A Personal Devotional Journal

I invite you to journey with me. Sometimes we will look at short passages of Scripture and I will give my first thoughts and impressions. Other times, I will just share my thinking about spiritual issues. Always, you are welcome to comment and add your thoughts. Together, we could learn something.

Friday, March 9, 2018

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Comforting Others"

Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Father is a merciful God, who always gives us comfort. He comforts us when we are in trouble, so that we can share that same comfort with others in trouble.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

True spiritual qualities are not natural to us. By nature we are not compassionate and merciful and loving and kind and patient or any of that. And the only way that we can become more patient with others is if someone invests some patience into us –because you can’t give what you don’t have.

The only way we can be more compassionate is if someone shows compassion to us. The only way we can be more forgiving is if someone forgives us. The only way we can be more loving is if someone loves us.

I liken this to a spiritual bank account –a checking account. Before we can write any checks on this account, somebody has to make some deposits into it. And Jesus is the one who makes the deposits.

Jesus has all of those characteristics –and if we have accepted His love, He has invested into us and we now have love to share with others. If we have received His mercy, we now can be merciful. If we have trusted Him for the forgiveness of our sins, we now can forgive others.

Once those deposits have been made into our lives, not only can we turn around and give them to others, but the Bible says that if we are going to follow Jesus, it’s not optional –we must invest what Jesus has given to us into the lives of others.

Spiritually the flip side of you can’t give what you don’t have is that you must give what you do have.

#by-his-stripes.com #ByHisStripes

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

1 Kings 19:1-21 "Hearing God In The Normal"

After the prophet Elijah confronted and bested the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel vowed revenge. And Elijah, who had been fearless before the false prophets, became afraid and he ran and hid.

At this point, Elijah is terribly depressed. He does not even want to go on living. And apparently, he is also a little angry with God. He is feeling sorry for himself. 

I think I understand how he was feeling. He was thinking to himself that he had been faithful, that he had done what God had commanded, that he had even been vindicated by God before the nation. God had used him in a mighty way. And yet, instead of being rewarded for his faithfulness, his life was still in jeopardy. He was being hunted. 

If I'm honest, I sometimes feel like that. I sometimes want God to reward me right here and now for the times I am faithful. Sometimes I even begin to think that I deserve better treatment. More recognition. A little honor, perhaps?

But God simply said to Elijah, "What are you doing up here hiding, feeling sorry for yourself? The job's not done yet. There is still much to do." 

Then God told Elijah to prepare himself, because He was going to speak. You might remember the story. There was a mighty wind -a tornado or a hurricane. It was a massive display of power and force; but God didn't speak in the wind.

Then there was an earthquake. The mountain shook and rocks split. Again, it was a massive display of power and force; but God didn't speak in the earthquake.

Next came a raging fire. It was intense. Whole trees were consumed. But God didn't speak in the fire.

Believe me, Elijah was listening for God in the mighty wind. He was watching for God in the earthquake. He was certain he would find God in the raging fire. But when God spoke, it was unexpectedly in the gentlest of whispers. Why? Why did God send these spectacular catastrophic events? Then, why did He choose to communicate in the still small voice?

I think God sent the spectacular, the powerful, and the catastrophic to remind Elijah who was in control. God can use any means He chooses to accomplish His will. If He desires, all nature is at His command.

But Elijah (and maybe me) needed to be reminded that the lasting, enduring work of God is usually accomplished in the small things -in the quiet places of our hearts even when we are lonely or nervous or fearful or anxious.

The big events are great and many times God uses mountaintop experiences in our lives to grow us and encourage us. But too often we seek God in the spectacular and the extraordinary and the loud and the big -while God is waiting for us in the quiet and the ordinary.

It is not our place to question God's methods. He will use the spectacular when He sees fit for His own purposes, and His own honor, and His own glory. Occasionally God will communicate with us through the spectacular, but it is often our place to be still and listen for the gentle whisper of God in the quiet, intimate moments of the normal.