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Seeds Of Hope #67

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Devotional for 1-10-2020

GOOD FOR EVIL

A truck driver went into a café and ordered a hamburger, French fries, a piece of pie, and a cup of coffee. Shortly after he placed his order, a group of bikers came in and surrounded him. When he was served, they ate his food and drank his coffee. Quietly, the trucker stood up, walked to the cash register, paid his bill, said nothing, walked past them, and out the door.

“He’s really not much of a man,” said one of the bikers.

“And he’s really not much of a driver either,” said the cashier. “He just ran over three bikes in the parking lot.”

In Romans 12 Paul describes the central values for Christian living. In particular, he said that if we have truly experienced God’s grace, we will want to share it with others. Forgiveness is a good example of sharing and showing God’s grace to others.

Often we say that we forgive others for the wrongs they have done to us. But, forgiveness is much more than quietly offering kind words under our breath that only God hears. Forgiveness is active, not passive. If we have trouble forgiving someone and the hate remains lodged in our heads and hearts and not expressed with our hands by showing forgiveness, we need to do something that reflects forgiveness – like offering them a small gift. That would certainly demonstrate forgiveness.

And, when we do so, we can begin to think of – in some very small way – the tremendous gift of forgiveness that God gave to us in and through His Son: our salvation!

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be forgiving and loving of those who harm us. We see examples of this in Your Son, even when on His cross. May we follow His example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Romans 12:17-21 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. 

Seeds of Hope #66

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Devotional for 1-9-2020

GOD’S GOOD GIFTS

It was that quiet time of the day just before the sunset. Sitting on his front porch, H.C. Booth was fascinated as columns of dust swirled past him and then suddenly disappeared from sight.

As he watched the swirling dust, he wondered and asked himself a question: “What if it was possible to reverse the wind, and instead of it blowing the dust, pull it back?” After much thought and many experiments, he invented the vacuum cleaner in 1901.

Each day God brings many “columns of dust and dirt” into our lives. Often they seem routine and repetitive, troubling or trying, frustrating or frivolous. We are disturbed by them, become exasperated with them, and wish they would go away. Our peace evaporates and our rage rises. But, there is hope!

James has some good advice for us. He says, “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask Him and He will gladly tell you and give you what you need.” This wisdom he speaks of is “practical discernment or sensible insight” – the ability to make wise decisions during difficult times. And, we have His promise that at all times and in every situation, if we only ask, He’ll give us His insight and guide our choices to make life acceptable.

Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to see that things do not need to remain the way they are. We have Your word that if we ask for Your insight You will surely give it to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. 

Seeds Of Hope #65

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Devotional for 1-8-2020

FORGIVE WHO? FOR WHAT?

Pope John Paul II was one of the most notable leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1981 the Pope made a trip to a prison to speak with the man who tried to assassinate him and tell him that he forgave him. In 1984 the Pope appeared on the cover of TIME with the would-be assassin, shaking hands with him while his other arm was around his shoulders. Underneath the photo were the words “WHY FORGIVE?” in bold letters.

Strangely, the Pope asked readers to “pray for my brother whom I have sincerely forgiven.” Some condemned the Pope. Others agreed with the Pope. Still, others could not understand the reason the Pope did such a thing: offer to forgive him.

For most of us, forgiveness is not easy to do nor pleasant to think about. Some of us might even enjoy the resentment and anger that grows within us when we have been wronged. Some speak of their anger as a sign of strength and power. Yet?

Paul said when we accept and understand God’s mercy and forgiveness, He expects us to forgive others just as Jesus did to those who crucified Him. Furthermore, because God through the death of Jesus has forgiven us, He expects us to forgive others as our Savior has forgiven us. When we willingly forgive others, we begin to understand the cost of our salvation.

Prayer: Father, we pray for the willingness to forgive others who have wronged us even as our Savior willingly forgives us. May we show Your love by forgiving others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Ephesians 4:32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. 

Devotional for 1-7-2020

FINDING LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

Darkness.

We’ve all experienced it. Sometimes feared it. Always recognized it. Occasionally wanted it. Most often found our way out of it. But, have you ever tried to define it? Or explained it?

A quick and easy answer would be: “The absence of light.” When darkness surrounds us, we need light to discover where we are and where we want to go.

Another question might be: Do we need darkness? Perhaps, some might say, “We need it for rest and peacefulness.” But, consider the fact that we also need it to see the stars.

There are times in all of our lives when we are going through what we might call the “deepest darkness imaginable.” Suddenly, a glimmer of light appears before us. And then it grows and grows, and then becomes larger and larger. Finally, we are surrounded by light.

Isaiah had a unique experience with darkness. It kept him from seeing God at work in His world and in his life. But, one day everything changed and he wrote, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” After his vision, he was able to recognize the presence and power of God and see His light. And after that experience, he became a mighty prophet and counselor to kings and prophesied many signs that described the coming Messiah. From the darkness that once surrounded him, he then experienced God’s redeeming light.

It worked for Isaiah. It will work for us if we seek His light!

Prayer: Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see Your light and find the path You have prepared for us. Help us to seek Your light when we experience dark times in life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. 

Devotional for 1-6-2020

DON’T LEAVE SHORE WITHOUT HIM

A young ensign was completing his first deployment aboard a large destroyer. He had performed all of his duties in an exemplary manner, and as a reward, the captain gave him permission to “get the ship underway.”

In his excitement and enthusiasm for being given such an honor, he went through every procedure carefully, wanting to further impress his superiors. However, in taking advantage of this new challenge, he broke an old tradition. As he was steering the ship out of the harbor, the First Officer quietly said to him, “Ensign, you have overlooked one of the unwritten rules of the sea. Make sure the Captain is on board before you get underway.”

There are times in all of our lives when we are so anxious to “get underway” that we leave our “Captain” standing on the shore. We all face days of uncertainty with tasks that seem beyond us. We are overwhelmed by new opportunities that are unfamiliar to us and demands that have defeated others around us. So, unprepared and uncertain, we “get underway” without God “at the helm.” Then we discover that we are in a sea with waves that would turn our lives upside down and winds that take away our breath. Unfortunately, we often “leave shore” without our Captain. Fortunately, when we return “to shore,” we find Him there waiting to take the “helm” of our life and save us. The winds and waves obey His voice!

Prayer: Lord, may we realize that we are not safe unless You are at the “helm” of our lives. Without You steering us we place ourselves in harm’s way. Save us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Psalm 139:10 Even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 

Devotional for 1-5-2020

DON’T STOP NOW!

Some time ago it was my privilege to be the commencement speaker at a high school graduation. At the end of the service, the students came forward and walked up to the headmaster to receive their diplomas. As he shook their hands, he looked into their eyes and said softly to each one of them, “Don’t stop now, keep moving forward!”

Great advice – not only for the graduates but for everyone, every day. Whatever we do, wherever we go, we must keep on keeping on. We must keep forgiving! Keep growing! Keep helping! Keep loving! Keep witnessing! Keep serving! Keep worshipping! Keep working! Keep laughing! Keep moving forward! We must never stop doing good, but keep on keeping on!

If this is important for life in general, it is even more important in the life of a Christian. Paul said that “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” “Keep working” means “Keep on keeping on doing good!”

What great advice Paul offers us. Nothing must ever interfere with, nor cause us, to take our eyes off of knowing and serving Christ. We must focus on Him, and His will for our lives, as Paul did, to win the race and receive the prize He will award us by being faithful to Him.

Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to focus on “the prize” You have for each of us, as we run life’s race. Help us to keep focused on You as we grow into Your likeness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Philippians 3:8-14 Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 

Devotional for 1-4-2020

DO WHAT IS NEEDED

The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was a tragedy that struck at the heart of America. The disaster prompted many individuals and teams from across the nation to set aside whatever they were doing, and help meet the needs of the survivors.

One rescue team had been working for hours and finally, after being overcome by fatigue, stopped to rest at 2:00 a.m. Sitting there quietly in the darkness, they heard a strange sound – one they could not identify. When they stood up and turned around, they saw an elderly lady sweeping bits and pieces of debris into a neat pile.

“Where are you from?” asked a member of the rescue team.

“Dallas,” came the reply. “I can’t do very much but when I offered to help, they told me the most important thing I could do was to help clean things up. So I got a broom and started to sweep.”

Life is always filled with opportunities to serve others. Whenever we do what needs to be done, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, and do the best we can do, we honor God and bless His name. We must not compare our work with the work of others if we are doing what God has called us to do. If our heart is right, our work will be right, and God will bless it.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to honor You by helping others in their times of need. May we use the gifts and skills You have given us to do whatever we can to serve others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture For Today: Galatians 6:4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 

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