Devotional

A Call to Prayer

Therefore I exhort first of all that all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.    I Timothy 2:1-4 NKJV

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the focal point of the news and of conversations. Hospitals are bombed. People flee Ukraine for neighboring countries and beyond, as refugees without a home. Wounded and dead on both sides leave grieving families.

It’s tragic, but what can we do?

Pray.

Praying for a friend or family member who is ill or facing a crisis is natural. We love them, so their anguish tugs at our hearts. To pray for someone unknown to us may not come readily to our minds. Yet we are called to pray not only for those we know but for all people.

Pray for kings and all who are in authority, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy. Pray for the governments of the Ukraine, Russia, and others around the world involved in trying to stop the war in Ukraine by sanctions or other means. Let’s pray for our own country and local government as well, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.

Pray for peace.

Pray for peoples’ salvation. God desires all people to be saved regardless of political persuasion or nationality.  

Pray for truth to be known.

Pray for those who suffer. See James 5:13-15. Help if possible. During Paul’s missionary journeys, he gathered an offering for the Church in Jerusalem to help them in time of great need. Look for reputable organizations that are helping the refugees and the country of Ukraine.

Pray for other Christians at home, church, locally, and far away, including Christian brothers and sisters in Russia and in the Ukraine. Pray that they will stand firm in faith in the Lord and that they will follow the Lord in all things. Pray that they will not be swayed by false teaching. Paul prayed regularly for the churches where he sent his epistles. Paul prayed for those he knew, and he also prayed for those he hadn’t met. Paul had never been in Colosse, yet he wrote to the Colossians that he and Timothy gave “thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints…” Colossians 1:3, 4 NKJV

Pray for the persecuted. Many Christians in other countries fear letting others know they are believers in Christ Jesus because it is a death sentence where they live.

Pray for enemies. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 NKJV.  When Paul instructed that prayers be made for kings, Nero was on the throne of the Roman Empire, the same Emperor that was killing Christians.   

Pray with a clean heart. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s time to act. Let’s pray.

Dear Lord God, I come to You, confessing my sins. Clean my heart, Lord. I pray for peace, and for the leaders of the governments involved. I pray for the people of the Ukraine and of Russia, especially for those who are suffering, and for the believers in those countries. Please use this conflict to bring people to salvation through Christ Jesus. Amen.


Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals still available under Devotionals. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn

Devotional

Press On to Win the Prize! Part 2 of 2

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV (Emphasis mine)

Failures and setbacks can so easily derail us. In the midst of difficulties it is tempting to give up. If our focus is on the problems and on the past, it can shape our future by preventing us from pressing on. This is true in our physical lives and in our spiritual lives.

Our enemy, the devil, would like nothing better than to see us defeated, and for us to not realize who we are in Christ Jesus. The enemy wants us to believe his lies. He knows that we are conquerors in Christ, but he tells us that we are failures, or that we are unlovable, or that God is angry with us. The enemy wants us to be ineffective in our Christian walk. If he can keep people from coming in faith to Jesus, it delights the devil. Giving up or only partially trying results in defeat.

We can learn from Men’s Figure Skater Nathan Chen. After Chens’s three mistakes in the short program in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, he was 13th in ranking. In his interview with NBC Sports [i], he shared that he felt like giving up. “There’s no point.” He said. “I should just go home.” He was encouraged to stay and finish the competition.

Chen finished and found redemption. How? Chen said he adjusted his mind set. “I was no longer over analyzing things or putting as much pressure on myself.” He reverted to his training and utilized what he had worked on in his training.  He stated, “I can never go back and adjust it [his short skate program]…just look forward…clean up the mistakes that I made.” Chen did so well in the longer free skate that followed that he earned 215 points, better than his previous best of 204 points. He placed 5th in PyeongChang in 2018. Chen said, “We definitely learn from our failures the best, so I’m not going to forget what happened in 2018… Just take it for what it is. Learn from whatever I can and continue moving forward.” Now, four years later at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, I think Chen continued to learn from his past failures and continued moving forward. He won the Olympic gold medal in Men’s Figure Skating.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Our goal is to win the prize for which God has called us. That calling of God goes throughout our lives until we are in heaven with Him.

Let’s adjust our mindset. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, may we learn from them so that we don’t repeat them. Let’s not listen to the enemy’s accusations or to his lies that we will never be good enough for God to care about us.

Let’s go back to our training, to the fundamentals of faith. Here is a partial list:

  • Recognize that we are all sinners (Romans 2:23). Confess sin moment by moment as needed. Keep the communication line clear with our Coach, the Holy Spirit.
  • Remember that when we confess our sin, God doesn’t keep bringing it up again. He forgives us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9 NKJV) It is the devil who accuses. Jesus stands beside our Heavenly Father as our advocate and defender. (I John 2:1)
  • Know Who God really is, not the box we may put Him into. Read Scripture about God’s character and attributes.
  • Regularly read and follow the training manual, the Bible. Memorize verses that give instruction to living a godly life. Work on the training we receive.
  • Obey what God says. Apply what God teaches.
  • Pray. God wants us to come to Him. Prayer is talking with God, and listening for His reply. It may not be in an audible voice, but the Holy Spirit will guide us. We need to be quiet to listen to Him.
  • Remember that we belong to Him. God is with us and in us. The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (I John 4:4 b )
  • Tell the good news of Jesus Christ to others.
  • Fellowship with other believers.

Let’s forget what is behind and press on toward the goal. Finish well.

Dear Lord, Help me to press ahead and follow You every day. Please help me to finish my race well. Amen.  


[i] How Nathan Chen’s redemptive Olympic free skate made him the best skater in the world | NBC Sports https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports


 Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals still available under Devotionals. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn

Devotional

Press On to Win the Prize! Part 1 of 2

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 NIV

The Apostle Paul told the Christians in Philippi that he counted everything as loss because of the unsurpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ and having a righteousness through faith in Christ. He wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. How did he prepare for the prize? One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He kept his focus on the goal despite setbacks, persecution, prison, and a “thorn in the flesh.”

As I join the nations in watching the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in China, I am impressed by the stories of athletes who have gone through trials and setbacks that threatened to keep them from competitions, yet they press on to compete in the Olympics. Allow me share a couple of their stories, and the thoughts I have of how the athletes’ perseverance can also be applied in our Christian race for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  

The first thing I noted was the media focus on the past and present failures the athletes had. The world is watching the athletes, and it is watching us, noting failures as well as success. How we deal with our falls will determine how we do in the future.

Our race can be filled with difficulties of all sorts. Some are of our own doing: sin and its accompanying bad choices cause additional problems, pain in relationships, distance between us and God, and sometimes, scandal. When we fall into sin, we need to stop our sin, accept the consequences, and ask Christ’s forgiveness which He freely gives to us.

Other trials may include health issues, separation from others, financial difficulties, fear, or other issues that make the race hard. Many of the Olympian athletes were returning from injuries that could have stopped their quest for the medals even after their injuries healed.

Consider the hardships faced by Team USA’s Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries, both bobsled pilots, four time Olympians and until last week, three time medalists. They spent the first week of their time in Beijing in quarantine. Meyers Taylor tested positive for COVID-19. Humphries was a close contact. That quarantine time impacted their ability to train before their bobsled events, and especially training for the debut of the monobob event. On Meyers Taylor’s first training run back, she finished fifth; and 10th on her second run.[i]

Meyers Taylor and Humphries pressed on through the competition over the following days. Meyers Taylor won silver, Humphries won gold. After their wins, Meyers Taylor shared her feeling about it. “It feels better than gold.” Meyers Taylor said. When she tested positive for COVID-19, she spent a week in isolation away from her husband and almost-two-year-old son, Nico.  “This is definitely the most difficult medal I’ve ever earned,” she continued. “It’s definitely been the hardest journey to get here. I am so excited to take this medal back to my son.” [ii]

Some athletes never make it to the Olympics. “Speed skater Erin Jackson, the first Black woman to make the American long track team in 2018 and the number one in the world at 500m, finished third at the U.S. trials in January” after slipping. It knocked her from the Olympic competition —until the selfless act of her friend and teammate Brittany Bowe. “Bowe went on to win the 500m as a result. Having already qualified in her better events, the 1000m and 1500m, Bowe gave up her spot” to her friend.[iii]

We also have fallen, each of us. We don’t deserve the chance of the prize. Our own teammate, Jesus, took our penalty for sin with His death on the cross. His selfless act allows us, through faith, to win the prize of being found in His righteousness and knowing Christ!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Like Paul, our prize is so much greater than a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Let’s keep our focus on the goal.

In Part Two, I’ll share some lessons on overcoming failure shared by Olympians which may be applied in our own lives.

Dear Lord, Thank you for the prize of the unsurpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ and having a righteousness through faith in Christ. Help us keep our focus on You and Your Word. Amen.

_______________________________


[i] KAILLIE HUMPHRIES AND ELANA MEYERS TAYLOR MAKE THEIR DEBUT IN OLYMPIC MONOBOB By Lisa Costantini | Feb. 13, 2022, 1:12 a.m. (ET)

https://www.teamusa.org/News/2022/February/13/Kaillie-Humphries-and-Elana-Meyers-Taylor-Make-Their-Debut-In-Olympic-Monobob

[ii] KAILLIE HUMPHRIES & ELANA MEYERS TAYLOR WIN GOLD & SILVER IN INAUGURAL OLYMPIC MONOBOB By Peggy Shinn | Feb. 14, 2022, 2:46 a.m. (ET)

https://www.teamusa.org/News/2022/February/14/Kaillie-Humphries-Elana-Meyers-Taylor-Win-Gold-Silver-In-Inaugural-Olympic-Monobob

[iii] Erin Jackson’s gold-medal story, co-written by Brittany Bowe, is “unbelievable”By Shintaro Kano| 13 February 2022 6:57 https://olympics.com/en/news/beijing-speed-skating-women-500-erin-jackson


Photo at top by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals still available under Devotionals. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn

Devotional

Let Love Be Genuine

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9, 10 RSV

Valentine’s Day decorations flood the stores right now with hearts, flowers, lace, jewelry, and candy. Some items are fun to see for a week or so, and then end up as clutter or are packed or thrown away. Others are beautiful or delicious. Don’t forget the cards! Choosing a Valentine’s card from the wide selection can be a bit overwhelming. My husband has learned that I like cards that express a loving feeling, so he usually gets me one written in that style, yet he prefers the humorous cards, which fit his fondness for making jokes and telling funny stories. No card will adequately express how much I love my husband, my grown children, or my friends and relatives, yet I still have much to learn about loving them more genuinely and showing them honor.  

The Apostle Paul wrote to Christians telling them, and us, to let love be genuine. The NLT version says, Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.

Think how wonderful the world would be if everyone really loved each other. Genuine love is patient and kind. I know I need to grow in this; how often I have shown my impatience at delays, interruptions, or at someone not hearing me when I’ve said something three times already.  

When people disappoint us or hurt us, sometimes it’s easy to dislike or even hate others. Instead, may we hate what is evil or wrong, and hold tightly to what is good. I’m not suggesting anyone should stay in a dangerous situation. There are consequences for the person’s behavior that may require distance even after forgiveness has been given. However, when a person is rebellious or difficult, we can lose sight of the good part of the person. Our focus can become that of gossiping about and belittling the person with whom we have problems. Anger and resentment will eat at our peace and joy. 

Genuine love shows no partiality, it does not play favorites. When we love each other in sincerity, we can live in harmony with each other.  Real love serves other people. Real love honors others.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10 NLT  

How can we honor others above ourselves?  This is only a short list. Feel free to send me more ideas that can be shared.

  • Honor the Lord God in all that we say, do, and think.
  • Show respect.
  • Really listen to what others say to us. Engage in what the person is saying by paying attention.
  • Listen to the same story someone shares even though we heard it fifty times before. Laugh if appropriate.
  • Don’t gossip.
  • Put another’s needs before our own.

Boyd Bailey gives several suggestions of ways we can honor others in Honor One Another. Consider this excerpt:

How else can you honor those in your circle of influence? One wise habit of humility is to ask a friend for advice and then act on their advice. A spouse or colleague feels valued when their suggestion makes a positive impact on your life. When you truly listen to another’s opinion you give oxygen to their esteem and you give respect to the relationship. Honor accepts a person where they are and looks to discern their heart.

Used with permission from Wisdom Hunters. See additional insights on honoring others in Honor One Another by Boyd Bailey at Wisdom Hunters https://www.wisdomhunters.com/honor-one-another/

Let’s delight in honoring each other! May our love for others be genuine.

Lord, thank you for being the ultimate example of genuine love. Help us to love our families, friends, strangers, and ourselves as You love. Help us to delight in honoring others.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my blog. Devotionals post every other Thursday, with past devotionals archived. You may follow my blog and it will be sent to you. Please leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you! ~ Kathryn

Devotional

God’s Hope Does Not Disappoint

HOPE series part 3 of 3

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 NKJV

Do we hope in God?

Consider how great God’s love is for us. His love is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. His love is so deep that God wanted us to be reconciled to Him.

Perhaps you have a loved one cut off from you or your family that you desperately want to reconnect with. Maybe that person is you. That separation cuts like a sharp knife. I know my heart breaks by division between some of my loved ones, and also by those who have chosen to walk away from God. The cost is high when any relationship falls apart.

Division breaks God’s heart, too. As sinners, all have been separated from God. That hurt God so much that His only Son, Jesus Christ, paid our death sentence for sin. God’s righteousness is accredited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. By faith, we are justified, or made righteous in the sight of God. (Romans, chapters three and four) I hope that you have come to God, through faith in Jesus Christ. If not, I pray that you will start there in your journey of hope.

Photo by Sean Valentine on Pexels.com

We have hope because of the reconciliation God made available for us. Jesus’ loving gift of his death and resurrection for us bridged the chasm between us and God that was made by sin.

In addition to hope, we have so much more! Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NKJV, emphasis mine)

This hope is not just for our eternity. We have hope now! God gave us the Holy Spirit as a promise of our reconnection to Him. The Holy Spirit lives within us to guide us in the truth, assist us in obedience to God, and help us to become more like Jesus. Paul wrote, More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that all suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3,4 RSV) While I struggle with rejoicing in suffering, it is helpful to know that the Holy Spirit is with me through it, and that it will help me build endurance, or patience.  It in turn develops a tried character and hope.

Let’s hold on to the hope we have in Jesus for the now as well as for the future. God’s hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5) Like Simeon, we can have hope that is based on God’s word and that is certain of fulfillment. (Luke 2, Hope –part 1) Like Abraham, we can grow strong in our faith, fully convinced that God is able to do what He promised. (Romans 4: 20-22, Hope-part 2,) May we always remember the love God has for us and the Holy Spirit we have within us as believers in Christ. We have access by faith into God’s grace in which we stand.

Thank you, God, for the certain hope I have in You. Thank you for making my reconciliation with You possible through faith in Christ Jesus, who died and rose again for me to have life. Thank you for the hope I have because of Your love poured out in me by Your Holy Spirit within me.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience.