Visitor Devotion

 

 

March 2019: I Need More…GOOD NEWS

Indeed, we live in frazzled and frustrated times. Just turn on the nightly news. So frequently we are given reports of events that have devastated property and lives; are told about individuals that have deviated from law and order; and hear of other stories that dampen our spirits. On a regular basis, most of the news is not good news, and a depressed sigh first finds solace in the silence of a turned-off television.

Turns out, though, that we don’t have to turn on a TV to know that. We don’t even need to be near it. As our consciences rerun the past, we see where our own deviations have had a devastating impact. As a direct result, our spirits are dampened and depressed. Even life-long Christians feel the sting of past sins as their consciences cry a guilty testimony. That’s the “news” we know by nature. That’s God’s Law on sinful hearts, and that’s why stricken hearts crave more good news.

The calm to the craving is not attained by turning off; we get it by tuning in. The answer is not in blocking out God’s Word or dulling our consciences by making poor excuses. The solution is still found in what God’s good news says to every individual—even to you. The calm, promise, and solution remain the message of the gospel! Hearts are calmed at the message of Christ for us! And it’s in that message the apostle Paul, a very real sinner, would have sinners still take comfort and confidence. As he lifted Timothy’s eyes and heart to the grace of the cross, so he lifts ours: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Craving more good news? Forgiven sinner, tune in to the Savior who carried your every sin! See him in his Word! Redeemed believer, tune in to the gospel—God’s good news that quiets sin’s accusations! Hear that saving message! Beloved child of God, tune in to the trustworthy message of the Bible and let your heart sigh with thanksgiving. Jesus came to save sinners. Jesus came to save you! That’s the good news! Crave it. Enjoy it. And stay tuned in!


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February 2019: I Need More…FAITHFUL FRIENDS

A friend is someone who knows all about me and likes me anyway. Have you heard that description of a

friend? How would you define what a friend is? Are you happy with the friends you have? Do you wish

you had more friends or different kinds of friends? That your friendships were healthier or more

helpful?


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January 2019: Jesus is the One and Only Savior

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

A common resolution at New Year’s is to lose weight and improve fitness. There are various ways people seek to reach that goal. Some strive to improve their diet, either eating smaller portions or switching to healthier foods. Others focus more on exercise, building up their strength or following a cardio workout plan. Picking any or all of those options can help a person reach a weight loss and fitness goal.


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December 2018: Will I go to heaven?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

I saw my name on Santa’s list!  I was so excited.  I didn’t think it would be there.  I got mad and hit my sister on Thanksgiving Day.  I admitted my fault.  Since then, I was very well behaved.  After all, Santa brings good things to good boys, right?  I saw MY name!  I was getting a puppy for Christmas!  I did it!  I made up for my sin.

Christmas came and no puppy.  I was crushed.  I thought I deserved one.  I thought Santa loved me.  Was the name on Santa’s list someone else with the same name as mine?  Did Santa think my apology was insincere?  Was hitting my sister such a horrible thing that he would totally reject me?  No puppy that Christmas.  (It would be another 29 years before I got a puppy.)

What if God treated us like that?  We would never be sure we are going to heaven.  But God does not treat us like that, and we can be sure we are going to heaven.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” 

Notice what God did not say.  “God so loved the ones that don’t hit their sisters…”  “God so loved the good ones… the top 50%… those who help themselves.”  No, God loves sinners, all sinners, you and me.  He loves the whole world.

God gave us the greatest gift of all.  Jesus, God’s Son, came at Christmas to save the world from sin and hell.  God gave us a gift only he can give—eternal life.  God did that by sending Jesus into this world to live a life without sin.  Jesus never hit his sister.  He never even thought angry or insulting thoughts about anyone.  Jesus was punished for all our sins, in our place.  Jesus rose from the dead to guarantee our sins are paid for.  He did this for the whole world.  That includes you. 

Jesus is the greatest gift ever given.  Trusting him as your Savior, you can be certain you will go to heaven.  Enjoy God’s gift of Jesus this Christmas. 


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November 2018: God’s Encouraging Word … when I’m suffering

God’s Encouraging Word … when I’m suffering

Are you familiar with tunnel vision? Someone experiencing tunnel vision can see an object directly ahead, but they often fail to notice what’s around it. Maybe age or injury has robbed them of their peripheral vision. Maybe they grow fatigued during a long drive. Do you know what that’s like?

We’re also prone to tunnel vision when we’re suffering. Face it, we’ve all been there. No one is immune from problems and pain. Everyone experiences hurts or hang-ups. But when we’re hurting, is the bad all we can see? Do we focus on the problem so much that we ignore everything else? We can see no help. No hope. No good. No God. Do you know what that’s like? It’s not a happy place to be.

It can be especially tough as we prepare to enter the holiday season. How can we put on a smile for Thanksgiving and pretend that we are just fine?

No need to pretend. Listen to the psalmist: “My comfort in suffering is this: your promise preserves my life” (Psalm 119:50). Remember how God worked so wonderfully to solve our greatest problem. The burden of sin we could never carry. The consequence of guilt we could never dodge. The sentence of death we could not avoid. So Jesus stepped in for us and shouldered them all. The cross and the tomb—both empty now—mark Jesus’ great victory.

And his victory is your victory. So resist the urge to give in to those feelings of defeat. Don’t shrink back in fear. Don’t separate yourself from others. Don’t become bitter. Don’t give up. Otherwise, you will miss the help God wants to give you.

All around the problem of suffering, God’s help is ready and waiting. Look up and find confidence: “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121). Look into God’s word where he promises, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Look back and recall how God has helped you through past challenges. Look around and find Christian friends eager to give you a hand and fold hands for you in prayer. Look ahead and see the open heaven God has in store for you through Jesus.

God promises to bring you safely through the tunnel of trouble. Trust his goodness!


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October 2018: God’s Encouraging Word … when I am tired

God’s Encouraging Word … when I am tired

Sleep experts advise getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night.  We need rest for our tired bodies to recuperate. 

Even on the most regular day, life is draining.  The work day is long and the demands are great.  The commute, getting the kids to school, work schedules, meeting deadlines, grocery shopping, getting dinner ready, children’s activities, only to get ready to do it over again the next day.  Getting older doesn’t help matters.  By the time you hit the pillow at night you may feel like a smart device that has only 2% battery life left.

But what do you do when you become tired emotionally?  It’s the exhaustion that comes from strained relationships, heated arguments and being rejected by those from whom you want acceptance.

Then there’s that inner weariness—the kind that no one else knows you have except you. The weariness that comes from the burden of sin and guilt.  It comes when you must live in the brokenness of past mistakes.  When things don’t go so well on any given day, you wonder if God is angry and out to get you.  The earthly consequences of your sins and knowledge of your guilt is…well…spiritually tiring.

God comes to you today with an encouraging word recorded in the book of Isaiah: The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.   

The LORD is the everlasting God.  He is the Creator.  He never gets tired.  He has perfect understanding; he knows what it’s like when you feel tired for any reason at all.  He promises to give strength to you when you’re tired.  The LORD God is Jesus, your Savior.  He took your sins and guilt to the cross and died for you.  It’s a fact!  Jesus took your sins and guilt away from you, buried it all in his tomb, and rose from the dead.  Your sins are forgiven.  That’s rest—rest for your soul.  Talk about strength for the weary!

And don’t forget!  It’s the LORD God who gives the blessing of physical rest too.  It’s been said that a clean conscience is a good pillow.  God gives you this clean conscience in Jesus Christ.  He also provides you with home, food, and bed to become recharged to tackle the new day with all its challenges.  So do it with all the energy and strength that Lord God gives you as his own through faith in Jesus!

 


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September 2018: God’s Encouraging Word … when I’m worried

God’s Encouraging Word … when I’m worried

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

Erma Bombeck once told about Donald.  Donald was worrying about going to school.  Here is how he expressed his anxieties: “My name is Donald.  I don’t know anything.  


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August 2018: God’s Encouraging Word … when I am frightened

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Soon, students and teachers will be headed back to the classroom. Some students will be getting on a bus for the first time, some will be away from Mom and Dad for the first time, or they are headed to a new school and a new classroom.  Many of those children will be very anxious.  The other side of that classroom door is completely unknown.  The worst could possibly happen.  They will wonder if they can even do it!


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July 2018: God’s Encouraging Word … when I am insecure

God’s Encouraging Word … when I am insecure

What is the strongest building in your neighborhood?  I’m guessing that many people have never even thought about it, but if you live in a trailer home in tornado alley or near an ocean where hurricanes can strike, you’ve probably considered that question many times.  When a tornado approaches or a hurricane, being in a building that you know is constructed to withstand the worst, provides a sense of security in the chaos of a storm. 


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June 2018: God’s Encouraging Word … when I am overwhelmed

God’s Encouraging Word … when I am overwhelmed

It’s finally summer. Plans have been made for months. The kids are out of school. Vacations are right around the corner, but rest and relaxation are the farthest thing from my mind. Do you have any idea how much I need to accomplish? My list grows by the day no matter how many things I check off. I feel like I’m swimming. I wish I could give something away, but I can’t.


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May 2018: God’s Encouraging Word … when I feel hopeless

I was staring up through the water at my dad, my uncle, and their friend. I could hear them talking and laughing. I can remember flailing my arms and legs. I tried to scream but water rushed into my lungs. I sank further and further down. I was drowning and I felt utterly hopeless.


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April 2018: God’s encouraging Word … when I deal with death

God’s encouraging Word … when I deal with death

Everyday tragedy bombards you. The world news scene is constantly flooded with horrible stories. Another bombing, another mass shooting, and another natural disaster fill your newsfeed. This sad and frustrating news isn’t just out there. It’s personal. A co-worker is diagnosed with a terminal illness. A close friend dies. You’re attending the funeral of a family member.

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