December 2- Unannounced Answers

Luke 1:8-11 The Message

It so happened that as Zechariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was paralyzed in fear.

 We have a standard joke around the Dunford house when it comes to Daddy’s keys. There have been times (many times) when I didn’t place my keys on the little designated hooks by the door and of course temporarily misplaced them. I then did the next thing and asked everybody in the house if they’ve seen my keys. The majority of the people in my house are all under 15 so they don’t have a clue where the missing keys might be. But since it is considered a common occurrence, their momma has trained them with the right response to my question. I say, “Has anyone seen my keys?” And they say, “They are probably with your wallet!” Isn’t that cruel? I do believe, contrary to the overall consensus of the clan, I am getting better!

Maybe you can relate to misplacing something and looking for it frantically. When do you normally find it? That’s right, when you quit looking for it! Out of the blue, it shows up. Take this angle on prayer and God’s plan for a moment. He knows our needs before we ever voice them, but most importantly, He knows His plan and where we fit in it. Often, when we lay our cares in His lap (I Peter 5:7), He gives us a little glimpse of what’s coming, but He knows if we see too much, we’ll get to messing with it. (And worrying about it!)

Hang on to His Word today as a source of confidence that He will make all things beautiful concerning you and yours. Think on Luke’s account of how He worked in the lives of Zechariah and Elisabeth. Nothing’s changed, especially God!

Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1 and I Peter 5

 

 

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December 1- Blamelessly Barren

 

 Luke 1:5-7 NIV

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

 Are you a person that likes to know the why? Why did this happen or why did that happen? Where did I mess up? How can I fix it? You are among friends. Most all of us are, by nature, interested in the “why.” Make no mistake about it; there are laws that govern most everything in this universe, so “cause and effect” is valid. But it seems to me that there are also events which seem to be orchestrated by a higher order of operation.

When it comes to the blessing God spoke over mankind in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:26-28), barrenness would have to be viewed as a curse. However the above passage describes Zechariah and Elizabeth as upright and blameless in the sight of the Lord, yet barren. So what’s up?

Check out this account of Jesus’ and His disciples out of the Gospel of John: Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do (John 9:1-3).

 Did you get that last part? Look instead for what God CAN do. Don’t get trapped by the blame game, and especially, don’t blame God! You know what, even if your situation or that of a loved one is a result of past mistakes, it doesn’t matter. God is a master at taking our knots and making bow ties! If you are spending time in His Word and fellowshipping with Him on a daily basis, He will let you know if He wants you to change something you are doing or if He’s going to change something you can’t. Find yourself in His presence, and listen for the direction He will always give.

Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1, John 9

November 24th- Every

Psalms 139:13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

When I was 19 years old, I worked for an inner-city sports camp called Kids Across America. Located on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, it was a paradise of forests, beautiful water, gorgeous sunsets, and a few mosquitoes. It was the perfect set-up for hours of really hard work that can help bring “light-bulb” moments.

While I spent the summer there at KAA, I was privileged to listen to a wise mind of our century, Mr. Joe White. He founded KAA along with the huge organization of camps called Kanakuk. While speaking to my group, he persuaded us to be a student of the Word of God. He shared how powerfully he had seen growth in his own life because of time spent reading God’s letter to us.

There was one big problem he seemed to face in his pursuit of time with God. Consistency. Don’t we all know what he’s talking about? As a college student, my lack of consistency had yet to rear its ugly head. After all, I didn’t have anyone else to think of but myself! But Joe knew we’d come to those moments when many others, namely the ones we love the most, might have to be the victims of the times we “drop the ball.” I was thinking of this when I looked at a pile of 4 loads of laundry on my rocking chair, unfolded. Or the list of thank you notes, not finished. Projects started, many still underway…..the requirements we are under could go on and on.

But I then MADE my mind go to the rest of that precious “gem” God gave me through Joe White: “EVERY.” He explained that every morning as he goes into the bathroom mirror, he sees a yellow post-it note with the word “every.” This reminds him to go to the main thing he knows he must do every day. He must spend time with the Author of the day. When he does this, everything else can fall in place, or he can “go with the flow” when it doesn’t! God said to Moses, “Tell Pharaoh that I AM sent you.” God is the God of today! He is not the God of yesterday and its mistakes, nor the God of tomorrow and its worries. For the rest of our “days,” may every day count as a treasure as we walk out our “life-book!”

Jennifer

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

 

November 23-To Buf’ fet (buf-it) or to Buf fet’ (bu-fay): That is the Question!

I Corinthians 9:27

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]. Amplified

My daddy took me to my first “all–you-can-eat” restaurant when I was about 11. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was breakfast, one of my very favorite meals. They had absolutely everything. Hot cakes, eggs anyway you wanted, sausage, bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, everything. You can imagine what my plate looked like! This was not a morning to be eating oatmeal, if you know what I mean. This was the real deal. My daddy even let me have my own cup of coffee. By the time I was done, I was doing the Penguin shuffle! To say I overdid it was an understatement!

Over the years I’ve gotten better about moderation when I go to buffet- style restaurants, but I have to be intentional before I walk into the establishment or I will find myself going overboard. The problem isn’t the abundance of food at my disposal; it is my human tendency to get “just a little more.” Every person on the planet has this challenge in one area or another, because we are greedy and selfish by nature. You watch a couple of two-year-olds play together, it won’t be long before somebody’s crying about a toy they want and the other won’t give it back. Doesn’t matter that there are plenty of other toys to play with; no, they have got to have that one.

But here’s the deal, this word spelled “buffet” has another meaning. When you shift the accent it means “to deal harshly or to strike.” Every one of us has a continuing challenge when it comes to ourselves; we are going to either buf’ fet (restrain) or buf fet’ (indulge). As God’s master pieces, we have His Spirit living in us giving us the ability to know where we need to be aware. So, set your heart today on this nugget of I Corinthians 9:27. Let the Lord guide you as you train your “self.”

Lorenzo

 

November 19-Words With Wisdom

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 18:21 MSG

Today I am reminded that the way I use my words can change a person’s life. Once I got really upset with one of my sisters and said something rude about how she looked. Later on my dad told me that mean words can hurt the way someone thinks about himself. So as you go through your day, watch what you say to those you love!

Nathaniel

November 18- God Breathed

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. II Timothy 3:16-17

Just came home from a long trip with my family. We had a great time, a truly relaxing time. And as is the case with long trips in a fifteen passenger van, one tends to grow weary of whirling wind and winding roads. But nothing peeks the agitation meter like finger swirls on the rear glass windows. I must admit, when I was a child, I too loved to huff on the car glass when the air was crisp and leave creative finger impressions in the dew. But as a dad desperately striving to deliver his family to their destination in one piece, the artful inspirations fail to inspire.

Interestingly enough, it is the thought of breath that captures my attention just now. Often, the simplest of things are missed or mashed under the weight of intellectual exercise. This is the case with the Word of God housed in the book known as the Bible. Though human hands and mortal hearts were used to translate them for our benefit, it is the supernatural breath of God that separates them from all other words floating about in the great expanse of all that exist. And just like childish finger doodle on a huffed on car window, God’s Word bares His finger prints. But if you and I are too busy trying to get from point A to point B, the thought of His Breath, His Word, and His Fingerprints might be more annoying than awe inspiring. And if we fail to pay attention, we will find ourselves pulling over just as fast as we can to wipe the evidence of His presence from our view.

Heaven help us!

November 16- It’s All About the Table

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

We’ve been talking about getting tripped up. I thought I would make something really clear. Just publishing a devotional or being associated with the word “ministry” doesn’t make you immune to falling. The steps we laid out yesterday are familiar to us because we use them. We need them. Thankfully, God doesn’t give us a timetable to show when His grace runs out; however, we need to fall less as time goes on because that’s growth.

You might remember that there was a step towards the end that involved another person. Empower someone else to help you stay true to your plan. You might have thought, “No way is there anyone I can tell about this area in my life. They’ll hate me! They’ll give up on me.” I think this is where couples, especially, can get really messed up. One can have something they are battling and the other doesn’t know anything about it. And the one who isn’t battling at the time (because everyone will be battling at some point) isn’t sensitive to what the other is going through. I know that wives, especially, can be very over-reactive when a husband tries to share something, so that maybe he eventually won’t want to share anything at all. (I can say that because I’m a wife!)

There is a lot of power and strength that God gives us when we are willing to share our struggle with someone else. Pray for your spouse to be that person, if you have one. Be that person for your spouse. “Little foxes” can steal the foundation of a marriage when a spouse is not entirely truthful. And if you’re not married, pray for a trustworthy friend who can “stand in the gap” for you when you’re not batting a thousand. Respond to your confidante the way you would want them to respond to you.

Any battle in this life is half won already with a partner covering your back. Be ready to share and ready to care. God can do the healing part.

Jennifer

Biblical Meditation: 1 John 1:9