Devotional

How Do You Picture God?

Part 1of 3

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Phillip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:9 (NKJV) 

When people imagine God, there is a wide assortment of viewpoints. Some picture Him as an old, giving man, like Santa, ready to bless and give whatever is requested of Him. Others picture God as judgmental, ready to strike down anyone who strays from what they think He demands. Some people think of Him as indifferent, having wound up the world and walked away from it. The Lord God is described by Jesus as our Heavenly Father, but if one has a negative example of an earthly father, one can have a hard time relating to a loving Father God.

One thing I realized about myself is that I tend to put Almighty God in a box, and not anticipate Him to act beyond my expectations. He didn’t heal my parents of terminal cancer, so I’ve been reluctant to pray with the certainty that He will heal. Yet I personally know people who had been healed of stage-four cancers and other health issues.  During my mission trips to Colombia, I saw people come to faith in Jesus during door-to-door evangelism. I didn’t expect the welcome the local believer, my translator, and I received.  I didn’t expect so many to show interest in Jesus and give their lives to Him. God blasted out of my box. I’m learning that He will do much more than I imagine or pray for.

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We can know who God is through studying His Word. Scripture teaches us about His character and attributes. Many of His names are listed. We can look at how He interacted with people in the Bible as well as with us. Because Jesus said that He and His Father are one, we can examine Jesus’ life. (John 10:30).  No one has ever seen God; the Begotten Son who abides at the Father’s side has made Him known. (John 1:18 MLV)

Jesus showed us the Father through how He conducted His life on earth. Scriptures show the same character traits in the Heavenly Father. Here are just a few:

Truth. Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17 NASB20) The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Psalm 119:160 NKJV)

Unity of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”…”I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him for he dwells with you, and he will dwell in you.” (John 14:10, 16, 17 RSV)

How do you picture God?

The next devotional in this series will go deeper into the character of God.

In the meantime, let’s dig into God’s Word that we may know Him better. How many attributes of God can we find? Let’s write them down and post them on the refrigerator or another spot where we will see them daily.

Dear Heavenly Father, Help me to see You for who You are, and not with any misconceptions or limitations. Thank you for sending Jesus so I know You. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience.

Devotional

Be Still and Know That I Am God

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10

How am I going to get through the week? My garden accuses me of neglect with a crop of weeds. Grapes dried to raisins on the vine before I admitted that I won’t finish canning grape jelly. My employment includes lesson plans and teaching. My exercise regimen and housework is often sidelined in the juggling of my to-do list. I want to spend more time with my family and friends, yet a writing deadline looms later this week. Sometimes, I feel like no matter how much I love what I’m involved in, I’m drowning below the waves of tasks and duties.

Do you feel that way, too? Are your responsibilities weighing you down? You may have an aging parent or children to care for, or someone with an illness may depend on you. Work, or the lack of it, may consume you. Maybe you just learned you are supposed to bring cupcakes for the school function tomorrow.

I have a mug that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” As I read it while I drink my tea, part of me asks, “How?” I’m almost always on the go. Who has time to be still in the mad rush of the week?

Deep down, I think the answer to my drowning life is to learn to faithfully and continually be at rest in the Lord’s presence daily, not just when it fits into my day. A quick reading of a verse or two so I can check off my quiet time with God is not what He desires. He reminds me that He is the source of strength and the One who will fulfill my life. He wants each of us to be in constant communication with Him.

Be still and know that I am God – photo by Kathryn Hughes

Be still – If we want to be still, we need to set aside time to not be running from one duty to another. For me, I have to schedule that, or it either does not occur or is at the final minutes before I head, too late, into bed. Sometimes, my body is motionless, but my mind is chasing after other things. Christian music can help redirect my thoughts. I find journaling about my time with God helps me to focus. In it, I write down what I read from Scripture, and what God is teaching me in it. My prayers may be added to it. How can you be still?

Know that I am God – Knowing who God is and knowing Him personally are two different types of knowledge. We can know our neighbors’ names, but we won’t know them unless we spend time with them. If we want to really know God, we need to spend time with Him in Bible reading and in prayer. We know Him better when we learn what He desires and what He thinks, and when we talk with Him and listen for Him to answer through His Holy Spirit.

God is the eternal being who made us and loves us. He has a perfect plan for each of us – and it isn’t to have us drowning in our responsibilities, for Jesus said He came to give us life abundantly (John 10:10).

Let’s give God our frantic schedules. Let’s find moments throughout the day to just take a deep breath and thank God for it. Let’s practice being quiet in His presence. We can really know God if we set time aside and spend time with Him. Start with five or ten minutes every day, expanding that time with God even longer as being still becomes more natural. Let’s exalt God in our homes and in our lives as we know Him better and become more like Him.  

Thank you, God, for always being available. You are never too busy to spend time with me. Help me to be still and to know you.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. They post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your use.

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Devotional

God is Still Writing My Story

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16 (NLT)

I write historical fiction. I love making up characters. I bring them through lessons in life, whether they be in situations like the children face in The Exciting Adventures of the Trent Twins, such as escaping a cougar attack or problems with a classmate, or major problems such as difficulty trusting God, and the challenges of war time in an inspirational World War II novel I’m working on. Over time, my characters change. They mature, they learn new lessons in life, or they learn how to deal with a situation.  

However, I must always rewrite my work. It is never finished on the first draft, no matter how much I wish it. Sometimes I need a major re-write. When I learned that my England-based American WWII soldier would have been sent to Normandy instead of Italy, I had to throw out chapters of battles in Italy and begin again. Settings had to be changed to reflect his new location. Additional research was required for the changes needed.  

God writes my story. He writes yours, too. I’m glad He doesn’t mess up our storylines. He writes everything perfectly the first time. Oh sure, it may not feel perfect to us, but God sees the beginning and the ending. He uses the problems and situations in our story for our good. He develops our character. As we trust God and learn to obey Him and rely on Him, we grow. We learn from the problems. The Lord doesn’t throw out a few months or years of our lives because we make a mistake. Nothing we do or don’t do is a surprise to Him. God doesn’t need to research as He writes our story. He knows every detail of it from beginning to end.

An author has a purpose for writing, and I believe God has a purpose for writing each of our stories as well. The Lord included many life stories of people in Scripture, and all Scripture is useful for our learning. Through King David’s story we can see part of the purpose God has for our own life stories. We may not sit on earthly thrones or have the same circumstances as David, but we can see truths about God.  

David knew that God thought about him and loved him. He had seen God act on his behalf in the past, whether it was deliverance from enemies, or showing David his sin so that David would repent of it. David knew that it was the LORD who would lead him along the path of everlasting life. David desired for God to get the glory.  David elaborated on God’s interest and involvement in his life in Psalm 139:17, 23, 24 (NLT). How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

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God is still writing your story and mine. I pray we will be faithful characters, obedient to God. Let’s trust God with every chapter of our lives. He knows our every moment. Let’s grow in godliness, becoming more like Jesus every day as we follow Him.

Read Psalm 139. Meditate on how well you are known by God, the author of your story.   

Thank you, Lord, for being the perfect author. I can trust you to write my story.  Please use me and my story to bring You glory. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived under Devotionals.

Devotional

Unity, Please!

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.   Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB20- emphasis mine)

Unity. I crave it.

The news reveals how divided people have become. I’m tired of the fighting between and within political parties; race issues; disrespect for police and other authority; and the Covid-19 pandemic with its isolation, closures, new disease variants, and people battling about mask use and vaccines.

It grieves me that many battles are causing division between followers of Jesus. Instead of being united in Jesus Christ, I’ve read and heard people question the salvation of others because they think differently on issues. It is one thing to become informed, another to bash or shun others who disagree.

Oxford Languages defines unity as “The state of being united or joined as a whole.”

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Followers of Christ Jesus are supposed to dwell together in unity. How can we build unity? Let’s look at the steps given in Ephesians 4:1-3

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to be unified with Christ and with each other. We are commanded to share to Gospel of Jesus with others, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19. 20) In order to walk worthy of our calling, we need to be obedient to Jesus.

With all humility and gentleness…If we want unity, we can’t let our pride get in the way. We need to acknowledge when we are wrong and seek forgiveness. We need to be gentle with others, recognizing that like us, they are on the journey to know Jesus better. Even if we believe we are in the right, we must be humble in spirit and treat each other with respect.

With patience…It seems when we pray for patience that it is then that we have trying situations. But it is in the difficulty that we learn to be patient. When that person who drives us crazy comes up, may we pray and practice listening graciously.

Bearing with one another in love… The Living Bible states this as “making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”  If we focus on everything negative about our spouse or child, it makes it hard to love them. We choose to overlook some of these areas because we do love them. Likewise, let’s look at others through love like we want them to do with us.

Being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace… Are we making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit? Is being like-minded as Christ more important than the style of worship, or the choices others make for their own medical care? May our love for each other and for God hold, or bind, us together.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for focusing on differences instead of on what I have in common with other believers – You. Please forgive me for making my own viewpoint more important than the unity of the Spirit. Help me to be patient, humble, and gentle with others. Help me to make every effort to preserve unity, just as You and Jesus are One.

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Devotional

When Will We See Jesus?

When We Meet Jesus series – Part Three of Three

…as [the disciples] were looking on, [Jesus] was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11 RSV

When will we see Jesus?

I grew up hearing Jesus is coming back someday, I never expected His return may be in my lifetime. In my mind, my life is plotted out until old age and death claim me. Jesus will carry me home.

However, the past several years make me wonder if I may meet Him in the clouds! It seems like so many of the signs predicted to happen before He returns are occurring. Even Israel became a nation again in 1948. No other nation has re-established itself after being eliminated for hundreds of years. I think Jesus is coming back soon!

Jesus is coming with those who have died in Him. Those who have died in Christ will rise first, and then those who are still alive will join them in the air. (I Thessalonians 4) Imagine what that will be like! Flying through the sky with no wings or pixie dust required.  Picture what a crowd there will be as Jesus and His followers from all the years go through the clouds to heaven. 

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When will Jesus come?

No one knows. The disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age?” Jesus gave to them signs to look for (false Christs and false prophets, persecution of Christ’s followers, wars, famines, and earthquakes), and called them the beginning of birth-pangs. Jesus foretold His coming, including a trumpet call when He will gather His elect from one end of heaven to the other. We have signs, but not the time. (Matthew 24, Mark 13) Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Therefore you also must be ready: for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24: 42, 44 RSV

Some people believe that the Church will be taken away in the rapture before the seven-year Tribulation shown to the Apostle John in Revelation. Others think it will occur at Mid-Tribulation after the first three and a half years, while others say it will be after the Tribulation. I will not try to convince you of one over another.

Our salvation does not hinge on which viewpoint a person holds of the timing of Jesus’ return.

What is important is that we expect Jesus to come, and that we are ready for Him to do so. Time has passed and that means we are closer to Jesus’ return than before. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking Jesus is not coming, nor fall for the tricks of false prophets and people claiming to be Christ. Neither should we be so busy looking for His return that we fail to obey His commands.

As Jesus went up in the clouds He left final instructions: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…” (Acts 1:8) Let’s pray for the Lord to open an opportunity to witness to someone this week. Perhaps someone jumps into your mind. We don’t share Jesus alone; the Holy Spirit will empower us and give us the words.

Let’s be ready for Jesus to return. Let’s help others be ready, too.

Jesus, I want my friends and family to know You. Help me to share You with them. Amen.  

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.