Posts Tagged ‘devotional’
Posted on July 19, 2012 - by Shari Barr
Mom taught me many things.
Many years ago when she was a Girl Scout leader, she pried me out of bed at the crack of dawn to help her and the other Scouts place poppies on soldier’s graves on Memorial Day. That simple act taught me the importance of respecting veterans and the freedoms they gave us.
She taught me to love our Lord when she made sure my sister and I were in Sunday school and church beside her every Sunday. It didn’t matter if it was stinkin’ hot and our clothes stuck to the varnished pews because our church had no air conditioning. We learned that it’s Him that really matters.
When an elderly lady in our church needed a temporary daughter to attend the Mother-Daughter Banquet with her, Mom taught me the importance of loving our neighbors, even if it meant sharing her young daughter to make someone else’s day.
One day when I was a little girl, I made pretend biscuits in my tiny toy stove while Mom fixed supper. Since my favorite TV show was on, she told me she would “watch” them for me if I wanted to go in the other room. Halfway through the show, she hollered at me to check on my biscuits. Slightly annoyed because I was in the middle of an episode of “Gilligan’s Island,” (and she knew how much I loved Gilligan) I hurried into the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to miss any more of my show than necessary. Imagine my surprise when I opened the toy oven door and saw a steaming hot perfectly browned biscuit sitting in my little pan. I learned that day that nothing is impossible.
Once when I was older and babysitting my nieces in town, I wanted to study but realized I had forgotten my notebook at home that contained my class notes. I called Mom and asked her to read those notes to me over the phone, but I had forgotten one thing. I had written those notes in shorthand. She proceeded to describe my squiggles and, sure enough, between the two of us, we deciphered my shorthand and I finished my homework. That day I learned about the power of persistence and never giving up.
Mom had a love for the outdoors, but she especially took great pride in her garden. She grew all sorts of fruits and vegetables, canning and freezing them so we’d have homegrown goodies all year long. Though I loved that produce, I absolutely hated working in that garden—pulling weeds, picking beans, shelling peas—basically everything that involved stepping foot in that pesky garden. I would have rather done anything than gardening, but Mom knew what she was doing. I have my own garden now, and I too love the satisfaction of growing and preserving our own food.
As the years pass Mom never fails to open up her home and her life to me. She always has time and never makes me feel like I should come back later. Yes, my mom taught me many things and still does today. She’s taught me the importance of simply “being there.”
Posted on April 3, 2012 - by Shari Barr
“Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.” Exodus 17:15 (NIV)
In this scripture Moses acknowledged that the Lord was Israel’s banner when they defeated the Amalekites. During battle each nation flew their own flag high on a pole at their own front line. This provided a focal point as well as a feeling of hope for the soldiers. The Old Testament name “Jehovah-Nissi” is intended to remind us that God is our banner of encouragement and hope.
When things get tough I crave hope. I pray like I’ve never prayed before. No matter how desperate the situation, I strive to keep that spark of hope alive because sometimes that’s all I have. Hope is the one thing that gets me through life’s highest hurdles. Without it I feel lost and alone. The hope that God gives me during difficult times gives me strength and power to carry on. Even when my prayers aren’t answered the way I wished, the peace I feel gives me hope for better things to come.
Everyone needs hope and encouragement, whether it’s for life changing trauma such as sickness, death, or divorce—or simply everyday life that pushes us to the limit. Turning to God for every struggle, inevitably leads to the One who is cheering us on, despite the uncertainty we may feel. He is waving His banner, encouraging us to focus on Him as we fight the battle He has placed before us. He is our eternal cheerleader in a race He doesn’t want us to lose.
Even when life is rolling along nice and smooth, with only a bump here and there, God’s banner is still flying, urging us to look up and take notice and acknowledge that our blessings are from Him. Our hope for a prosperous tomorrow lies with God, and He will never leave us. He is waiting for us at the finish line.
I can’t imagine a life with no hope. Life without hope is a life without God.
Posted on March 29, 2012 - by Shari Barr
Jehovah-shammah. This Old Testament name for God is symbolic for the city of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in Ezekial 48:35 (NIV), “The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.”
The name alone, Jehova-shammah, sounds spiritual and reverent. The biblical name for our Lord meaning “He is there,” pretty much sums up the relationship God wants us to have with Him.
Now if only I could keep that thought first and foremost in my mind, I could deal with my problems in ways that are more pleasing to Him. When I hear news of a serious illness, death, natural disaster, or other tragedy, my first thoughts are to turn to God in prayer, and without fail I feel more hopeful almost immediately. So why is it that when the daily grind of life in general gets me down, I often forget to pray? When that happens my pity party is soon in full swing, and that little problem has manifested itself into a major obstacle.
God wants us to come to Him for everything—not just the big stuff. He knows and understands that small things tend to spiral out of control when we don’t hand those troubles over to Him. When that downhill slide begins, negative thoughts and actions set in and before we know it, we’re mired in a pit of frustration and anger.
God doesn’t want that scenario for us. He wants only the best for His children. He knows the plans He has for us, and there is nothing we can do to change that. Thankfully He really does know best. Worrying about the things that might happen tomorrow sets us up for unnecessary stress, and we all know the repercussions of that.
Trusting in God for all our cares deepens the bond we have with our Savior and that leads to true inner peace.
Jehovah-shammah is with us today and tomorrow. Forever and always.
Posted on December 10, 2011 - by Brenda Anderson
I met Mari Keisling through church a few years back, but only recently discovered that she writes devotions–beautiful, heart-felt, thought-provoking devotions. So, when Inkspirational Messages decided to host 12 days of devotions, I couldn’t think of a better person to write this weekend’s post than Mari. Please welcome her to Inkspirational Messages today.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
I need just the right gift, a special gift! What’s the point of it all if they are just going to return it, stuff it in a closet or give it away to someone else?
Gift buying can be one of the most stressful activities of the season. There are those who love it. They keep their list throughout the year; making notes and checking sales so they are all set when it’s time to shop. Then there are those who tend to be in denial most of the year. At the last minute, they run out and buy whatever they can find.
When all is said and done, what really makes a gift special or meaningful?
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” Matthew 2:1-2
In Matthew 2, the Magi had been watching, waiting and preparing for the coming Christ child. The day had finally come and in their preparation they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They were not just gifts for a simple baby. These gifts were suitable for a King, a God, and a Sacrificial Lamb. They acknowledged who Jesus was and why He came.
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” Luke 2:15
In Luke 2, the shepherds were minding their own business working the late shift. They were startled and afraid at the appearance of an angel announcing the birth of the Savior. The shepherds were not expecting this news. They were not prepared for the coming King and had no expensive gifts with them. But they heard the message of their Savior and they went to Him. Upon seeing Jesus, not a grown man as a King, but as a baby, they spread the word about what had happened. They gave themselves, told their story, and served their purpose for God.
So which of these gifts was special, more meaningful? The truth is they all held the same significance to God. Each person, regardless of background, position, or wealth, recognized the significance of the birth of Jesus and came to Him bringing what they had to offer. God has given us the perfect gift; the most precious gift He could, His one and only Son. The most important gift any of them gave was themselves in worship to their King.
Something to Consider…
God’s perfect gift of Jesus expressed His love and desire to be in a relationship with us. What will your gifts to others, whether purchased, homemade or simply a gift or your time, say about your relationships and their importance in your life?
As you celebrate the birth of Jesus, consider the difference He’s made in your life and the special place He holds in your heart. What will the time you spend worshipping and sharing the gift of Jesus with others say about your relationship with Him?
My desire and passion is for women to live the life Jesus died for them to have. The resurrection life is a life of freedom, abundance and joy. We each have choices to make. First, choosing to trust Jesus and accept His gift of salvation. Second, choosing to follow Jesus and live by His example.
I have not always been a Christian. I struggled for years with difficult questions and what seemed to be even more difficult answers. If we do nothing to earn salvation, how do we explain to others why what we do matters? What does it mean to live out our faith in the same way Jesus did? Does what we do or say point others to Him?
Faith is meant to be experienced. As Christians, our lives should be an example, a reflection of our relationship with Jesus. We are to live a life worthy of the calling we have received and speak the truth in love. Through my writing, I seek to encourage others to put into practice the truths of God’s Word.
Visit my blog, LYF Moments…because faith happens, at www.liveyourfaithministries.com.
Posted on October 19, 2011 - by Brenda Anderson
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
I’ll admit, this verse and I have had a bit of a wrestling match over these past couple of weeks.
If I take this verse literally (and being a literal thinker, I tend to do that), it says He prepares a table, a feast, bounty for me. It’s true, I do have everything I need, but then I live in the United States of America, the land of abundance.
What about those who live in Sudan? Ethiopia? India? Where is their feast?
And then the verse goes on to say He prepares this feast in front of my enemies.
Enemies? I don’t have any enemies. Maybe there are a few people I don’t really care for, and I’m probably not their favorite person either, but we’re not enemies.
Back when King David penned this Psalm, he was intimate with the word enemy, from fighting lions and bears, to besting Goliath, and then warring against nations. David knew God always provided, and his enemies were witnesses to those provisions.
But what about us today?
It took a while for this to sink in, but the feast and the enemy this verse speaks of today is far more spiritual than literal. The fact is, I do have enemies:
And anything else that keeps me from a full communion with God, that prevents me from experiencing His abundant love; they are deadly enemies.
But God has provided a banquet in my enemies’ presence.
When I question my value, God loves me with me an outpouring of His words, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; …” Psalm 139:13-14.
When I question His existence, He gifts me with a sunset ribboned with a harvest of colors, and tree leaves dipped to match.
When fatigue and weariness weigh me down, preventing me from giving my all, He grants rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened; and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
When frustrations urge me to quit, He spreads a bounty of encouragement: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I’m beginning to think maybe I need to wrestle with His Word a little more often.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
Posted on August 18, 2011 - by Shari Barr
When I was a little girl, I sat in the front row in Sunday school, my right index finger pointed straight up as I made a horizontal circle in the air, singing my favorite song.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…,” I sang proudly, in a chorus with the other kids seated around me.
This song, written for the youngest of children, speaks more to me now than it did when I was small. Back then, I simply thought we were pretending our fingers were candles. As I grew older, I realized this song was a perfect example of how we should live our lives for Christ. Our instructions for living don’t get much simpler than listening to these lyrics and following them wholeheartedly
“Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.” I cupped my left hand over my finger, then pulled it away quickly
As an adult, I know that if I never hide that light and let the love of Christ shine from me, I will be doing as He commands. Though this isn’t always easy, it’s a goal I should try harder to achieve.
“Don’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine…,” I sang as I blew out my pretend candle.
How many times does Satan get the best of me? If I’m honest, it’s way too often. Temptations are simply Satan at work. If I can remember to keep my heart pure, (which is tough at times) I’ll be good to go.
“Shine all over New Market, I’m gonna let it shine.” This was my absolute favorite verse of the song. After all, I knew no other song with my town’s name in it. I swung my finger wildly through the air in an even larger arc.
I’ve often wondered if people who don’t know me can tell that I’m a Christian. I’ll admit—that thought bothers me, because I’m positive that at times they can’t. I’m not sure why it’s harder to act Christian around certain people. Maybe I’m afraid they won’t like me if I come across as too “religious.” Or, maybe I’ll offend a non-Christian and turn them off of Christianity all together. Again, Satan is at work, putting doubts in my mind. But this verse says it all. We are to shine our light for all to see—friends, family, and everyone we meet.
“Let it shine til Jesus comes, I’m gonna let it shine.”
What a finale to a great song. No other words say it better. God does not want our light to go out—ever. We never know when Christ’s love shining through us will bring a non-believer into His heavenly kingdom.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Posted on February 13, 2011 - by Lorna Seilstad
“And then, when you are ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
far more wonderful than any you would ever dream.
You see, until you are ready, I am working even now, this minute, to have you both ready at the same time . . . . but, until you are satisfied exclusively with Me and with the life I have prepared for you, you will not be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me which is perfect love….
Know that I love you always; I am God Almighty.”
The quote above was a portion of “On HIs Plan for Your Mate” and the author is unknown. (You can find the whole narrative here http://www.majesty.org/tract/mate.html.) I had this letter hanging in my bedroom all of my teenage and college years. I’d read it often, sometimes tearfully, when I worried what if I never met the right person.
The night before I left Iowa for my senior year at Lubbock Christian University in Texas, a very tall man named David came to visit our congregation on a Sunday night. He told us he was moving to the area.
Several of the couples, including my parents, took the young man out for dinner. I went along as well. We sat at a long table—I on one end and David on the other. The young man, about five years older than me, spoke about his life—how he had left North Dakota to teach agriculture in Thailand through a 4-H program, how he’d become a Christian in Thailand and had been baptized in the shallow end of a pool, and how he’d missed the Midwest and took a job in the seed industry. As he spoke, I knew something with a certainty that scared me to death. This was the man I was going to marry.
It wasn’t love at first sight. It was a knowing. I’d prayed for a husband like this and God had brought him to me. Why else would someone leave a job working at the National 4-H Center in Washington, D.C., and end up in my little corner of the world if it wasn’t God’s plan?
As I said, I was scared to death. I didn’t tell a soul—even my best friend—what I felt. Instead, I wrote, “Today I met the man I’m going to marry” in my diary and left for college.
Meanwhile, back at home, my parents took David in. After all, the North Dakota farm boy needed an adopted family. They had him over for Sunday dinners. He helped put up hay and my mother dotted on him.
Back in Texas, my best friend (the preacher’s daughter) constantly relayed plugs from her own mother on David’s behalf. My friend encouraged me to go home and flirt with him. I still didn’t tell her what I knew. Besides, she and I both knew I was an terrible at flirting. She, on the other hand, had it down to an art.
Three weeks after I returned home at the end of the year, David asked me out on a Sunday night after services, and we saw “Coming to America.” He told me later he asked me out because my mom was such a neat person, and since he’d always heard girls turn out to be like their mothers, he thought he’d take a chance on me and find out.
Two and half years later, we were married on Feb. 24. In ten days, we will celebrate our twenty-first anniversary.
I know there are young women out there struggling with a life of singleness. Our society is fixated on “couples” and love is certainly in the air –especially on this holiday. I know that for some of our readers today is better termed Singles Awareness Day rather than Valentine’s Day. But I want to encourage all those facing an evening of Hagen Daz to delight in the One who loves you passionately.
All those teenage and college years that I prayed to be content in the love of the Lord, to rest in His arms, I didn’t know what plans He had for me. I remember crying out in loneliness, wanting to share my life with another and wondering why I’d been passed over in the dating world. Still, I came to realize God loved me more than any man ever could. I hadn’t been passed over. I’d been chosen by the King. Those lonely nights were teaching me that I had to learn to trust Him first and to find my joy in the Lord.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you’re the desires of your heart.” In His time, He gave me a man who is more than I ever dreamed—a man who is the other half of my soul, my knight in shining armor, my cheerleader, my lover and my friend. This last year, I’ve held my first published novel in my hands, and I’ve held his hand in ICU. Highs and lows. Together.
Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with the desire of my heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day to each of you, our dear readers. For fun, share a Valentine’s Day memory with us.