Daily Devotionals

God Restores

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:12

From October to March, my son Caleb practiced basketball three times a week at the same facility in Bethany. For the first few months, if someone else was taking him, I had no idea how to tell them to get to the gym. Why? Because I just turned when my GPS told me to, and that always worked. 

I think most of us have experienced arriving at point B from point A, only to discover we don't really remember the details of the journey. All that we had to do to reach the destination was be willing to go.

In Psalm 51, David asked God to do a lot of moving in his life. This is David's prayer of repentance after being confronted by the prophet Nathan of his sin. Some of these requests are for God to wash, purge, blot out, make, create, renew, restore, uphold and deliver. How wise of King David to realize that his actions lead to devastation, and only God's actions could bring revival to his life. We are also reminded in this passage in verse 17 that God will not despise a broken and contrite heart. 

We serve a God of action. I find that extremely exciting. In fact, sometimes I get so excited that I want to do more than just be willing to follow God's action. Thinking I have His next move figured out, I tend to jump in and move for God instead of with Him. That never really works out well for me. 

When revival is happening in me, God is moving to restore the joy of my salvation, restore our communion, restore life. And all I need to do is be willing to take the journey. 

Lori C. 

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God Replants

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

This year after we planted the garden, Caleb reminded us to pray that God would bless it. Our prayer is for a bountiful harvest, but before that can take place, much work is to be done by the seed or plant in the soil below.

The evidence of God abounds in the earth, and when we consider the job of a plant's roots, it is a reflection of what Colossians 2:6-7 explains as we are rooted in Christ.

The main purposes of a plants roots are:

1. Absorb water and nutrients - This happens when we take in God's Word.

2. Anchor and support - This reminds me that as my faith increases, I am more deeply anchored.

3. Store food and nutrients - This is my "abounding therein with thanksgiving," remaining thankful always and staying spiritually healthy.

4. Reproduce - When I am rooted in Christ, I am bearing fruit and sharing His love with others, that His church may reproduce.

When God is working a revival in my heart, after he has rebuilt my ruins, it is time for me to be replanted and rooted in Him.

Lori C.

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God Rebuilds

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: Amos 9:11

Have you ever experienced "sin-sposure" - having your sins exposed in the presence of others? You know, like when you are having a spirited phone discussion AT your husband about why the laundry didn't get done, only to learn that he needs to take you off speaker phone because it is getting awkward for others in the room with him? Or when you call your child into another room when you have company to threaten them, only to discover that your guest's child is in the hallway hearing everything? …Not that I can relate to either of those…

There you are, standing in the shambles of your sin moment. And you've been seen. What now?

The first 10 verses of Amos 9 paint a gruesome picture of Israel's desolation. Because of their sin, death and destruction ravaged their nation. Sin brings destruction. Yet in verses 11 - 15, we read of God's promise to rebuild and replant the fallen kingdom - to "raise up the ruins."

I have allowed sin to destroy some very beautiful things in my life. But that is not where my story ends. Standing in the rubble, in the midst of the ruins, with a repenting heart my revival begins. And with each step, I begin to see God restoring the broken as only He can do.

Lori C.

 

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The Return

I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. Isaiah 44:22

Recently, my friend Rachel Loop and I had ourselves a little adventure on our way to a retreat. Arriving well after sundown, we were making our way through a secluded, wooded, unfamiliar area to find the lodge. With no GPS or phone signal, we drove through what appeared to be a dried out river bed after crossing an eroding bridge. With each turn, we both became increasingly confident that we might be the subjects of a future 48 Hours episode. When we could finally see the lights of the lodge, we celebrated. And the drive home in the daylight was a piece of cake!

At that retreat, a devotion was given about returning. Did you know that the word "return" is used more than 400 times in the Bible? Over and over, the Lord reminds us that He longs for our return. Revival in our lives begins with repenting and returning. How beautiful to consider that when we repent, we turn away from our sin and turn back toward God - the act of returning. Like Rachel and I experienced, the return journey is light and peace and life.

Lord, why do I always wait so long to return? You've made it so simple and freeing. 

Lori C.

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God Revives

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.  Isaiah 57:15

Every Spring, we are blessed to step outside and witness the hand of God reviving the earth. Looking out at our orchard yesterday, I noticed one, very strong-looking tree had not yet begun to bud with little hints of greenery like the others. I'm not a horticulture expert, but I'm hopeful that just maybe, what is going on deep in the roots and inside the trunk and branches will result in a late blooming, healthy and revived tree.

That tree is much like I am. Revival begins deep inside my heart, and only when I'm prepared in my soul. In Isaiah 57:15, we are taught that the most High whose name is Holy meets us in our lowest state of contrite (deeply grieved and sorrowful for having sinned against God) and humble spirit. In my most broken, leafless, lifeless state, God comes to bring life again. 

I'll keep praying and cheering for my tree. That's what Jesus is doing for us. Are we prepared for His revival? 

-Lori C.

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What is Communion: Why Do You Do This?

A church had an unusual ritual every Sunday morning. Before the church sang the Doxology, they would stand up, everyone turned to the right facing a blank white wall, and they sang. Every Sunday without fail they did this. A newcomer to the church was confused by this and asked, “Why do you do this?”

No one knew. The only answer they could come up with was, “We’ve always done it this way.” But that answer did not satisfy the newcomer. Other people were asked the same question. Finally an elderly man who had gone to church longer than anyone else remembered the reason.

It seems that at one time they didn’t have hymnals and the words to this song were painted on the large white wall. Everyone stood, turned to the right facing the wall and sang. Over the years the words faded and the wall was repainted numerous times yet no one remembered the significance for standing and turning toward the wall.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

I remember!

-Dennis

 

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What is Communion: Grace

What is Communion? 

It's remembering His grace!

Brenning Manning tells the story of Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression, was called by adoring New Yorkers 'the Little Flower' because he was only 5’4” and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.

One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It's a real bad neighborhood, your Honor." the man told the mayor. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson." LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said "I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions--ten dollars or ten days in jail." And then he reached into his pocket and paid the fine. Then he turned to the crowd in the court and said, “I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom 50 cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant." $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, 50 cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some 70 people, petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and NYC policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation. That’s grace.

Grace blesses us when we don’t deserve it. Grace is received when we fall down and fail, when we fall flat on our faces, when we’re exposed and are found out and forgiveness and restoration meets us. In fact, it is grace that finds us out. Grace meets us in the middle of our mess and offers us forgiveness and restoration. And grace takes away the power and control that fear, sin and failure have over us. It frees us up from our baggage. It empowers us to address our failure. In doing so, it takes away fear’s power and control over us so we don’t have to run anymore. That’s why Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, “Blessed are the ones who don’t have it all together and who are deeply aware of it because it is there that grace meets you and freedom begins.” When we come to this table we admit we are broken and thus make ourselves ready to receive God’s grace.

-Tim Smith (from sermoncentral.com)

 

Lord Jesus, this Dennis, I will never forget Your gracious act of giving Your blood and Your body for my sins!

 

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What is Communion? It's remembering...

What is Communion?  It's remembering...

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Paul Harvey told this in 1977 as part of his The Rest of the Story radio program: “It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket.

Many years before, in October 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine by five. The biggest shark…ten feet long. But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.

In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” (that was the B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry) “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.” And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

You know that Captain Eddie made it. And now you also know…that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset…on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…and captain Eddie never forgot what saved his life!.”

Lord Jesus, this is Dennis, I will never forget what You did for me!

 

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Say What? Repentance

In Luke 13, some people spoke to Jesus and said, “Jesus, have you heard about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed in with their sacrifices! Isn’t that terrible punishment! Isn’t that awful?”

Jesus turns this around and replies, “Do you think these people were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they died this way? No! But unless you repent, you, too, will all perish. Or what about those 18 people who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Were they any worse than the other people in Jerusalem? No! But unless you REPENT, you too will all perish!”

Repentance is a total commitment.

-A person who has really repented won’t ever ask certain kinds of questions. For example, “Now that I’ve been baptized and have my “Fire Insurance” against Hell, how can I sin to the fullest extent possible without discrediting myself as a Christian?”

-That is not repentance; that is hypocrisy.

So, now that you have your fire insurance, how are you doing with…?

-Dennis

 

I’ve wandered far away from God,

Now I’m coming home;

The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

Coming home, coming home,

Nevermore to roam;

Open wide Thine arms of love,

Lord, I’m coming home.

 

I’ve wasted many precious years,

Now I’m coming home;

I now repent with bitter tears,

Lord, I’m coming home.

- William James Kirkpatrick

 

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Say What?

"Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed." James 5:16a (TLB)

"There are only two kinds of people in the world: people who are broken and sinful and know it and people who are broken and sinful and won't admit it."

-Rick Warren

Lord Jesus, this is Dennis, I admit I need your forgiveness, I also need strength to show You my love by keeping Your word!

 

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