Category Archives: Devotionals

Scripture based thoughts.

Proverbs

stock-photo-the-word-proverbs-one-of-the-books-of-the-holy-bible-in-cut-out-magazine-letters-pinned-to-a-cork-167707772Many of us are not Bible scholars and we even struggle with what to read in the Bible when we do get the notion that we should.  Where do we start?  Many people suggest reading the gospel of John where you’ll find the message of salvation. Others suggest Genesis.  It’s at the beginning which is usually a really good place to start & many of the beloved Bible Stories from your childhood are there.  Very interesting.  So, no matter what else you may want to start to read, I’d like to suggest the book of Proverbs as a way to get yourself into the Bible.  This book is unique in that it has 21 chapters of useful information.  One chapter for each day.  So, simply put, you can read Chapter 1 on the first day of each month.  If you skip your Bible reading for a few days, just pick up on the chapter that corresponds with the date.  Easy.

These wise sayings that help us in everyday life, offering us advice on how to behave in various situations.

  • A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 17:22
  • There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. 29:20
  • Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. 21:19
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. 3:5
  • As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. 26:11
  • Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. 22:6
  • A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; 27:15
  • He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. 28:27

Solomon gave us these proverbs and many wise suggestions for our daily living.  May I suggest we read them and heed them?  Let me know how you make out.

 

Proverbs 27:15-16 (New Living Translation)
A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.

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Pray for Bird Watchers?

birdwatching1

I just finished reading my daily devotional from The Upper Room.  Every morning I open this little booklet, read the suggested scriptures and the accompanying devotional.  It always includes a title, scripture reading, key verse, thought for the day, prayer and prayer focus.  Today’s prayer focus is: Bird-Watchers.  Really?!  The devotional made the point that we can see God in situations if we look closely and that sometimes bird watchers can see birds that others miss because they have trained their eyes to spot them.  Hence, if we train our eyes to look for God we will see Him.  Good message.  Then, the prayer focus….bird-watchers?  It kind of gave me pause.  Since it said I should pray for bird-watchers, I did, but really I have no idea why!  Then, it dawned on me.  I just prayed for someone that I don’t know.  I prayed for an unknown group of people for unknown reasons.  Lord, Bless the Bird-Watchers.  It made me realize that other days on other prayer focuses, someone is praying for me!  I don’t fit the bird-watcher category, but I fit many others:  Mothers, Those who are worried and stressed, Those struggling with envy, Someone who feels forgotten, Those discouraged about helping others, Someone learning a new skill. Some categories may include:  Those who are weary, Those struggling to understand, Those who help their kids with homework, Those doing home repairs.  The ideas are endless.

So, today, I’ll heed the prayer focus.  May the Bird Watchers feel blessed.  And, tomorrow, I may feel an unexpected boost as some stranger may be lifting me up in prayer.  Go ahead, pray for me, I appreciate it!

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  —  James 5:16

 

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Tired or Trusting?

After a big night of Trick or Treating, Kaylee invited her cousin to spend the night.  It’s always fun when these two are together and really it is no trouble at all, so I allowed the sleepover to occur.  Of course, the girls had much more energy than my husband and I and when it was time for us to go to bed, we suggested they did too.  So, I tuck them in and tell them that they are welcome to whisper for a while, but to stay in bed (or on floor as the case may be.)  My husband and I went to bed and watched a little TV.  When it was time for us to turn off the lights, I exhaustedly asked him if he thought I should check on the kids.  He thought they’d be fine.  Relieved that I didn’t have to leave the warm comfort of my bed, I rolled over and went to sleep.

To the best of my knowledge they whispered a while and then fell asleep. In the morning, I came in to wake them and told them how much I appreciated that I was able to trust them and that I didn’t even need to come back in to check on them.  I simply trusted them. I then turned to Kaylee and said, “It’s time to get ready for church, come and show me what you want to wear to church before you put it on.”  Kaylee quickly responded, “Why? Don’t you trust me?”

Ouch.  She got me.  I trusted her to whisper a while in bed because I was tired, but in the morning when I had the energy to be more in charge I stopped trusting and wanted to start controlling.

Do we do that with God?  When we are desperate and destitute, when we are battered and weary, it’s easier to trust, “Lord, handle this, because I just don’t have the energy to!”  However, when we He gets us through our bind, we begin doubting again and our trust wanes. “I feel better, I think I’ll do it MY way again.”

We are to:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6

And we need to: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” — Psalm 37:5-6

Though I searched (not really…), I couldn’t find anywhere in the Bible where it says we are to trust in the Lord when we are tired and distrust when we wake up bright and on top of our game.  We are to trust.  And we are to do it with all our heart.

Kaylee looked lovely in her sleeveless dress & sweater and her open toed sandals.  It was a lovely day in Pennsylvania for fall, but I’m not leaving it to trust again. November 1 is now closed season for summer clothes!

 

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If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.  Wise words my mom used to tell me often.  “If you can’t say anything nice…don’t say anything at all.”  She used this saying as a response to bickering between my brother and I but today I realized that there is a much bigger application that this can be used in.

It can also be spoken as “if you can’t be positive, be quiet.”  I like that.  I pride (Pride is a key word here!) myself in my positive attitude.  Sometimes I have even been referred to as a Pollyanna. It is said that being a Pollyanna is usually considered a put-down for being naive and unrealistic about things but Pollyanna always made a game of finding “something to be glad about.”  Is that a bad thing?

Regardless, our words have power and even though I can remember to not say anything at all if I don’t have something nice to say to others, I often forget to stay positive when I am alone in my room or in my thoughts.

For example, today something happened and I immediately started saying, “There is no way we can fix this.  This is so bad, how will I figure this out?  There is no way I’m going to make this right.”  Is that nice?  Should I say it?  Even to myself?  And, it definitely isn’t positive. It certainly affected my mood and the mood of those around me.

The minute I stopped saying anything.  Just stopped, I was able to re-frame the situation and recognize that I will be able to do something about it.  Will it be all right? Maybe not, but it will be my best.  I will start talking positively to myself and to others and I think the effort and results will show.  Instead of speaking defeat, I will strive for success.

There’s a story in the Bible (2 Kings 4:8) about a woman whose son had died.  She was running for help and when someone asked her “Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?” she replied, “Everything is all right.” (2 Kings 4:26) Are you kidding me?  Her son was dead!  BUT, what good would it have done for her to lament about her problems.  She was going for help.  Should she stop to complain about the situation?  She said, “Everything is all right” and kept going for help.

What a good example.  I’m going to try to be positive or be quiet.  I will do as I was told and not saying anything if I can’t say anything nice and I bet my day and my attitude will be better for it!

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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      (AUTHOR NOTE: Think about such things? Probably includes talk about such things too!)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.           Ephesians 4:29 
(AUTHOR NOTE: Even if the “other” is you!)

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Lean and Stand

I was blessed to be raised by a mother who played the piano.  She played out of the hymn book often and sang along the message that was in them.  I grew up learning to play the piano and hymns and eventually became our church organist.  Though I am not as talented as my mom and I can’t sing and play at the same time, the message of those hymns resonates in me.  I can hear the congregation singing in the background of my mind and at odd times, times when I need to hear them, the voices are plain and melodious.

Last week as I was rushing around and looking at a million situations, I was thinking, “What should I do? What should I do? What should I do?”  That still, small voice, actually, it was that voices of elders from the church I grew up in singing, started instructing me:

“What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, Leaning (if you know the song and sang it as a kid, add in a low voice – leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus) safe and secure from all alarms, Leaning, Leaning , leaning on the everlasting arms.”

Wow.  What should I do? Lean?  Sounds easy enough, but it’s harder than you think.  We are a society of do-ers, not leaners!  As I thought about that, another hymn popped into my thoughts.

“Standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages, let his praises ring, glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,

Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, Standing (again, if you know the hymn, you would be singing Standing on the promises, standing on the promises,) Standing on the promises of God my Savior; Standing, Standing, I’m standing, on the promises of God.”

Leaning and Standing?  Where’s the Running around like a chicken with your head cut off part?  Where’s the fixing, working, rushing, begging, pleading, doing, wondering part?

OK, so the next time my mind starts racing and asking “What should I do? What should I do? I hope I pause and sing along with those wise hymn singers in my head and simply Lean and Stand.  I hope you will too.

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” –Deuteronomy 33:26-27
“..who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.”   –Deuteronomy 29:15

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Am I “Perverse?”

” A perverse person stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends.”  — Proverbs 16:28                                            “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” — Proverbs 13:3

I must share something that I just did. Yes, I gossiped a bit in an email. Now we know we shouldn’t gossip, but more importantly, we should NEVER gossip in an email. After I sent an email to a friend I double checked to make sure that I really sent it to the intended recipient. All clear. It went without any complications. However, it did make me aware that if I didn’t want to send it to more than one person, I probably shouldn’t have sent it at all!

Last week, I was texting two people at the same time. One was Susan, a co-worker who I was discussing month end deadlines with and the other was my daughter, Lori, who I was discussing my new bicycle with. Imagine Lori’s confusion when the conversation went like this:

Me: Dad and I went biking today.

L: How was it?

Me: I’ll tell you tomorrow.

L: (Smiley Face)

Me:  Just picture me hopping up and down saying, “crap. crap crap. — Where did April go?”

When Susan didn’t reply to my text, I wondered if she was laughing at the image of me jumping up and down or if she was concerned about my overuse of the word “crap” in a text. She simply didn’t reply. Lori didn’t reply either, probably because my strange words made her speechless (or textless so to speak.) My phone went from buzzing and dinging as two people were texting to being inanimate in my hand. After investigating, I recognized my error and had a laugh at my own expense. I thought it was funny, but I did realize that it might NOT have been funny if I had accidentally sent the text to one of the Pastors I work on a local administrative board with or even a parent of my 8 year old daughter’s  whose contact information I have.  I was spared great embarrassment.

So, you would think I would learn my lesson.  Today I was spared again.  I really did send the message to the intended party, but in reality, I could have skipped sending it at all.  It is my hope that I will pause before I hit “send” the next time and decide if I should hit send or delete.

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” — Proverbs 10:19 

Further Reading: James 3:1-17 Taming the Tongue

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A Disciplined Day

Lists.  Anyone who knows me knows I live by Lists.  I’m a list maker.  I  make lists for the grocery store, shopping, chores, home improvements, party plans, everyday to-do lists, who to send Birthday cards to.  Lists.  George even found my hidden list where I write down when I’ve sent a card to my kids (& even what was in it.)  I like to keep track with lists.  I do recognize it is a part of my personality.  It’s how I learn, how I discipline myself to get some things done.  Others don’t make list (on paper) but they do, however, keep their lists on their minds.  People can accomplish what they need to accomplish without a list.  Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and I’ve been thinking about discipline.  The definition of discipline that is:  strict training that corrects or strengthens; habits & ways of acting that are gotten through practice; system of rules.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25   Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

In a devotion written by Franklin Graham in the book 365 Daily Devotions for Women, he writes:

“God is clear:  we must exercise self-discipline in all matters.  Self-discipline is not simply a proven way to get ahead; it’s also an integral part of God’s plan for our lives.  If we genuinely seek to be faithful stewards of our time, our talents, and our resources, we must adopt a disciplined approach to life.  Otherwise, our talents are wasted & our resources are squandered.  Our greatest rewards result from hard work & perseverance.  May we, as disciplined believers, be willing to work for the rewards we so earnestly desire.”

As I read that devotion, I thought of Lent.  I need to be a more disciplined person.  I need to think about what discipline I can develop to be a better steward of my time and my talents.  Maybe my list could be made shorter, if I turned off the TV more often.  Or, maybe I need to wake up a little earlier.  Are some of the things on my list even necessary or could I spend that time on something else to better serve God?

As we think of Lent and what we might give up or as my mother recommended, start doing….let’s become more aware of the need to live a disciplined life.  Put that on your list of things to do today.

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