Category Archives: Archived Devotions

But I Made All These Plans

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

Life was going along smoothly until one Saturday morning when my husband walked in the house holding the front page of The Wall Street Journal which announced the company he had faithfully worked at for 32 years was being “acquired” by another company. So began a roller coaster ride as we fervently worked to prepare for the worse. The Lord graciously showed us how to streamline our lifestyle and cut back on expenses, as the anticipated layoff did occur. Foremost in our minds, though, was the continual thought that we had intended to work five more years and then retire. Well, retirement came earlier than planned for us.

I found myself asking, “But Lord, I made all these plans. Now what?”

Through the years my mother-in-law often said, “Make your plans but hold them loosely.” How true I have found this, as we need to be flexible enough to change, when God steers us differently. As much as we desire being our own masters, it just doesn’t work that way. Unless, of course, we want to complicate matters.

Our Lord will change our plans so they line up with His plans for us.

When Jesus called his first disciples—Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John—they were fishermen who left everything, including their livelihood and their families, to follow him. Talk about an unexpected change of plans. For the married disciples, I always wonder what their wives were thinking.

These disciples were probably men who thought they had it all figured out, just as my husband and I did. When the Lord had other plans, though, they had to yield. Our emotions were topsy-turvy as I’m sure theirs were also. Some days it felt as if someone was pulling our foundation out from under us, but I confess there were also days when I had a sense of relief. God provided a picture of release from the crazy, corporate world which dictated a lot of travel and where it was always about the bottom line.

From this we trusted God had something different for us. The remainder of our years was to be devoted more to ministry, service, and others. True to the key verse in this devotion, God was indeed determining our steps, even though we had planned a different course in our hearts. We didn’t see it then, but we’re gaining a glimpse of it now.

Our Lord desires His followers to submit and commit our intentions, so He may refine us in accordance with His will. As intimidating as our early venture into retirement was, God gave us direction in showing us where to relocate to, providing some interim part-time jobs, and allowing us both to have fruitful ministries. God is good; He knew all along we were to retire early and what it would look like.

Father God, I’m thankful you look at all the plans I’ve made and you smile. Sometimes you might even laugh. I humbly submit my agenda to you and ask you to direct it and mold it to reflect your will and desire for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV): “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post, Email to a Friend, or Pin It:

Comments Off on But I Made All These Plans

Filed under Archived Devotions, Spring 2017

No Thanks, I’ll Do It Myself

Perhaps you enjoy entertaining and having guests into yourhome for dinner. When asked if they can assist by bringing a side dish or dessert, you reply, “No thanks, I’ve got it.” Or, you’re the type of woman, who in your bullheadedness, thinks, “I can manage this giant suitcase on my own,” only to realize you’ve just thrown your back out—again. Or, you find yourself sinking under the weight of a habit, but you don’t want any help, don’t want anyone to know, and so you attempt to tackle it on your own. Pride once more rears its ugly head.

Taking matters into our own hands is like attempting to fold a fitted sheet.

These everyday examples, many from my life, are just a snapshot of what may be going on spiritually. Scripture is clear about pride and the necessity of working alongside others. Proverbs 11:2 (NLT) gets right to the gist of it stating, “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Ouch.

Sometimes suffering from what I refer to as the “martyr complex,” we often think no one will carry it out as well as we can. Or in the same manner we would. Consequently, we proceed in our own strength. Pride is an issue affecting each one of us and goes all the way back to the fall of Satan and the temptation of Eve.

Ezekiel 28:17 describes the downfall of Satan, once a guardian angel on the holy mount of God (see verse 14 of Ezekiel 28), due to his pride in his beauty and wisdom. “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.” Similarly, Eve’s conceit expelled her and Adam from the Garden of Eden for believing Satan, who was in the form of a serpent, that by eating the fruit from the tree she would gain wisdom and be like God.

In our pride, not only are we not recognizing and yielding to God, but also we’re not accepting help from our friends and loved ones. We’re relying only on ourselves, on our self-sufficiency.

Ephesians 4:16 (NIV) clarifies God’s design: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

I have the privilege of co-leading a women’s Bible study, and since we have a large number in attendance, I marvel at how we execute the logistics. This study incorporates women with varied talents, each using her unique gifting, and assisting in assorted roles. United as one to serve the Lord in teaching and proclaiming His Word, our Bible study illustrates God’s teamwork approach.

No woman can do it by herself, as God’s intent is a unified body. Will you join me in taking that helping hand, and extending one, in turn, to others? We’re not created to go it alone.

Father God, I stand convicted of my prideful ways. I mean well, but I realize I need to humble my attitude and submit to your plan. Please help me to step back from myself and accept help when needed. Thank you for creating me as a purposeful part of your body of believers.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 121: 1-2 (NIV): “I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 (NIV): “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, [her] friend can help [her] up. But pity the [woman] who falls and has no one to help [her] up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Romans 12:3b (NIV): “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment ….”

Romans 12:4-5 (NIV): “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post, Email to a Friend, or Pin It:

Comments Off on No Thanks, I’ll Do It Myself

Filed under Archived Devotions, Posts, Spring 2017

Before It’s Too Late

Gathered in the fireside room of the sizeable church, were a friendly and engaging group of people. As we assembled, our pastor lifted prayers before our Father, many in the group shared memories and funny stories, special music provided honor, and our pastor read scripture and extended an invitation to salvation in Jesus Christ. The occasion was the memorial service for my mother-in-law, but despite all the perfect details, something was still wrong. One major player was missing. One of my mother-in-law’s daughters and that daughter’s family did not attend. Now it was too late.

The rift began many years prior, the details of which are now inconsequential. There was never any forgiveness or reconciliation on either side, and the years only deepened the wound and the separation.

Right the wrongs, before it’s too late.

Scripture has much to say about the necessity of reconciliation and I believe the following three steps are instrumental in this process.

The Bible admonishes us to humble ourselves in 1 Peter 5:5b-6 (NIV): “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” According to Merriam-Webster.com, humbling yourself involves acting in a manner “not proud or haughty; and reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission.” In short, act like an adult—someone will need to. Often thinking our integrity is at stake, we waste countless words and efforts defending ourselves. Words we need to convey to our heavenly Father, not the other person involved.

Don’t let a lot of time pass before reconciling. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold,” is our instruction in Ephesians 4:26b-27 (NIV). If we do not get rid of all malice and anger causing the divisiveness, we hinder ourselves from maturing in our salvation (see 1 Peter 2:1-2). The devil will grab and sustain a foothold which will keep you stagnant in your Christian walk. Phew—what a stinky mess you’ve created—similar to a mucky, algae-covered pond with no drainage or fresh supply of water.

Ask forgiveness. I recognize there are tragic incidences of past abuse and wrongdoing which necessitate professional intervention and assistance and require a healing process, but I’m addressing the more prevalent challenges we face. It’s difficult letting go of past real or perceived hurts, but what purpose does it serve clinging to them? You’re not edifying the other person and it certainly isn’t building you up. John 13:34-35 (NIV): “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” When we move forward in love and forgiveness, we build up Christ’s body (the church) and others see Christ in us. The alternative is we lose our Christian witness, as the world and other Christians will be unable to see us as His disciples. We cannot harbor resentment, as it will continue to grow.

God forgave us everything when he sent his son, Jesus, to become sin and to die on the cross for our sins. Scripture instructs us to forgive others for offenses that pale in comparison. Matthew 18:21-35 (NIV) tells the parable of the unmerciful servant whose large debt was forgiven, yet he failed to forgive a smaller debt someone owed him. Verse 35 concludes with an angry master declaring the servant wicked, turning him over to be tortured, while exclaiming, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Take time for people and right the wrongs, as we never know what may happen. Years ago, parked in front of a vast warehouse-shopping site, taking time out of my busy schedule, I stopped everything, and pulled out my cell phone to call a dear friend. This was a solid relationship, but we had been missing each other lately, and I didn’t want her to think I’d been avoiding her. We had much to catch up on, and talked for quite a while. I thank Jesus for nudging me to take time for her. A week later she passed away unexpectedly. It could have been too late.

Father God, Forgive me for entertaining unforgiveness in my heart. It’s like poison, spreading and slowing your life in me. Enable me to humble myself, forgive, and reconcile my relationships before it’s too late. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Matthew 5:23-25a (NIV): “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court.”

Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV): “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV): “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV): “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post, Email to a Friend, or Pin It:

Comments Off on Before It’s Too Late

Filed under Archived Devotions, Spring 2017

All the Time in the World?

Nervously clicking the “submit” button, I realized I was holding my breath. Slowly, I exhaled, aware of the importance of what I had just done. This was a sizeable step of faith for me as I submitted my first Christian article for publication. Although I’ve always had a passion for writing, I had done nothing about going public with it until several years ago. What changed my mind?

As I’ve gotten older the reality strikes me that I don’t have much time left. In fact, none of us know when our days on earth may be over. Yet, simultaneously, being newly retired, I also have all the time in the world these days. What a lovely paradox.

I have all this time, but at the same moment, time is short.

With my remaining years I’m compelled to make a difference. As I’ve aged, my priorities have changed and my internal urgency for evangelism and discipleship of others has heightened. The Bible describes this divine compulsion—Jeremiah 20:7-9 details the inner struggle the prophet Jeremiah had when he sunk into discouragement, reluctant to continue proclaiming God’s message, as he had suffered for it when he did. However, Jeremiah’s inner drive kept him obedient and pushed him on. “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9, NIV) Proclaiming God’s Word was an intense motivation for Jeremiah.

Additionally, in Acts 4:20 we find the apostles Peter and John stating, “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard,” (NIV) in front of the Sanhedrin. This must have been an intimidating experience for them, but they testified they absolutely could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard while with Jesus. Again, that divine compulsion to make public the good news of Jesus Christ.

Likewise, God’s Spirit in me compels me to undertake this pursuit and proclaim His Word through my writing. What is the Lord nudging you to do? Is your passion sharing the love of Jesus with young children? Are you a talented singer who needs to use your ability in worship at church? Or, do you need to open your home and facilitate a Bible study? Don’t ignore your inner voice spurring you on and stretching you beyond what you feel is possible; because, it’s by His Spirit you will accomplish great things for Him. Savor and invest wisely your allotted days.

The Lord is coming soon. I enjoy joking it’s not about whether your beliefs are pre- or post-tribulation rapture, but rather, in all seriousness, the importance of being pre-pared. Time is short. I hunger for my family and friends to know of and about our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father God, Our time is short and I know you desire me to use it wisely to advance your kingdom. Please show me how to further the gospel and where I need to commit the time to do so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 90:10 (NIV): “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

Romans 12:11 (NIV): “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 5:14 (NIV): “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post, Email to a Friend, or Pin It:

Comments Off on All the Time in the World?

Filed under Spring 2017

When There Is No Answer

We’ve all been there, praying for a heartfelt need and feeling there’s no answer. Perhaps it’s a needed medical healing, a loss of income, a wayward child, or for a loved one to accept Jesus. We pray, but we hear nothing. All is quiet. The doctors say it’s terminal. The unemployment marches on with no hopeful prospects. The child continues in his rebellious lifestyle. And, your beloved person still hasn’t said yes to Jesus.

Why do I continue to pray?

Scripture instructs us to pray. Prior to teaching His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus stated, “When you pray ….” (Luke 11:2, NIV) Our Lord didn’t say if, He said when—an important distinction.Furthermore, in Romans 12:12 (NIV) we’re instructed to, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” And, in case we still don’t get it, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV) sums it up with, “Pray continually.” Why is there such an instruction and urge to pray if our prayers didn’t matter or if God didn’t hear us?

Prayer is how we communicate with God. In the physical realm, scientists are now investigating the mysteries of quantum physics and prayer. My brain starts to hurt when I read articles on quantum physics, but research shows invisible-sized particles having visible consequences. Similarly, our prayers are not evaporating into thin air, as prayer is our means of interacting with our God who we cannot see, but still fully experience. I find reassurance knowing prayer is real.

But sometimes it feels like we pray and pray and there’s still no answer. Luke 18:1-8 tells the familiar story of the persistent widow and it gives me hope. Jesus is speaking to his disciples and illustrating why they should pray and not give up. In this parable, there is a judge who showed no concern for others and a widow who continually came to him appealing for justice against an adversary. After many refusals, he probably grew weary of her persistence. But, that tenacity is what ended up granting her the justice she desired.

It’s a tough place when our answers don’t come quickly and in our timeframe. We’re wondering what God is up to. The pause seems infinite, but we know in our hearts that we need to persevere and present those requests before our Father. Sometimes silence will be the answer as we wait on Him, and during this interval, I pray our Lord will use this as an opportunity to increase our faith. I’m realizing God instructs us to pray and desires “prayer stamina” when needed. Prayer is our method of communication with Him, so why would I not pray?

Father God, Teach me to pray. Help me during the times I don’t hear you. Enable me to be persistent in my prayers and please give me the confidence to know you hear and you care and you answer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 15:29 (NIV): “The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV): “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Philippians 4:6 (NIV): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

James 5:16b (NIV): “The prayer of a righteous [woman] is powerful and effective.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

Print this Post, Email to a Friend, or Pin It:

Comments Off on When There Is No Answer

Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017