Author Topic: Devotion  (Read 674 times)

Philippa

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Devotion
« on: March 26, 2017, 10:53:28 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-december-1-2016.html

December 1, 2016
Do I Really Have To?
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17 NIV)

Friend to Friend

Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. Case in point.  My husband asked if I could run to pick up his dry cleaning while he was on a conference call for work. Sure. So I drove across town, paid, grabbed what they gave me, and then headed home.  “Are my suit pants cleaned too?” Brad asked when I brought the dry cleaning in the house.

“I’m sure they are, honey. I remember seeing them in the bag when I dropped them off.”

I checked. No suit pants.  “There are only shirts here, Brad, but I do remember there being a dark pair of pants in there last week when you gave me the bag!”

“I definitely had pants in there,” he replied. “Can you please call the dry cleaners and find out where they are?”

Sure.  “Hello, mister dry cleaner man. When I dropped my husband’s clothes off last Wednesday there was a pair of suit pants in the bag. I just picked up his laundry a little bit ago and the pants are not with his order. Can you please check on those?”

“Mrs. Smith, our records show that we took in 18 shirts, but no pants. I’m sorry.” He said matter-of-factly.

“Sir,” I responded as my pulse began to rise, “My husband and I both remember there being a pair of his suit pants in the bag when I dropped it off on Wednesday. There must be a mistake and we need to figure this out. Are there any pants around your store that are unaccounted for? The missing suit pants are navy with a thin blue pinstripe.”

“Ma’am,” he began with an abrasive, defensive edge, “we don’t have pants just‘lying around.’ We only took in 18 shirts. Beyond that, I don’t know what to tell you. People think they drop things off all the time, but we very rarely ever lose anything.”

Really?

I was more than agitated at this point. “Well, sir, what I know is this: my husband and I both remember his suit pants being in the bag that I dropped off to you last Wednesday. He can’t wear a suit without pants. This is pretty important. Can you please take my number and call us if and when you find them?”

“Yep. I have your number.” Then he finished with this smug gem, “I don’t expect them to show up, but will call you if they do.”

“Great. Thanks.”

Click.  I was in a tizzy. Brad and I began to discuss the fact that we both knew his pants were in the bag and then a thought came to my mind which took me to the garage. And there, on the floor behind my drivers seat were his navy, pinstriped suit pants. Still dirty and blending in with the dark floor carpet of my car. Ugh! I walked back in the house and updated Brad.  “Do you think you should call and let the dry cleaner know that you found them?” He asked.

Inside I knew I should, but didn’t want to.  “No. I don’t want to. I don’t like him.” I replied childishly.

Almost instantly the Word of God convicted me. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17)

Doggone it. I have to call him back.  I reluctantly dialed the number again.  “Hello! Dry cleaning company, how can I help you?”

“Hi. We talked a few minutes ago about my husband’s suit pants, and I am calling back to let you know that I found them in the back floor of my car. They must’ve fallen out of the bag. I’m sorry.”

His voice softened. “Well, thanks for calling back. Most people wouldn’t do that. I appreciate it. Have a good day.”

My brow was still furrowed when I hung up. No halo hovered above my head and my grumpy ‘tude still had a grip on me. Taking that step of obedience meant swallowing my pride and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to do it. But I know it was required in response to my love for Christ.  Why is it sometimes hard for me to do the right thing?

Why is it hard to WANT to do the right thing sometimes?

I ponder the questions, yet know the answer: because on my own, I’m stubborn and self-seeking. Thankfully, by grace God’s Spirit works within to lead, correct, and guide.  Obedience is a constant battle: my will versus God’s will. It’s a battle that can only be won by surrendering. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him. (John 14:15, 21,23) Even when and if we don’t want to.

Where does this find you today?

Is there anything that you know you should do, but haven’t done?

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2017, 11:05:07 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-january-2-2017.html

January 2, 2017
Sweet Mercy
Logan Wolfram

Today’s Truth

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him’ (Lamentations 3:22-24).

Friend to Friend

So we did sort of a crazy thing recently. You know though when sometimes the crazy thing somehow feels like it just might be the most right and necessary thing?

In our home we have been in the thick of some intentional and hard parenting lately. We had to clear a bedroom of all its contents twice in a week. One of our boys in particular has thrown some pretty nuclear fits here lately, and this momma is slap worn out! And even though my husband and I have thankfully been on the same page with it all, it can still be so easy to get worn out and defeated.  We have sought wise counsel, begun reading some good books, and prayed, and cried, and ALL. THE. THINGS.  After one particularly hard day though, the very next morning the Lord gave us new mercies as He is so graciously in the habit of doing! (Lamentations 3:23) We decided that some one on one quality time was in order to be hyper intentional with loving on our little guy and reaching his heart.  We spent family time together in the morning and then my husband and I split up to each take a boy on a date. I got our littlest because we agreed he needed alone time with me the most. After grabbing a burger and meandering through a bookstore, we were on our way home to play Legos. In an effort to avoid holiday traffic, we went a back way home and came to a stop sign right across the street from the Humane Society.  "Hey, wanna go pet puppies?" I asked him, thinking he would say no since he was pretty focused on the Lego plan, but instead I got an enthusiastic YES!

In we went. We held every puppy there and were happily leaving when my tender-hearted little fella suddenly said "Let's go see the grown up dogs, they probably need love since no one wants them."

Because our agenda was his for the deciding, we turned around and went to the adult dog section. The loud barking and jumping dogs in a row of kennels set my heart racing into the fat burn zone on my Fitbit, but we started at one end and made our way down the long row. Just as we reached the end, we looked down to see a sweet little white dog with brown spots on her face and a pink nose just sitting there not barking or jumping. As soon as my son went over to her kennel she rubbed up against his hand and began to lick him. He stayed there squatted down and petting her for probably five minutes or so. There was something about her and something about him with her.  "Ok let's go" I said after awhile.

"Mom, we should take her outside so she can get some fresh air and she doesn't have anyone to pet on her, and she is so sweet."

Of course you know now what we did.  The moment we went outside, this little dog crawled into my son’s lap and didn’t move for no less than 20 minutes. After awhile, a family with three kids came out and pointed at this cuddly little white dog curled up on my boy. "If you're adopting today please consider her. She is super sweet," I said as I motioned the mother to take the leash.

My son looked at me and reluctantly let them lead her away to play. He wouldn't leave though. He kept watching her and she kept walking back towards him. "You guys need this dog,” I said in an effort to convince the other mom. “We already have 2 dogs and hadn’t planned on another one until our old one passes on.”

Hudson looked up at me and fat tears welled up behind the frames of his glasses. "Whatcha thinking Buddy?" I asked.

"I'm afraid they will want her, but I feel like she is supposed to be my dog and I just feel really super sad about that."

He was calm but sad. No fit, no frustration, no entitlement or trying to get his way like we’d been dealing with before just sure and sad.  The other mom handed him back the leash and said, "Oh, we just started looking and have a lot to do before we get a dog this will be our first one ever. Besides, for some reason I think maybe she is supposed to be yours."

Something in my spirit said she was right. It was as if the heart of the Father for my son was being exhibited to him in this snuggly little dog. I called my husband, who brought our other son to meet her, and all the while this little dog followed Hudson and sat in his lap and licked his face.  “Lord, I wasn't planning this today! But it feels like it has your hand all over it.”

I prayed in my heart as I watched my kids with the dog. I didn't want another puppy to train, and while Hudson has been asking for a "little snuggly dog" for probably a year, this wasn’t the plan for now.  We couldn’t ignore the fact that this dog was 7 months old, already sits on command, is maybe 15 pounds, and white with brown spots. She was kind of everything we all wanted eventually. His timing is so often different than ours though.  "Well, we need to find a new name," I told my son.

He didn't even pause to think about it. My normally contemplative kid just had a name immediately. "Her name is Sugar mom because she is white like sugar and also super sweet."

And that was that. We brought her home. And I keep having this feeling that something about this little dog is just what this little boy might need. Something in my heart keeps saying that this part of this particular day was about new mercies for all of us and seeing the Lord loving us all in the ways only He knows.  So maybe we aren't so crazy. I'd like to think maybe we are just learning to look and listen to what the Lord could have even in the unexpected and unplanned pieces of life.  Perhaps when the Lord says that His mercies are new each morning, He means that His methods are too if we will be open enough to see them.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2017, 11:39:18 am »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/the-spiritual-fixer-upper-girlfriends-in-god-january-12-2017.html

January 12, 2017
The Spiritual Fixer-Upper
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I promised myself that I would never buy a house that was a “fixer upper.” I don’t like fixing things. I want everything to be fixed before I move in. But there I was buying a town house that needed so much work even the realtor couldn’t believe my husband and I wanted to buy it. Why didn’t someone stop me?

No one did, so the sale was made and we went to work. Actually, my son and husband went to work while I went crazy.  I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. Layer after layer of dirt, grime, stains and ugliness was stripped away. Rotten kitchen cabinets were torn from the walls and rusty appliances were replaced. We basically gutted the whole place and rebuilt it while living in it. I was not happy!  I will never forget the day I woke up to see a toilet sitting at the foot of our bed. That was the moment I resolved to never set foot in another house that required so much work. I am so thankful God does not feel that way about me.  Honestly, I often wonder why God doesn’t just demolish the old me and build a new one. Then He did just that through a two year battle with clinical depression. While sitting at the bottom of that dark and slimy pit, the Father lovingly stripped away old fears and insecurities. From the walls of my heart, He tore the rotten attitudes, undisciplined thoughts and unholy desires that had walked me to the edge of my pit then pushed me in. He replaced rusty old dreams with new ones and basically gutted my life to build a new one, a better one, and a stronger one. Part of that new life was forgiveness. God taught me how to forgive myself so I could then forgive others.  Because forgiveness is so important, it only stands to reason there are roadblocks that can hinder our willingness to forgive. We must make the commitment to identify and remove each one.

Selfishness

Selfishness shouts, “I have been hurt. It is so unfair. I have rights!”

What I am really saying is that how I feel about the hurt is more important than forgiving the hurt.

Pride

Pride cries, “Look at what they have done to me. Don’t they realize who I am?”

To receive or give forgiveness requires humility.

Low self-esteem

Some of us have built an entire identity around a hurt. The attention we gain from the wrong we have suffered defines who we are. We cherish the pain and refuse to relinquish it for the sake of forgiveness.

Blindness

We may be blind to the fact that we have not forgiven a hurt. We have convinced ourselves that we really have forgiven the one who hurt us by going through the motions and saying the right words without really dealing with the pain. All we have done is dig a hole and bury the pain. As long as hurt is buried alive, it will keep resurrecting itself in our life, but when the hurt is dealt with and forgiveness is given, the pain is buried dead and it stays dead.

Pain

Forgiveness is spiritual surgery. It exposes old hurts that have never completely healed. We can move, change jobs, change churches, change friends or even change families, but until we yank up the root of bitterness and kill it with forgiveness, we will live with unresolved pain.

Ignorance

Maybe we don’t know how to forgive someone because are under the impression that forgiveness is an emotion or feeling. True forgiveness is a choice a deliberate choice to release the person who has hurt us from the pain they have caused. We can stop forgiving others when God stops forgiving us.   

We need to identify and eliminate the roadblocks to forgiveness so God can set us free, heal our pain, and make us more like Him. Now that is a remodeling job I would welcome.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2017, 05:45:59 pm »
Monday, January 23, 2017   

His Creation
Mary DeMuth

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  - Ephesians 2:8–10

I used to love it when my kids created something how they stood, back erect, reciting their stories or sharing their masterpieces. There is beauty in the way they reveled in their creation.  Just like my kids (and maybe just like you), I rejoice in what I create. It’s an inbred trait, imparted when God breathed life into us. He is creative and his children are too. We enjoy showing off what we’ve made.  So is it any surprise that God is proud of his creation us?

That he looks from heaven, happy that he fashioned us just so?

We are his works of art, sent to a world that is dying and needy and artless. God rejoices over us and celebrates his creation.  It’s also important to remember that your worth is not based on what you create. Instead, the work you do on this earth is the direct result of your worth found in the God who created you. Not only that, but the Spirit of the living God has adopted you into his family through the finished work of Jesus Christ. You are God’s child, dearly loved, fully settled in your worth. Just as parents are proud of their children, God is proud of you.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2017, 05:51:57 pm »
Tuesday, January 24, 2017   

Chosen Anyway
Mary DeMuth

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.”  - 1 Corinthians 1:27–28

My father was a literary genius, and that genius ultimately led to his demise. At ten years old, I didn’t know how to sort through the abandonment, bewilderment, or the loneliness that came with an enigmatic father’s death. Adolescence came sooner than I knew how to cope, so my journals became my confidant, the place I shared my angst and how desperately I wanted to take my life.  I’m grateful Jesus read those journals of a girl hell bent on leaving earth. I’m grateful that he chose to reveal himself to me in the tenth grade. My writing, after meeting Jesus, reflected something my words reflect today: complete bewilderment that Jesus would pursue the likes of me.  I resonate with today’s passage. I was unwise, weak, despised. But God chose me anyway and he chooses you, too. He transformed me from a fatherless girl who felt utterly worthless into a woman whose soul felt its worth. When I think of how close I came to death, to giving in to my unsettling upbringing, to becoming someone I didn't want to become, I shudder. Any beauty, joy, healing, anything worthy tucked deep inside me is the handiwork of God Almighty the true genius in my life, my good Father.  I am thankful I'm no genius. But in a strange way, I feel something of beauty coming out of the ashes of my father's death. In a way, I represent the redemption of his writing. By God's grace, I've become a word artist for the sake of helping others understand the God who chooses us, and that has made all the difference.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2017, 06:32:46 pm »
Tuesday, January 24, 2017   

Chosen Anyway
Mary DeMuth

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.”  - 1 Corinthians 1:27–28

My father was a literary genius, and that genius ultimately led to his demise. At ten years old, I didn’t know how to sort through the abandonment, bewilderment, or the loneliness that came with an enigmatic father’s death. Adolescence came sooner than I knew how to cope, so my journals became my confidant, the place I shared my angst and how desperately I wanted to take my life.  I’m grateful Jesus read those journals of a girl hell bent on leaving earth. I’m grateful that he chose to reveal himself to me in the tenth grade. My writing, after meeting Jesus, reflected something my words reflect today: complete bewilderment that Jesus would pursue the likes of me.  I resonate with today’s passage. I was unwise, weak, despised. But God chose me anyway and he chooses you, too. He transformed me from a fatherless girl who felt utterly worthless into a woman whose soul felt its worth. When I think of how close I came to death, to giving in to my unsettling upbringing, to becoming someone I didn't want to become, I shudder. Any beauty, joy, healing, anything worthy tucked deep inside me is the handiwork of God Almighty the true genius in my life, my good Father.  I am thankful I'm no genius. But in a strange way, I feel something of beauty coming out of the ashes of my father's death. In a way, I represent the redemption of his writing. By God's grace, I've become a word artist for the sake of helping others understand the God who chooses us, and that has made all the difference.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2017, 08:08:46 pm by Philippa »

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2017, 08:22:35 pm »
Monday, January 23, 2017   

His Creation
Mary DeMuth

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  - Ephesians 2:8–10

I used to love it when my kids created something how they stood, back erect, reciting their stories or sharing their masterpieces. There is beauty in the way they reveled in their creation.  Just like my kids (and maybe just like you), I rejoice in what I create. It’s an inbred trait, imparted when God breathed life into us. He is creative and his children are too. We enjoy showing off what we’ve made.  So is it any surprise that God is proud of his creation us?

That he looks from heaven, happy that he fashioned us just so?

We are his works of art, sent to a world that is dying and needy and artless. God rejoices over us and celebrates his creation.  It’s also important to remember that your worth is not based on what you create. Instead, the work you do on this earth is the direct result of your worth found in the God who created you. Not only that, but the Spirit of the living God has adopted you into his family through the finished work of Jesus Christ. You are God’s child, dearly loved, fully settled in your worth. Just as parents are proud of their children, God is proud of you.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2017, 08:38:03 pm »
Friday, January 20, 2017   

When the Answer is No
Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”  - Proverbs 3:5

Jesus finally relinquishes his will to God’s. When denied his desire, Jesus accepts the decision completely. He stumbles to his execution without murmur or complaint.  This kind of relinquishment isn’t easy for me. When I keep God at a distance, I can stay detached, without expectations. But if I draw near to him, even when I truly believe he can change the situation, I may nevertheless start to clutch at the outcome I want. I might verbalize “Your will be done,” but I’m white-knuckling my own will. God often has to pry my fingers off my desired outcome. I’ve often been devastated when he tells me no, but as I submit to his will in those situations even with disappointment and tears he assures me he’s working for my good.  I see only part of the picture. He has a purpose in his denials.  The Father said no to the Son. And that no brought about the greatest good in all of history. God is not capricious. If he says no to our requests, he has a reason perhaps 10,000. We may never know the reasons in this life, but one day we’ll see them all. For now, we must trust that his refusals are always his mercies to us.  And now as we wait, still struggling to make sense of the storms in our lives, let us pray as our Savior did. Let us draw near to God, believe he can change our situation, boldly ask him for what we need, and submit our will to his.  Our Father’s plans are always perfect. They will always be for our good and his glory.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2017, 10:01:14 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-march-31-2017.html

March 31, 2017
3 Ways to Wreck Anxiety and Fear
Kelly Balarie

Today’s Truth

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight (Ephesians 1:4, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I looked down at the empty box of cookies stashed in the trash. I just devoured them. The more I started at the box, the more it reminded me, if I left it there, I’d likely be caught red handed. So, I did what any smart sweet toothed woman would do I dug deep into the yuck and hid the “evidence.” However, as I stepped back, to catch a glimpse of the trash bin from various angles, all I could see, taste and feel was guilt:

What if my husband hid “evidence” like I do?
What if I continue to eat and eat and eat?
What if I start to hide in other ways?

Anxiety feels not only like sweat, but also like a heart that beats out loud. It pounds and pounds until you’re certain your biggest fears, strongest worries and largest inadequacies will sound in unison and come crashing down.  What makes your anxiety come alive?

Social situations?

Dwindling finances?

Health concerns?

Relational issues?

Your weight?

Your future?

Your past?

Anxiety speaks like a dictator and lives like bondage. Jesus speaks like peace and brings deliverance to life.  Clearly, we want Jesus. So, how do we listen to truth when we’re being eaten alive by anxiety?

This is what I’ve been pondering, because I am tired of bowing down to my emotions. I am tired of fearing life, rather than receiving the fullness of God. And, I am tired of the tirade that plays out in my mind.  I’ve found breakthrough in this verse: For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Ephesians 1:4

3 Ways to Wreck Anxiety and Fear

1. Acknowledge: God chose you. This means, out of all the millions of people He could have created, could have desired and could have accepted by grace, He set His affections on you.

2. Accept: You are holy. By the sacrifice of Jesus, even in your worry, wrestling and hand writhing, God sees you as radiant and resplendent. You are his walking glory!

3. Affirm: You are blameless in His sight. Because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, you can walk as an imperfect woman, covered by His heart-aching death on the cross.

The best way to beat fear is to not fear it. The best way to beat fear is to acknowledge it, repent of it and then douse it with love. It can’t rage under the power of the Living Water (Jo. 4:14). It can’t thrive under the light of truth. It can’t strengthen when submitted to the God of all strength.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment ... (1 John 4:18)

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2017, 10:09:11 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-march-30-2017.html

March 30, 2017
Do Your Words Pass the KUT Test?
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36 NIV)

Friend to Friend

Jesus said that the words we speak reflect the true condition of our hearts.  Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:33-37)

Since every word we speak matters for both today and eternity it’s time to get a bit more hands on about how we can ensure that our words are life giving.

Choose Words That Pass The KUT Test

I’ve come up with a little three question tool that will help even the spiciest individual speak words that honor God, benefit others, and build them up according to their needs. Before you speak, make sure your words make the KUT the KUT test that is:

1. Are they kind?

2. Are they useful?

3. Are they true?


KIND: Who doesn’t like a kind word?

We all do. So before you speak, ask yourself: is what I’m about to say kind?

If your words will unrighteously ruffle someone’s feathers, then it is better not to speak them. (There are times when words need to ruffle feathers. True enough. But they should still be kind, constructive, and God honoring.) If what I am about to say is unkind, then it fails the KUT test and I zip my lip. No talky. 


USEFUL: Oh, how we can complain and vie for control. Our expectations of others can stir us up: we think we know how they should act, communicate, behave, respond, and dress. The truth of the matter is, we cannot choose behavior for others, but we can choose for ourselves.

When my buttons are pushed I have several choices. I can choose to be sassy and destructive. I can choose not to respond and engage in the argument. Or I can choose to respond in kindness that has the potential to calm a flustered heart. See?

Lots of options. But my best choice is to pray first, then choose my response. Even just a whispered prayer, Lord, please give me your wisdom and grace for this moment! Filter my words and calm my heart.

TRUE: Let me jump on this one right away with a qualifier: just because something is true does not mean it is wise to say it. Here’s why. What I have to say might be true, but if it is neither kind nor useful, then in most cases it does not need to be said. So, truth is not reason enough to say something.

The Bible says that our words are to “benefit” those to whom we speak (Ephesians 4:29). Truth must be spoken in light of both wisdom and grace.  Jesus prayed that God would sanctify us in his truth, which is the Word of God (John 17:17). And that, friend, is the best thing for us when it comes to our words. Our words need to be sifted through God’s truth. If what we are about to say does not line up with Scripture, then we simply should not say it.  Kind. Useful. True. Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of guidelines, but it is a great, easy-to-remember tool that can help train us to have a biblical mind set as we learn to be positive and productive in our conversations. The KUT test helps to sift out words of anger, hurt, negativity, rudeness, arrogance, prejudice, ignorance, and foolishness. And so much more! It’s like a Brita for your mouth! I’d call that productive, wouldn’t you?

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2017, 02:01:03 pm »
Wednesday, February 15, 2017   

Have Mercy
Dorothy Littell Greco

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”  - Titus 3:4–7

Grace is favor: something delightful that is completely undeserved, unexpected, and freely given. For example, salvation is a gift from God that we cannot earn (Eph. 2:5–9). Grace helps us grow in sacrificial love because it reminds us that our spouses do not owe us anything. Because we are recipients of God’s generous grace, can we offer any less to our husbands or wives?

In the context of our marriages, we have regular opportunities to extend grace by going beyond what’s expected to bless our spouses. Grace is saying, “I know it’s your turn to give the kids a bath/cook dinner/walk the dog, but I’ll do it.”

Grace is easy when we’re well resourced and not so easy when we’re tired or stressed.  Mercy carries with it connotations of being spared, pardoned, or forgiven for something we did or perhaps didn’t do. It is a manifestation of kindness and love, particularly when something else is deserved. Referencing Titus 3:5, poet Luci Shaw writes, “Now, as we yield ourselves to be washed in grace’s laundry, the scandal of undeserved mercy acts on us as God’s unlikely bleach.”

Yes and amen! The Lord is merciful to us even though we regularly break his commands. Extending mercy fosters sacrificial love because it prevents us from judging one another and hardening our hearts.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2017, 02:02:43 pm by Philippa »

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2017, 02:06:21 pm »
Tuesday, February 14, 2017   

Abiding in Love
Dorothy Littell Greco

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”  - John 15:4–5

How do we offer this countercultural love to our spouses?

First, we experience God’s love for ourselves and then learn to depend on his faithful provision. Though we seldom dwell on this reality, we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). He created us with a primal longing to receive his love.  This longing takes up residence in our souls and compels us to seek after the source.  The imperfect, inconsistent love we receive from our parents and our siblings, from our friends and our spouses, only whets our appetites to the possibility of something more satisfying. Through painful trial and error, we learn that the perfect version can be found only in Christ. As we regularly receive his love, it empowers and emboldens us to offer it to others.  To remain on the path of transformation and continue to love our spouses sacrificially, we must stay connected to God. His love is not meant to be a onetime download. We need regular, even daily, upgrades. Jesus’ instruction to his disciples applies to us today: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4–5).

By staying connected to the Father, we not only receive his love but also discern how he is at work in our beloved’s life. He gives us the capacity to see beyond our spouses’ present limitations and preexisting wounds so that we can affirm God’s call even when the clouds of doubt obscure their vision. After speaking words of hope over our spouses, we then walk shoulder to shoulder, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in abundance, to help them realize that call.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2017, 02:14:48 pm »
Monday, February 13, 2017   

Everyday Choices
Dorothy Littell Greco

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  - 1 John 3:16

What differentiates a loving, joyful, intimate marriage from a disappointing, frustrating one is the willingness and commitment to be changed, to say yes to God’s transforming work, and to become increasingly holy with each passing year. Transformation is a lifelong process that’s equal parts hard work, faithful waiting, and supernatural intervention.  Though miracles do abound, we never become saints in the truest sense of the word overnight. If our experience is at all typical, transformation happens at a glacial pace. Becoming holy is slow and arduous because we’re stubborn sinners but also because being transformed into the image of Christ is meant to change every aspect of our lives.  God’s love is not theoretical; it’s a crown of thorns pressed into Jesus’s brow, nails driven through sinew and bones, and ultimately, his brutal death. First John 3:16 reads, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.”

Few of us will literally die for our spouses. Instead, we will be asked to lay down our agendas, our preferences, and sometimes even our dreams.  God offers us opportunities to tangibly and sacrificially love our spouses on a daily, if not hourly, basis. We love when we apologize for our harshness rather than pretend it didn’t happen. We love when we push past our fatigue and serve each other at the end of an exhausting week. We love as we extend grace, perhaps particularly when they have done nothing to deserve it. Such acts of love are fragrant offerings, much like when Mary poured nard on Jesus’s feet (Luke 7:36–38).  Jesus Christ is the ultimate reference point for what it means to love sacrificially. His obedience cost him everything: his reputation, his well being, his comfort, his life, and when he gave up his spirit even his connection to God the Father (Matt. 27:46). Sacrificial love is never cheap, nor does it happen coincidentally. It’s a countercultural choice that we have to willingly and repeatedly make.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2017, 10:00:47 pm »
Friday, March 03, 2017   

Our Peace
Rebekah Lyons

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  - Isaiah 26:3

Recently I accidentally locked myself in a tiny bathroom in a 100-year-old house on the cliffs of northern California. The house was empty, my phone had just died, and no one in our group would return for a couple hours. It’s amazing how quickly one’s brain and body can process this sort of information. Within five seconds, I panicked.  I looked up, and noticed a small window. If I hoisted myself up on the toilet just right, I could barely squeeze through, so I did. Once out, I forced back tears, up high on the ledge, before scaling to the ground as I trembled with adrenaline.  After such an experience, I could focus on how frail I still am, five years after a season of struggling with panic disorder. But instead, I chose to focus on the fact that Jesus made a way out. Through the past few years, when faced with anxiety, the words of David became my cry: “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Ps. 18:6, 16, 19, NIV).

And in some special and rare moments, I would feel “perfect peace” (Isa. 26:3) when all was still and Jesus was close. Where the weight of the responsibility faded to black and the still waters and green pastures of Psalm 23 became front and center.  Today I’m reminded that we can never know peace without the Prince of Peace because Jesus is our peace. His very presence, alone, calms the raging storm, as we fix our eyes and step out of the boat. So if you feel like you’re carrying weight that’s sucking the air from your lungs, Jesus simply says, “Release.”

It may not feel easy, but it will open wide the gates for his presence to fill.

Philippa

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Re: Devotion
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2017, 10:13:05 pm »
Monday, March 06, 2017   

Job: The Suffering Father
Sally Clarkson and Joel Clarkson

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?” It is I and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, “Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.’”  - Job 42:1–6

How could he, a man of faithful goodness, be allowed to suffer so much?

That question gnawed at Job day in and day out. Finally, he demanded that God give an answer for his suffering.  God did respond; he gave Job a glimpse of what few men are able to see, the vastness and glory of creation, and God’s powerful hand within it. Humbling himself before God, Job accepted that he might simply be unable to understand certain things.  Do you find yourself in dire circumstances beyond your control?

Are you striving with God, trying to understand how he could allow such suffering?

You have good company in Job. And yet, as with Job, sometimes trying to comprehend the whys of our lives is a futile process that only brings us more grief. Sometimes peace is found when we simply rest in God’s goodness and leave the big questions to him. He is our father and our comforter. He is over all and sees us in our time of trial. His vision goes far beyond ours, and even though we may not understand why we must endure difficulty, God is faithful to guide us through it.  Tragedy is a painful wound that the world gives to all of us in time; despair is a self-inflicted injury that refuses to heal because it rejects the Healer. When we let go of our need to control and understand, we are giving ourselves into the hands of the One who can make us whole again, despite our wounds.