Archive for September, 2012

A social outcast, Mary Magdalene was the bad girl of Galilee.  Women warned their sons about that woman and respectable men turned away in embarrassment at her knowing smile.  Mary was hopeless.  Rejected.  Irredeemable.

A beloved son rejected his father and his God for the false pleasures of the world.  Having ruined the family name, the young man returned home an impoverished and downtrodden fool…the stench of wild living still clinging to him.

Known for his religious zeal, Saul served as coat valet during a murderous rampage of  Christian converts.  Children cowered in his presence.  Families mourned.  A self-proclaimed executioner, Saul was guilty.

What do these people have in common with each other?  With a beloved friend or relative?  What do they have in common with us?

His name is Jesus Christ–the Savior sent to restore the rejected and rescue the irredeemable; the Shepherd commissioned to guide wayward children home to the Father; and the Lamb offering His life for those who are guilty.

Be encouraged!  Christ came to save the prostitutes, prodigals, and perpetrators.  He came to save the sinners.  He came to save you and me.  No sin is too great nor soul too tarnished to be outside the grasp of a loving God.

Verse for Reflection

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross.    (1 Corinthians 2:8-10)

Action Step

Who did God put on your heart as you read this devotion?  Are you struggling with the idea that God offers love and forgiveness to you?  Or have you been praying for a friend who hasn’t yet met the One who sets us free from our sins?  Tell the Lord about it and then give Him that concern, thought, or prayer for today.

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Last night, my husband and I watched a documentary about a well-known comedian and several of his acquaintances–nearly all of whom could boast of excessive wealth, fame, and fortune. Sadly, only one performer enjoyed his life.  The others allowed the demands of the industry to dictate their personal level of satisfaction.  When will they start thinking I’m really NOT funny?  I can’t compete with that!  Why am I even here?

Then, I realized I do the same thing.  God fills my life with riches and blessings every day–from the sunrise to family and friends– yet I question my circumstances, fret over my children, and wonder–what am I really doing with this life? 

That’s when I need to re-evaluate.  Is my life about the daily grind?  The schedule that dictates what should be done?  Why am I here?  God doesn’t keep it a secret–I am here to make a difference.  That is my agenda.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  (Matthew 22:35-41)

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Philippians 1:4-6 “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

As a newlywed, were you surprised to discover you and your husband failed to share all of the same expectations?  Disappointed because he left the toilet seat up?  Startled to learn he was as much in need of the cross as you?  I was.

When we exchanged our vows, I hadn’t realized the number of expectations both David and I had of each other.  I knew my husband would lovingly tolerate mood swings, easily give up the majority of closet space, and avoid comparing my cooking to his mother’s.  In turn, he assumed I would recognize the value of his waxing the pickup every weekend, the importance of creases in Navy uniforms, and the necessity of always arriving 20 minutes early for church on Sunday mornings.

Our expectations weren’t wrong, but they were inaccurate.  Preparing for deployment is similar.  Planning ahead, while important and certain to ease some transitions, will not eliminate challenges each of you will face.

Moses had expectations, as well.  After fleeing Egypt, Moses built a life for himself in the desert of Midian.  He gave up privilege for wealth, started a family, and grew old.  Moses knew the routine.  He enjoyed life’s predictability.  He knew what to expect.  Until…God called him to the unexpected.

For over 400 years, the Israelites had suffered in Egypt.  In fact, they had been brutally enslaved.  Children were torn from their mother’s arms, old men felt the sting of the whip across their backs when age limited productivity, and starved young men could only beg for mercy at the cruel hands of their masters.  In despair, God’s people cried out for relief…hope…deliverance.

You may know the story.  God sent Moses–a man who had once been accustomed to the riches and pleasures of royalty and now lived the humble life of a shepherd—to rescue Israel.  But, what could God do with a bent old man—a recluse?  Even Moses doubted God’s wisdom.   “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3)

Despite his fears and insecurity, Moses remained faithful to God’s commands.  He asked to have an audience with the king of Egypt.  While it may seem surprising, Pharaoh granted the request—likely because he wanted a good laugh.  Think about it.  Pharaoh held the power of the world’s richest nation in his hands.  Commerce and trade were booming.  The military was unshakeable.  Wealth and education were hallmarks of the kingdom.  The ruler of Egypt had nothing to fear from a desert hermit.  Wouldn’t it be amusing to invite this unkempt, senile, stuttering fool to the foot of the throne?

So…Moses entered the glorious halls of the palace.  Unimpressed with the beauty around him, unafraid of the guards escorting him, and uninterested by those snickering in amusement at his blue-collar appearance, he approached Pharaoh and announced without hesitation, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:  ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.”

Laughter filled the room as Pharaoh and his court heard Moses’ words.  Did this white-haired relic realize he was addressing the most influential man in the world?  Surely, this hermit realized his life was at stake?  Was he insane?

Locking his gaze on Egypt’s king, Moses waited for the noise to subside.  He doesn’t realize who You are, Lord.  He is his own God. What a fool!

Finally, the room grew quiet.  Pharaoh’s face hardened.  He had expected Moses to be a cowering old man tottering on the brink of sanity.  Instead, he recognized strength and determination in an enemy more than twice his age.  Unwilling to admit it to himself, the great king of Egypt knew the Hebrew God had set a plan in motion the moment Moses entered the gates of the royal courtyards.

Remember, friend, the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow can also use the unexpected in your life.  Yes, it will be difficult to give up comfortable routines.  You may yearn for the security of predictability.  At times, you might even feel as if you’ve been exiled to a foreign land—abandoned to a place apart from your husband or the life you had known.  Your expectations—for your life, your family, and your faith—will be altered and changed in amazing ways when you give them to God.

Suggested Scripture Reading

Psalm 93

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The instant he walked through the door, I knew we were in trouble.  My seventeen-year-old-boy-man cradled his arm protectively, carefully adjusting his movements to avoid bumping into anything or anyone.

“I think I broke my hand,” he said.

“Oh, honey…

The stream of sympathetic words ended abruptly when I noticed the fresh t-shirt and Axe cologne resting in Ben’s non-compromised hand.

“What are you doing?”  I asked suspiciously.

“I have a date.”

“Are you serious?”  The situation was laughable.  My invincible son willingly ignored the discomfort of his fractured hand for love.  (He sure wouldn’t have done THAt for a family dinner!)

At times, I take the same approach to hidden sin in my life.  Those unspoken words?  Nobobdy knows my inner dialogue failed to match a thoughtful demeanor.  An embarrassing display of temper?  Only my family witnessed such poor self-control.

Quiet, below-the-surface, private sins can be easily overlooked.  At times, I only turn to Him for forgiveness and renewal when I finally admit the level of discomfort, pain, or dissatisfaction tucked beneath the exterior.

Friend, I encourage you to examine those sequestered, protected areas of your life today.  Are there places in your heart and mind that ache for the touch of Jehovah Jirah–the God Who Heals?

He is waiting to heal the hurts–both inflicted and endured–like any caring parent waiting to be called upon.  Heal our hurts, Lord Jesus.  Amen.


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Chinese Quadruplets Get Numbers Haircut to Tell Them Apart

In a moment of clarity–or desperation–mom took things into her own hands.  She clipped, trimmed, and stood back to view her work.  There before her stood four little boys–each with a numeral cut into his hair.  Nobody would mistake number one for number four!  No more mistaken identities or unfair disciplinary action.

The story was amusing, but I was reminded of God’s involvement in the lives of those He created.  Friend, He never mistakes one of His children for another.  Scripture affirms His attention to your every thought and need–even to the very number of hairs on your head.  You are His distinctive, beloved child and He rejoices when He thinks of you.

Scripture for Reflection

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;  you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely,O Lord.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;  you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  (Psalm 139:1-6)

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  (Luke 12:7)

Article about quadruplets


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Mother Holding Child's Hand

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