Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
Most of us are longing for the days when life will return to normal. We’re seeing a flicker of light now, as restaurants and stores are opening at 25% capacity. The beaches and parks are back in play, and as long as we “social distance” we can gather with a very small group of friends and family again. But we can’t go to church, get our nails done or attend large meetings. It’s still not totally “normal.”
Yesterday morning on my walk, I reflected on what was the day-to-day “normal” for Jesus—and it was eye opening.
Entrapment was normal for Jesus. “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words” (Matthew 22:15).
Loneliness was normal for the Son of Man. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray” (Luke 5:16).
Homelessness was a daily normal. “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’” (Luke 9:58).
Betrayal was also the norm for God’s Son. “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders” (Matthew 27:3–4). “Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away” (Mark 14:50).
Ridicule happened often. “’Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked” (John 1:46). “They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37).
As I looked at what was normal for our Savior, I was convicted. I thought, If what I’m dealing with now because of COVID-19 can make me a little more like Jesus, then bring it on. These inconveniences are truly normal compared to what He had to endure during His three years of ministry on Earth.
So I’m wondering, would we trade our normal, even now, for Jesus’ normal?
I am grateful we don’t have to make that decision because Jesus already did it for us. He humbled Himself on this Earth, then gave up His life on the cross so that when things go askew and normalcy is turned upside down, we can cling to Him. He is the rock we hold onto, He provides supernatural peace in the storm, He’s with us amidst the worst of trials, normal byproducts of trusting in the Savior of the world.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12–13).
Over the past couple of months we’ve had to change the way we do everything because of COVID-19—we’ve changed the way we meet, we’ve changed the way we communicate with friends and family, and we’ve changed the way we do business. There have been some learning curves for sure. I now feel very proficient at Zoom, unlike every before. I’ve also learned that just because our Pearls of Promise ministry cannot host a conference and I can’t speak at events right now, it doesn’t mean God can’t use me to communicate His truths. He’s just changed the way I do it.
But in this time of pause, it’s also provided us all the opportunity to give God our undivided attention.
Maybe he’s been trying to change each of us in some way to be more like Him, but before COVID-19, we’ve been too busy to hear or focus on a character adjustment.
Maybe He’s been wanting to move us out of one initiative and into another, but we’ve continued to plow forward even though there seems to be harder ground and resistance.
Perhaps we’ve missed some open doors in our lives, but now we are laying everything before God and we are more aware of God’s direction.
Change can be difficult but it is a great teacher.
This morning, I was reading in Revelation 4 and I saw something I’d never seen before. The Apostle John, in exile on the island of Patmos, was given the opportunity to see the throne of God. In front of John was an open door to Heaven, but he didn’t let his curiosity get the best of him. He did not race in. Instead, John stood still and waited until he was invited to walk through the door, when the Lord himself said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” (Revelation 4:1).
What this told me is that when we are open to change, in particular, when we lay all of our activities before the throne and are willing to enter through another door, God will summon us when it’s time. We don’t have to pry doors open, even if it is something that intrigues us and we long to do. We don’t have to try to sell ourselves to others. God’s timing is perfect. If we are to walk through a door, He will call us. He’ll whisper, Come over here. I’ve got something to show you. We just have to be listening.
I believe we are in a major shift right now in God’s economy. He is repositioning those of us in His service, He’s also calling some to serve Him in a greater way, and I feel He’s introducing Himself to those who don’t know Him—in record numbers because He has a captive audience. It’s all about change right now, but how are we embracing change? Are we looking for opportunities to be a light and to be used in a different way, or do we long for the good ol’ days?
One thing we have to remember is that despite the changes going on all around us, we can be assured that God doesn’t change. (Hebrews 13:8) He is the stability we cling to when nothing is stable around us. He is the foundation we pour when He calls us to build on an idea. The ideas, the wisdom, and the favor all come from Him. So today, let’s ask the Lord to shows us where we need to change, and what we need to change, and be ready to follow through with it.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).
Do you need some encouragement? Then you will want to join us for our first ever “POP Chat” tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. We’ll have a short time of worship with Renee Rollins, ten minutes total of teaching from Dr. Lynnette Simm and Lisa Burkhardt Worley, prayer, and a time to talk about where we are struggling in the midst of this period of isolation because of COVID-19. Here’s the link to sign up:
It may seem like most of us are just wasting time with this quarantine, but I’m here to tell you that Every Moment Counts!
With every day we are home, alone or with family, we are learning and growing. We are seeing elements in our own character, and of those with us, that we may not have known that require our grace. Just today, Christian singer TobyMac posted on Facebook a truth about grace—for a time such as this. His words are below:
This time in quarantine has given me a chance to have some truly alone time. Honestly, for the FIRST time in my life. I have had struggles with being alone my whole life. To me, “alone” meant I was abandoned. There have been times, looking back, where I behaved as if I couldn’t live without being in the presence of others. I kept people in my life just so I wouldn’t be alone. I let people hurt, use, and abuse me out of fear of being abandoned. Alone was something I didn’t do.
During some time away from my family, I learned that I can do alone. Now this may not seem like a revelation for some of you, but to those who know me, alone has been my biggest fear. So, when I found myself alone for nearly two weeks, day after day, I had nothing else to do but talk with the Lord.
What I discovered was that what I feared most wasn’t possible. I have never been and will never be abandoned or alone, not only because the Lord is with me always but because God has filled my life with beloved family and friends. While I may have time alone, all I have to do is reach out and I know God is with me and so are many others. Fear gripped my heart for so many years but during this amazing time in our world God helped me banish that fear.
I now know I will be okay if I’m alone. I know that I am loved and treasured. I know that I am seen and wanted, even when no one sees me.
What fear have you been holding on to? Have you asked the Lord to reveal His love and truth? It’s mind blowing and heart exploding when He does. Let go and let God hold you tight and comfort you. He is the Prince of Peace —a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Today’s Guest Blogger is Whitnee Russell. Whitnee was born and raised in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. She is a loving wife and the proud mother of a beautiful daughter. Through life experiences, she draws her inspiration from her Creator and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Whitnee uses both poetry and photography to create art and share it with her readers She is the founder of a nonprofit called “Bury My Defiance Ministries.” The purpose of “Bury My Defiance Ministries” is to bring comfort and healing for the traumatized, victimized, and grieved. We provide in rendering aid through prayer, scripture, the arts, and a safe online community for the grieved. We minister this help through written word, poetry, photography, art, social media, books, and a variety of media outlets. We strive to bring hope back to the hopeless. You can find Whitnee at: http://burymydefiance.org/
I have seen many people say they are taking a break from social media. I see them say statements such as these:
“I can’t handle all the fear mongering from the media.”
“I cannot hear one more thing about the coronavirus”
“I, I, I…..”
Believe me, I get it. Two years ago, I looked at social media as merely a means to judge my old high school classmates (come on admit it, you have too). I saw social media as a narcissistic escape, but then the Lord laid something so heavy on my spirit that shook me to my core. The predators use the web and social media better than Christ’s disciples. Wow! They gather in community together online and seek out what they are looking for.
With that said, brothers and sisters, I would love to challenge each of you to not step away from social media at a time such as this. Most people are panicking and looking for answers. Why would we, who have the answer, stop spreading it? We need to be an army and utilize this incredible tool we have to reach the hungry and the thirsty.
Yes, it gets tiring! Yes, sorting through the truth and the lies are hard; but we are a light that should not be hidden. “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:15).
Right now, social media is fully captivated, so use it for God’s glory. Spread the gospel. Extinguish fear!
Look at Paul and Silas.
“After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:23-26 NIV).
Did you catch that? Paul and Silas had a captive audience. “and all the prisoners were listening.” Now look at another phrase. “At once everyone’s chains came loose.”
Jesus breaks our chains of fear, hate, shame and guilt.
Use this time to spread His truth to a captive audience.
Use this time to declare His mercy through a news feed.
Use this time to proclaim His sovereignty through firewalls.
Be a Paul, Be a Silas! But most importantly be like Jesus!
Do you dread going to the grocery store these days? I’ve gotten to where I pray for God’s protection in the parking lot before I venture in as it feels like I’m headed into a battle ground filled with land mines called COVID-19. Could she be a carrier of COVID-19? What about him? I pray that God’s peace will flood my heart rather than anxiety. I want joy, not angst! So if you are also struggling with this, I want to give you three ways to find joy in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Pray for Joy. I don’t know about you, but the sight of so many people with masks covering their smiles attempts to rob my joy. So I lift up this prayer silently: “Lord, please fill me with your joy and remove the sadness that is trying to creep in.” I ask God to help me project a light of peace and confidence, rather than a dark aura of fear as I weave in and out of the aisles, and respectfully keep my distance.
Maybe you are having the same feelings and are a little south of happy right now, but there is hope when we remember that God promises to fill us with joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11). If you know that you are venturing out, and it causes an unsettled feeling, then just pray that the Lord will pour His overflowing joy into you before you leave. (Romans 15:13).
Download Joy. According to Galatians 5:22–23, joy is a “fruit of the spirit.” That means if the Holy Spirit is residing in you because of a relationship with Jesus Christ, you have instant access to joy. It’s easily downloadable and has already been paid for in full. You just can’t let the Coronavirus corrupt your file. Call it forth and click on joy. I have opened up my joy file numerous occasions when I have felt down and have immediately seen my countenance change, simply by claiming what is rightfully mine.
Focus on the Good. We can also experience joy when we remember that God is sovereign and in control, despite how uncertain the future is due to COVID-19. I just read a Bible study that challenged me to “focus on that which is—not that which might be.” Reflect on the good that is coming out of this pandemic. People are more tuned into His message of hope in the midst of this trial, and that should make us joyful.
Millions are watching church services online more than ever before, and many are reconnecting during this time of pause. In our neighborhood, I see families walking and riding bikes together. My husband and I have had more time together than we’ve had in years due to the stoppage of travel. We’ve also started a Friday night Zoom check-in with our son and his wife who live out of town. It’s not all bad!
When we walk in joy rather than fear, others will notice. French Philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, once said, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God” so when we exude joy, the people we do come into contact with will see God’s presence working in and through us. They’ll wonder, How can she have joy at a time like this? They will want to know our secret, and of course, we’ll have to tell them.
We have to remember no matter how it looks in the world right now, in the end, God wins. If this drags on, He will show us how to survive, and his joy will be our strength because we have the promise of one day spending eternity with Him. That thought is bringing joy to my heart. What about you?
Pearls of Promise has two exciting opportunities coming up for you. On Wednesday, live at 11:00 a.m., we will be offering another “Pearl of Encouragement” on the Pearls of Promise Facebook Page. Pearls Founder, Lisa Burkhardt Worley, will be sharing about “What Do You Do When You are Feeling Anxious” and will give practical ways to overcome anxiety.
Then next Wednesday, April 29th at 6:30 p.m., we will be having a one-hour “POP Chat” on Zoom. We’d love for you to join us as we will worship with Renee Rollins, pray, and work through some of the feelings we are having as a result of COVID-19. The link to register is below.