Sorry, no devotional today - Technical difficulties
≈ Devotional for Tuesday, December 11, 2007
"Left Turns Will Get You There!"
"My friends, if any followers have wandered away from the truth, you should try to lead them back.If you turn sinners from the wrong way, you will save them from death, and many of their sins will be forgiven."
(James 5:19-20 - Contemporary English Version)
Have you ever used Map Quest or Yahoo Maps for directions that only required left turns?
I work in downtown Houston and we have many one-way streets.Amazingly, I have headed out of the company’s parking garage and made only left turns to ultimately access a particular freeway or to get to some location.I never gave it serious thought, but left turns will get you there!
When God is directing our path, he uses a number of vehicles to take us in the right direction.He provides the road map, but also the yield sign, the slow sign, the detour sign, the speed bumps, the speed limits and the traffic lights.And, yes, left turns will get you there!
In my case, God reintroduced me to Stephanie at a recent Women’s Retreat.She read the title of my newly-published book, glanced through it, and we discussed some of its content.Then, I told her the title of the next book I planned and Stephanie suggested I make it a series.And, for the title of my third book, she said, how about “Left Turns Will Get You There?!”(I just never know where God will provide inspiration…)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I am very familiar with Your traffic signals – the road may not always be straight, but you have reasons for those detours or “slow” signs.I’m a little stubborn at times, so I may observe the signals several times, but You have the master plan for my life.
Help us stay on the path of righteousness.
And yes, Lord, left turns WILL get you there!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, December 12, 2007
"No More Tears"
(Aftermath of 9-11)
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them
to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The bloodied hand of the last survivor reached through twisted rubble in the direction of the voice of a New York fireman. Swollen eyes strained toward the narrow beam of light overhead. In twenty minutes she would be saved from the place she lay entombed for more than a day.
Stories rush through our minds, of heroism and terror. The images of buildings targeted by airplanes are etched into our memories. We won’t forget that awful day. We shouldn’t forget. But we, like the few survivors pulled from Ground Zero, must now move ahead. Beloved, it is time for us to reach toward the healing light and comforting voice of Jehovah God.
Our sorrow will not simply walk away; we must nudge it along as we would a guest that has overstayed his welcome. Healing will come to us but not forgetting the tragic events that have marred our nation’s history. Our passage to recovery will open when we can embrace the future with a passion and determination equal to, or greater than our sorrow born from the tragedy.
Forget about it? Ignore it? No! Healing comes to us through a process which includes fear, anger, hopelessness, faith, acceptance and recovery. We would never shame those families who have suffered the loss of their loved ones by trampling the honor of their memories. As many of them said, “It is time to begin the healing process. That’s what our husbands and fathers, brothers and sisters would want.”
So, there comes a time to exchange our bereavement for bravado, our crying for courage, our anxiety for a stability anchored in everlasting hope. And this is that time. Terror may shake the foundations of the tallest buildings in the world, but it cannot budge the Rock upon which your faith has been built. Danger crippled the airlines of the greatest nation in the world, but it cannot deter your God-given mission. Caution has altered commerce, interfered with the way we communicate, and modified the methods we travel. But the work of the Kingdom will never change, prayer-lines have not been ripped apart, and the pathway to the altar of salvation remains open. For the fellowship of the redeemed, it is business as usual!
Bloodied, perhaps bowed, but unbroken; the Church now squints through the rubble, seeks the ray of Light and hears the voice of the Almighty, “Go… make disciples of all nations…and I am with you always!”(Matt. 28:19-20) He has wiped away our tears, replaced our sackcloth with fresh armor, taken away our ragged shoes and has shod our feet with “the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Eph. 6:15)
We will not forget our terrible journey prompted by terrorism, and we will never again be the same as we were before. Now, there is a mission ahead of us that calls us back to duty. “Pray for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words will be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador…, pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”(Eph. 6:19-20)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I want to be as brave as You think I am, but I am not. I want to be all those things: courageous, fearless, and strong. But You know my humanity better than anyone. Please, God, let me “sit on the sidelines” just a little longer, I am not ready for this mission. Yet, if this cup cannot pass from me, You will have to do it through me. I cannot do it alone. I will reach toward Your light, and trust in Your strength, and walk in Your power. And frail as I am, You have graciously reminded me that it doesn’t depend on me, but You are the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen and amen.
What are you doing right now?Ok, I know you're reading this devotional at this exact moment; but, I mean, what are you doing over the next several minutes or hours.Will you be working, cleaning house, shopping, studying...?
What are you planning to do later today or later this week?Are you planning some relaxing and fun activity?Maybe you're going out with friends or to church or to a movie.Maybe you're just going to relax at home with a good book.All those things sound wonderful.All of those things are permissible for the child of God.In fact, Paul tells us that everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial... not everything is constructive (1st Corinthians 10:23 NIV).
If everything is permissible, how do we know if what we do is beneficial or constructive?Our Lord must have known we'd ask that question because He led Paul to record the answer.
Do you remember what Paul told the Corinthians: "...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"? (1st Corinthians 10:31 NIV)That command applies to us as well.Whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God.
With those words in mind, consider these three questions or "tests" Paul gives us to apply to any thing or any situation to determine if it is "beneficial or constructive."
First, are we “…fully convinced in (our) own mind" (Romans 14:5 NIV) that the thing is beneficial or constructive?Do you look forward to it?God doesn’t want you to do anything (for Him) you don’t want to do.So, don’t do anything for God because some person told you to do it… Do it because you want to do it... for His glory.
Second, do you condemn yourself when you look back on what you've done or do you look back on it with joy? Are there any regrets?Does it pass the “Thought Life” test?“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
If so, then these words are for you: “…Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (Romans 14:22 NIV)
Finally, Paul tells us that, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1 NIV)We are to "...make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19 NIV).Or, as the Amplified version states: “So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another.”
Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial... not everything is constructive.Do you look forward to it?Afterwards, do you have any regrets?Does it (will it) cause anyone to stumble?These are three wonderful tests for anyone to apply to any situation.However, even though the situation (or thing) passes all three, the Christian isn't off the hook yet.It still may not be beneficial or constructive unless...
"...whatever you do, (you) do it all for the glory of God."
Then and only then is it beneficial or constructive for the Christian.Amen and Amen.
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
My life is way past the half-way mark and I guess it’s about time I own up to something I’ve been fighting for a long, long while.
Not many days go by that I don’t recall some of the little morsels of wisdom handed down from my parents when I was a kid and trying to make sense out of my little world.Sometimes they bless me and sometimes those sayings set my mind spinning again, just like when I heard them for the first time.I was thinking about one of those tidbits of truth today.
Back then, parents liked reminding us to “Finish what you start.”
In my school, nobody liked a quitter.If you didn’t finish the game you wouldn’t be picked to play on one of the teams during recess.A reputation as a quitter marked you as someone with no intestinal fortitude.“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”So I spent my life finishing things that weren’t worth doing because I had made a bad choice to begin in the first place.But let me tell you what I have learned recently.
There are some things which you are going to work on until Jesus calls you home but you are not ever going to be finished with them in this lifetime.That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your effort, it just means that God didn’t appoint you to finish the task.That’s one of the great agonies of life: we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable.
I’m reading about the construction of the magnificent Milan Cathedral in Bill Shore’s book, The Cathedral Within.It took more than 500 years to build, from 1386 to 1887, and is the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world.Workers came from everywhere, spent their fortunes to build it, and then many stayed to help with the construction knowing that they would never enjoy seeing its completion.
There was a man after God’s heart, who desired to build a temple for Jehovah.But it was not David’s house to finish; that job belonged to his son, Solomon.“My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel.But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart.’ “ I Kings 8:17-18
Beloved, hear the word of the Lord today.Through the years you have been faithful.Your lifetime has been spent building upon a dream given you by Jehovah.You cannot see an end in sight but there is progress!The voice cries out to you in the night, “Do not give up.Your labor is not in vain.It is WELL that you are trying, that this dream is in your heart.It is good that you wish to see it become reality.It’s WELL that it is in your heart to do it.”
About a month before he died, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where his family had attended for three generations.On that morning, from the pulpit where he preached his first sermon and where he would preach his last, he delivered a message entitled “Unfulfilled Dreams.”.He said, “So many of us in life start out building temples:temples of character, temples of justice, temples of peace.And so often we don’t finish them, because life is like Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.”
Whether you complete the task or not, it is well that you have begun the service of the Lord.Your life is one of an ever-building crescendo toward heaven.As long as you continue in the direction of the Lord, it doesn’t matter who lays the last brick or who drives the last nail.It only matters that you remain faithful to His task until the end.