Seven Days of Devotion
“Retirement Is Not in God’s Vocabulary”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19) Being a lady of a certain age, it seems as if I have spent my lifetime trying to keep up with new things. First, I chased after a household of full-speed-ahead toddlers. Then, before I knew it, I was keeping pace with inquisitive teens. Now that my kids have children of their own, I am ready to sit back and let someone else take up the challenge. When life calls out with the next leap forward, I feel like saying, “No, no, go on ahead. I’ll just stay here and watch.” Consequently, I have clung to a relic of a cell phone that is only capable of sending and receiving calls and texts, and the texting gives me considerable trouble. Last night my son-in-law happened to forget his smart phone at my house. When I found it, I placed it on my dresser so I would remember to return it when I saw him. Very early Sunday morning I was awakened by no small amount of noise. In my sleep dazed brain, I at first thought my cell phone had mysteriously changed its ring tone and jumped up to catch the call. Realizing that it was not my phone at all, I waited for the caller to hang up. The thing kept making noise until I decided it must be programmed as some kind of an alarm. It was still dark outside, and by then the screen had gone off, but not the volume. Try as I might by passing my fingers back and forth on the front of the insistent racket maker, I couldn’t locate anyplace on the touch screen that would make that infernal rumpus cease. When I finally managed to locate a button that did something, a prompt told me to slide something, which led to a screen with a “dismiss” among other things. In growing desperation I reached out and tapped on “dismiss” and silence returned! Hallelujah! But then I couldn’t get the screen to turn off and it appeared to want to send a text or something. I dropped it back on the dresser and crawled back into bed thinking, “Smart phone, schmart phone.” I have got to move up to the present.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Joshua knew he was losing Moses soon. All of Joshua’s contemporaries were gone. There was just he, Moses, and Caleb left of all the people that stood on the border of the Promised Land forty years earlier. He was surely sad for the death of Moses, but the thought also had to come up that when Moses was gone, he would no longer have a job. After forty plus years of service, he could finally retire; dig out his golf clubs and kick back to live out what few days remained in a hammock by the tent flap. Maybe write some memoirs, or play a few rounds of sudoku while he relaxed by the Jordan. After all, he had put in his time. There were plenty of guys half his age with the energy it would take to lead the Israelites. He deserved a break in his old age. But God had a different idea (Joshua 1:1-9). The news that God had chosen him to take command ended any dream of prolonged leisure. Instead of letting someone else take over, it all fell on his aged and weary shoulders. I can imagine him being terrorized with the thought of leading such a young, headstrong group into the unknown. I am sure he was thinking that none of those young whippersnappers wanted to hear what he had to say. After all, none of them even remembered what is was like to live in slavery. They didn’t know a life before manna. They couldn’t relate to what he had been through. Besides, they had new ideas and ways of doing things. They had impulsiveness where he had caution. They had energy when he was done for the day. I can just see them rolling their eyes at his suggestions, like my son rolls his eyes at me when I go to him yet again with my texting frustrations. Joshua had every excuse to sit this one out, but he didn’t. He took a deep breath, received encouragement from God and obediently took on the biggest task of his life.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Are you at a time in your life where you would like to hand the battle over to the next generation and sit back and relax? Do the words “Been there, done that” come to mind when a ministry need comes up? Are you feeling like the things you have to tell are no longer relevant to this current generation? God doesn’t turn away when you reach retirement age and start looking for someone younger. There are smart phones to master and computer programs to learn even yet. Stepping up to the plate once again could be the start of the biggest accomplishment of your life. Reaching your God given potential could be just ahead. Don’t give up now! Like Joshua, let’s take a deep breath, find encouragement from God and take on that next spiritual calling with expectation and joy. There is still a need for what we have to offer.
“Why Are You Here?”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Why are you here? What brought you to read this devotion today? You took the time to come to this website, or you signed up for automatic delivery to be fed more of what God has for you in His Word. That desire within you is from Him; He created us for a relationship with Him and to work in submission with Him to accomplish His will through the gifts He instilled in us when He created us. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT) We each have the potential to accomplish all God created us for. Yet sometimes we just stay in the comfort of what we know, even if we aren’t completely happy.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): It is hard to change. It is especially hard if you are stubborn and prideful, like me. We may find a temporary fix, but we will not be satisfied until we turn control of our lives over to God. It isn’t until we invite Him to be in control that He can use us to our full potential. I wanted to go to Peru on a mission trip. Why Peru? It should have been because it is where God was leading me. But no, in my selfishness it was because that is where I wanted to go. I was hoping to see Machu Picchu; somehow I thought I could fit that into “my plans” while on a mission trip for God! That mission trip wouldn’t have been for God’s glory, so He closed all the doors. He had to take me through the wilderness until my heart was right, until I wanted to serve Him out of love. As long as we keep insisting on our way, He will allow us continue in our plans, but His plans us are so much more fulfilling (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Now I am blessed beyond words and extremely happy with the local mission He has given me, because it is what He has gifted me to do.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Sometimes we only see the path before us. That path may seem hopeless with no way out. It can be painful and may cause us to turn to alcohol, drugs or some other addiction to numb that pain. We can know for sure that this is not what God intended. He didn’t create us to live a miserable life; He didn’t send His Son to die for us so we could live a painful and purposeless life. Change is hard, but when we take baby steps of faith and find how much God wants to give us our hearts desires, the next challenge becomes easier. When we are in God’s will for our life, it is absolute joy, happiness and peace. Yes, there are trials, but we have the confident hope that God is sovereign and all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NLT)
Cultivating (Additional Reading): Mark 8:34-38
“Daily Hidden Potential”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go right and all you want to do is crawl back under the covers and start the day over? It’s during the midst of those days that I say, “Lord, this is the day that you have made. You have a plan and a purpose for my life, not to harm me, but plans with a hope and a future for my good.” So often we quote Scriptures for the big things in life, but how often do we stop and think about God being in the simple things? Potential is often hidden amongst the daily routine.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Throughout the Bible, we find ordinary people going about their ordinary lives doing ordinary things, when God comes into the picture. I think about Elisha, who was tending to the fields with his oxen when Elijah showed up and called him to drop everything and accompany him (1 Kings 19:19-20). Or, the time Abram was going about his day and God appeared in a vision to bless Abram as the father of Israel (Genesis 15). Or even when Jesus appeared to the various Disciples, saying, “Come, follow me.” I don’t know what their day was like when God appeared to them, but I do know one thing, they were ready. As we learned this weekend, potential is having the possibility, capability or power; existing and ready for action, but not yet active. Each of these men, and many more in the Bible, were ready for action, but not yet active. It wasn’t until God’s good and perfect timing came that they were ready to do the task that God had perfectly planned for them. That’s the excitement of living a life following after God; you never know when He will show up to bless you and do amazing things in your life. Can I give you a hint? It doesn’t have to be huge things! It can be the ordinary in which God does the extraordinary. God has equipped each of us with gifts, talents and abilities that often stay hidden. We see opportunities in the bulletin for volunteers, and we pass it by because we think someone more equipped will do it. What if Elisha, Abram or any of the Disciples had the same mentality? Think about the blessings they would have missed. If we go about our daily routine never including God in our plans, think what we are missing out on. Sadly, I am sure there are days that go by when that does happen, but for the majority of the days, I hope our eyes are fixed on Jesus and our ears are open to hear His calling in every opportunity that comes our way.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): So, are you reaching your God given potential? Are you right where God has called you to be during this season of your life? Maybe you are going about your daily routine, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You could be serving and waiting for God. If so, be patient and wait for His good and perfect timing. God has something specific for your life. But, if you are going through your daily routine and not including God except for the weekend or an occasional Wednesday night service, then I encourage you to begin serving somewhere. God wants to bless your life. He did not create us for hidden potential, but for potential that shines every day.
“Surf the Wave”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): I like to surf when I get the chance. Through my experience surfing I have come to understand the potential power in the waves. Sitting on shore watching the ocean you can guess at the wave's power, yet it has no effect on you. The only way a wave can have any effect on you is for you to be out there in it. And on top of that, without timing and position you cannot experience the full potential of that wave. You can paddle around all you want, but if your timing and position are off you will not experience the power of that wave giving you a great ride. Getting your timing and position right requires a watchful eye. Just before the wave breaks is when it has the most potential power. If you are too close, too far out or not paddling at the right speed, you will miss it. You need to be watching to see what is coming, then you will know when and where to go.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): I have found it to be the same in my walk with the Lord. I have spent a lot of time on the beach, watching God work in and through others’ lives, with no real personal effect in my life. I could see God's power off in the distance. It was impressive, yet it did not change my life. There have been other times when I have jumped out into the water to experience the power, and I did, to some extent. Yet I did not see all that God could do. My timing and position were off. Over the years I have learned to watch and see where God is working, where His power is, and join Him there. Only then do I experience for myself the awesome power of God (Ephesians 1:18-20).
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): I could never have learned how to surf and let the power of the wave give me a ride if I had stayed on the shore watching. It is the same in your life with Christ. You experienced the power of salvation for yourself when you jumped in the water with Him. But now where are you? Are you sitting on the shore watching God work through others? Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24–27) Are you telling God what you want to do and asking Him to bless your plans, paddling all around on a day with no waves? Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. (John 5:19–20) God has made His unlimited power available to us, if we will seek after Him and His work. It is our choice to use it. Choose to ride the wave of His power working through your life.
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): This week’s teaching made me think about fear in my life and how it can cause a Christ follower to stumble. As we watch the evening news, we are inundated with images of violence, unrest and suffering. People’s idle conversation often turns to discussing the poor economy, high gas prices or the worsening job market. Wars and poverty have been a part of the world long before our generation and will be there until the end of days (Matthew 26:11). Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Peter and even Jesus struggled to overcome fear in order to fulfill God’s will.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): The phrase “fear not” appears over 60 times from Genesis to Revelation. It is clear that our God knows the fears we face and wants us to overcome them. The Word tells us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) The arch enemy of fear is faith. While fear is worrying about the unknown, faith is the promise that God will sustain through the unknown. When we as Christ followers are afraid, our Christian maturation comes to a halt. Even worse, fear can cause us to conform to the world, which moves us further from the Spirit-filled life God has planned for us.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Spend time this week remembering God’s victories in your life. Remember His marvelous works which He has done… (1 Chronicles 16:12) When David faced Goliath, he did so remembering that God had once given him the strength to wrestle a sheep from a lion (1 Samuel 17:37). We have a tendency to forget the years of provision God has shown us. Instead of worrying about our retirement fund, we should ask ourselves how many nights we have gone to bed hungry or woken up without a roof over our head. Focusing on God and His promises will lead to victory. Max Lucado wrote, “Focus on giants – you stumble; Focus on God – your giants tumble.” Let’s tumble some giants this week. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10)
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:1-5) Other than Jesus Christ and Adam and Eve, what other person in the Bible did not have natural parents? Joshua the son of NUN! I know, I know, that was bad, but Joshua the son of Nun was a great man of God, no matter what his last name was. He stepped into the leadership role that God had prepared for him and immediately took God at His Word. He did not seek multiple counselors, or pray until he got a sign, or ask God for a miracle to confirm his call, he just believed and acted in faith. Maybe we need more “Joshua’s” today; men and women who hear the call of God and step out in faith, trusting God completely with their lives. After all, if it’s God’s call, then we can depend on God’s strength, God’s wisdom, God’s power and God’s presence to get us through each encounter with the enemy. No army ever enlisted soldiers and then failed to equip them for service, so why should God’s army be any different? Plus, His retirement benefits are out of this world!
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): Like Joshua, we must remember that there is so little time to waste. God has a Promised Land for each of us to conquer, no matter our age, education, income, race or even our spiritual maturity. He desires to give us every place where we set our foot. Whether at work, at school, with neighbors or with loved ones, God has ordained our territory. We are to be a light in a very dark world. We must remember what the Word says about us: “Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, AMP) Why waste time being afraid of something that cannot harm us? And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]. (John 1:5, AMP) No deception is dark enough to extinguish the Light of God that dwells in every believer.
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): What a glorious day that will be, when we stand in His presence and hear Him say to those of us on His right, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34) But why wait for the “sweet by-and-by”, when we can experience His blessings in the wonderful “right now”? By loving Jesus more than anything or anyone (including ourselves) we are more than able to be useful vessels for His service (2 Timothy 2:21). Besides, there are poor who need to hear the Good News, broken hearts that need to be mended, captives who need to be freed and prisoners who need to be released from darkness. Only Jesus Christ has the power to do all of that, and He lives in us. Thankfully, we are promised that, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Our response to that assurance should be “CHARGE!”
“The Promised Land”
Preparing the Soil (Introduction): Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:10-12) David’s powerful video testimony this weekend had me nodding my head the whole time; I could totally relate. I too had been at CCM for quite a few years, serving and taking notes. But like David, it was all in my head, not my heart. When your heart is in the right place, everything changes. Sometimes God has to take us through the wilderness to get us to the promised land. The wilderness can be painful and lonely, but until we are broken of our self-righteousness and give control over to God, we won’t experience the unlimited opportunities God has for us.
Planting and Watering the Seed (Growth): I too was just doing religion. I hadn’t accepted the fact that Jesus truly loved me, but instead embraced the condemnation and fear of not living right. I put up a pretty decent front because I had a lot of head knowledge from spending my whole life in church. It was my heart that never received Jesus’ Words of life. I had the husband, the job, the dog, and a beautiful house in the suburbs. We made good money, owned a boat and went on nice vacations and yet, something was missing; in fact, underneath I was a mess. I was on anti-anxiety medication and not real eager to reach out to other people. I really didn’t like most people; I didn’t have the patience or the compassion. I was really self-absorbed, living in self-pity. I didn’t feel like I was where I wanted to be in life, even with everything I had. I was not content. Looking back now, I know it was because I was not doing what I was born to do! God had a plan for me, but I was running the show, doing things my way. God, our living Father, allows us to choose our own path. But we won’t find fulfillment on that road because we are living for self. Until we give up control of our life and let Him have control, we can’t fulfill the purpose for which He created us. I handed my whole life over to God when my world came crashing down, and I realized that my “good works” and religion did nothing for me. I just cried out for real love. The verse that really got to me was: Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. (I John 4:18, NLT) I didn’t want to do life my way anymore; it was so unfulfilling and so miserable and lonely. All God needed to hear was just my willing heart - and what a change in my life! The worry and fear are gone and so are the anti-anxiety meds!
Harvesting the Crop (Action/Response): Having purpose and knowing Jesus loves me has given me so much peace and fulfillment. I am content knowing I am doing what I was born to do. I really love to talk to and meet new people and encourage them to take baby steps of faith and start finding the gifts God gave them. I am a completely different person than the self-absorbed girl who drove into her suburban home and put the garage door down to the world! Since I received Jesus’ love and the power of the Holy Spirit, He has taken me on an adventure far beyond anything I could have ever imagined or achieved on my own. Without praying a life surrendering prayer and experiencing God’s power in my life, I would have just continued on my way, thinking everything would someday get better. But that is a lie from the enemy. You’ll be stuck, just like I was, until you give control of your life to Jesus and accept that He loves you right where you are. Then you can stop trying so hard; instead let God lead you down the path He already has planned for you. Stop walking in circles in the wilderness and come into the Promised Land. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)
Cultivating (Additional Reading): Exodus 14:13-18
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