Grapes Galore

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Devotion:  John 15:1-8

Jay Manning used to live at the edge of Concord, where he enjoyed gardening vegetables and growing grapes.  One Saturday, a few years ago,  he invited a few friends to help him prune his grape vines.  We pruned and cut those bad boys so vigorously, that I just knew those vines would never produce another grape. One would think the vicious, painful pruning would destroy the vine and its’ fruit.  However, the very next year, Jay reported he had a bumper crop of plump, delicious grapes!

When God prunes us, we want to yell stop! This is too painful! We do not like to have anything cut away from us.   The whole process of pruning, is for the purpose of producing much good fruit.  God does not want any of His children to produce rotten, nasty tasting fruit, nor to be fruitless.  We must abide in Jesus and allow all the pruning He deems necessary, in our lives.

In Motion:

Ask the Lord to prune you regularly, so you will produce plump. delicious fruit, that will remain and produce fruit galore.  Abide in the Vine and yield yourself to the Vine-dresser, on a daily basis.

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Shadows

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Devotion:  Psalm 91:1-7

As a little girl, I was afraid of the dark.  My sister and I shared a room and if one had a nightmare, the other was just as frightened, by her sibling’s bad dream.  We both had vivid imaginations, so the monster in the closet was always looming near our ever burning night light.  Our mom would say, “Girls remember the Bible verse, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”  We did not yet know God, but she was trying to teach us, to trust the God who is with us.

There are many times in my adult life when I have experienced fear, over things that may or may not happen.  I still say the verse, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in You God.” When shadows of circumstances loom large, I remember “I dwell in the shelter of the Most High and abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Now there’s a shadow I need not fear!

In Motion:

What is your greatest present fear?  Is it a reality or just a lurking shadow?  Remember shadows cannot harm you.  If you know Jesus, you live under the shadow of the Almighty! God is not a God of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. If you willingly choose to give your fears to the Lord; He willingly replaces the shadow of fear, with great faith!

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Mystery of the Gospel

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Devotion:  Ephesians 3:1-12

I love a good mystery with a surprise ending. One of the greatest mysteries to me, is that we Gentiles can be fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  I am continually amazed, Jesus loves me with an ever lasting love.  How would  anyone take for granted, his or her name is written, in the Lamb’s book of life?  No one can snatch you out of His hand.  I pray the truth of this great mystery, washes over you afresh and anew, every single day.

As a child, I would say, “I get that God made me, but who made God?”  It is hard for a child to accept by faith, God has always been.  It’s hard for many adults, to believe in a God they have never seen. Others acknowledge God but do not receive Christ as their Savior and Lord. God sent Jesus, His perfect Son, to die in our place.  The death of the One, provided new life for those who would receive Him.  The riches of Christ are truly, unsearchable. Many things must remain a mystery until the day we see  Him as He is.

In Motion:

This great mystery should bring you to worship the One who called you and chose you before the foundation of the world.  How great is the vastness of His love for you!  No one can grasp this great mystery. No one can comprehend the height and depth and breadth of His great love for them. Please, do not neglect, this great mystery of salvation. You can know the end of this mystery, by reading God’s Word, but I believe one cannot begin to imagine, beholding Jesus for the very first time.  We will see Him as He is and this mystery of our gospel, will only then, be realized.

Identity Theft

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Genesis 27: 1-39

Who could have known, even as much a fifteen years ago, identity theft could be such a problem?  One must make sure his computer passwords are secure, his home is secure, his banking is secure, his phone and even his social security number is secure.  It seems everyone’s security can be at risk.

One of the first acts of deception, mentioned in the Bible, is the story of twin brothers, Jacob and Esau. Their father Jacob was growing very old. It was tradition, to speak a blessing over the first born son; before the father expired, so he asked Esau to go kill a couple of young goats, and prepare it for him.  Jacob’s wife Rachael overheard the conversation and wanted Jacob the second born twin, to receive the blessing.  She told Jacob to hurry out, go kill the goats and she would prepare them.  Esau was more hairy than Jacob, so besides dressing Esau in Jacob’s clothes, she placed the skins of the young goats on his hands and smooth part of his neck.  Did I mention Jacob was now blind? He knew the voice of Jacob was different than Esau’s but when he felt the hair and smelled his clothes; well, I guess he thought, “My hearing is going too!”  Identity theft stole Esau’s birthright, right out from under him.

In Motion:

If you are in the family of God, Satan cannot have your soul, but he can steal, kill and destroy the fruit for which Christ died.  He wants to steal your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Go out and display the fruit of the Spirit.  Do not be blinded by your enemy’s ploys.  Your identity is in Christ alone!

The Road Less Traveled

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Isaiah 40:2-4

Yesterday, my husband decided, he wanted us to “go for a ride.”  He wanted to see the fall foliage, in the Linville Gorge area, of the North Carolina Mountains.  Much to our disappointment, there was not a lot of color in those hills.  We did get out and hike around for a bit.  God’s beautiful world, spoken into being,  is breath taking, with or without the magnificent colors.  I loved looking at the depth of the mountain ranges, the lakes, the formation of certain mountains, as well as the deep crevasses of the gorge, all against the brilliant Carolina blue sky.  I stopped to snap a few pictures and we inquired of  two mountain men, as to where this rocky road would take us.  One stated, if we kept going in the direction we were headed, we would come out in Marion. He informed us  it would be a very slow forty five minute, drive.  It felt like we were driving off road, because of all the deep ruts and narrow passage ways.

I saw a sign pointing down the mountain called, “Wilderness Trail”.  I began to contemplate this passage in Isaiah.  As we jostled our way up and down the mountain, I thought of God’s promise, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  This verse is the promise of a Savior to come.  Christians, living and those who have gone before us, have seen  Isaiah’s promise fulfilled.

When we veer off course, to check out the scenery, literally or in life, we may go through some valleys and strain to go up some treacherous mountains. It can be a struggle, when we travel on uneven grounds.  God uses these occasions to teach us about Himself.  Any rough ground He brings you to, He will make straight and bring you safely through.

In Motion:

No matter where you are walking today, in the wilderness or the desert, God has prepared a straight highway for you.  Follow His voice.  He will lift up every valley and make low your mountains and hills.  Your Savior is waiting, to lead you on the road less traveled! Listen and watch for the beauty He longs to show you!

Tangled

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Devotion 2 Timothy 2:4

My mom used to say, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”  Sometimes I didn’t know whether God had said something or my mom.  That’s the kind of life she lived.  Many times after her death, I found myself trying to find a scripture, that was just a “Georgie” phraseology.

I guess I should tell you, one of the reasons why mom would “correct” me with that statement.  A couple of times, I tried to arrange two dates with young men, on the same day.  I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings; however, I had to be certain the timing was  just right!

Even Christians find themselves, entangled in the affairs of this world.  We feel we must look a certain way, talk a certain way or act a certain way, in order to fit in.  God calls us “strangers and aliens” in this world. Our aim is to please the One who enlisted us into His army of followers. That does not mean you have to be totally weird! It just means you should be diligent to be the person God created you to be. Do the things He has called you to do.  Then be at peace with God and yourself!

In Motion:

Ask the Lord to quicken your spirit to His Holy Spirit, every time you are trying to fit in. Ask Him to show you who you are, in Christ alone.  If your soul purpose is to glorify Christ, who enlisted you; then decide ahead of time, I will not entangle myself in the affairs of this life.  I will be a good soldier!

Black Sheep

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Devotion:  “All we like sheep have gone astray, He has turned everyone into his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  Isaiah 53:6

I found myself in the kitchen of a customer, wiping down this large, metal, black sheep.  As I was wiping it down, I thought of all the times, I have heard people say, he or she is the black sheep of the family.  A family member labeled a black sheep, is considered one who has disgraced or brought sorrow to the family. I googled black sheep on the internet and found it was used first by an English Puritan named Thomas Sheperd, who came to America in 1635.  He suggested shepherds disliked black sheep, because their fleeces were not suitable for dying and so were considered worthless, compared to those of white sheep.

Only the dust came off the metal black sheep as I wiped him down, but not the black.  That is what our sin nature is like. ” We are all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God.”  If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  I once heard a very young preacher stand up and say, “I haven’t sinned in two weeks.”  I thought he must be referring to a specific sin, because we sin everyday. We are the sheep of our Great Shepherd’s pasture. He always wants us to be restored to the fold.  He provides oil for our wounds. He comes to rescue us when we stray. He carries us when we are broken and He will safely take us home.

In Motion:

We are all black sheep.  Ask the Lord to reveal any sin that might create a chasm, between you and your Shepherd. He says in His Word, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer.”  The Lord is your Shepherd.  He has made a way for you to be restored fully. The sheep know the Shepherd’s voice.  Listen!  He is calling to you.