Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why do we refuse to stay home?

Recently everything as we knew it changed. We were told to distance ourselves from each other at least 6 feet. We were told to wash our hands while singing a song. We were told to try to stay at home unless we needed supplies. When people did not listen to the suggestion to stay home, we eventually were ordered to stay at home.

I’m an introvert. Though I am rather talkative, I prefer to be alone. I love being at home. As I looked around, I couldn’t understand why so many people had issues with listening to the government recommendations to simply stay home for a few weeks. I started to ask the question – what is wrong with staying home? I took the question a step further – what is wrong with being alone?

Now yes, we are created for community. From the very beginning, God made us to be interwoven and in need of each other for relationship. Yet the desire to always be with someone or even to always be busy is a problem. Is it that you cannot stand to be alone with yourself? Or maybe the real issue is being alone with God?

The Bible speaks often about the need to rest. Our bodies were designed to need rest—it’s a very important part of our quality of life. As well, we were also designed to be in communion with God. Jesus often went alone to pray to the Father. We also read about our need to be connected to the vine. Imagine how often we can pray when we are inside away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Imagine the time we could have to connect with God’s Word too!

For many people, being at home means more time with loved ones, more time with pets, more time to learn new things, more time to read a good book, more time to finish an item off the good old to-do list, etc. Why do we look at the awesome blessing we have before us, to slow down, to reconnect, to accomplish, to laugh, to rest—why do we look at this and still find the need to escape from the walls of our homes? How can we always say we wish we had more time, and when we receive this gift of time, we start climbing the walls like it’s a punishment?

When this virus first made its way to America, I declared it would be tragic in numbers. I foresaw that we would be at the top of the list of infected people. We are taught that we can do anything, achieve anything, be anything; individualism is spoken to us from birth. We spend so much time trying to be the best me, myself, and I, trying to fill our lives with things, trying to make a name for ourselves, and we miss the plot. We make life all about ourselves. 

I have been amused at many memes in the past few weeks that joke about our current life situation. It’s good to laugh and we all certainly need a good laugh right about now. Yet as I sit here alone in my house that I so love to stay inside without an order from the government, and I hear my dog snoring and the faint sound of laughter coming from my daughter’s room upstairs, I cannot help but ask the questions again – what is wrong with staying home? What is wrong with being alone? What is wrong with resting, connecting with God, and connecting with family? Why do we struggle to enjoy the simplest and most precious of gifts in life?

“Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times” – Romans 12:12 [TPT]

Precious to Me

Everyone has something that they deem as precious. Parents see their children as precious. Some people are amazed by different pieces of art and would deem the pieces to be precious. We have precious items behind glass, locked up in a safe, or even placed in museums. Each person has a different opinion as to what is precious. 

When something is precious it means it is valuable, important, worthy of special care. People often make sacrifices to protect and care for what is precious. In today’s verse, the Psalmist declares that he will “worship and praise.” What will he worship and praise? The name of the Lord. Why? Because it is precious. 

There is power in the name of Jesus. In the Bible, we read that we will have what we ask in His name (see John 14:13). We read in healing done in the name of Jesus (see Acts 3:16). For the Psalmist, he recognized that the name of the Lord is precious. He placed God as higher, above, and worthy. In placing God in this position in his life, he was deeming His precious. Not everyone today will bow down at the name of Jesus. We each can decide if we believe He is precious, if we believe He is Lord. Yet one day, everyone will recognize that Jesus is precious. The One who poured out His precious blood that redeems, the One who lived a holy life, a sinless life, worthy to reconcile—He will return, and all will see, and everyone will bow at the name of Jesus. How precious is the name of Jesus!

“Lord, I will offer myself freely, and everything I am I give to you. I will worship and praise your name, O Lord, for it is precious to me. – Psalm 54:6 [TPT]

My Prayer, My Life

Consider how often you pray. Do you pray only when you are in church? Do you pray before meals? Do you pray only when you need something? Maybe you pray every morning or every evening. Consider your prayer life.

The Psalmist speaks of prayer life as just that – his life. For some, this may sound like a strange concept. Though the Bible tells us to pray continually (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17), we typically see prayer as another resort or a good habit rather than a lifestyle or life itself. This is a problem for us as long as we see prayer as words to recite or a legalistic act to fulfill. 

This verse speaks of God’s love for us, a love that God has promised us. His love for us is unfailing and overwhelming and unchanging. His love for us is not impacted by anything that we do or say. When we look at prayer, we need always to remember this love—His love for us—and what a relationship with God means. As a child approaches a father, so it is with us and God. Stop focusing on the words you say in your prayers. Talk to your Father. Engage. Try to keep talking with Him all day as something comes to mind—about the small things and the big things. Be ever mindful of His presence, His love, and His desire to bless you with His goodness. As you continue to recognize your dependence on God and your desire for Him, you draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Perhaps one day, you will be able to say that your prayer to God has become your life.

“Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me. Through the night I sing his songs, for my prayer to God has become my life.” – Psalm 42:8 [TPT]

My Saving Grace

In Psalm 42, the Psalmist is crying out for revival. We read of a soul thirsting for God—the desire to drink deeply—and a memory of past gatherings for worship. When we look around the world, it always appears to be in need for a revival. Today, as we are experiencing life behind closed doors in isolation to heed warnings to social distance so as to help contain a pandemic, Christians are not gathering together for worship. Church buildings have closed their doors. Families are home on Sundays. 

Though many churches have begun online worship, this pandemic surely can open our eyes to what spiritually is a struggle for many—even those who profess to be Christian and previously attended church weekly before this pandemic. The struggle is living before God. The Psalmist writes of singing God’s praises, and of “living before His face” which is described as his “saving grace.” Though God is ever present, we often times are not living in His presence. There is a difference. To be living before God is to acknowledge His presence, to live as He is present, to recognize Him throughout your day.

The Psalmist wants a great revival—he wants for people to draw back to God and praise Him for He alone is due praise. The Psalmist recollects a time when people gathered together to sing to God. He clings to the hope He has in God and understands that even when there is darkness all around, even when the world is so in need of a revival, that He could live in the presence of God. He could still sing praises. Why? Because God is his saving grace. Despite his flaws, despite his shortcomings, that God lifted him up through grace to save him, to allow him in His presence, to give him a taste of His goodness. The Psalmist never deserved it; you never deserve it. Yet He offers us this saving grace freely. Today may seem dark and gloomy. Today you may be sinking into despair. Keep hoping and waiting on God. Sing His praises. I pray you are living before His face. I pray He is your saving grace.

“So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!” – Psalm 42:5 [TPT]

Having Heard

Today’s verses discuss the importance of hearing. Note that in Mark 5:27, we read that the reason the woman sought out and touched the clothing of Jesus is because she first heard. Romans 10:14 reminds us that if we do not hear, how can we believe? The woman heard of Jesus first, and this knowing of Him and this hope she had prompted her to seek Him for healing.

Consider today who has heard this week from you about Jesus. Consider who has observed you this week as you were living life and saw Jesus. Consider who heard about the happenings in your life this week in “real life” or on social media and heard of Jesus—meaning when something happened, you glorified God. Who heard?

I am not writing to shame you on the lack of testimony happening in your life, nor to point out that we all fall short in life. Instead, I hope this encourages you to consider the “having heard” moments in life—the opportunities for you to share the goodness of God. One of the best ways to share His goodness is to embrace His goodness and let it overflow in love and grace in your life. It’s not about a program or a rigid list of things to say. Love. Have they heard?

“Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothing.” – Mark 5:27 [CSB]

“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14 [CSB]

Fortune Cookie Devotion Series: Plans of Failure

As the fortune cookie says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I certainly am not trying to get you to live a life without spontaneity; however, there is a big difference between not planning a day trip to the local shopping outlet and not planning as you purchase your first home. The Bible speaks often of making plans and counting the cost of our choices. 

One of my favorite moments of preparation in the Bible is when Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem. He did not simply jump into the task of rebuilding a wall after he arrived. He took the time to walk around the entire area. He spent days looking everything over. It was important for him to be prepared for the next step. For us, it is the same. We often are led to do things in faith, where we cannot plan much if anything, and we certainly cannot control the situation. At the same time, there are moments when it is important for us to use good discernment, to way options, to count the cost, to get all our ducks in a row. This is part of giving God our best. 

This doesn’t mean you have to plan every second. This doesn’t mean you must be a time-driven crazy person who does not allow for God ordained interruptions. Just don’t let yourself be so slack in life that you live a lazy life. Plans mean having a budget. Plans mean counting the cost to decide if it is worth the investment of your time, talent, and treasure. Plans mean scheduling time throughout your day to dive into the Scriptures, to pray, to meet with God. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

“So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding.” – Nehemiah 2:11-12 [NLT]

They Seemed to Have It Made

Today’s passage is a great reminder of the thoughts we have as we look at others who seem to have things going their way. We all get jealous. We have longing for things that other people own, or relationships other people are involved with, positions people hold, etc. It is so easy to look at people and declare the people “have it made.” Look at them. They have “no pain, no problems.” Look at them, they have been “indulging in whatever they wanted.”

We turn green with envy. We covet what we do not have. We start to take for granted our own blessings. We complain. We miss the truth. We succumb to our jealousy of others and miss out on the enjoyment from the great plan God has for our lives. 

The verses today speak of someone who is focused on what he or she wants, who is without care, living “as though life would never end.” Why do we want to be living focused on wants, when we were made to glorify God… when the wants are temporary and will rust and rot? Why do we want to live a life that is not mindful of the brevity of life and the importance of our Savior and a life with Him? Sometimes our focus is skewed—remember, they only seemed to have it made. Do not be deceived by the only seems of this world. God has so much more for you!

“Indulging in whatever they wanted, going where they wanted, doing what they wanted, and with no care in the world.No pain, no problems, they seemed to have it made. They lived as though life would never end.” – Psalm 73:4-5 [TPT]

The Easy Way Is Not Always Best

I love a good shortcut. Almost every day as I drive to work, I take a shortcut. Yet there are times in life when shortcuts are not best—when the easy way isn’t the best way.  

When we dream about something we desire for the future, we want a shortcut to reach the dream. We want the money, but we do not want to do all the work. We want the title, but we don’t want to start from the bottom. We want the stuff, when we do not yet have the money to pay for it. We want the relationship, yet we do not want to make the investment.

In today’s passage, we read of the Israelites leaving Egypt, and of how God did not lead the people to take the shorter route. It’s true—sometimes shortcuts are great. Yet in life, we oftentimes have something to learn on the journey that we can only learn by travelling for a longer length of time. Suffering less is desirable, yet in suffering we often grow in our dependence on God, and our faith flourishes. Next time you have the opportunity to choose a path to take, instead of immediately jumping at the quick results, ask God what will bring you closer to Him.

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” – Exodus 13:17 [NIV]

An Empty Hope

The Psalmist states in today’s verse that trusting in a person is worthless or useless; the Psalmist declares a person cannot rescue another. This thinking is contrary to what the world exclaims. I remember growing up with the hope of being rescued. Remember the stories of a knight on a white horse? Today, our entertainment includes superheroes, and even underdog heroes. Lots of stories about people saving the day, rescuing people, getting the win—and these are the stories we cling to and celebrate. These stories do not simply entertain; the stories invade our thinking. We begin to think a person could help our situation and a person could even rescue us.

Yes, it is true. A person could help you. People help people daily. A person could rescue you. People rescue people every day. But the hope of man—the hope of man—it is in God alone. Here’s where we get caught up, where we all get caught up. When we are around a certain person, we feel happy and we begin to think that the person is the reason for our joy. When we are bailed out by someone from a financial hardship, we begin to think the person will help the next time. When our neighbor rescues us every time we have car trouble, we start to expect it. But people let people down. We are not strong enough to carry another. We can barely carry ourselves. Even though we have moments where we can be used to bless, to help, to rescue—we cannot carry another completely. Most importantly, we cannot offer a person hope. We cannot offer a person salvation.

We can point to hope. We can point to salvation. We can point to Jesus. We can lend a hand. We can speak life. We can be there to listen. We can be the hands and feet of Christ. Remember though, only God saves. Jesus is our only hope. Don’t put everything on another person’s shoulders. You have a Savior who already carried your burden and paid the price a million times over. An empty hope is no hope at all. Thank God for Christ Jesus!

“Give us a father’s help when we face our enemies. For to trust in any man is an empty hope.” – Psalm 60:11 [TPT]

Every Waking Hour

Did you ever hear the phrase, “There’s not enough time in the day” or even find yourself making the declaration? Even though we are gifted 24 hours a day, we never seem to find enough time. With the invention of new technology to help accomplish things with ease, it would seem as if we would have extra time to spend with God, yet the pleasures of the world usually take the driver’s seat.

The Psalmist speaks of different periods within the day, each focused on drawing near to God. Every evening, there is time to explain what needs are on the heart. Every morning, the Psalmist draws near to God. Every waking hour is considered worship time.

Most of us struggle with connecting with God on a daily basis. To consider God first each morning is foreign to most. To think of God every night, and to draw near to Him in prayer is also not a typical part of the daily routine in life. Do we just acknowledge these problems and admit we struggle with drawing near to our Creator, and then call it a night? No. If we believe and if we love God, we evaluate our schedule, we discern our priorities, and we make changes. These changes do not happen overnight. Baby steps. Aim to meet with God in the morning; aim to meet with God at night. Begin to meet with Him while at work, while at the gym, while at the grocery story. As you keep pressing into Him and experience His glory, you will begin to worship Him more. As you continue to water this seed, you will rejoice as it grows. As you spend time with Him, the more you will carve out for Him. May you one day spend every waking hour worshiping Him!

“Every evening I will explain my need to him. Every morning I will move my soul toward him. Every waking hour I will worship only him, and he will hear and respond to my cry.” – Psalm 55:17 [TPT]