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Giving Mercy

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The Seeds Of Good Deeds

When you think of Christians who are known for their good deeds, Mother Teresa usually tops the list. She is someone who gave her life to those who were less fortunate than herself. While she is certainly the most famous, she’s not the only Christian to be known for her good deeds. In fact, each of us should be doing things for others, not as a requirement for salvation, but as a fruit of it. Giving to others should spring out of our love for God.

When I look at my own circle of friends, I’ve got friends who care for orphans, feed the homeless, provide disaster relief around the world, are surrogate mothers for those who can’t have children, run foster homes, who give money sacrificially, are missionaries and so much more. Jesus said we would be known for our love and our fruit. To do good deeds, you don’t have to do big things that change the world. Just do something that changes the world for one person at a time.

Romans 7:4 says, “And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (NLT). When we become Christians, each of us are capable of producing a harvest of good deeds. The only way to get any harvest is by planting seeds. Look around you today. See where you can plant seeds of God’s love in other people’s lives through a good deed. This world needs to see more of God’s love, and you and I are the ones He’s called to do it.

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Displacing God

One day Archimedes was getting in his bathtub to take a bath. As he got in, the water spilled out over the sides. All of a sudden, he jumped up and yelled, “Eureka!” He thought he had discovered the law of displacement which is if you put one thing into the same space, it will displace the other thing in that space. Another example is from an article I read this week where fast food workers were tired of people asking to top off their drinks. Instead, they would take the cup and add ice to push their drink to the top. The unknowing customers happily left thinking they got more to drink. Now customers are feeling cheated because their drink was simply displaced by ice

In Luke 12, Jesus gave an illustration to show that our lives cannot be measured by our possessions. He told of a wealthy man who had a farm and had years of bumper crops come in. When his barn was full, he decided to build a bigger barn to hold all his crops so he could just sit back, relax and enjoy life with no worries. God showed up and called him a fool. He said, “This very night the messengers of death will demand to take your life. Then who will get all the wealth you have stored up for yourself?” (TPT) He had begun to trust in all these things and money he had earned in his life. In essence, they had displaced God in his life much like the ice in the cup.

In the next verse, 21, Jesus continued, “The same thing will happen to all those who fill up their lives with everything but God.” Each of us have things in our life that are displacing God. Sometimes it’s ourselves. Remember, John the Baptist in John 3:30 said that he needed to decrease so Christ could increase. It’s the law of displacement. Anything that we fill our lives with other than God, displaces Him. It could be money, possessions, work, relationships or whatever. If it takes our attention away from God, if it gets us to trust in something else besides Him or if it fills our mind, it displaces God. Take a look at your life to see what it’s filled with. If you want more of God, you’re going to have to displace them so God can occupy that space.

Photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

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Emptying Your Plate

In one of the classes I used to teach, I would have people write down all the things they’re responsible for doing. I would then bring one person up, hand them a styrofoam plate and ask them to read their list item by item. As they read each one, I would place something on their plate. We would continue going as I piled things up until the plate broke or things started falling off. It was a visual example of how we have too much on our plates, of how we drop the ball on things and of the importance of delegation. Just because something is on our plate, it doesn’t mean we can’t del agate that responsibility to someone else who has room on their plate and has the capacity to take care of it.

One of the Scriptures we like to quote often is Luke 16:10. It says, “The one who faithfully manages the little he has been given will be promoted and trusted with greater responsibilities. But those who cheat with the little they have been given will not be considered trustworthy to receive more” (TPT). We rightly associate it with money, but it’s also referring to our time, our resources and responsibilities. If our plate is too full in any of those areas, it’s a sign that we’re not managing those things well and that we can’t be given more of what God wants to entrust to us. Part of managing it well is delegation, letting go and being efficient. We say we want more from God, yet we continue to hold onto the little which doesn’t create room for the greater things.

Take a look at all things that are on your plate and ask God for wisdom in how you manage what He’s given you. Ask Him to help you let go of the little things you’ve outgrown, but are still holding onto. Most of the time, God wants to open the windows of Heaven to give us more, but we don’t have the time or room to receive them because we’re holding onto the smaller things longer than we should. I love the old saying, “If God can get it to me, God can get it through me.” The problem we run into in that is the second half. We’ve become a dam that stops up the things God has gotten to us. We are channels, not dams. Receive from God, manage it well then release. It’s the cycle of gaining more from God.

Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

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The Gift Of Self

In Dr. Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages,” one of the languages is Receiving Gifts. Just like verbal languages, there are different dialects. In this particular one, a dialect is the Gift of Self. It’s where you put everything else that you need to do aside for a bit and simply give your spouse your time. You may have a ton to do with deadlines approaching, however, when you put that stuff aside and give yourself to your spouse, it speaks volumes. It tells them they are more important than anything else you have to do. It signals to them that they are your priority. The Gift of Self is a powerful expression of love especially when it doesn’t come natural for you.

In Luke 10, Jesus and his disciples were visiting a small village outside of Jerusalem called Bethany. They were met by a woman named Martha who invited them to her home. Martha immediately went to work to prepare a large dinner to fed all these people. The more she worked in the kitchen, the more she realized her sister wasn’t in there helping her. Mary was in the other room sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to everything He had to say. I’m sure Martha cleared her throat a few times to get Mary’s attention,. Maybe she even gave her some ugly looks. When those didn’t work, she told Jesus to tell Mary to come help her. In verses 41-42 Jesus replied, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her” (TPT).

It’s easy to get distracted by all the things we have to do. Sometimes those things are for the Lord Himself, but what’s more important is giving Him the Gift of Self. We must choose to set aside the things we have to do in order to sit at Jesus’ feet. We must make time with Him our priority. We lead very busy lives, but when you compare the things you have to do with eternity, sitting at the feet of Jesus is what will matter most. We all can get better at managing our schedules so that we’re in control of our time. We all can get better at being undistracted while we give ourselves and our time to the Lord. It starts with making our time with Him a priority, and then building the rest of our schedule around that. When we give Jesus the Gift of Self, He does the same back to us.

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

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Restoring The Broken

Being a father of a boy with toys means that I have to always have superglue on hand. I can’t tell you how many times he’s handed me toys that were broken in pieces. With tears in his eyes, “Can you fix this please?” Sometimes I can do it, and other times I have to tell him that it’s beyond my ability to repair. He doesn’t understand why there are some things that are just too broken and superglue just won’t work.

Like him, many times we have to take the broken pieces of our lives to God and ask Him to fix it. I don’t know if God has some kind of spiritual superglue or what, but I do know that He’s pretty good at taking our broken pieces and putting them back together again. In fact, there’s no life so broken that it’s beyond His ability to repair. He specializes in putting our shattered pieces back together and making our life better than it was. We just have to be willing to hand Him the pieces.

Here are some Bible verses on God repairing our broken pieces and making us whole again.

1. GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to GOD ’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. GOD rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
Psalm 18:20-24 MSG

2. He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 GNT

3. A Message from Israel’s GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies: “When I’ve turned everything around and brought my people back, the old expressions will be heard on the streets: ‘ GOD bless you!’… ‘O True Home!’… ‘O Holy Mountain!’ All Judah’s people, whether in town or country, will get along just fine with each other. I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls.”
Jeremiah 31:23-25 MSG

4. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.
Isaiah 53:5 GNT

5. For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
Isaiah 9:6 MSG

I’m taking my annual sabbatical from writing this week. I hope you enjoyed this previously written devotional.

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Grace, Mercy And Peace

I was speaking to someone recently about the old computer operating system DOS. I remember as a kid learning how to write programs for DOS. We were taught to increase each command line by 10 so if you needed to add a line of programming later, you had the room. Another thing they taught us is the phrase, “If this, then that.” It was a way to tell the computer if the user does this, then I want you to skip to another line and run the program from there. It was all about cause and consequence.

The Bible is full of “if this, then that” type phrases. In John 15:7 Jesus said, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you then you can ask whatever you will.” II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people will humbled selves and pray, then I will hear from Heaven and heal their land.” These are just a couple of examples. God puts conditions on many promises that require an action on our part first in order to activate them just like in the old DOS programming. If we don’t do the first part, then the next part is skipped.

Another conditional promise is found in 2 John 1:3. It says, “Grace, mercy and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ – the Son of the Father – will continue to be with us who live in truth and love” (NLT). If we will continue to live in truth and love we will receive grace, mercy and peace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor which affords joy, delight and pleasure according to the Blue Letter Bible. The favor of God alone is enough, but John added in (through his use of the word grace) that we would also get joy, delight and pleasure by living in truth and love.

Next, he said we would get mercy. One of the definitions of mercy is to have the providence of God. That means that God will order your steps and guide your future. He won’t just let you wander. Your life will be filled with purpose which leads to the last promise of peace. When we live in love and truth, we will also get peace in our hearts, in our minds and in our lives. God wants to give us these three blessings if we will simply live in truth and love.

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

I’m taking my annual sabbatical from writing this week. I hope you enjoy this devotion I wrote previously.

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Friendships

When life gets hard, you find out who your true friends are. Hard times have a way of weeding out acquaintances and fair weather friends. There are those who will stand by your side through the darkest night and those who will abandon you the moment bad things start coming your way. It’s hard to tell them apart until your faced with adversity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers” (GNB).

As you read that, I’m sure names are popping in your head. You can think of those who have abandoned you, but you can also think of those who have stood by your side. It’s easy to get mad at those who have fallen by the wayside, but the truth is, you don’t have to be mad at them. You don’t need those kinds of relationships in your life. Let them go and wish them well. Don’t hold grudges against them because it may mess up your lifelong relationships.

We like to think of the parable of the Prodigal Son as a story about returning to God, but I believe it’s also about friendships. When he had his inheritance and was living recklessly, I’m sure he had a lot of friends. When his money ran out and the famine hit, where were those friends? No one offered him shelter. No one offered him money. No one offered him food. He realized that the friendships he developed were poor ones and he thought of home. He realized he hadn’t been a good friend to them.

He learned that friendships and relationships are a two way street. Relationships that are one way, don’t last. He went back to the relationships that mattered and they accepted him back. While hard times can take away friendships that are one way, they can also drive us back to the ones that matter. If you haven’t been the type of person who was loyal to others, ask for their forgiveness and try to work things out. If you’ve found a friend that is more loyal than a brother, reach out to them today and thank them for being in your life.

Photo by Cynthia Magana on Unsplash

I’m taking my annual sabbatical from writing. I hope you enjoyed this previously written devotion.

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Personal Famine

A Barley field in Angus, Scotland.

“Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land. So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe.”

Genesis 41:29-31 (NASB)

Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land.”

Ruth 1:1 (NASB)

There are times in the Christian walk where the river runs low, right down to a trickle. Suddenly all is silent about you, concentration is hard and the Word of God doesn’t appear to say much. I have times like these, usually through fatique which is a regular effect of my health issues. Tiredness and pain can make big and small things difficult, including spiritual matters. Yet God can use these times to help us grow in Him. During such dry times in life our Father God provides abundantly, literally from nothing. 

It was while searching for inspiration in what has been a hard day, I found myself looking at my Bible notes from Friday 26th June 2020 and I found the scriptures I present to you today. In my notes I wrote that day: “in Scripture when we find famine, God is at work in the midst of it with bountiful blessings.” Look at the story of Joseph, and how God through a famine blessed him, his family and, also his nation. Then we have Ruth, which is a truly beautiful Biblical story. To escape famine Naomi and her daughter in law Ruth return to Judah. Ruth meets Boaz in the harvest fields who becomes her husband, their son Obed is the great grandfather of David, and a forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. What a truly a great harvest in the midst of a famine!

Dear reader, in times of personal famine when life is difficult our Father God is still present, right beside us. No matter how low the water level in your reservoir, the Almighty can still work a miracle with it. He is the Master of taking the small and weak to fulfill His purpose. Let us never despair in our famine, He will feed us from His bountiful harvest!

I’m taking my annual sabbatical from writing. I hope you enjoyed this devotional by Devotional Treasures.

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Hearing God In The Stillness

The chapel where my wife and I attend worship was built in 1935. Constructed in the Neo-gothic style, it resembles a smaller version of a Western European cathedral. And like any old building, it has a unique personality. As a musician, I used to enjoy the quirky sounds our little chapel made. The creaky floor boards in the choir loft were my favorite. 

But the powers that be decided to install a fancy geo-thermal heating and air-conditioning system in the building. One with a fan motor that runs 24/7. And the incessant drone of moving air–through the vents in the sanctuary–totally ruined the audio ambiance! 

But this past Sunday a miracle occurred! Someone switched the HVAC fan to run on a cycle. You can hear the church building again-creaky floor boards and all! 

I sat there in the choir loft before the worship service, soaking in the silence. Then it came to me in a moment of sudden insight: “It’s so quiet you can hear God!”

How many times in life does the “white noise” of the world drowned out His still, small voice? All the screens in my home practically scream, “Pay attention to me!” Then there’s the miniature slot machine in my pocket.📲 Some still call it a phone. Yet it’s far more addictive than the kind that once sat on a little table.☎️

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

Stillness does not come naturally to me. I’ve always been a bit of a squirrel.🐿. I savor quiet contemplation with God, but find I must carve this time out if it’s going to happen.

For the past forty or so years–since I was a teenager–I’ve consistently spent time with God at the beginning of every morning. The first hour of the day, it’s just Him and me. I read scripture and devotional thoughts, spend time in prayer, and jot down my impressions. 

Incidentally, I found the Lord’s prescription for hearing Him better: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”— Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) The Israelites of that time didn’t listen; but you and I know better.

What is your practice for spending quality time with God? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments, if you’d like.

🙏❤️ prayers and love.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com. This isn’t my church, but it looks similar.

I’m taking my annual sabbatical from writing. I hope you enjoyed this devotional by David’s Daily Dose.

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