Category Archives: Winter 2016/2017

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.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

Don’t Leave Home Without It

One of the most successful advertising campaigns occurred in the 1980’s for American Express. Each ad would feature a prominent person, such as Roger Daltry or Peter Ustinov, but fail to identify them until the end of the commercial when their name appears on an American Express credit card. Upon revelation of the person’s identity, the viewer would hear, “Don’t leave home without it.”

Just as the American Express ad conveys the importance of taking your card everywhere with you, scripture discloses that the Holy Spirit lives in and goes with us. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV) Not only do we need our cell phone, keys, and billfold (yes, containing all those credit cards) when we leave our home, are we taking everything else we need? Did we properly prepare our hearts that day and ask our Heavenly Father to fill us up with His Holy Spirit? I have a real fear of leaving home without it.

The Holy Spirit—Don’t leave home without it.

Upon surrendering our life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. The apostle Paul assures us, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13b) This seal of salvation occurs at the time of belief in Jesus Christ. So, as believers we always have the Holy Spirit in us, but are we aware of His presence and are we taking the time to immerse ourselves in Him every day?

There are multiple functions of the Holy Spirit, and Paul continues explaining in verses 18 and 19 of Ephesians 1: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.” (NIV) He prays for the Holy Spirit to open the minds of believers and to empower and strengthen them.

When the Holy Spirit opens the “eyes of our heart,” scripture becomes illuminated. God’s Word convicts us of sin. God’s Word reveals truth to us. When we pray for clarity prior to reading His Word, God unmasks the meaning. The Lord may provide a particular insight as He directs you to read it in context with surrounding scripture and as He points you to other relevant verses.

The Holy Spirit empowers us. When we’re weary from what confronts us, we can call upon the Lord to sustain and enable us. Whether we’re facing decisions concerning our aging parents or a conflict at work or a tension in a friendship, as we draw near to Him, the Holy Spirit will provide the stamina for those times we’re fatigued from the daily struggles.

God’s Holy Spirit will strengthen and lead us. Just as gasoline fuels a car so you can drive it, the Holy Spirit propels you as you live out your day. And, we can rely on the Spirit to caution us not to do anything that goes against scripture. Actions prompted by God will line up with His Word.

Do you desire to have scripture come alive as the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of your heart? Do you desire an inner empowerment only provided by the Holy Spirit? And finally, do you desire strength and guidance through God’s Holy Spirit? Please join me in committing to thanking our Lord each morning for His indwelling Spirit, asking Him to fill you to overflowing, and then, not leaving home without it.

Father God, I need you and I need your Holy Spirit active and present in my life. I ask your Spirit to open my eyes to your Word, to empower me, and to strengthen and guide me. Please fill me to overflowing—I don’t want to leave home without You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Psalm 119:18 (AMP): “Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold wonderful things from your law.”

Luke 24:45 (NIV): “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

John 16:13a (NIV): “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

Irrefutable

Having a background in science, I often ponder the scientific evidence supporting the existence of God. The latest discoveries—in fields including astronomy, biology, and oceanography—are fascinating reading pointing to a universe showing confirmation of the hand of a Creator. The proofs are impossible to deny and are right in front of our noses. It’s irrefutable. While there are a myriad of validations, let’s look at light, our human body, and the seasons.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that [women] are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NIV)

During a recent summer road trip, we had an inspiring conversation with a retired eye doctor about the physics of light. Unfortunately my expertise in this area isn’t quite up to par because I met my future husband in college physics (we were lab partners), and I wasn’t paying as much attention to the class as I should have been. So, I’ll sketch out the basics we discussed that evening. Light is a fundamental component of our universe, acknowledged when we read in Genesis 1:3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Our human vision only sees a small portion, from 400-700 nanometers, in the light wavelength range. Multiple times in scripture Jesus refers to himself as “the light of the world.” (John 8:12, 9:5, and 12:46) There is a possible analogy between His presence, which we don’t see, and the unseen wavelengths of the light spectrum. Explaining phenomena on a scale too small to see with our eyes, quantum physics is the theory connecting the energy of photons and light wavelength. Suffice it to say, though, there is much you and I can’t see directly or fully understand, but which is very real. It’s also interesting to note a “star in the east” proclaimed the birth of Jesus—a great light.

And He fashioned our human bodies. The DNA, the mitochondria, the nerve synapses—all designed to the tiniest detail and not a random occurrence. Our God is a God of order, not chaos, and He perfectly shaped and intertwined our functioning bodies. King David describes in Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV) how he was woven together: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well.”

As our seasons change, I see God’s fingerprint in the cadence of His creation. Haven’t you wondered why the daffodils and tulips know to burst forth every spring? Or why the trees lose their leaves every autumn? Or why there are cycles to the moon along with low and high tides? Or why there is day and night? The design is masterful and authored by the Master himself. “The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night ….” (Psalm 104:19-20a, NIV) These orderly laws of nature are not an accident, not chance, but God’s pulse in the days, the months, and the years.

It’s irrefutable—a universe formed and fashioned by the hand of the Creator.

Take a thorough look at God’s creation—the mountains, the oceans, the forests, the rivers, and the lakes. Screaming out at us, it testifies of His existence. According to Romans 1:20, today’s featured scripture, we are without excuse and are accountable for what He has revealed to us “from what has been made.” He manifests himself to us through His creation.

Father God, You are an awesome God and your creation is magnificent. I look around me and marvel at the display of your hand in all you formed and fashioned. I thank you for the intricacies of science which show you are irrefutable.

Bible Truths:

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV)

“I form the light and create darkness.” (Isaiah 45:7a, NIV)

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11, NIV)

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A Sharper Edge

“As iron sharpens iron, so one [woman] sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

You recognize the experience—a friendship where after a time you realize the other person is rubbing off on you and it’s not favorable. All starts out well, perhaps you met each other in church, you enjoy fellowship together, or better yet, both families get along. But then behaviors creep in and with time you notice actions that don’t line up with Biblical standards. You try to ignore it, because after all, it’s so much fun being with her and we all need some fun now and then. Continually you feel your conscience pricked, and ultimately you can no longer ignore the fact this friendship is unequally yoked.

Rather than iron sharpening iron, you’re like two rubber erasers becoming gummy, mealy, and rubbed off into nothing.

You don’t want to cave in to the potential trap of being critical and judgmental, but at the same time, their behavior strays and you’re questioning their ethics or morals. Friendship is precious and it’s vital to carefully choose those with whom we spend our free time. We desire relationships where each person sharpens and fine-tunes the other bringing out the best. As we hone our “edges,” we become more authentic and fruitful.

Many factors characterize a true friendship, but three stand out. To begin with, as a Christian, it’s important to choose friends with high moral beliefs. Secondly, is she a grateful and encouraging person? And finally, do we motivate each other further spiritually?

First, scripture is clear about relationships with people who lack moral integrity, as they may drag you down with them. Ephesians 5:5-7 (NIV) explicitly states, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a [woman] is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you … Therefore do not be partners with them.” When we find ourselves compromising our beliefs or observing actions not adhering to our value system, it’s time to move on. Listen to that still small voice.

Next, we find the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV): “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Our Lord has blessed me with several grateful friends where we encourage one another and regularly thank each other for helpful things we do. It’s refreshing. It’s uplifting. And, it keeps me going.

Lastly, years ago I had the privilege of teaching, along with co-writing the curriculum for, an ESL (English as a Second Language) Bible study with a good friend. Collaborating as we did energized and propelled us on, and we continually challenged each other to grow spiritually and to move forward in our walk with the Lord. Strong friendships take into account the exhortation, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We have choices concerning the friends with whom we surround ourselves. When we have a friend or friends who diminish rather than polish us, we find ourselves also rubbed away by the influences of this world. Is the company I’m keeping sharpening me? Am I sharpening those around me?

Father God, I submit my friendships to you and ask for your help in being a true friend to others. Teach me to be a woman who sharpens those around me through my values, thankfulness, and inspiration. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Proverbs 13:20 (NIV): “[She] who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”

Proverbs 18:24 (NLT): “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friends sticks closer than a [sister].”

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV): “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017

The Best Resolution You Will Make

Viewing the New Year, I once again resolve to lose some weight or exercise more or eat better. Or, I’m going to organize my desk, and then my kitchen, and with my momentum in full swing, perhaps I’ll tackle the garage. Oftentimes many people are more altruistic vowing to help others or increase charitable giving. Many of us choose to spend more time praying and reading the Bible—ah, yes, finally tackling the book of Revelation. Still others desire to reduce debt and save more money. The list is endless and the majority of people choose one or two resolutions at the onset of a new year.

Desiring a fresh beginning with the New Year, we all want to make changes, but we’re overwhelmed with where to start. A common thought is it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but many researchers believe 66 days is a more realistic number. However, our success at keeping a resolution will have more to do with our individual personalities and desire to modify. Additionally, having a set plan often promotes success. We still need more, though.

Lamentations 3:40 (KJV) exhorts us with this wisdom, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” Other Bible versions say, “Let us return to the Lord.” After examining our hearts, seeing our lack and where we need to change, we’re encouraged to turn to God in order to facilitate our transition.

Thankfully we have a helper—the Holy Spirit—a power source we can tap into. Zechariah 4:6b (NIV) encourages us with the words, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” Ask the Holy Spirit to overflow in you every day, enabling you to place your reliance on Him. Allow His Spirit to encourage you in your resolutions.

Submitting our resolutions to our Lord and asking Him to show us what He wants for us in the New Year is a valuable foundation. However, the bigger goal is living for Jesus and seeking all He has for you.

A life that glorifies God—the best resolution you will make.

A submitted life glorifies God resulting in the exhibition of the fruit of His spirit which are, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a, NIV)

Focusing on what God wants for us rather than what we perceive we should do will allow His Spirit to work in us. And that’s when the fruit of His Spirit appear in our life.

The Holy Spirit may enable you to lay out a dependable plan to read the entire Bible in one year or to devote more time to prayer. Or, the Lord may give you His power and determination to shed those 10 pounds in order to have more energy to daily seek and serve Him, resulting in real change. A transformation honoring Him.

Centered on leading a life glorifying God, armed in the Word, and filled with the Spirit, I’m going to ask the Lord to also help me set aside time to tackle cleaning out the garage! Girlfriends, let’s go for it.

Father God, You alone are majestic and I desire for my life to glorify you. Search my heart. Show me how and where you desire for me to submit and change. Any resolutions I make I desire to be worthy of your unique calling for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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.”

John 14:26 (NIV): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Romans 8:26a (NIV): “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV): “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Winter 2016/2017