Father to the Fatherless

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:5, NIV) 

I never thought my four children, three boys and a girl, would lose their dad when they were very young. Life was supposed to roll along in the usual way, wasn't it? Instead, my husband died from cancer, and I became a widow at age 38.
It was during this dark time that I noticed in my daily Bible reading how God shows His special love and concern for fatherless children and widows. I had not given it much thought before. He promises to provide, like a husband and father, just as He had done in Deuteronomy 14. Back then, He had told His people to lay aside extra food for families in my situation. I saw this again in the story of Ruth, the Moabite widow, who was allowed to gather grain in Boaz's field. God, through Elijah, also provided food for the widow of Zarephath and her son in I Kings 17.
His providential care and direction for us was soon evident. I was able to work out of my home by teaching classes to homeschoolers through a private school program. Later, I decided to homeschool my own children. Positive male role models came along to coach my kids' sports and to be godly leaders for their church activities. We were covered in much prayer by friends and relatives. 
I am so thankful that our heavenly Father cares deeply about those of us who have suffered loss.

Father, we are grateful that You have a special concern for single parent families. We can trust You to provide our needs. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Linda (WA)

A New Foundation

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah.
(Psalm 46:1-3 ESV)

Have you ever felt your life crumble beneath your feet? I did sophomore year in high school. Thanksgiving of 2013, Jesus welcomed my ailing father home. He entered glory. So, the family foundation he helped build crumbled. Mom endured two funerals, for him, grandmother’s eyes never dried (they still run at times today). His children suffered prolonged emotional shock.

Family life fell apart, but something unexpected happened. I stepped up. Surrounded by grief and pain, strength to serve came from on high. God gave strength through a closer walk with him. My Sophomore year marked a dramatic shift in my walk with God, complete surrender. 

Yet, this surrender did not come overnight. God worked behind the scenes, preparing this heart for the times of trouble. He exposed selfish habits and provided the necessary help to kick them. Following Him, a host of other idols still vied for my attention at the time. God cared too much, and filled my heart with restlessness. The idols fell like dominoes—total surrender.

As God emptied my heart of one love, he filled it with another. Time spent on temporary things filled former days. The change brought activities like consistent time in Bible study and prayer instead. Serving family preoccupied most other time.

Drawing closer to God meant he drew near too (James 4:8). He walked through this with me. This tragedy soon revealed a new reality. I had a new foundation. Everything (even strong family ties) passes away, except for Jesus. He remains forever (Hebrews 13:8). Trusting Jesus alone gives strength to face any circumstance.

Jesus, our unchanging foundation, teach us to rely solely on you, so we can serve others with your strength, love, and joy.

Sojourner, IN, US

A Spiritual Checkup

Read Luke 13:10-13.
When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. v 13 RSV

My daily walks not only help keep me physically fit, but they are a time for me to enjoy nature. I enjoy the wind in my hair. I try to identify the birds as they chatter in the tree tops. I watch the progress of my neighbors' flower gardens.

How different the experience of the woman Jesus encountered. Could she see anything but a dusty road and countless feet in dusty sandals? Jesus approaches her. "Woman, you are set free from your ailments." Now the woman straightens up and is able to look around at a world she has not seen for eighteen years. Imagine the gratitude she felt!

Physical health is truly a blessing. When we are blessed with it we have God to thank. Some of us have annual checkups for that reason. Physical checkups can save lives. In Psalm 103:1-8 we learn, however, that physical healing is only a small part of what Jesus came to do. "He forgives all your sins." "He redeems your life from the grave."

I thank God that I can walk straight and tall and enjoy the beauty that surrounds me. But as I enjoy my physical blessings I must be alert to the danger of being spiritually crippled. Do I live as one who has been redeemed? Do I fully appreciate the price Christ paid that I might have eternal life? Or am I so spiritually crippled that I do not grasp this immeasurable gift. Is it time for a spiritual checkup by the Great Physician?

Prayer: Lord, you are the healer of all our ills. Help us walk ever in your presence and attuned to your spiritual guidance. Amen.

Madeline. Hastings, USA

The Case Against Hypocrisy

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27 KJV).

This Bible verse is often used to support arguments that not only was the church full of hypocrites in Christ’s time but still is in the Christian church despite all our protests to the contrary. We hear this as an excuse for avoiding organized religion altogether too much to totally ignore it. But what are our arguments in the church’s defense?

As long as the church is held to the gold standard of perfection these outsiders expect, it will always come up shy this side of heaven. The church, for better or worse, is made up of people, everyday run of the mill people whose primary difference from these naysayers is that in Christ they have glimpsed what it means to be saintly and believe in His power to transform them in His likeness.

As such the church is a knitting together of imperfect people with perfect aspirations. True we will stumble and falter, we will make mistakes, yes we will sin, but in the church at its best, we will find solace and the support of like-minded people who will be there for us, lifting us up in prayer, encouraging us to stay the course. 

The church is more as a whole than the sum of its individual parts, due in no small measure to Christ’s contribution to the mix. To avoid church because we feel it is comprised of hypocrites is to fail to take into account that we are all works in progress. The fellow next to you in the pew is, the deacon is, even the preacher is---there is no escaping the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. “ (Romans 3:23 NKJV).

Surely at the heart of our critics’ complaints is the notion many of us put on our Sunday faces with our Sunday bests, only to discard our best efforts when we are back on the street. We leave the impression we do not bear witness by living by what we profess to believe. In this respect we could all do a better job, with God’s help of seeing to it our outer man reflects our inner beliefs.

Blessed Jesus, We pray that you will steer us towards having our lives accurately reflect our beliefs. Amen

Carol (NC)

A very rich Father

All the animals in the forest are mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. Ps. 50:10 TEV

My mother-in-law's life was hard from a very early age. Money was scarce and she often went to bed hungry. Much suffering followed, including the death of her youngest brother and her first-born child. Then, with her two youngest children still at home, she lost her beloved husband. With no skills for working outside the home, she took in washing. And yet, through it all, she could often be quoted as saying, "I am not poor. My father owns the cattle on a thousand hills."

Slavery, practiced down through the ages in many countries and by many countries, dehumanizes men and women. They are considered possessions. And no slave ever presumes to inherit the wealth of his master. This is the privilege of the sons. 

Paul's letter to the Romans was to help them understand their new relationship with God. In Romans 8:12 - 17 they are admonished to live by the Spirit. "The Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves.....but makes you God's children." Romans 8:15a.

My mother-in-law may not have had much in the realm of material things in her time on earth, but she knew she had a great inheritance coming. She knew that, as a child of God, she stood to inherit all that He owned; the cattle on a thousand hills and much, much more.

Prayer: Loving Father, we thank you for adopting us as your own. Amen.

Madeline, Nebraska, USA

Love Deficiency

"If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge: and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 
I Corinthians 13:2 NASB

There were three young men that were in competition as they went through a graduate seminary. Each was an honor student-focused upon winning the highest cum lade.

The student who ended up with the lowest honors degree, a cum laude, was bothered for the rest of his life that the other two students earned a higher honor, the magna cum laude. Toward the end of his life, many years later, he still tried to downgrade his seminary competitors lives when talking to others about them. 
All three went on to serve in equally important ministries. One served as a missionary to Japan and then as a seminary professor. The second served as a college professor and then as the director of a hospital's psychological services. The final servant served as a college teacher and the went on to be the president of that college. Yet, being third in seminary still bothered him. 

This true story illustrates how the earning of honors, or knowledge, can become too important and pollute friendships. We must have humble hearts that consider others:"more important than yourself" (Phil. 2:3). Pride is like grasping a handful of bitter sand.

We should remember: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, oh God, You will not despise." (Ps. 52:17) A humbled and loving heart means more to our Lord than any honor we can earn or service or gift we can bring to Him.

A person who opens their heart to God's Holy Spirit finds a type of love that will keep Almighty God from considering them "nothing". Without this type of love, God considers people to be living as they were originally created, animated dirt.

"Dear Father, by Your Holy Spirit, help us to be what we aren't by nature, divinely spiritually motivated." "Thank You, In Your Son's name, Amen. 

Dr. Bob, AZ

Good News

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 KJV)

It’s one of those memories that surface when you are trying to get to sleep, demanding the reflection and deference that are its due. 

One day when I was still in one of the mid grades of elementary school our class was finishing our lunch break in the school cafeteria and we were filing past the kitchen window where we dropped off our used plates. What attracted my attention that day was a classmate manning the window, scraping the remains of our half-eaten meals from our plates, wearing an apron over his clothes to protect him from the mess. Recognizing him and not wanting to ignore him and create an awkward silence between us, I hesitated, fumbling about for a feeble hello for him.

If there was any discomfort from the situation, it didn’t appear to be on his part. He continued the rhythm he had established, attending to his duties in a way that was clearly more mature than any I could feign. While the rest of us complained about the quality of food we were being served, this young man was quietly going about the business of cleaning up after us

Poverty suddenly had a face for me and it wasn’t one I would have expected. It was only a moment yet I am left with his facial expression, which did not fall between the extremes of embarrassment and defiance, but rather spoke of a dignity he had embraced at such an early age.

Jesus was no stranger to the plight of the common man. The very fact He chose to come to earth in the humble fashion He did, not arrayed in splendor and accompanied by an army of angels to do His bidding as He was accustomed to, instead choosing to labor as a tradesman is illustration enough of this. He identified with the poor. Indeed the Gospel or Good News He was anointed by God to preach was tailored to that audience (Luke 4:18). But the similarities don’t end there. When His time came to assume the role of Savior and He was paraded before Pilate, the quiet dignity He displayed was in keeping with the humility and composure of a man schooled in hardship and resigned to His fate. His death may have been that of a common criminal, but His resurrection fulfilled His divine mission. In so doing He gave hope and purpose to generations of the disadvantaged.

Blessed Savior, Please guide us towards the dignity that comes through humility and faith. Amen.

Carol (NC)

The Destination

Then they willingly took Him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the place of the land they were headed for" John 6:21 TEV

"Are we there yet? How often do we hear that from children in the back seat of the car when we travel. 

Long journeys are tiring. Mile after mile of the same scenery soon causes bickering as they find their own way of entertaining themselves. 

In chapter 6 of the Gospel according to John, Jesus had chosen to be alone, so the disciples got into their boat and started across the Sea of Galilee. Suddenly Jesus came to them walking on the water. Then the really amazing thing happened! Though they had traveled only a few miles, not only did the storm subside, but "immediately the boat reached the place of the land they were headed for." 

Everything about life is a journey, and much of life is frustrating and tedious. We often feel like the child in the back seat still calling out, "Are we there yet?" It is then that we need to look up. Jesus is there. He is still walking on the water and will gladly get into our boat with us. What can be better than that?

Lord of all that is good and gracious, when life's journey seems tedious, give us the wisdom to invite you to join us. Amen.

Madeline, Nebraska, USA

Something New

Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

Something New
Behold, I am doing something new,
the Lord tells us in His Word. 
What new thing is He doing in you? 
What in your heart is being stirred? 

Is He showing you a place to serve
or a new gift you can give? 
Is there something He wants to teach you
as He shows you how to live? 

Is there someone you need to forgive
to start the New Year off right? 
Is there a way He wants you to shine
as you live as salt and light? 

Is there a new task He has for you, 
something only you can do? 
Is there a new challenge in your path
that He will see you through..? 

Whatever new thing He has in store, 
it will be for your best... 
This New Year holds such promise
and with God, you will be blest! 

Cindy J. Evans, Duluth, GA

The Song Of The Meadowlark

Read 1 Kings 19:11 & 12
And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. v 12b TLB

Perhaps you have to be at least 40 something to know what I'm talking about. But some of you will remember the sweet experience of driving down a country road with car windows rolled down. Yes, for you younger readers, there was a time when the only air conditioning in cars came from outside the car. While dusty roads, pollen, and hot, dry winds did not make for a totally pleasurable experience, there was one very delightful aspect to countryside drives in days of yore - and that was the song of the meadowlark.

Meadowlarks were plentiful back then in our area. The miniature black and yellow bird preferred roadside fence posts to trees and would sing his little heart out. His cheerful warble gave you the impression that there was no greater pleasure in life than sitting on a fence post.

I have become as partial to my sterile, comfortable air conditioned environment as the next person. Taking advantage of the speed and convenience of our nation's tangle of interstate highways, thus avoiding the quiet countryside, I will, however, miss out on the meadowlark moments. 

As I hear the tinkling trill of the tiny bird (now only in my memory) I have to ask myself how many spiritual meadowlark momentsI have missed in my busy existence. A quotation from Francois de Salignac Ferelon goes as follows: "How rare it is to find a soul quiet enough to hear God speak." That quotation brings to mind a thought that someone shared with me recently. Multitasking is the opposite of experiencing the moment. We drive and talk on cell phones or blast music on the car radio. We walk with headphones blasting music into our ears. We often conduct ourselves as if silence were a dangerous thing -- to avoided at all cost.

The meadowlark is not likely to miraculously find its way to my office desk or my front porch. Chances are he would not be at all happy either place. Nor am I likely to hear God's booming voice breaking into a radio station or television program. That was not God's style when Elijah sought his voice, and it is not now.

It is an awesome thought that the Creator of the universe chooses to use a gentle whisper -- that He refuses to force Himself upon us. But, then neither does the meadowlark. Neither do most of the truly valued things in life.

God of peace, quiet our restless hearts that we may hear your gentle whisper. Amen

Madeline, Nebraska, USA

Spiritual Blindness

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV)

Paul, the writer of this passage wasn’t overstating matters by referring to the devil as “the god of this world”, considering the sway he has over the mind of the unbeliever. When we come to know Jesus his influence reaches into the darkened recesses of our lives and floods them with the light of truth which is our salvation. In a sense up until that point we suffer from a sort of spiritual blindness, our true nature shrouded in stubbornness and denial. Once saved, we can no longer hide our sins in those unlit corners which, to our way of thinking, no one knows about but ourselves. 

My father was plagued with poor eyesight his entire life, yet when he was a child his family was so poor they couldn’t provide him with the prescription glasses he so badly needed. When he became a teenager and was allowed to work like his older brothers and sisters, his first major purchase was a pair of the highly coveted glasses he so badly needed. He immediately valued them for the transformation they made in his life.

Likewise, when Christ came into His own suddenly it was as if God had provided a nearly blind world with corrective lenses, but as with any new discipline total commitment is required if we are to make a go of it. But oh the rewards if we will just make the effort of getting our eyes adjusted to this new way of seeing. The beauty of God’s grace is that, if we are willing to change, He is more than willing to meet us halfway. Surrender is the key. The choice is yours—to step into Christ’s glorious light and know the freedom of release that comes with it or squander your life on selfish pursuits that are always a dead end.

Dear Lord, Please open our eyes to your great light and guide us in the path to true freedom. Amen.

Carol (NC)


Ending Prayer:

Simple is As Simple Does

"I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." II Corinthians 11:3 NKJV

A young mother brought her infant to my counseling office because she was worried. Her baby seldom would cry, even when hurt. It was as if she didn't feel pain. All the little one would do is grimace and smile. Her mother was afraid she wasn't normal.

After testing, observation and evaluation, I had good news. The results revealed that the mother had been given an alert, brave and happy little warrior. I urged that she stop trying to change the little one into a more serious, less confident child. She had been trying to change her child into an image of herself. Her little one reduced life down to "life is simply fun", even if it is painful at times.

I thought of Einstein's' opinion: "Any intelligent fool can make things more complicated. It takes the touch of genius to move in the opposite direction." Then, I remembered that the Scriptures state that the devil tries to seduce God's children from the simplicity that is found in Christ.

Jesus is all we need. He is our Savior, Shepherd and Friend who says: Come to Me, Follow Me, Love Me, Ask Me, Abide in Me. This is the simplicity that is in Christ.

Eve's serpent is the master deceiver; walk carefully through the rocky path of life.

Prayer: " Heavenly Father we know You created completeness in Your Son and gave from Your heart of love. Please help us to walk daily realizing all we need is the simplicity found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You, in His name we pray." 

Dr. Bob, AZ

Please Pass The Salt

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored. v13a RSV

I had forgotten to salt the eggs. We had not been at the breakfast table long before I heard, "Please pass the salt."

The sweet corn, fresh from the Farmer's Market, was steaming on a platter in the middle of the dinner table. The first request was, "Please pass the butter." Then, "Please pass the salt."

At the church my daughter and family attend, when the youth confirm their faith in their Lord and Savior, a lighted candle is placed in confirmand's right hand and a teaspoon of salt in the palm of the left hand. Then the pastor reads Matthew 5:13 & 14. They are then challenged to go out into the world and make the Good News appetizing. They are commissioned to live their lives in such a way that the world would want more of that Good News -- would seek it at every opportunity.

As Jesus walked this earth, he never missed an opportunity to "be the salt of the earth." Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is an opportunity for each of us to be the "salt" that makes someone's life brighter, more pleasant, more enjoyable.

Lord, may we, Your Church on earth, never loose its savor. Amen

Madeline, Nebraska, USA 

The Entire bible

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.(2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).

Several years ago I was hospitalized for an extended period. During that time I got to know the lady who was in the bed adjacent to mine well enough to know that although we were both Christians, our religious beliefs differed widely. One afternoon I asked that a Bible be brought to me and when only a New Testament was delivered and I expressed my desire for the whole Bible, my vocal roommate said I didn’t need the Old Testament, as when Jesus came to earth, the Old Testament was made void.

The Bible Jesus read from in the synagogues and temple and so often quoted from was that of the Old Testament. If for no other reason than to confirm the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies made in the Old Testament through Christ’s earthly sojourn, that would be reason enough to refer to it again and again. 
I have a special place in my heart for the Old Testament heroes as portrayed in the colorful pamphlets we were given every week in Sunday School when I was very young. How incomplete would be our religious views if devoid of the stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David. That these titans of faith are immortalized in Hebrews 11 is no accident. Their simple stories provide us not only with history, but are a foundation that prepares us for the more clearly defined beliefs set out in the New Testament. We should not dismiss these 39 books as irrelevant but incorporate them into our Bible study.

When we are called upon to defend our faith we need not be angry or confrontational, just direct. Too often we do such a soft sell of our beliefs in the name of not offending those with different views, we come across as being apologetic for them. May we all have the courage to speak up for God’s way when the opportunity arises. I only wish I had.

Prayer: Lord, please guide us in our search of all the Scriptures so we may come to know you more fully and help others to as well. Amen. 

Carol (NC)


Talk To Me

Whatsoever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." John 14:13-14 NASB

On a beautiful sun filled Arizona morning, I was walking in my backyard surrounded by our palm trees. I had been robbed of peace by my fear for their safety.

I had read that morning that the famous palm trees of Pasadena California were being eaten by voracious beetles who I was afraid might be planning a trip over the mountains to Arizona.

Strangely, I began to hear: "Talk to Me". As I have had three life threatening medical experiences during the last year, including a massive stroke, I wondered if I had more damage than I realized. Then, I remembered today's verses and thought it might be the Lord trying to get my attention.

Feeling free to ask Jesus to take care of my palm trees, I began to talk to my Lord. Feeling much better, I realized that I often didn't talk to Jesus like I would a good friend, about everyday life. I often had been afraid to bother Him about small things because He was so important and dealing with such important things. I didn't want to impose on Him.

Then, I felt much better and understood that He loved me and wanted to hear what was bothering me in everyday life, even if it was beetles. 

Prayer: Dear Lord help us to talk to You as to a dear loving friend. Thank You for dying on the cross so that we can go to heaven someday, Amen.

Dr. Bob, AZ

A Bitter Bush

"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many are defiled" Hebrews 12:15 NASB

During my devotion one morning, I discovered that God's Word contains instruction not only about how to keep a relationship, but also about how to lose a relationship. I was surprised.

Matthew 6, verses 9-11 taught me how God's children are to pray and, it stressed forgiveness in our relationship with Him, and consequentially, His children. Forgiveness is a golden key to healthy relationships. However, Jesus said in verse fourteen and fifteen that the Father would not forgive us if we did not forgive others. Those were frightening words to me. 

A forgiving heart is a kind heart. A forgiving heart is a loving heart that keeps relationships.

Growing bitter bushes happens when we plant bitter seeds and then fertilize them with sarcasm and lack of gratitude. These bitter seeds are weeds that can grow up overnight. Weed control is a big part of any successful relationship. Smiles and the happiness in being friends are replaced by becoming competitors who spend their energy expressing their frustrations. Faces that eat bitter fruit are sour and unhappy.

Father, please help us not to plant bitter seeds that grow into poisonous bushes that destroy our loving relationships. We pray in Your Son's name.

Dr. Bob, AZ

The Gift of Life

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (KJV)

As descendants from the bloodline of Adam and Eve we are all plagued with the same sinful nature they possessed. And as Paul states so bluntly in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” Lucky for us God had a plan. Early on he promised a Savior who would come and rid man of this death sentence. There is a catch: no amount of good deeds can rid us of this curse as God doesn’t operate on the points system. Only belief in Jesus can guarantee us this incredible gift.

Thinking only in human terms, the Israelites He made this promise to made the mistake of believing God had in mind a Messiah who would establish an earthly kingdom and they would suddenly, miraculously find themselves living on easy street. Little wonder, as they were not only seeking relief from oppressive Roman rule, they were likely also chafing under all the strict rules and corrupt practices in place within Judaism. 

By the time Jesus arrived on the scene the temple hierarchy so jealously guarded God’s covenant, they had come to believe the offer was exclusive to their people. They were so blind to the truth they didn’t recognize the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament prophecies their generation was fortunate enough to be privy to. What a tragedy to be witness not only to Jesus’s signs and wonders, but also be in the glorious presence of truth in its purist form and be too self-absorbed to accept him as God incarnate. Instead of embracing Him, the religious leaders led a mob in clamoring for His death, not realizing by so doing they were facilitating the plan God had all along. Wouldn’t they be surprised today to realize Christ’s simple message of belief, repentance and love has thrived over time, delivered by passionate missionaries to even the most remote tribes?

But the beauty of God’s plan was twofold. In sacrificing His perfect Son atonement for the sin of all mankind was made, negating the need for further retribution to balance the scales. Secondly, Jesus rose from the grave to show us more than the fact He was God incarnate. He did it to prove one day we would as well, providing hope to countless generations. If He hadn’t risen from the dead His death would be no more momentous than any other martyr, and His life would be no more than a topic for college research papers. There would be no New Testament for the very title of this prized collection of twenty-seven books heralds a new beginning---one without end. Perhaps we believers should consider replacing the period punctuating the end of our obituaries with the infinity symbol instead.

Dear Father, Please accept our praise and gratitude for not giving up on us and offering us the privilege of spending eternity in your glorious presence. Amen

Carol (NC)

Losing My Grip

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10, KJV) 

The Ten Commandments sound like a lot of “do this” and “don’t do that”. The New Testament makes it sounds like obeying will be automatic after accepting Christ. I was caught between obeying the commandments and not doing works.

My first glimpse of Jesus’ righteousness happened while waiting in line at the store. I felt impatient. Suddenly I lost my impatience and could look around without being mad. I felt friendlier with those in front of me. My reaction was, “So this is what it feels like to be truly righteous!”

The New Testament talks about walking in the Spirit to be righteous. While studying the phrase “walk in”, I found verses with “shall” and “will.” Doesn’t this mean something definite will be done? 

Ezekiel lists better things to come. “I WILL give them one heart, and I WILL put a new spirit within you, and I WILL take the stony heart out of their flesh, and WILL give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19, KJV, capitalization is my emphasis.) Ezekiel 36:27 seems even stronger. “I WILL put my Spirit in you and CAUSE you to walk in my statutes.”(KJV, capitalization is my emphasis.) The most encouraging verse in the New Testament is “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10, KJV). 

One morning I asked God to help me get a grip on doing the right thing. The answer of “Let go of your grip” surprised me. I started with my thoughts, where action is conceived (James 1:15, KJV). I let go of the idea that doing dishes was a chore and it naturally followed to quit putting it off. I let go of laying in bed trying to use willpower, and just did things as they needed to be done. I have a harder time letting go of financial worries, but at least I have some peace and hope for tomorrow.

These “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:5, KJV) describe us as being “partakers of the divine nature”.  What a blessing this is!

Prayer: Thank You that Christ Jesus has made it possible for us to do good works without depending on willpower.

Bonnie (Kansas)

The Deceiver

Be Sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8 KJV) 

        Sometimes in church when I purposely let my guard down so I can be receptive to worship, much to my dismay subversive thoughts creep in, threatening to undermine any good that may have come of attending. Initially, I mistook this disruptive inner voice as the dark side of me, but over time it has become apparent to me it springs from an evil outside influence.      While it may have fallen out of favor to call this the work of the devil, isn’t this precisely the sort of deception he specializes in? Taking advantage of my lowered defenses he masquerades in a form I am not likely to question and proceeds to try and rattle me and render my efforts to commune with God fruitless.
        Try and think of this influence as the polar opposite of conscience. While conscience provides a gentle nudge for me to put the brakes on to keep from sinning, the devil conspires to nudge me towards sin by using every intrusive means at his disposal. Once he has gained a stronghold there is no limit to the damage he can do.
        But how do we know when a thought crosses the line between temptation and sin? We experience the same twinge of self-satisfaction we have when we think we have gotten away with something. No doubt this is a sensation with which we are all familiar. Once the precedent is set, it becomes easier and easier for the devil to leave us to our own devices, allowing us to come up with all manner of evil thoughts and imaginings on our own---which is what he was after in the first place. We simply make his job easier by succumbing to his flattery and the other tactics in his bag of tricks. 

Dear Lord, Please help us to heed the Bible's instructions in Ephesians 6 to arm ourselves against the devil's trickery. Amen

Carol (NC)