Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise

How to Love Others by Dr. Lynnette Simm

It’s been a crazy week. My beloved niece and nephew can to visit from Green Bay, Wisconsin. They had asked me not to take my Christmas decor down. They wanted to enjoy it. So, here it was, January 16th and I still had Christmas everywhere in my house.

Well, those beautiful kids came to see all the decor and lights and then, with the whole family helping, we took it all down together in two days! What took me weeks to get up was boxed and in the attic in TWO! 

Now that’s how to love someone. “Acts of Service” AND “Quality Time” are just two of five types of love language, according to Gary Chapman. The others are “Words of Affirmation,” “Physical Touch,” and “Receiving Gifts.” 

By the end of the two days, there were hugs all around (physical touch…we are up to three). The next evening at dinner, my beloved niece and nephew gave us beautiful framed pictures from their wedding (gifts…up to four now!) and we gushed over the magic wedding we all remembered (words of affirmation…FIVE!). 

Loving one another can be as easy as giving a compliment or a hug. It could be picking up something that someone dropped. It’s all these little things that can make a life filled with love. 

In the Bible, Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

We are called to love! How you love is up to you.

Do You Over-share? By Lisa Burkhardt Worley

If we are in a day-to-day relationship with God, He will speak into our lives. He’ll provide direction through dreams, visions, an audible voice, or an impression on our spirit, but we may want to use discernment with whom we share those revelations.

In Genesis 37, Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, received a couple of dreams from God that he disclosed to his brothers. The first: “Listen to this dream,” he said. We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” In the second dream, he said, “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”

While these were true dreams from God and symbolic of what was going to happen in the future, I believe Joseph over-shared. They were already jealous of Joseph because he was his dad’s favorite. In addition he was a tattletale. His dad, Jacob, would send him out to his brothers who were shepherding sheep in the pasture to check on what they were doing. He would then run back to dad to provide a status report. This probably had been going on for a while and fueled the bad feelings. Then there were the dreams… Scripture says Joseph’s brothers “hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them” (Genesis 37:8).

Sharing dreams that pictured Joseph’s brothers bowing down to him did not promote better familial relations, so much so that Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him, but sold him into slavery instead. 

Those who know me, know I am honest and an open book, too much so at times. Years ago, I did something Joseph-like concerning our Wednesday morning Bible study at church. I was a small group leader and prayed on my knees that God would show me who He wanted in my group. There were eleven spots, and over the course of about a week, exactly eleven women came up to me and asked to be in my group. I received my answer! Confidently, I went into our selection meeting, and announced “I am going to make this easy. God has shown me who is to be in my group, and I named off the eleven women.” That did not go over well with the other group leaders, and it created a rift with one of my best friends and prayer partners, also a small group leader. That rift has thankfully been mended and we are closer today than ever. But I over-shared. By doing so, I demonstrated pride, but more importantly, I stole the glory from God who would have put the group together without my interference. 

I learned a valuable lesson through this experience. Be cautious what you share, and who you share it with. What are your motives? Will it fuel jealousy? Will it be more than the person can handle or understand? Is it prideful?

In the end, God turned Joseph’s faux pas around for good. After a stint as a slave, and a prisoner after he was falsely accused of sexual assault by his master’s wife, it was Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams, of all things, that led to his release from prison. After he rightly interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph rose to power in Egypt. His brothers, seeking food during a time of famine, did bow down to him, and I am sure memories of Joseph’s dreams came back to his brothers. But Joseph had to be humbled first before the Lord brought the dreams to fruition.

What is the lesson in this? I believe we should pray before we share the revelations that God gives us. Are they for our ears only, or will they edify someone else? It sometimes takes discipline to hold back on what we share.

Filled Wells by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

I’m a little behind on this, but I’ve been watching the program, The Crown on Netflix and made it through season one in a week. I’ve always been fascinated with the royals; probably because of my English roots—41% according to Ancestry. During one of the episodes, I looked up our English family surname, “Carvel,” to see if we had an nobility in our background and the Carvel name actually means “swamp dweller.” Hmmm. It doesn’t sound too noble to me.

Through this series, set during the early reign of Queen Elizabeth, I realized the royal family has familial problems just like we do, even today. Every time a scenario comes up on the program, I grab my phone to see if it is really historical. Things like rebellious family members, marital issues and smoking addictions. Well, yes, they all occurred. 

The Bible says God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). This verse is saying no one escapes problems.

In Genesis 26, Isaac, the son of Abraham and a type of royal, also experienced life complications after the Lord blessed him and he became very rich. This abundance fueled jealousy with his neighbors, the Philistines, so they started to fill up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. It got so bad that the king of the country, Abimelech, asked Isaac to leave. “’Go somewhere else,” he said, “’for you have become too powerful for us.’” 

So Isaac moved to the Gerar Valley where his servants discovered a fresh water well, then some shepherds came along and claimed it. Isaac’s men dug a different well, but there was another dispute over it. 

Hey, wait a minute, wasn’t Isaac the child of the promise? Wasn’t he the heir to many nations? Why are there so many roadblocks?

No matter how devout or good or faithful or royal we are, the Bible promises, “…In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). 

We live in an imperfect world scorched by sin, and I believe God uses these setbacks to build character in us, to rely on Him more and so that we’ll appreciate the good when a difficult scenario turns around.

Isaac’s servants eventually dug a well that he was able to claim. He called it “Rehoboth,” which means “open spaces.” Isaac said, “At last the LORD has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” I wonder if Isaac would have appreciated this well as much if it had been the first one he dug?

Even when we see our own personal wells filled up with discouragement, family issues or health challenges, we should be confident that God is still with us and he will encourage us in the midst of the situations.

God knew Isaac needed a word as well as some hope from Him. After Isaac moved on to Beersheba, the Lord appeared and reminded Isaac that he planned to “bless him, multiply his descendants and that he would become a great nation.” Sometimes we need reminders that it is going to be okay, right? It was apparently what this child of God needed. Isaac responded by worshipping the LORD and then, of all things, his servants dug another well. 

What wells are being filled up in your life? Keep digging. This is only a temporary setback, and I believe the Lord wants to remind you today that he sees what you are going through and he will help you through it.

Finding Respite by Dr. Lynnette Simm

Just the other night I was talking with my husband, Madison, when I was explaining to him about my exhaustion and my need for respite. He stopped me and said, “Why do you keep using that word ‘respite’?” I said, “I’m not really sure.”

So I took a moment and looked up the definition. It wasn’t that I was seeking rest as in I need to sleep or to stop, but it was more true to the definition of respite, to relieve or cease; especially something distressing or trying. 

We have all just come out of the holiday season and while we would love to say that everything was beautiful and magical it was, for most of us, distressing and trying. Some of it has to do with family members and strained relationships, some of it has to do with the distress of travel, and some of it has to do with just wanting things to be perfect.

So the New Year is here and the holiday season has passed. Now is the time to take respite. For some people, that respite will come as soon as school starts, when our children are back into their normal schedules and we are back to our normal work schedules. 

For me, my respite has already begun, as I resolved this year to spend more time in meditation and communication with God. Scripture tells us to meditate on those things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. I have spent so much time worrying about all the “what if‘s.” What I could have, should have, regrets, and missed opportunities, that I have caused myself to become physically ill.

So this year, I challenge you, along with myself, to take respite in the Lord. What does that look like for me? Well, it means taking morning walks with my phone firmly tucked away. It means writing down what I’m grateful for. And it means talking with others about focusing on the positive. 

What would respite look like for you? Quiet time with the Bible and/or journal? Time set aside for prayer and thanksgiving? Do you need nature or a comfy place at home? Whatever you choose, I challenge you. Make this year the year to seek Him more and take respite in His hands.

Will You Pray this Bold Prayer? By Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Have you ever asked God to close the doors in your life that you are no longer supposed to walk through? In the same vein, have you prayed for the Holy Spirit to make it obvious by supernaturally opening doors in your life? Would you like to know where this concept started?

You probably have heard about the story of Noah and how God used Noah to save a remnant from the flood that wiped out the landscape of the Earth, but once Noah loaded up his family and all the pairs of animals and birds, the Bible says, “Then the LORD closed the door behind them” (Genesis 7:16 NLT). Some say Noah spent ninety-nine years building the ark, and he was not allowed to put the final nail in the ark by closing the door?

I wonder if Noah felt some last minute angst about leaving his homeland. Maybe, the thought of being cooped up in a zoo for five months started to frighten him. Perhaps some doubt set in. Have you ever gotten to the end of a big project, then had your doubts about why you did it in the first place?  God knows the thoughts of man, so He took it upon himself to close the door for Noah. 

And when the waters that flooded the Earth receded, and it was time to disembark, God made his direction clear again, saying to Noah, “Leave the boat, all of you—you and your wife, and your sons and their wives. Release all the animals—the birds, the livestock, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth” (Genesis 8:16–17).

God closed the door to Noah’s past life and then he opened the door to a new beginning.

In 2020, will you boldly pray for God to close any doors to activities that you are no longer supposed to be involved in? Will you also pray that He opens doors to new opportunities? That’s how I am praying. I want to be in the center of His will for my life this year and ever year that He gives me after that. 

You might be surprised by the doors He closes. They might involve a comfortable old shoe that you’ve been settled in for a long time. You may love what you are doing. I have some slippers that I love, but they’ve gotten lumpy and are hard to walk in. I finally replaced them this week. It’s the same way with our jobs and volunteer work. Every year, we need to lay them at God’s altar and pray a bold prayer: Lord, I need your direction. Please close any doors that you do not want me to proceed through, and open doors for me in 2020. And…will you make it obvious? When we can’t close a door ourselves, He will do it for us, if we ask. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5–7).

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