Monday, February 28, 2011

Doctor's Orders

A routine check-up at the doctor’s office brought to light the need to bring my records up to date.

“Blood work with fasting”, he said. My heart began to sink as I wondered what exactly he meant. As I was scheduling a time to have the blood drawn the receptionist reminded me, “No eating or drinking anything for 12 hours before the appointment.”

I knew I'd follow my doctor's orders despite my desire to eat because I know that the fasting is necessary to make the blood work come out right. And I need to remember that the same is true of God. When He tells me to fast, it’s to help purge me of things in my life that mess up the work His blood has done and that short circuit the results I desire to see. It's to teach discipline and reinforce submission to His authority, and to accomplish things that can’t be brought about by any other means.

Three times today I heard my doctor say, “Remember the fasting.” It was important enough for him to mention it several times. How many times does God have to say the same? Surely he means for me to listen. And it’s really so little to ask when I remember the blood Jesus shed on the cross for me.

When God says, “Remember the fasting,” it’s easier to do if I consider that in this case, the Blood work has already been done.

" And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." (Mark 9:29)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dining Companions

A blue jay landed suddenly on the wire cage enclosing a suet cake, the action surprising me. That particular feeder is designed for birds that cling rather than perch, and on this particular morning a red-bellied woodpecker watched indignantly from a few feet away as the blue jay dined on the meal that was meant to be his. Finally willing to tolerate this trespass no longer, he flew directly at the feeder, scaring the bigger bird off in the process. He huffed and puffed his wings out a couple of times, looking to make sure the blue jay got the message, and proceeded to eat his fill.

A bully in the bird world, the blue jay scares off smaller birds and eats eggs out of their nests. He can be compared to the enemy of our souls, who likewise to steal that which is rightfully ours, destroying our young and stealing our joy, threatening us with his formidable appearance. Finally there comes a day when, fed up with his tactics, we stand up to him, taking back that which is rightfully ours and flexing the spiritual muscles we have through Christ inside of us. And when we do, the enemy takes off, because he recognizes an authority greater than his own.

God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies… but they're not meant to be our dinner guests. The next time the devil tries to pull out a chair at your banquet table, you have every right to shoo him away.

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7b)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Destination Details

The travel journal that detailed my coworker’s recent trip to Germany was fascinating reading. Refusing to make travel arrangements ahead of time, he had simply taken each day as it came, following his nose as he explored little towns or navigated his way through the bigger cities. Repeatedly in his writings appeared the phrase, “It’s the journey, not the destination” as he reminded himself that it didn’t matter so much where he went on his vacation, as long as he had a good time doing it.

But what makes for interesting reading in a journal does not necessarily translate into good advice for living a spiritual life. Making our eternal destination secure is what allows us to enjoy our time on this earth while giving focus to our days and purpose to our existence. Without the issue of our final destination settled we find we wander through our lives as aimlessly as my friend wandered the streets of the towns he traveled through, accomplishing little of eternal value and thinking of little else besides our own wants and wishes.

Because my friend had made no plans in advance, a good portion of each vacation day was of necessity spent looking for where he would sleep that night. He had to find a place to stay before he was free to play. How wise it is settle the issue of where we’ll live eternally now, putting the details of our lives in God’s hands and freeing our own for whatever plans He may have for us each day.

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”

(Joshua 24:15 NIV)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Box of Chocolates

The following devotional was written by Nancy Hamilton Sturm of Wichita, Kansas, and published in The Secret Place on February 13, 2010. She was gracious enough to let me post it today in honor of Valentine's Day. She is a wonderful inspirational writer - check out her blog at

Imagine that someone has given you a big box of chocolates. What is the first thing you do? Most of us would probably say thank you, open the box, and graciously offer the first piece to the giver of this scrumptious gift. Would you begrudge giving away that first piece of chocolate? No, of course not, for the rest of the candy would be yours to enjoy!

I think this is what God had in mind when he commanded us to tithe. God created the world, and all of creation is a gift from God. Our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual lives are also God's gift to us. God has given us a gigantic box of chocolates and would be pleased if we would, with cheerful hearts, say thank you and offer God the first piece.

"Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Come and Get It!"

"BREAKFAST!" I hollered as I flipped the last of the French toast onto a plate, hoping the sound would carry to the father and son watching cartoons together in the bedroom as well as to the brothers battling over video games in the basement. That one word meant "come and get it" to my waiting family, and soon the tromping of feet up the stairs and muffled laughter coming down the hallway told me that they'd heard and were acting in response.

I, too, was hungry this morning, but for something other than French toast and bacon. Needing to hear from God about a matter, I went to Him and explained what was troubling me. I knew He'd have an answer waiting for me. I even knew where to look for it. My hunger would not be satisfied in a meal at the kitchen table but rather in the pages of my Bible where I'd find His response and the necessary guidance on how to pray.

My family can tell from my yell and the smells coming from the kitchen that breakfast is ready. But their appetites won't be appeased until they make a move towards the table, pick up their forks and dig into the food set in front of them. Likewise I won't find the answers to satisfy my hungry soul until I come to the Bread of Life and begin to eat.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Clean Slate

Golf courses don't take care of themselves. On a recent vacation our hotel room overlooked two sand traps on the edge of a long, par-4 hole. Each morning I noticed that they were in pitiful shape. An abundance of footprints left in the sand led to a variety of other conditions. There was a hole left by one frustrated golfer who had tried to blast his way out of the difficulty. Sand rakes were left where they'd fallen after others had attempted to cover the worst of their disturbances. But soon a course worker came along on a machine that erased all the evidence of yesterday's frustrations. He manicured the sand trap, leaving the sand smooth and even behind him.

At our request God daily grooms our spiritual lives in much the same way. When the events of each day are finished and before a new day dawns, He carefully erases the remnants of that day's mistakes so they won't cause us further problems tomorrow. He fills the holes we've dug for ourselves, and picks up the pieces of our lives that we've left scattered around us so we don't stumble over them as we again take to the field of play at the start of a new day. His careful work keeps today's damage from tripping us up tomorrow, allowing us to start each day with a clean slate.

" It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning…" (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Collection of Hearts

Heart-shaped Christmas ornaments have always caught my eye. I have quite a collection now, hearts of all different shapes and sizes, fabrics and textures. I remember how each came in to my possession - where it was purchased or which treasured friend gave it to me. Equally precious, they each remind me of a certain individual or a special moment in time. Someday I'd like to have a Christmas tree decorated solely in the love represented in that collection of hearts.

God has a heart collection, too. Like mine, His come in all colors, shapes, sizes and textures. While mine vary in appearance, each of His is unique in its condition. Some are hard, some are tender; others are contrite while some have a stubborn, rebellious streak. Many came to Him in pieces that He lovingly put back together or replaced completely with a new an better version. Equally precious to Him as they are, He yet remembers the moment in time when each was given to Him and the face behind the extended hands. And He's waiting for the day when His collection will be put on display for the entire world to see.

As I hang my tokens of love on my tree each Christmas, may I remember that so many years ago on another Holy Day, God displayed His love by allowing His Heart to be hung on a tree for me.

" The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus,
Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree (cross)."

(Acts 5:30 AMP)
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