Devotionals

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Posted 4/16/14 at 9:28 AM | Children's Bible Hour

Tried and True

Photo: Flickr/Julie Gibbons - Creative Commons

Lori carefully measured a cup of sugar into a bowl. "I like making cookies," she said, "and Dad says my cookies are second only to yours." She cracked an egg as she grinned at her mother.

"You do a good job," agreed Mom, "and I appreciate your taking that task off my hands today. I need the extra time to prepare for my Bible study class."

Lori looked thoughtful as she stirred the mixture. "Mom, how do you know the Bible is true?" she asked. "I mean . . . couldn't it have some mistakes?"

Mom looked surprised. "No, it couldn't," she said.

"Well, Addie's father is a preacher, and they believe most of the Bible," said Lori, "but he says some of the things just couldn't have happened. Like the story of Jonah and some of the miracles. He says God has set up certain laws of nature, and those things don't fit in." FULL POST

Posted 4/15/14 at 9:37 AM | Children's Bible Hour

Real Darkness

Photo: Flickr/cariliv - Creative Commons
Inside the Jewel Cave

"How was this cave discovered?" Ryan's dad asked the tour guide as they took an elevator into the depths of Jewel Cave near Custer, South Dakota.

"It's an interesting story," replied the guide. "In 1900, two prospectors heard wind rushing through a hole in the rocks. When they enlarged the hole, they found a cave full of sparkling crystals. The Jewel Cave National Monument was established in 1908 to protect this beautiful cave."

The elevator stopped, and they stepped out. Following a paved, lighted pathway, they climbed up and down more than 700 steps. Ryan was fascinated with the colorful rock crystals hanging like giant icicles. Away from the light, deep darkness enveloped the caverns. "With many miles already mapped, Jewel Cave is one of the longest caves in the world, and more has yet to be explored," said the guide as the tour group stopped in one of the chambers. "In a few minutes, I'm going to turn off the lights, and you'll see what real darkness is like." FULL POST

Posted 4/14/14 at 9:25 AM | Children's Bible Hour

Secret to a Friendly Church

Document labeled
Photo: Flickr/RestrictedData - Creative Commons

"Once upon a time there were three Baars: Mr. Baar, Mrs. Baar, and their daughter, Merry." Jodi snuggled close as her mother continued reading from Jodi's favorite storybook. "One day while driving home from church, Mr. Baar growled, I'm never going back there again. No one spoke to me.'

"Mrs. Baar nodded her head until her curls bobbed. No one talked to me, either,' she declared.

"Merry Baar bounced up and down in the back seat. In her little, high voice she said, None of the kids talked to me.' So the Baars tried other churches, but they were always disappointed as they hurried in and then back out again after the service. All the Baars agreed that churches were very unfriendly.

"One day, the pastor from the last church they had visited came to their home. We were so pleased to have you with us last Sunday,' he said. We hope you'll come again. We have many fine people in our church.' FULL POST

Posted 4/13/14 at 11:55 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Showing Up on Easter

Jesus is crucified, his body taken away.

The religious rulers are satisfied. They’ve won. They handled this challenge to their authority by hinting to the Romans that they could have an insurrection on their hands if they didn’t take care of this peasant leader. Their plan worked well. The Romans handled the situation with their usual efficiency.

The Romans are satisfied, too, with the possible exception of their man, Pilate, who expressed misgivings. He want along, however, understanding that it was in his interest not to upset the ones on whom his job depends, so no problem.

The disciples, all men, have fled, taking refuge in an out-of-the-way bolt hole.

Only a few women stay with Jesus, and they follow to see where his body is taken. They spend the next day, the day of rest, preparing for his burial. He must be taken care of, even if all they can do is carry out a proper burial. They’re only women, and no one pays them much attention. FULL POST

Posted 4/13/14 at 4:56 PM | Children's Bible Hour

Where the Fish Are

Blue fish
Photo: Lee Nachtigal - Creative Commons

"Our Sunday school contest isn't fair," complained Stephen one morning. "It's called Fishing for Jesus. There will be some outreach activities--like to give out tracts and stuff--and we're supposed to bring visitors to our class. But my friends already go to Sunday school, so I don't have anybody to invite." Stephen sighed. "The prize is a fishing rod, and I sure could use that!"

"Hm-m-m," murmured Dad. He looked thoughtful. "Speaking of fishing, I hear they've been biting lately. Care to go?"

"All right!" exclaimed Stephen. "I'll get ready right now."

Dad nodded. "I'll get the fishing gear. Meet me out back when you're ready."

When Stephen ran out the back door a little later, he stopped short and stared. Dad was sitting in a lawn chair, holding his fishing rod. The hook lay on the grass, and Dad watched it intently. "What are you doing?" Stephen asked.

"Sh-h-h!" Dad cautioned him. "I'm fishing. Don't scare the fish away." FULL POST

Posted 4/12/14 at 11:11 PM | Olabode Ososami

After the Fast

The Rose is a flower striking in beauty emerging from a seasonal bushy plant. It can look very unimpressive when her time to bloom has not come. But then there is a glorious spring and mid-summer in which the Rose blooms in glorious colors …but the autumn soon comes and the petals begin to fall to the ground and the gardener must prune the bush down …to wait afresh for another season of fresh double blooms. The gardener must therefore learn to wait. Fasting is like a period of waiting.

Spring is the time when new flowers spring forth … that which was previously imagined dead, pruned and fallen springs back. The word spring suggests acceleration. In God, there is an acceleration of goodness, re-blooming, harvesting, promotions and overflowing beauty and joy.

Song of Solomon 2:1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

Fasting is a time of denial and looking to God. As the fasting starts for some in the harsh winter season and now ends in the spring … so will there be a springing forth of joys and testimonies. To live is Christ … Christ is the Rose of Sharon …the beautiful Rose, pruned down and blooming for us … you will enjoy His beauty. As you abide in Him … there will be a fresh bloom of new goodness for you in Jesus name. Amen FULL POST

Posted 4/12/14 at 10:31 PM | Olabode Ososami

Do you know Him?

How can we know someone as awesome, as mighty, as limitless, as infinite as God except that He reveals Himself to us. God is great. We are grass. How much of God will grass ever discover. Yet God reveals Himself to us by His creation, by His living word and by His innumerable hosts of messengers and ministering angels, watching over us. Indeed, much of our wanderings and problems arise from poor knowledge of God. The enemy of our soul, he himself having been one of his most trusted angels before, does know well that those that know their God will be undefeatable in their exploits.

The result of not knowing God is that we fret, we fear, we are too easily discouraged and place too much emphasis on our deeds - good or bad, as if they could do anything to God's infinite purposes. If we knew God, then we will know that God sees our thoughts clearly from afar - even before the thoughts came to us. God is so complex and so simple. He is so big and yet so small. He does not need a microscope to manage the unseen cells and organisms yet to be discovered. He does not need a telescope or a space ship to reach out to galaxies that fit into his hands. How could we describe Him. All our words are too limited, because we can only use our experience and created senses to observe that which created us and is well beyond our experience. All our words fail. FULL POST

Posted 4/12/14 at 8:56 PM | Children's Bible Hour

Pulling on the Leash

Labrador dog
Photo: Kevin Rodriguez Ortiz - Creative Commons

Amanda panted as she tugged and pulled to get her Labrador puppy to go into the house. Prince was only six months old, but he was strong.

Mom looked up from setting the table and smiled. "I'm not sure who took who for a walk," she said.

Amanda frowned. "Prince always wants to go for a walk, but when I take him, he pulls on the leash the whole way!" she complained. "He acts like he's the one who should decide which way to go."

"He's still just a puppy," said Mom.

"I know," grumbled Amanda, "but I wish he'd learn to listen to me. He should learn to heel like my friend Patti's dog does."

"Maybe we'll have to take him to dog obedience school," said Mom, "or at least start some dog obedience lessons on our own." Mom studied Amanda a moment, then said softly, "Sometimes people behave a lot like Prince. They pull and tug on their leashes, too. They think they should decide for themselves what's good for them, and they don't want to listen to God or to parents who really know best." She paused, then added, "Like last week when I wouldn't let you go to Jessica's party. I'm not sure you've quite forgiven me for that yet!" FULL POST

Posted 4/11/14 at 6:09 PM | Victoria Osteen

How to Get Your Bucket Filled

Photo: Flickr/Nicola Romagna - Creative Commons

You've probably heard about the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. But did you know this is actually a spiritual principle? In the book of Genesis, we see that God's system is set up on the basis of sowing and reaping. The seeds you plant into others will reap a harvest in your own life in return.

Last weekend in the church service, I was telling about a children's story I read one time to my kids that talked about how we all carry emotional buckets. When your bucket is full, you feel happy, satisfied and encouraged. When your bucket is empty, you feel down and discouraged.

In this world, there are "bucket fillers" and "bucket dippers." A bucket filler is a person who adds to other people by encouraging them and investing in them with kind words and actions. When bucket fillers pour into others, they find that their own buckets are filled up, too. Bucket dippers, on the other hand, are those who take away from people by using harsh, critical or negative words. They not only deplete other people's buckets, but they also diminish the contents of their own. FULL POST

Posted 4/11/14 at 6:02 PM | Joel Osteen

Just Go For It

Photo: Flickr/Stephen Jones - Creative Commons

One time, I heard about this wealthy man. He was known for being very eccentric and far out. One night, he was having a big party at his house. In his backyard, his swimming pool was filled with sharks and alligators. He announced to all the guests, "Anyone who will swim across my pool, I will give you anything that you want."

In a few minutes, there was a big splash. He looked over and this man was swimming 90 to nothing, dodging the alligator, maneuvering his way around the sharks as frantic as could be. He made it to the other side just in the nick of time and jumped out totally panicked. The wealthy man came over and said, "I can't believe it. You're the bravest person I've ever met. Now what do you want me to give you?" The man said, "What I want more than anything else is the name of the person that just pushed me in!"

Here's my point: Sometimes in life, it feels like we got "pushed in," so to speak. We weren't expecting the circumstances—a bad medical report, a relationship didn't make it, a business went down. It may be a surprise to us, but it is not a surprise to God. If you do get pushed in, don't sit around nursing your wounds. Do like this man. Just go for it! Just get to the other side! Do your best and keep honoring God. Keep doing what you know you're supposed to do. God has already given you the strength, wisdom, favor and determination to not only make it through, but to come out better than you were before. FULL POST

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