Blog

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

September 17th

IMG_4069

Loving God’s Creations.  Do you take the time to get off the computer, the phone and from the tv to enjoy God’s creations? I have to remind myself daily. The less input from manmade distractions the better I seem to feel at the end of the day. Make a point to go outside and sit and listen to the sounds of the earth and to the majesty around you that God created.

A primary way God nourishes our souls with his loving presence is through the beauty of nature. The face of the Lord shines on his in the sun. The moon and stars remind us that God’s light and love shine to us even in the dark. The Lord is speaking to us and warming us from the heavens, the Psalmist says in Psalm 19:1-6 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

Throughout the Bible we read testimony of the Lord communicating to us in the skies, ocean waves, breeze rustling through the trees, fields and flowers, and birds that sing cheerfully. Jesus reassures us that our Father in heaven always near cares for the little sparrows and he cares for us Matthew 6:26 “Behold the fowls of the air for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” and 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

Nature reveals to us God’s beauty, glory, power, wisdom, presence, creativity, and, most of all, his loving care. This is why we’re drawn to spend time in the beauty of nature and to enjoy animals. To take a walk on a beautiful day, play with your dog in the grass, or hold your cat are reliable ways for many people to connect with God’s loving presence.

Jesus makes continual use of nature in his parables that welcome us to find life with him in the Kingdom of God. The revelation of God in nature is so poignant and prevailing that the Apostle Paul cautions if we don’t notice and honor our Creator we are without excuse Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

God created the universe-the stars, everything on earth, and even things we can’t see. He also created humans, and created us in His image. Let yourself get lost for a moment in these thoughts about the great God who created all things.

Psalm 104:24 “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches.”

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

September 16th

IMG_4068

How to Handle Temptations. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

It is Satan’s purpose to steal the seed of truth from your heart by sending distracting thoughts. It should encourage you to know that the devil considers you a good enough Christian to use as a target. The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is: though they both may have good and evil thoughts, Christ gives His followers strength to select the right rather than the wrong.

Some of my worst decisions have been made when I am not close to God.  When I am out there on my own thinking I can do all things without Him.  At the time it seems all is under control, but it quickly spirals and bad decisions are made.  God wants us to have a relationship with Him and He will help us to make better decisions that are good.  Spend time each day in His word and get to know Him and His will for your life.

You see a man/woman going to prayer meeting with a Bible under their arm. That man/woman was undoubtedly tempted to stay at home, go bowling, or to some other activity. But, as these diverse thoughts came to their mind, they made the right selection, and headed for the church.

Another man/woman walks through the night to a bar. It no doubt occurred to them that they had best stay home with their family. But they yielded to the negative thought, and gave in to their lower appetites.

It is not the temptations you have, but the decision you make about them that counts.

Decisions will have to be made each day. Lord, with Your strength and wisdom, help me to make the right ones.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

September 15th

IMG_4058

Everyone Has A Story. We have all heard the saying “everyone has a story”. No matter where I go, and the people I meet, as we sit and talk and get to know others, I am amazed at the stories they have to tell. Some are stories of sorrow and sadness, others of amazing accomplishments, and the list goes on and on. It got me to thinking about my story and what do I tell others. I thought about the song by Casting Crowns “Nobody”. The words include “I’m just a nobody, trying tell everybody, all about somebody who saved my soul…” What is your story and are we telling others about Jesus and what He has done for us? “I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus”. Do people see Jesus in you? That is what I have to constantly ask myself.

Before Jesus departed to His heavenly throne to take His position as Lord and Christ, He spent a final time with His eleven disciples. The last command that He gave them was this: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

The greatest part of telling others about the Lord is that you now have the opportunity to affect the lives of others for good; now they will have the chance to come to know Christ as their Savior. The great blessing that is in your life can be shared with someone else to bring him or her hope. If the desolate and downtrodden woman at the well could be a witness, certainly you and I can do the same. “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’” John 4:28-29

Jesus commands us to tell others of His great salvation. He wants everyone to know about Him. He suffered a horrible death so that all mankind could be reconciled to the Father. The only way for that truth to be known is for some one to tell it. We are that “someone”. Why should we tell others? We should tell others because they need to know that Jesus loves them and longs to give them life. He desires to rescue each one from the pit and consequences of sin.

“The Lord…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. We need never fear that we will be left alone to speak for Him without support; He will always give us what to say and power to be effective. “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus along as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord”, you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

September 14th

IMG_4057

Achieving Your Dreams and Goals. Psalm 37:4-5 “Delight thyself also in the Lord and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit they way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

God wants to see you achieving dreams. Whatever your hopes, dreams, and future plans hold, may these Seven Keys to Unleashing Your God-Given Dream-be of help. You can accomplish the desires of your heart by:

God first-Before setting your goals ask God for direction. Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Obey God-What is He telling and asking of you? Proverbs 1:5 “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”

Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Action-What will be required to reach your dream? Habakkuk 2:2 “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.”

Line yourself up with like-minded people that have similar desires. Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Stay in step with the Holy Spirit as you carry out your mission, your assignment, your God-given dream! Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.”

God I believe in my heart that You have deposited certain dreams within my heart to accomplish, help me to stay in step in fulfilling my God-given purpose. Amen.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

September 13th

 

IMG_4053

Rejoice in the Lord today! Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

The book of Philippians can be described as a long and amazing thank-you letter. The apostle Paul wanted to express his gratitude to the believers in the city of Philippi for the gift they had sent after learning of his imprisonment for preaching the message of Christ. Led by the Spirit, Paul also sought to encourage them to stand firm in persecution and to rejoice, regardless of their circumstances. What a great way to say thank you!

The unyielding joy Paul shares with his readers is based on the great truth “The Lord is near.” Our loving God is never far away from his children. He is standing with us in our suffering. He knows what we are going through, and he is always ready to guide and comfort us, even in the most difficult situations. Nothing can separate us from his wonderful love!

Habakkuk 3:18 “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Our greatest need today is not more Christianity but more true Christians. The world can argue against Christianity as an institution, but there is no convincing argument against a person who, through the Spirit of God, has been made Christlike. Such a person is a living rebuke to the selfishness, rationalism, and materialism of the day. Jesus said to the woman at Jacob’s well, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” This sin-sick, disillusioned woman was the symbol of the whole race. Her longings were our longings! Her heart-cry was our heart-cry! Her disillusionment was our disillusionment! Her sin was our sin! But her Savior can be our Savior! Her forgiveness an be our forgiveness! Her joy can be our joy!

Merciful Lord, fill our hearts with Godly joy and thanksgiving. Teach us to rely on you even in the most difficult situations. In the name of our Savior, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

 

 

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

September 12th

IMG_4040

Seasons. This morning as I walked to the barn, there was a difference in the air. Though in Texas we are still experiencing days in the 90’s, the cooler weather and the feel of fall is in the air. Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

The beauty in the way God designed the four seasons is that, though each one is distinct, they all work together to bring life and growth. Spring is a period of freshness and new life. Summer sees growth and productivity. Autumn is a time for harvesting the rewards of past labors. Winter is the season of dormancy and closure. Each season has its own unique beauty and makes a significant contribution to life.

Just as God planned seasons in nature, He planned seasons in life as well. Life has its springtime, when we begin new things and look excitedly toward the future. Summer comes and we work diligently in the heat of the day at all that God has assigned to us. With autumn comes the fruition of things begun at an earlier time in our lives. Winter brings an end to a particular period in our lives. Sometimes winter brings hardship, but we remain hopeful, for another spring is just around the corner!

In God’s perfect design for our lives, He has planned for times of fruitfulness and activity. There will be times when He asks us to remain faithful doing the same work day after day. But there will also be periods of excitement and new beginnings. By God’s grace, we will enjoy seasons of harvesting the fruit of our faithfulness. By God’s grace we will also overcome the cold winters of heartache and grief, for without winter there would be no spring. Just as it is with the seasons of nature, these seasons in our lives work together to bring about God’s perfect will for each one of us.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Although life has its own seasons of ups and downs, heartaches and joys, Jesus is consistent. He is not a changing season, but He is flexible with our weaknesses and needs. Whatever season you are in, Jesus has something with which to refresh you.

Unspeakable Joy Devotional

September 11th

IMG_4036

Remembering 9/11. “We’ve seen so much that brings tears to our eyes and makes us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.” Billy Graham (9/14/01)

The Bible says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”  Psalm 46:1

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have.

We’ve seen so much that brings tears to our eyes and makes us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest. We are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I have been asked hundreds of times why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I do not know the answer. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and that He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering.

The Bible says God is not the Author of evil. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 the Bible talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”  Jeremiah 17:9

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but it’s a lesson about our need for each other.

We desperately need a spiritual renewal in this country, and God has told us in His Word time after time that we need to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way.

This event reminds us of the brevity and uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if those people who got on those planes or who walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon on Tuesday thought that it would be the last day of their lives. And that’s why we each must face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will.

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and that as we trust in Him we will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us. (excerpts from Billy Graham’s remarks on 9/14/01)