From Devastation to Celebration

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Devotion:   Nehemiah 12:43

I have been studying the book of Nehemiah during the past five weeks.  Lest you begin to yawn; thinking, how boring; this Old Testament book has forever impacted the way I view the City of God.  I feel as if I have been on a journey that began with devastation and is ending in a celebration.  Myself and about 12 thirty somethings; have gone through Kelly Minter’s,  “Nehemiah, a heart that can break”.  We have watched the faithfulness of God as He broke Nehemiah’s heart for the devastation of Jerusalem, but it did not stop there.  God put it in Nehemiah’s heart to take a band of people to rebuild His beloved city.

In the beginning of the book, the city walls of Jerusalem lay in total destruction.  The wicked king Nebuchadnezzer, conquered Jerusalem and marred its history, just as 911 forever impacted American history.  Although the enemies of God and the Jews tried to stop the rebuilding process, Nehemiah remained faithful to what God put in his heart to accomplish.

Today, I find myself in chapter 12 and realize Nehemiah has come full circle.  He is ending the rebuilding, right where he began, at the Valley Gate.   He allowed, “No weapon formed against him to prosper.”  He stayed strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  The walls of his beloved city had been restored.  It was time to celebrate.

In Motion:

I do not know the devastation that has transpired in your life but  I do know; we serve a faithful God.  He is faithful to complete what He started in you.  He longs to bring you full circle.  Do not give up hope.  God alone knows when the completion of the thing you are trying to build will happen.  If you remain faithful dear friend, there will be a day of celebration in your future!  Keep building!

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The Greater Joy

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Devotion: Acts 20:24, 3 John 1:4

How many times have you chosen to do the harder task over the more convenient or the more desirable thing?  Our flesh longs to be comfortable and pampered, to choose guilty pleasures over being disciplined to do the hard work.  For you, it may involve getting up earlier to have a quiet time with the Lord.  It may possibly be a ministry, that God has placed on your heart but you just haven’t gotten around to the doing part.  Are you willing to follow through?  Can you say, “Lord I believe You will direct my steps and order my path”?

If you will obey Him in the hard calling; there will be no greater joy in your life.  Is there something He is asking you to take out, to be replaced with a new thing He wants to do? Letting go is hard; especially if you love a particular ministry, as well as the people who are involved.  What is God calling you to do?  Trust and obey.  You will have no greater joy and His joy will be your strength.

In Motion:

Maybe you already know what the Lord is calling you to do.  Are you willing?  It may the hardest thing you have ever surrendered to; but I promise, it will bring you greater joy than you have ever known.

Honoring God’s Word

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Devotion:  Hebrews 4:11-13

There are many churches that tend to treat God’s Word casually.  The Holy Bible seems to less than relative; no longer enough.  Pastors of these churches deliver motivational speeches, on a weekly basis. They tend to give their people a little pep talk; in other words, whatever tickles the ears.  It is so sad, when God’s Word is no longer read and expounded upon.

God’s precious Word is not just a resource, it is our lifeline.  It should be the main event in any worship service, as well as in our personal quiet time.  In Bible times, people stood to their feet every time the scrolls were opened and read. In modern day times; there are still pastors who lead their people to stand, every time the Bible is opened and read.  Although it is not a Biblical requirement; it is an outward manifestation of heartfelt honor and worship for the One who is the Word.  There are pastors in this generation who teach their people directly from the inspired Word of God.  It is treated as Holy and known to be critical to our everyday living.

In Motion:

Read God’s Word daily.  Jesus is the Bread of Life, as well as the Word Incarnate.  Long to eat His Word, as much as you long for your daily food.

What is in Your Mind?

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Devotion: Philippians 4:4-9

We are made up of three parts; body, mind and spirit.  Our body houses our spirit and mind. This passage begins with the command to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”  Many times our outward countenance reveals our inward thoughts.  We can choose to rejoice always or dwell on the harsh hard realities of life.  If we always focus on the difficult, we will be full of fear. The acronym for fear; false evidence appearing real.

If you allow your mind to run free, it will be anxious about everything versus choosing to rejoice in the Lord.  We have the high and holy privilege to lift up “everything in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, to let our requests be made known to God.”  Here is a promise you can take to the bank.  “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is our choice to think on these more excellent things.  If God inhabits the praises of His people, then choose to praise Him for who He is.  It becomes a discipline to think on what is true about Christ, what is honorable, what is just, what is pure, what is lovely and commendable.

In Motion:

Today, choose to focus on one attribute or characteristic you know to be true of God.  Is He your provider, your hope, your strength, your peace or your contentment?  There are hundreds of His attributes found in His Word.  What is the one thing you will choose to believe about Him?  Praise Him in the morning, the evening and the noonday for who He is!

Coming Home

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Devotion: 2 Corinthians 5:1-9

I have been blessed to do mission work in China on three different occasions and although I loved every minute of my time there, I am always excited to come back home.  Home has different connotations for everyone.  We have all heard sayings like, “Home is where you hang your hat.” “Home is where your heart is.”  What is your definition of home? Is it the brick and mortar or is it the people dwelling within those walls?

Squire Parsons wrote a song with a line that says, “I’m kind of home sick for a country, to which I’ve never been before.”  Of course he was talking about heaven, our eternal home. We cannot begin to imagine being in heaven with Jesus and our loved ones who knew Him. Home has certain smells and sights so I wonder, what does our heaven smell and look like?

Although I haven’t been there yet, I sometimes long for the place where there is no more sorrow, no more suffering and no more pain.  God’s Word says, “we have an appointed time to be born and an appointed time to die.”  For Christians it will be a celebration of our home going or should I say our Homecoming?  We will finally be Home.

In Motion:

Enjoy every minute you have on this earth, while preparing for your eternal Homecoming.

Words that Bless

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Devotion:  Luke 6:28

Today, while driving to my son’s house, a young man made a not so friendly hand gesture toward me.  Lest you think he was at fault, he was not.  I thought my lane continued on and I cut him off.  I mouthed to him, I am so sorry.  He was still making gestures and yelling when I looked in my rear view mirror.  I almost got tickled but I’ve seen too many road rage stories, so I pointed my eyes straight ahead and drove on.  Mercy, Lord, mercy and grace Lord, grace.

It should be easy for Christians to offer words that bless the ears of the hearer.  Many times, when we intend to speak comfort, it comes out as a challenge.  Then a wall starts to form in the heart of the hearer.  We need to comment on the good, the positive, versus the bad and the negative.  People have enough hardship in their lives already and they do not need to be further torn down.  We are told to build each other up in our most holy faith.

When you are angered or hurt, it is so easy to retaliate with even more hurtful words. What does that accomplish, when it adds more brick and mortar to the already existing wall?  We must bow our knees before the only One who is able to help us overcome the temptation, to blurt out a plethora of painful and harsh words.

In Motion:

Jesus, I ask that you help us to remember to bless those who curse us and pray for those who spitefully use us.

Remaining Joy

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Devotion: John 15:11-17

The majority of  people believe happiness and joy are synonymous.  Although it is possible to possess both at the same time, it is possible to have joy without happiness. How can one have joy, in the midst of a desperate situation?  Having joy does not mean you will happily suffer through a sickness or great loss.  When Jesus said we can have joy that remains in us; He was speaking of His joy.  It is a joy that brings peace and calm, as you go through the pruning God has ordained for your life.

He prunes you because He wants you to bear much fruit. Pruning is painful to say the least, but if it yields a branch full of good fruit, the joy that remains will be deeply embedded in your heart.  People are watching you live out your faith in Christ alone.  When they know your hardships and see the joy of the Lord remaining in you, their hope and faith in God is increased.  If they do not know God; your life’s witness speaks clearly of the One in whom you abide.

In Motion:

In what area is God currently pruning you?  Are you displaying remaining joy, to all those watching the painful process?  Oh God, I beg You to help my readers abide in You.  I ask that their joy may be made full!  It is in Your powerful and precious Name I offer up this prayer! Amen!