While searching through the archives of GospeLines devotionals, I found one I had written entitled "Alligators on Cheap Shirts," which received a few interesting responses.
The emphasis in the article was that Christians should put on the armor of God rather than wear a cheap knock-off which is, at best, a mere shadow of the real thing.One testimony which came from the responses literally knocked my alligator socks off!Let me share it with you:
"What a great message today!This one hits home.When I was in high school the Izod fashion was in style.Many of us tried to copy the shirts and/or wear the socks, watches, belts, etc. instead of the pricey shirts.If we only realized then that fitting into the preppy crowd was not as important as it seemed.
I found out recently that the ring leader of the preppy group for the class of '87 has been in prison for several years... for racketeering.And the vice-leader of this group was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife early last year.What leaders!Glad that Jesus led me in the right direction even at an earlier age - despite many attempts, I couldn't afford the fashion that was required to be a member of this elite group of students who sat at the cool table in the cafeteria... thank God!Literally..."
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I cry because I cannot afford to let my children wear $200 shoes and $100 shirts; and, when I hurt because my kids are""outcasts"" in their schools, comfort me with the knowledge that they are robed in righteousness and clothed in the garments of salvation. Amen and amen!
“And behold there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, ‘Woman, thou are loosed from thine infirmity’.”
(Luke 13:11-12 - KJV)
"Finding the Door"
I recently watched the movie version of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ “Woman Thou Art Loosed”.If unfamiliar to you, the story revolves around Michelle, a victim of abuse, drugs and poverty.
Her life was altered in a way most of us cannot imagine, when her mother’s boyfriend, Reggie, took her innocence away at twelve.Even after her mother, Cassey, found Michelle cowering and crying in the corner of her closet, she practically called her daughter a liar.
Cassey did everything she could to keep up the appearance of a family.Even though she confronted Reggie, she let his lies keep her trapped.As she said to herself (paraphrased)… "I didn’t place Reggie above my daughter (she did); I didn’t place Michelle above Reggie (she didn’t); and yes, I placed myself above both.It’s hard to get and keep a man.”(What a sick point of view… )
Reggie lived in denial too.He decided to give God a try after admitting to a life of drugs and other women, but he never admitted to the rape.He told Cassey, “I’ve been a lot of things, but I wouldn’t take something that special away from a child.”She embraced him and thanked him for being honest.(How many of us have tried to protect ourselves by omitting certain facts in the name of honesty?)
Michelle kept the dress that was stained by her own blood from the rape that occurred many years before. She brought it to a revival being held by Bishop Jakes and placed it on the altar in a valiant effort to finally put the past behind her.At the very same time, Reggie was at the altar confessing and crying out to God.With tear stained face, he reached out to embrace Michelle and just at the moment she pulled out a gun and killed him.
While in prison, Michelle had a lot of time to reflect on her life.She confessed that no matter how much pain she was in and despite what had been done to her, her reaction was not justified.
On one of Bishop Jakes’ visits with her, she continued nervously building a tiny house from what appeared to be Q-tips.She spoke of its foundation and Bishop Jakes observed that the house had no door.Michelle responded that she was in a prison cell and a door wasn’t necessary.
Bishop Jakes knew that she had been isolated long before she entered prison.He offered her words of encouragement and expected her life to turn around completely and assured her she would make it through this valley.
Michelle learned that the key to overcoming her past was allowing God to enter her life through others.One of the last scenes in the movie showed the same tiny house of Q-tips; this time, with a door.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, You know that many of us operate daily in denial.Many of us put off for tomorrow what we need to do today!So many of us are in our own private prison cells without a door – making choices that continue to destroy us.
Yet, tomorrow is not promised.We’re satisfied with one excuse after another, burying the truth so deep that we don’t remember what it is and others may get a mere glimpse.
We’ve closed the door to the possibilities; we’ve shut You out.“I don’t need You, Lord.I’ve always handled it myself.”Father, that’s a lie of Satan.We DO need You!!!
If we’d just open the door a little and let You in, You’d do the rest.Our lives would be so much better than anything the world has to offer.
Lord, help us open the door to you so we may live in Your love, light and truth.May we offer our broken selves to You, not tomorrow, but today!
Help us find the ONLY door that matters… to You!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, February 13, 2008
"Against All Odds"
She came into my office with high expectations, a glowing smile and eyes that exuded a new self-confidence. Her family had been on welfare status for several years and she would be the first to complete high school and move on to career training. I listened sadly to her story about searching for food behind fast food restaurants in the early morning hours, walking the streets at night to snatch her younger brother from the jaws of neighborhood gangs, and standing at the graveside of an uncle who was murdered in a drug deal gone bad.
Tameika needed a change, and her education could be the start of a new life. The only constant in her 19 years was the relationship she had with God. Unashamedly she spoke about her love for the church as she patted her tattered Bible in a purse she had found on the street. It was her prize possession.
Everyday I have the opportunity to change lives in my role as admissions representative at a proprietary school. But I know that finding the funds for someone like Tameika is very difficult. I was praying as I walked down the hall to the financial aid office, hoping that a miracle could happen. But it was not to be.
Her exuberant smile changed in an instant when I broke the news that she didn't qualify for assistance. Heartbroken at the bad news, tears flowed quickly, hers and mine. We sat in silence for a long time until she spoke softly. "I don't why I ever think that something good can happen to me," she sobbed.
"But I won't give up! I know that my God has something better in mind for me and my family. And I am so excited about the future because one day it will happen. I just know it will."
Someone asked me the other day if I knew why good people had to endure hardship. I don't know the answer to that question.
But what I do know is that God showed me something through Tameika. She knows what it means to be down and not defeated! Through her pain she has developed a special knowledge of God that only comes through suffering. She knows how to see the beam of light through the darkness, and find hope when everything around her seems hopeless. I want to be that way, too. I want to be able to look at the enemy and say with assurance, "I will never give in... never, never, never."
GospeLines Prayer:Father, give me a faith that remains true even when I am faced with impossible odds. I want to learn to stand tall when I am knocked down, even if it means that I must live like Tameika to have that kind of faith... so let it be.
A very dear friend works for the military here in Michigan.He's not in the military himself; but, he's been around military personnel most of his professional career.
Recently, on a business trip out of the country, he was upgraded from coach to first class. If you've ever been on a long international flight, you know what a real gift this was - the extra space is blessing and the extra food… yum…
As it happened, there was a soldier sitting next to him in coach and something (Someone) moved my friend to give the soldier his up-grade.
When he did this, everyone in the plane stood and clapped. The next thing he knew, all of the first class passengers gave up their seats for military passengers. In addition, the plane's crew gave them GREAT service and presented them with "day passes" to the Northwest Club.
The next time you have the opportunity, separate politics from gratitude for a few moments and say "Thank You" to a soldier who is sacrificing their time and risking their life for you and your country.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, help me remember that if I give, I will receive.My gift will return to me in full - pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into my lap. The amount I give will determine the amount I get back (Luke 6:38 - NLT).Lord, help me also remember that sometimes "Thank You!" can be the greatest gift of all.Amen and Amen!
Your grateful servant,
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
- 1st John 4:17 (NLT)
≈ Devotional for Friday, February 15, 2008
by Jimmy Keyton
We were in Victoria, Mexico on an evangelistic mission trip for Lifeline. The weather changed and all of a sudden, we had rain and 30° temperature. We were not prepared for cold weather and they had no heat in the hotel or in the churches. I remember taking the rug off the floor and using it for a blanket and even then I shook with cold all night.
We were holding services at several churches in and around Victoria. I sent part of the team to a little house church about four miles out of town. They picked up the team in their car and took them to the church where about 40 people were gathered in this little house. It was wall-to-wall people and they were praising God with enthusiasm. A lady was leading the service and she was doing a wonderful job. She would testify a little and then lead them in singing. You could tell that she was the leader of that church group and that the people responded to her with excitement. When the service was over she very quickly disappeared while the team was visiting with various members of the congregation. Finally the team loaded back into the car to drive to another service in town. It was pouring down rain and was very, very cold.
About two miles toward town they spotted the lady who led the service. She was walking the four miles back to town to be at the other service. She was soaking wet and walking fast to help her stay warm. The pastor pulled the car over to offer her a ride but she refused. She said, "I'm soaking wet and you have a car full. I'd have to sit on someone's lap and that would get them wet. You go ahead; I'll be there very soon and join you for the service. It won't take me long to walk the two miles." With that said, she proceeded to quickly begin the rest of her walk to town.
As the car pulled away from her, one of our team members said, "You know, God ought to provide a car for that lady. She's such a great servant of God - she deserves a car and shouldn't have to walk in the rain to serve Him." The pastor, who was driving, turned around and spoke to the team member saying, "You don't understand. You are riding in her car!"
GospeLines Prayer: Father, just when I thought I knew about love, you surprise me with something like this! I am grateful that you have shown me how it hurts when others will not love You back, but now I want to boldly ask you to teach me how to love others until it hurts me, too.