Devotion of the Week | Pearls of Promise | Page 2

The Stolen Car

I was at a conference and needed to run back to my car to grab some books. Fortunately, I’d taken a photo of the parking space I was in so I’d have no trouble finding my car. When I went back to the spot where I remember parking, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My car was missing. I double-checked my photo, and confirmed that this was the space.

Oh No! My car was stolen!

Despite this realization, there was a strange peace within me. After all, I had been through this before. When we lived in New York, a restaurant valet in the northern Bronx gave our car away to his friends for a joy ride. They totaled our four-door sedan during a high-speed chase with police. When we resided in San Antonio, someone stole our SUV out of the driveway at our home while we slept. Another high-speed chase with police ensued, but this time the car was returned to us in one piece, with a full tank of gas.

I raced back to the hotel to report the most recent theft. Security was called. The twenty-four-year-old hotel security guard, named Alex, wisely suggested we go back to take one more look, so we did.

We returned to the scene of the crime. I showed him the parking space. Still no car. “Why don’t we press the alarm on your key fob?” Alex said, “Just to make sure.”

I hit the button and in the open parking lot below we heard the sound of a horn going off. That’s when I remembered that I parked in the garage the first day I was at the conference and moved the car to the other parking lot the day after.

I was elated that my vehicle was not stolen, but also slightly embarrassed by my mistake. However, something told me our creative God put this meeting between the hotel security guard and me together.

I said, “Alex, I don’t believe in coincidences, do you? Perhaps God wanted us to talk and this is the only way he could arrange the meeting. Is there anything going on in your life right now?”

Alex then shared that his father had recently died and that he was struggling with his dad’s death because he missed him very much. I was able to encourage this young man by telling him that I was fatherless all my life but it was my loving Father in Heaven who filled the fatherless void in my life. God desired to do that for him.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5).

Alex was already a Christian. In fact, his mother prophesied over him, saying he would be a preacher, but it seemed like he was disconnected from the church. I believe that day my job was to encourage Alex to not only reconnect with a place of worship, but to also reconnect with his Father in Heaven, who wanted to comfort and love on him during his loss.

God gives us many opportunities to share His amazing love with others, but do we recognize when this happens? I am trying to be more aware of the divine appointments he provides, even in the midst of trying situations.

Father, help us to recognize the daily divine encounters you bring us. Give us the words to share about you and to encourage those who are struggling. Show us how to be conduits of your love for those who need your heavenly support. In your Son’s Holy Name we pray, AMEN

Knowing the Gardener (Part 5 of 5)

The Gardener Loves

Have you ever been involved in a relationship where you loved someone but they didn’t love you back?

Rejection is difficult, isn’t it? You keep trying to get the person to love you, but nothing you can say or do changes the situation. I had a few of those experiences in my dating years. Maybe you’re going through something like that right now.

Here’s some good news. There’s someone who loves you dearly and who will never stop loving you, the Gardener. Our heavenly nurturing Father is constantly reaching out to us with His love. There’s only one catch. He wants us to love him back.

Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and your strength.” God says to place this word in our hearts. Tell our children about it. Put this message on our doorframes to remind us of how important it is.

I do have these words over the doorframe of my garage so that every day I walk out of my house, I remember to love God. It’s the most important thing I can do.

There are times when we question God’s love, right? I received some disappointing news the other day about a “God project” that made me wonder, “Do you really love me Father? This was written for you.” This is when trust enters the scene. You must trust what the Word of God says about his love for you, and not base God’s love on circumstances. Here are a few proclamations of God’s love for you in the Word:

“Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:26).

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4–5).

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

It’s critical to believe that God loves us even in the midst of the most dire circumstances. If we don’t grasp this concept, and we don’t remain connected to God’s vine of love, our “love tank” will be empty and we’ll never be able to love others like he loves us. And that is what we are called to do.

Can you put aside your circumstances and trust that the Gardener loves his creation, beautiful child of God?

Do you know Him in an intimate way?

If not, then make this the day that you connect to His vine so you will blossom and grow a fruit of love under your heavenly Father’s loving care.

 

 

 

 

Knowing the Gardener (Part 4)

The Gardener Adopts

I received my ancestry.com DNA results last week. The kit was a gift from my son, who knew I was foggy about my heritage. I also wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was my father’s daughter.

My dad died two months before I was born, and eight years after he passed, my paternal grandmother also passed away. There was a sizeable inheritance to divide up, and I was cut out. Why? Because paternal family members questioned whether I was my father’s child.

I always knew I was my dad’s daughter. I had the same coloring as him, was built like him, and seem to be wired like him. During my sportscasting days, people who knew my father would watch me on television, put two and two together, then write letters, sharing their memories of my doctor dad. However, because of what happened after my grandmother died, there was a slight element of uncertainty. Because my father was Jewish, I knew DNA would prove my relation to him, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

As I clicked on the results, I prayed, Lord, help me accept whatever is here.

Great Britain: 41%. What? I knew my maternal grandfather was English, but with that percentage, I realized there must be another Brit in the family tree. No wonder I have such a quirky sense of humor!

Then as my eyes scrolled down to the next highest percentage, I breathed a sigh of relief.

European Jew: 33%.

I am my father’s child.

Thank you Lord, for this confirmation.

I don’t need a DNA test to prove I am also my heavenly Father’s child. Since I rededicated my life to Him, there has never been any doubt about that.

When we become Christians, the Bible confirms that the heavenly Gardener adopts us. He becomes the dad we never had. Maybe your father didn’t die, but perhaps he was absent, abusive, or unloving.

Psalm 68:5 says, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

Another great verse is John 1:12-13: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of GOD—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

No matter how you got to this Earth, if you have given your life to the Father, he becomes your papa, and he invites you into a new family. He says,

“I wont disappoint you.”

“I want to nurture you.”

“I’m here to listen to you.”

“I desire to provide for you.”

All he asks is that we stay connected to him, attached to the vine through his Son, Jesus Christ. Without that, we won’t get the nourishment we need or the spiritual growth.

Have you ever been adopted by God?

If not, it’s easy. Just believe in Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. Repent of any wrongdoing in your life and ask Jesus, who bridges the gap between a Perfect and Holy Father and us, to take control of your life. Your heavenly Father will then sign the adoption papers, and place His Holy Seal on them, making you His child forever.

God is the only Father I ever knew. I am His child and I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. What about you?

 

 

 

Knowing the Gardener (Part 3)

The Gardener Prunes

I share a true confession with you today.

I was arrested in high school.

A couple of my friends had heard that kids were going for late night swims at our community pool and thought it would be fun for us to try as well. However, it required scaling the pool wall, after hours. I was always the cautious one, so as my three friends were halfway up the wall, I was still on the ground.

“Are you sure we should do this?” I asked.

“Come on, Lisa.”

“Oh, alright.”

I gave in and began my ascent.

We didn’t make it very far because as we began to strip down to our bathing suits, three men in blue shirts emerged from behind trees and shouted, “Freeze! Police!”

Shouting was not necessary. We were so frightened by the unexpected visitors we were cemented in the ground.

We were hoping to receive a warning and go on our way, but the law enforcement officers didn’t let us off. We were trespassing, and the reason they were staking out the pool is because the night before there were vandals on the property. One of the officers, Roger Terry, was well known to us kids. He asked, “What would have happened if you girls had been here last night when the vandals were tearing up the place?” They hauled us off to jail, and after scaring the wits out of us (and watching me cry buckets of tears) they called our parents to pick us up.

As I look back on this incident, I realize this was a case of God’s holy discipline in my life because He disciplines those he loves.

When have you been disciplined by the Lord?

The most difficult stretches in my life are the ones where I have grown the most spiritually.

Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.”

Like a gardener with a rose bush, our Holy Gardener prunes us so we can bear more fruit.

Many years after this incident, I was sponsoring a confirmation student at my church. Her name was Caitlyn Terry and I was supposed to sit with her and her family at the morning worship service. Before the service, her mom came up to me and asked, “Lisa, have you met Caitlyn’s dad, Roger Terry?” Immediately recognizing him, I blurted out, “You arrested me in high school!” This time it was Caitlyn and her mom’s expressions that froze.

As I sat in the pew that day, singing the song “Here I am Lord,” I marveled at the way God turned my life around 180 degrees, so much so that I was now praying for the child of the police officer who arrested me in high school. As I thanked my heavenly Father for his loving discipline and redemption, Officer Terry saw me weep again.

Today, will you thank God for his discipline in your life, even though it was painful? Sometimes tough love is needed in order to steer you into the right direction.

Knowing the Gardener (Part 2)

The Gardener Provides

Years ago, my then teenage son and I worked on a Habitat House. Our only job all day was to place sod in the front yard of this house, and we quickly found out it was laborious work. Sod is heavy.

After a day of manual labor, we were worn out and agreed, “A slush from Sonic sure sounds good right now” but we didn’t know where a Sonic was.

It was before the days of navigation systems and we were serving in a part of town that was not familiar, so on our way home, I got lost. We were winding along trying to find our way out of the maze, when I spotted a highway. I immediately headed that way, and staring at us from the access road was a Sonic! I never forgot that day because it was an example of how God provided and met a need after a hard day’s work of serving the kingdom. He knew exactly where the Sonic was, and took us there.

In the Old Testament, there are many names for God. When it comes to providing, he’s referred to as “Jehovah Jirah.”

This name of God first showed up in Genesis 22 when Abraham led his son, Isaac, up to Mount Moriah to offer him as a burnt offering to God. Can you imagine how difficult this was for Abraham? But by faith, I believe Abraham knew all along that his heavenly Father would provide another sacrifice. When Isaac asked his dad where the lamb was for the burnt offering, Abraham said,  “Jehovah Jireh himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.” If Abraham truly believed God was going to let him go through with this cruel act, I think he would have responded to Isaac’s question in a different way.

“We’ll see what happens.”

“I don’t know.”

“Too many questions!”

And of course, God did provide a sacrificial ram at the eleventh hour.

Perhaps it is the eleventh hour for you right now, and you are desperate for provision. If you are connected to the vine (Jesus), then trust that the Holy Gardener will provide, if you’ve given the situation over to Him.

Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying ad a single hour to your life? If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not more clothe you of little faith?”

Our Gardener is always watching over the garden, but sometimes, as a part of the cultivation process, he’ll wait a bit to see if we trust him to provide.

 

 

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