DEVOTIONALS

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Day 40 – Window Shapes

Have you ever wondered why an airplane’s windows are rounded?  They weren’t always that way.  In fact, early aircraft were well known for their perfectly square panes of glass.  However modern technology allowed planes to travel faster and before long some manufacturers found their planes falling apart in the air.  The engineers worked hard to find the cause of these breaks and soon found out that it was the squared windows.  The corners of the glass were weak spots and couldn’t stay intact at high wind speeds.   Thus… the rounded corner window was born.

 

Everything has a weak spot.

 

You do too.

 

Have you ever sat and thought about what it is?  What tempts you to do things you shouldn’t?  What do you find yourself swearing you won’t repeat but do anyway?  The Bible talks about the reason for this in Matthew 26:41.  Jesus tells us, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”   

 

Our flesh is weak.  God is strong.  And when the speed of life increases… somewhere at the corner of good intentions and willpower… we start to buckle.   We don’t possess enough internal fortitude to stand up to the unrelenting pull to sin.   However, when we commit to God that we will watch for weak spots and pray for strength when we find them… God gives us the ability to replace temporary satisfaction with long-lasting joy.   Don’t wait for your life to crash to make changes… call out to God and round out the windows of your life.  You may not be able to stop the pressure but you can build things into your life to prevent it from bringing you down.

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Day 39 – Bedside Table

Have you stayed in a hotel lately?  When was the last time you opened the bedside table drawer to see if there was a Bible in there?  According to a recent study, chances are the table will be empty.  In 2006, nearly all hotels had the word of God by the bed… but in 2017 that number is less than fifty percent.  Why?

 

The answer is sad but simple.  In many parts of our world, people feel as though they don’t need God’s word as much.  They think of the Bible as a great book of suggestions… but because their lives are going so well they really don’t need to follow what’s in there.   When people stop reading it… or specifically asking for it… hotels don’t feel obligated to provide it.   Out of sight, out of mind.

 

It’s easy to wonder what the world is coming to… but here’s the saddest truth of all.  There are some people that DO have a Bible and never open it.  

 

Not having a Bible to read is one thing…  not reading the one we have is tragic.  

 

Today take some time and start your journey through the scriptures.  Maybe start with the life of Christ in Matthew 1:1… dive into the wisdom-filled proverbs… or enjoy the challenges and encouragement that comes from books like Ephesians or Colossians.  What lessons did Moses’ life give us?  Why did Jesus come?  If you’re a believer… recommit to spending time with God daily to grow and gain understanding of God’s heart through His word.    A little time with the Bible each day can radically change the direction of your life for the better.

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Day 38 – Superman Saves The Day

Their home was about to be foreclosed on.  There was no hope among them as they packed the boxes up one after another… getting ready to leave the place they loved and grew up in.  The home had been in the family since the 1950s… but it looked like the financial trouble the current members of the family found themselves in would be the end of the decades-old connection they had with the house.  That is until Superman saved the day.

 

In a dark corner of the garage sat an unmarked and long-forgotten box filled with comic books . In that box sat a copy of Action Comics Day – 1 in great condition.  What’s so special about that book?  It was the very first appearance of Superman.  Street value?  Well north of a million dollars.  That old comic from someone who lived long ago in the house was going to pay the amount due and keep the property safe.  

 

Miracles still happen.  

 

Sometimes superheroes save homes.  Cancer re-checks come back unexplainably clear.  Doomed marriages end in reconciliation not divorce.  God hasn’t given up answering prayer… and He does so in any and every way He sees fit.  Find yourself praying for something that seems hopeless?  God wants to remind you that He is the author or hope.   About to give up on something?  Ready to quit on someone or yourself?  Keep praying… God is working behind the scenes in ways you may not realize.  

 

Stay patient.  Keep the faith.  And don’t quit.   And when things seem darkest and you don’t know where to turn… reach out.  You’ll find yourself in the loving arms of a Savior who counts your tears and loves you more than you realize.  Superman may be able to fly… but only Christ can heal a broken heart and bring joy to the beaten down.  Hang in there… God’s got you.    

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Day 37 – Getting Into Harvard

Have you ever wondered how tough it is to get into Harvard?  Recent data tells us that nearly forty thousand people apply to the school each year… and only five percent are accepted.  In fact, the president of Harvard once stated that they could fill their entire incoming freshmen class with valedictorians from high schools around the country twice over.   They only take the crème de la crème… the best of the best.  It requires a near perfect transcript, an impeccable entrance essay, and just plain luck to get in.

It’s a good thing Heaven isn’t like that.

In fact, you don’t have to be perfect… or know how to play an instrument… or be at the top of your game in any discipline at all.  You don’t have to submit an application or worry about receiving a rejection letter after trying so hard.

The requirement for entry into a perfect eternity?  A relationship with Jesus Christ.

It’s simply telling God that you are giving up your way and accepting His.  That you want Him to come into your heart and salvage you… to save you.   It’s giving everything you understand about yourself to everything you understand about God.  And the Bible says that when we do that we are guaranteed entry into a place far more spectacular than any ivy league building.

We spend forever with Christ.  In a perfect place free from pain, suffering, and worry.

If you’ve never asked Christ into your life, I encourage you to reread that paragraph above and pray those things to Him.    If you have prayed that prayer already… share it with someone you love.  It could change them forever… and it’s the best decision they will ever make.

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Day 36 – First Night Effect

There are many that find it very difficult to get a good night’s sleep away from their own bed.  They toss and turn desperately looking for a few hours of uninterrupted rest… but it never seems to happen.  Why?  What is it about a different place that challenges the mind and body?  Scientists have discovered that when we sleep in an unfamiliar place, the left side of our brain stays semi-awake while the right-side rests. We are more vigilant… ready to spring awake at a moment’s notice.  The phenomenon is called the “the first night effect” and it affects millions of travelers every year.  Does the brain not completely pause because it’s the body’s way of protecting itself?  Is it the stress of different lights, smells, and sounds in a strange place?  We may never know.

For some of us the reason for not sleeping isn’t “the first night effect” at all.  We go to bed stressed.  Worried about the next day.  The reason we can’t sleep isn’t some kind of brain issue… it’s a trust issue.  We just can’t seem to put the pressure of the day behind us and it blocks our ability to slumber.  Jesus has the answer.  Look what He says in Matthew 11:28 “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’”

Want to sleep better at night… whether you’re at home or on the road?  Trust God with what’s worrying you.  Pray and ask God to shoulder what’s weighing you down.   Leave your stresses at the foot of the cross and refuse to go back and pick them up.   God is already working on those things in ways you can’t see yet… and your worry doesn’t help Him do that.   Trust more.  Worry less.  A stronger faith leads to a deeper sleep.

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Day 35 – RSVP

Jessica and her husband returned the RSVP the day after they received it… clearly marking “Yes” that they would be attending the wedding of a friend. Unfortunately, something came up on the day of the ceremony and the two were unable to honor that commitment. What they got in the mail the next week was astonishing.

It was a bill for $75.90. Sent by the bride and groom to cover the cost of the food that Jessica and her husband didn’t eat (as well as a service charge and tax). The bill said that the newly married couple would have liked a call stating that Jessica wasn’t coming… and that a reimbursement was appropriate.

Can you imagine? Being charged for not honoring a commitment? Being responsible for something we said we’d do but didn’t?

Can you imagine if God held us accountable for breaking promises?

He does.

James 5:12 “But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.” This scripture tells us that God holds us to our commitments… and when we don’t honor them, there’s a price to pay. When we promise and break it… we sin. And there are consequences for that. Before saying yes or no to something… be sure that it’s something that you intend to honor. It’s better to disappoint someone in the short run than God in the long run.

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Day 34 – Loved

A Vietnamese teenager won the right to change his name. He was born Mai Phat Sau Nghin Ruoi. In English his name means “fined six thousand and five hundred”…. so named because that’s what the Vietnamese government charged his father for having a fifth child. Can you imagine being named after something like that? Labeled as a mistake for the rest of your life? Every time you think about your birth you come to the same conclusion that you are some type of liability? So many people do…

You were a problem child… you’ll never amount to anything.
That bad choice you made before you got married? Here’s your label.
Grew up in a low-income home? You’ll never rise above it.
The addiction that you had… you’ll never break free.

Somewhere along the line we start to believe that who we were back then defines who we are now. Once a mistake… always a mistake. We wear our past problems like a name badge that’s permanently affixed above our hearts for the world to see. The Bible says that this is not the case: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

If you have a relationship with Christ, who you once were… that label you were given… is gone. You no longer have to be defined by your past mistakes or live under the unfair judgment of people who don’t understand that your scars are not marks of shame but revelations of growth. Dare to change your name. Push past who you once were and accept that you are a NEW creation… with a NEW name… given to you by Christ Himself!

The teenager in our story above changed his name to Mai Hoang Long… which translates to “Golden Dragon”. What will your new name be? Forgiven? Accepted? Strong? Overcomer? World Changer? Confident? Secure? Choose today to see yourself through God’s eyes… and you’ll find that the only label He wants you to wear simply says…

Loved.

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Day 33 – Renting A Fish

Most hotels give their guests the basics… hair dryers, extra pillows, etc. But there’s a hotel in Belgium that does things a little differently. They provide something that has become quite popular: goldfish. Guests can request a goldfish and bowl be sent to their room for a small fee. The reason? Companionship. Hotel management has discovered that people get lonely… and the mere presence of a small fish makes them feel less so.

Have you ever felt lonely? Ever felt isolated from the world even when you’re in a crowd of people? I have good news for you. There isn’t one moment of any day where you are ever completely by yourself. God tells us in His word that He is always with us. Hebrews 13:5 says, “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’”.

Isn’t that comforting?

Will you always feel Him around you? Maybe not. Does it mean that bad things won’t happen to you? Nope. However, just knowing that the King of Kings intentionally chooses to stay by your side regardless of your circumstances, income, or mood should bring you great comfort and peace. Renting a fish may make you temporarily smile… but you’ve got to give it back.

God’s passion for you… His purpose for you… and His presence WITH you is forever.

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Day 32 – Weight Of The World

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she asked: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Some guessed 8 ounces… others 20 ounces… She replied, “The weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

Stress is the same way. Hold it for a little while…no problem. A little while longer…a little more weight. All day? A week? It quickly becomes unbearable. So how can we control the pressure on our lives? Take Jesus up on what He offers in 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 7: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” God wants us to turn to Him when times get tough… We weren’t created to carry the weight of the world… so today, let’s choose to trust in His strength and not our own.

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Day 31 – Cereal Decline

Breakfast cereal sales are down thirty percent over the last fifteen years.  Are people growing up?  Are their tastes changing?  No, it’s not that.  The reason most people have moved on from cereal is laziness.  Surveys have shown that they just don’t want to clean up after themselves after eating a bowl of it.  Seriously.  People would rather eat protein bars and toss the wrapper than pour milk over flakes of corn.  All because it takes less effort.

Many have grown accustomed to finding the easiest way.    And that might explain the decline in those proclaiming to follow God these days.  Fact is, there is nothing easy about being a Christ-follower.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”  

Living for Jesus involves sacrifice, putting others first, and dedication.  There’s no substitute for taking up our cross daily and serving the people that God puts in our path.  The burden is heavy… the work is hard… and the required surrender is total.  

But when we commit to it… the reward is eternal and the impact is monumental.  Find yourself looking for simple Christianity?  Seeking an easy way to serve God?  Don’t bother.  There are no shortcuts when it comes to following Jesus.  But when we go all in and dedicate ourselves to His people… the blessings we receive are more than we could ever imagine or deserve.

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