Devotions

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Devotions for Tough Times

Part of these devotions will be recommendations from Followers. (You can submit one for consideration using the contact form at the bottom of page, and I will get back to you.) Some are readings that have been uplifting for me. Others will be original writings. We will be rotate these devotions regularly, so check back frequently. For daily devotions for hurting people, see Joni and Friends and Rest Ministries. May God use these writings to encourage you as you navigate through life.

Just Visiting

Visitor disabled parking space

Back in 1983, my friend, Gracie Rosenberger, was a freshman at Belmont University. Gifted in music and vocal talents, she chose a double major in both vocal performance and piano in their School of Music. The rigorous schedule was exhausting, and only nine weeks into the school year, Gracie fell asleep at the wheel resulting in a completely life altering car accident. Ultimately, the collision left her with multiple health issues, as well as, the amputation of both her legs, but Gracie clung to Jesus. Her relationship with Christ gave her grace and strength not only to endure, but also to have a passion for life.

Recently, Gracie and her husband Peter returned to Belmont University—their Alma Mater (Peter was also a music major). They noticed the special parking place, originally installed for Gracie after her accident, had been slightly modified. Peter texted me a photo of the spot and said, “They’ve since added the word “visitor,” which I think is appropriate. As believers, no matter what the disability, we’re all just visitors to suffering… it’s not permanent. And THAT is cause for praise and thanksgiving.” Isn’t that such a good reminder? It’s just what 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” No matter what pain you are going through, you are just a visitor to suffering. That pain is infinitesimal compared to the glory your patient response will receive in heaven. So, hang in there…your perseverance is worth it!

©Joni Eareckson Tada, 2017. Used with permission from the Joni and Friends International Disability Center.

Rain: Affliction or Blessing?

God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering (Genesis 41:52)

A poet stands by the window watching a summer shower. It is a fierce downpour, beating and pounding the earth. But the poet, in his mind’s eye, sees more than a rain shower falling. He sees a myriad of lovely flowers raining down, soon breaking forth from the freshly watered earth, and filling it with their matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:

It isn’t raining rain to me—it’s raining daffodils; sunflowers in showers

In every dripping drop I see wildflowers upon the hills.

A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town;

It isn’t raining rain to me—it’s raining roses down.

 Perhaps you are undergoing some trial as God’s child, and you are saying to Him, “O God, it is raining very hard on me tonight, and this test seems beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are pouring in, washing away and utterly defeating my chosen plans. My trembling heart is grieved and is cowering at the, intensity of my suffering. Surely the rains of affliction are beating down upon my soul.”

Dear friend, you are completely mistaken. God is not raining rain on you—He is raining blessings. If you will only believe your Father’s Word, you will realize that springing up beneath the pounding rain are spiritual flowers. And they are more beautiful and fragrant than those that ever grew before in your storminess and suffering-free life.
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Taken from Streams in the Desert. Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. Edited by Jim Reimann. Copyright © 1997. June 15. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com

God Has Loving Plans

”Consider the lilies, how they grow.”

Matt. 6:28

I need oil,” said an ancient monk; so he planted an olive sapling. “Lord,” he prayed, “it needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers.” And the Lord sent gentle showers. “Lord,” prayed the monk, “my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray Thee.” And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds. “Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues,” cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.

Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience. “I, too, planted a little tree,” he said, “and see! It thrives well. But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me. I laid no condition, I fixed not ways or means. ‘Lord, send what it needs,’ I prayed, ‘storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou hast made it and Thou dost know.’”

 

Yes leave it with Him,
The lilies all do,
And they grow—
They grow in the rain,
And they grow in the dew—
Yes, they grow;

        They grow in the darkness, all hid in the night—
        They grow in the sunshine, revealed by the light—

         Still they grow.

Yes, leave it with Him,
‘Tis more dear to His heart,
You will know,
Than the lilies that bloom,
Or the flowers that start
‘Neath the snow:
 
Whatever you need, if you seek ‘it in prayer,
You can leave it with Him—for you are His care.
 You, you know. —Selected.

Taken from Streams in the Desert, March 29 by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. © 1998. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com

Faith Is …

God who does not lie, promised. (Titus 1 :2)

Faith is not conjuring up, through an act of your will, a sense of certainty that something is going to happen. No, it is recognizing God’s promise as an actual fact, believing it is true, rejoicing in the knowledge of that truth, and then simply resting because God said it.

                Faith turns a promise into a prophecy. A promise is contingent upon our cooperation, but when we exercise genuine faith in it, it becomes a prophecy. Then we can move ahead with certainty that it will come to pass, because "God ... does not lie.” Days of Heaven upon Earth

                I often hear people praying for more faith, but when I listen carefully to them and get to the essence of their prayer, I realize it is not more faith they are wanting at all. What they are wanting is their faith to be changed to sight.jesus the good sheperd

Faith does not say, "I see this is good for me; therefore God must have sent it." Instead, faith declares, "God sent it; therefore it must be good for me."

Faith, when walking through the dark with God, only asks Him to hold his hand more tightly. Phillips Brooks

The Shepherd does not ask of thee

Faith in your faith, but only faith in Him;

And this He meant in saying, "Come to me.”

In light or darkness seek to do His will,

And leave the work of faith to Jesus still.

Taken from Streams in the Desert. Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. Edited by Jim Reimann. Copyright © 1997. May 1. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com

Two Questions to Ask When Trials Come

By Graham Cooke

We’ve all been in a situation where we had absolutely no idea what to do, or how to extricate ourselves. Usually we find ourselves with a sudden hankering to take one or two steps back to where we were before the problem arose. That rising panic and desperate wish to be somewhere else are key parts of the fight or flight reflex.

If we’re fortunate, we’re rarely if ever placed in a situation where the fight or flight reflex requires literal fight or flight, but our brain is trained to stimulate that response when stressed and afraid. Just because there are no giant animals trying to eat us and just because we don’t have rival tribes threatening to steal our spot Lightning stormsby the river, so to speak. It doesn’t mean we don’t have problems.

So we may panic. We may fume and fuss. We may wish we were elsewhere and then, whether it’s an hour or a year later, we finally sit down and deal with matters. We may focus on the problem, and we sit within that problem, stewing over how to alter the circumstances so that we come out on top, or as close to on top as humanly possible. Every fiber of our being is devoted to sorting things out so that the problem goes away. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Most of the time, it’s somewhere in-between.

Whatever the outcome, at the very least we’re left down a peg or two from where we started, whether it’s financially, emotionally, physically, or some horrible combination thereof. And we’re always absolutely, completely and thoroughly exhausted.

That’s because it’s hard work, sorting our lives out. And the worst thing is that difficult circumstances don’t just go away. They replace themselves on a regular basis, because it doesn’t matter how rich you are, how happy you are, how alienated and isolated you are from life and all its trials. Adversity is a beautiful part of life.

But it’s not our circumstances that define us, or even how we deal with each individual problem. No, what defines us as people, as the men and women that we want to be, is how we deal with adversity.
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© Graham Cooke, Brilliant Perspectives. Used by permission.

Connected Carole's notes: Some of these thoughts are difficult for us who live in unending storms, but we have to remember the eternal perspective: this life is not all there is. And we don't have God's knowledge nor power, so trusting Him is the only answer.

 

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