasters said would not affect our area, but through a small shift to the left it tracked up the Sabine Pass and came hitting land as a Category 5 but quickly downgraded to a Cat 3…not much difference to tell the truth.

My elderly parents along with our nephew, would not evacuate for more than 50 miles away from their home, which was close to the coast.  We really did not think the storm would turn out to be as bad as it was. My husband who was a lineman for an electric cooperative 56 miles from our home along with my parents, we decided to “hunker down” and ride it out.  Now “riding it out” as we say in the swamp means that you cover your windows, stow everything that might be a flying object, cook tons of food, especially gumbo, have kerosene and batteries on hand with a gas or a camp stove of some sort, and fill your bathtubs with water and have plenty of coffee…that’s the drill! We grew up preparing for the storms all of lives. Oh and by the way, our home was two single wide mobile homes connected with a small building in between, that we sophisticatedly called the “Foyer”.  Not smart, not wise, but it was our port in the storm.

During the night. 6 hours, hours previously our power went out.  The winds started howling and grew louder and lightning with thunder bellowing constantly.  As my Momma, my nephew, Josh and I sat in the hallway with blankets over our heads, my Daddy and husband slept in the recliners throughout the night. Each time a gust would come through you could literally see the walls of the trailer breathing like person’s chest. In all of my life, in all of the hurricanes I have lived through and even served in the Civil Air Patrol as Civil Defense, I have never been that scared.

During the night, as my Momma and I were singing “Master of the Wind” Lord gave me peace and I could feel His presence. In my mind’s eye, I could see His Hands holding those trailers together as the dark night and the winds sought to destroy them and us inside.  When the dawn came and we looked outside, it looked like the Lord Himself walked in a circle around our home. Not one window was broken, no water inside the houses, no damage to our home. The pine trees stood tall with limbs ripped off, but the trees with shallow roots, like our sycamore trees were either uprooted or bent over.  One sycamore tree in particular (a very old tree) looked like someone just pushed it over. The roots were exposed, but as we waited for it to die, in the weeks ahead, we started to see new growth.  The branches were growing straight up from the side that was closest to the sun.  It is still there today and you cannot tell it was one tree unless you look closely.

I have always loved that picture of the bent tree. It reminds me of us as the storms of life come crashing through.  Sometimes what we think is going to be an insignificant little thunderstorm turns out to be a spiritual hurricane.  God doesn’t take the storm away but in bending us in the storm. He can use us to sprout out even more shoots, and give us opportunities to glorify Him.  So no matter what storm your facing today, just remember that there is always “hope for the tree”!

Jackie Gillespie



A God We Accept

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John 3:1-2

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? John [3:10]-12

Nicodemus wanted the Messiah to come. Nicodemus wanted to see God at work. Nicodemus thought that the interpretation of this was dependent upon this ‘God’ doing and responding as Nicodemus wanted and predicted.

Jesus did not do this. He did not ask for approval from the Pharisees. He did not restrict himself to the behaviors and audiences that they were comfortable with, and he certainly did not follow their ritualistic washing and clothing traditions.

Nicodemus wanted Jesus to be God – and he wanted Jesus to look, act, and talk like him. In other words, he wanted a God he could accept; not a God he could follow. When Jesus ate with unclean people Nicodemus would have been bothered, and when Jesus said we were to forgive our enemies Nicodemus would have been incensed; who forgives the Romans; those murderers, or even the Sadducee’s who celebrated their bond with the Romans.

God will inevitably appear to disappoint the man who is attempting to use Him as a convenience, a prop, or a comfort, for his own plans. God has never been known to disappoint the man who is sincerely wanting to co-operate with His own purposes.

J B Phillips Your God is Too Small

Daniel Harding



Rest For Your Souls

Matthew [11:28]-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Experiences continue to teach me the complexity of life that comes with each new day. Complexity I want to define is to the difficulty and complication which clouds and confuses the mind and heart to the faith walk. I confess to my lack of understanding when I was younger! I had the misconception that life became simpler as we grew older and wiser. Experience and ministry is teaching me that I was extremely deceived as to the process we endure rather than always enjoy.

Some phrases I have been introduced to over the years have been:

I never knew we would come to this place in our life,

It’s not right that Mothers and Fathers have to bury their children,

I know something is going on but what can I do about it!

Yes, these are questions and statements people like you and I have to deal with in our journey—but we never think we will think that way. It reminds me of the story in Matthew 9 when Jesus was confronted with the family with a desperate child. The Father  knew Jesus could meet them and their need, however what he needed immediately was a fresh touch.

In all of my experiences I need to remember to call on Jesus to help my unbelief!

Mark [9:24] And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Derwin Griffin



James’ Challenge

1My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.   James 1:19-20

James has always been one of my
favorite books of the bible. Each verse seems to contain some type of practical
advice for living a life more representative of Christ. Maybe it’s just because
I’m a man and I need to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. Although
it is one of my favorites, it’s one of the most challenging as well.

Looking at these verses, James gives some very straightforward advice. It can be broken down into three suggestions:

  1. Be quick to listen.
  2. Be slow to speak.
  3. Be slow to become angry.

 

So simple yet so difficult to master. It seems like we are
taught from a young age that we should strive to be the first to give an answer
in school or the first to give an opinion on something (and you have to have a
strong opinion on everything. But that’s a lesson for another day). In a world
dominated by social media, we crave the instant gratification of one of our
posts getting a lot of likes, shares, and comments from those that agree with
us. None of these are bad things, but James might have recommended a different
approach.


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Decreasing

John the Baptist is one of the pivotal characters of Scripture. Think of some of the things that we know about his life.

His birth was abnormal by any stretch of the imagination:

His father received a visit from an angel while serving in the sanctuary of the Temple for what was probably his only visit inside the sanctuary of the Temple.

                                Dad had some problems with this visit and couldn’t speak until John was born.

Prior to John’s birth, while she probably in her 6th month of pregnancy, his mother visited her cousin; Mary, Jesus’ mother.

                                John, as a baby in the womb, reacted to this visit!

When John was born Zechariah wrote out John’s name for a group of ladies who had come to visit. Only then was he able to speak.

                                It’s a little odd that possibly he had never told anyone this name before – for 9 months!

John began a ministry in his adult years that attracted a large following – even Jesus came to visit. He had such influence that the king and his family payed attention to what he had to say. These are things that most of us dream to have – and yet this was John’s view of his life.

They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” John [3:26]-30

As I read this I wonder what influence, desires, and focus that I’m not willing to surrender to God. Friends, family, and followers, can seem like good things, but they can definitely keep us from fully serving as God presents opportunities.