Timeless Significance For Every Day
Devotions, Poems & Short Stories
Devotions, Poems & Short Stories
YOU SHALL NOT DIE by Susan Marlene
Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear you shall not die.” So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace.
Judges 7:23 – 24a
Dark times were upon Israel. If one strong enemy were not enough, more were added to impoverish the land and the people of God. How many sins does it take to tip the hand of this loving and protective Yahweh? How many offenses and desertions does it require to bring such a wave of punishment and lack? Indeed, enough consequences arrived to turn the hearts willing to wickedly abandon the Lord of Hosts. When He grants such permission—allowing discipline to come from enemies—His great love still probes for reconciliation for any who will receive Him. He knows when hearts are like hard-packed ground, impenetrable against any softer approach. Sometimes people will not accept the spiritual seed or watering that would create a garden of delight, in both thought and attitude, generating life and a spirit of generous love.
Gideon spilled out questions when the Angel of the Lord spoke to him—"why then did all this happen, where are all His miracles . . .” and an accusation, “But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
Sounds like Gideon’s relationship with Yahweh was as distant as Adam’s when he spouted off, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Yahweh’s response was different toward the blame and lack of reverence spoken by both of these men. Why? Maybe because He sees into our hearts? Maybe because His focus across time and individual lives is far greater than we can imagine, even on a good day. Yahweh knew Gideon better than he knew himself, “. . . you mighty man of valor!” As well as, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.”
This man, hidden in the winepress so that the Midianites wouldn’t see his attempt at threshing wheat, didn’t exactly thank the Angle of the Lord. He countered this perception with, “O my Lord, how can I . . . my clan is the weakest . . . I am the least in my father’s house.” More conversation continued before the man brought a precious prepared goat with bread that he placed on a rock and soaked in broth. The Angel of the Lord placed His staff on the offering, and fire rose out of the rock consuming the meat and bread. A miracle and accepted offering that turned Gideon’s doubting and troubling thoughts to the realization that the Angel of Lord was before him and he’d not died!
I tried to imagine the peace that flooded Gideon at the moment that the Lord spoke to him, “Peace be with you . . . do not fear . . . you shall not die.” Gideon, with a grateful heart, built an alter called The-Lord-Is-Peace. There it is—actual relationship—and not just knowing about-heard about religious trappings. Gideon would never be the same. Enemies would be met differently and with confidence with the knowledge that he wasn’t alone, even though the direction that the Lord gave him wouldn’t make it to Gideon’s common-sense list. I’m thinking about three hundred men armed with trumpets and pitchers who were obedient while the Lord scattered their enemy with fear and confusion.
Judges 7:19 – 22
The peace that the Lord gave to Gideon that day began the undoing of what Israel had suffered. The constant theft and bullying they received from Midianites, Amalekites, and the people of the East wore them down spirit, soul, and body. Their existence also lacked peace because they’d done evil. Their hearts had abandoned the God of their fathers. They were encouraged to “. . . not fear the gods of the Amorites . . .” but they’d “. . . not listened to and obeyed . . .” Him. It’s so easy to drift away from what and who we know is good. Entertainment, personal goals, and others can be so diverting. I’m so grateful for Gideon’s gigantic leap of gratitude and faith in the One who matters more than breath. His successes have built into mine, but my focus can, should, and is remaining on Father because relationship with Him is unlike and more excellent than any other. He brings peace to the weary soul. He alone is our all in all!
Let us remember all He has done and appreciate His peace and presence. Amen
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the Devil, prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
There's a sweet spot in human relations. It is to be found at the point where what one person wants overlaps with what the other wants. This sweet spot isn't a fixed zone. It shifts and moves subtly. Quote from Patrick Andrews, the barefoot lawyer and Co-founder of Human Organizing Co.
I don’t know anything about Mr. Patrick Andrews, but I do agree with his quote that the sweet spot can shift and move subtly. I also believe that fixed attitudes are pretty constant, like the North Star, unless great effort is exerted to change. Mr. Andrews did a study concerning words about “getting people to do something,” and the list included many negative examples: force, trick, manipulate, flatter, wheedle, and on and on. He quit counting at 70 words. Observation tells me that the old Devil uses various negative advantage points over people. He uses accusation, criticism, and doubt. Oh, yes, plenty of doubt!
All that being said, I realize how we need to intentionally choose the right attitude and sweet spot with individuals and the Lord. My insides hop to with joy and adulation when I focus on making such alliances! Whoop, whoop, do you feel it too? First, I think it is essential to reflect on what I want that overlaps with what God wants. Hmmm, what a fun and uplifting consideration. Next, what does God want that I should desire? Oh, I’d rather focus on what I already have in common with the Lord, my Anchor, but how much do I want to know Him? Agree with Him? How can anyone even begin wanting the right attitudes and desires?
I hope that we don’t have even one sweet spot with Old Slew Foot, but I hardly doubt that. Who is the Devil? Our adversary, the one who lays traps and uses tricks to lure us away from THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. Considering what the Devil wants: division, hate, strife, unforgiveness, accusations, and control, for starters, do I see any common ‘wants’ in any of my relationships? Do we want to question another man’s walk? Jesus said, “. . . what is that to you? You follow Me!” Do we want to coddle unforgiveness, self-centered anger, fear, and the like? At the mention of someone’s name, are we blurting out our offenses? Just like Old Slew Foot would? Ouch! Ooch, ouch! Like he tries to do with us?
Sweet spot—The part of a surface that gives the most power for the least
effort. . .Cambridge Dictionary
Personally, ‘give the most power for the least effort’ I wish to reserve for the Author & Finisher of my Faith and not the Devil. I see battle lines drawn. Effort and self-control on my part will be required. Some spiritual sweat, focus, and surrendering of attitudes and offenses that I’ve thought were not so bad or that I have every reason to hold.
I want my sweet spot overlapping to be with my Lord of Lords and the Light of the World. I desire a clean heart and a renewed and right spirit within me. I don’t want to overlap with Old Slew Foot, who would have me bound in hurt, damage, and looking everywhere for something or someone to be offended at. To criticize and find fault with. So because I want to resemble my Redeemer, I will actively seek the “or” of the title of this devotion. The Devil's Sweet Spot, Or . . .The Lord of Lord’s Sweet Spot. This girl wants all the beauty the Father has to grant in my inward parts!
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer . . .Romans 12:9 - 12
FRESH BEGINNINGS by Susan Marlene
“Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
Matthew 27:63 & 65 – 66
The sun had already risen that early morn at the beginning of the week on the third day. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, made their way to the tomb to bring spices that they might anoint their precious Jesus. Who would roll away the rock for them? Surprise shook awake any lingering slumber and shoved aside grief with a fresh desire to run. The guards were not there. The huge rock—rolled aside, allowing free entrance. Astonishment compelled their feet inside the tomb.
“Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen!” The young man clothed in a long white robe—sitting on the right side—seemed to be waiting for their arrival to offer a message bursting with fresh beginnings. A message and welcome they’d not expected.
How so like our Lord, to show His power when the world expects weakness. To create wondrous blessings out of our deepest griefs. To bring hope and joy when the world is shrouded in darkness and despair.
His Word is alive and active, rich and robust—creative. Relationship with Him dissolves religious trappings and allows the new life—the real-life—to burst forth in our thoughts, attitudes, and spirit. Like springtime beauty, we can be His garden of delight as we worship and bask in His presence through it all.
Let’s pray… Lord, I ask that I will become more and more a fragrant garden of worship and gratitude for Your sweet grace and un-measurable love. You are with me every moment of every day. I’m not alone because You—wonderful Father—are in my heart to stay.
Mark 16:1 & Mark 16:6
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God.
Psalms 146:5, NKJV
When? When? That oft-repeated question from my lips sometimes runs ahead of my searching the Word or waiting for His voice in the sweet quiet of His loving presence. Sometimes my mind darts to and fro, searching for data to fill the emptiness that should fill up with Father’s comfort and wisdom. But oh, waiting is not my favorite thing—to be in the middle of—to initiate. I want instant answers. Instant confirmation. Instant . . . instant . . . instant this instance!
What a gift it is to wait. Paul tells us in Acts 13:17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Oh, for eyes to see Him in the middle of my trials. And especially in the beginning and the ending of difficulties that can be rough with distractions so bitter with hurt and heart-wrenching upheaval.
Have you thought of His exalting you in the tribulation? I admit that I’ve viewed it as His lifting me when the drudgery is over, and I’m feeling that the testing is somewhat complete for this cycle of life. But Paul reveals in this Holy Spirit inspired Word of encouragement that first He exalted and then with uplifted arm He brought them out. And He is still doing so in a magnitude that we so often don’t realize or appreciate.
King David, the messed-up warrior and yet the man after God’s own heart, is an ancestor of the Man Jesus who preached to you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him, everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Acts 13:38 – 39 Believe—believe what? Who is Jesus? Who is He to me? Hebrews 1:1 - 3 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high . . . So, that’s some of what is said in scripture. Along with that, He is my brother, friend, Author & Finisher of my Faith, and your faith if you chose to believe Him. He is the Son of God, heir of all things, maker of the worlds, and upholder of all things by His word . . . I’m stunned. How could such as I be so favored, treasured, provided for, and blessed in ways I have yet to discover? But as I step out on this willing journey, full of danger, while He is my protector, darkness, while He is my light, I feel a budding, blooming hope that you will dance along with me to His glorious reward and the absolute delight of His Presence.
May our precious Lord and King be blessed with our loyalty and joy and delight today and forevermore! Amen
Hope synonyms: confidence, expectation, optimism, anticipation, courage.
Please reread Psalms 146:5
January 06th, 2021
PSALM 1: 1 – 3
Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers).
But his delight is in the law of the Lord.
And His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].
SANDPAPER a Devotion by Susan Marlene
People and situations may rub you raw—distracting your focus off of purposeful accomplishments. But when the Lord polishes what has been roughened by friction, His reflection shines love and grace to those in need of kindness and those invested in negativity. Susan Marlene, November 2020
Overcomers draw us to their “how”. They encourage because they have been inspired and offer it freely. Is it a matter of vision that super strong individuals are born with that makes all the difference? When they face awful, challenging, and oppressive obstacles which seemingly become stepping stones—is that really fair? Do the rest of us only stop-short with a mix of jealousy and envy as we watch those gifted few arise from the ash heaps? Time after trying times.
Society would have us believe that we are damaged and hindered from the best and brightest that life has to offer. That may be true. We have all been hurt and wounded by life and relationships, but it doesn’t stop there unless you chose it to be so. I may have—you may have—plenty of reasons for stewing in a melting pot of self-pity. But if we open-up and look for a different scenario, well, there are too many beautiful examples to clap our focus on.
Nick Vujicic is a man with a golden life. He has it all, and he is a motivational speaker—one that I’d love to hear and one that you probably would too. This is his quote, “It’s a lie to think you’re not good enough. It’s a lie to think you’re not worth anything.” Taken from Nick Vujicic, Quotes About Life, which you may find at yourmotivationalguru.com.
You could easily say that Nick had a difficult childhood. He was born without limbs. You can well imagine the struggles and obstacles he has faced—no doubt about it. Yet, I saw how he brought his audience to tears. (I actually didn’t hear his talk. I only saw how they responded to him as they were leaving. He was the one comforting them.) He is a man who found that special something that is offered to us all in the face of Jesus Christ.
Jesus makes all life purposeful and exquisite and worth the trying people who disagree and the troubles that are unsurmountable. Only unsurmountable, when you don't have those spiritual and emotional hind’s feet to leap over the rocky crags of difficulty. Submitting our hearts to Jesus to follow Him each day is the element that eludes the strongest of us who demand to do it our way. Our timing. Our fickle last-minute changes.
Jesus said, My yoke is easy, my burden is light. He also claimed that He was the way, the truth, and the light.
I want to be faithful like the ten virgins who when the bridegroom arrived they were ready and had their oil in their lamps. Matthew 25:1-13. How about you?
FIRE & SOAP by Susan Marlene
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap
Like fire, like soap? Strange and unique comparisons that is certain. Yet, when the edge of the veil between Heaven and earth is lifted, a revelation of the Savior’s character is provided. He would come to the Jews, and His arrival would be startling…uncomfortable.
He’d not come to be flattered or patronized. Purity upended the recklessly undisciplined wondering hearts of His chosen ones. He couldn’t be ignored. What was He after? He would purge the sons of Levi, like gold and silver. Quite unpleasant dealings for the sons of Levi, but the results would bring an offering in righteousness. He would come near them for judgment. His wittiness against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, exploiters of wages, and widows and orphans would be swift.
How can a heart deliver so much, love the unlovable so deeply, and be tireless in their service? Especially when He is rejected, unimportant, and not believed in by multitudes who refuse His grace.
He is God. He is man. His ways are above our ways. Embrace His offering of Himself with jubilant praise. No one could love you better, provide for your triumphant entrance through Heaven’s gates, and rejoice in your talents and personality more. I love the fact that He venerated us so much that He provided a free way to paradise and abundant life—for eternity. He paid the price. He adores us and offers everything of value on the whim that we might nod His way and take His hand. Be His bride.
Father, may our hearts receive all of Jesus's grace and love that we may share Him with others. May we allow His refining fire to separate the dross and purify us like with silver and gold. May we allow His launderers’ soap to make us sparkle in His light and smell like kingdom kids. Amen
Challenge Show Me Your Ways-Teach Me Your Paths by Guest Blogger-- Marti Holcomb
Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.
Isaiah 55: 8-9
8. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
9.“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
God Asks You: For 1 week – every day - 2 times a day –
PRAY THIS TO GOD:
Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.
Use the chart starting with the day you begin on. Put a
Mark each time you say it “that day” so you know you did it.
Start with 2 per day – BUT – you can do as many as you want ! Increase
brings increased harvest to you. When you ask God to: Show you His ways and teach you His paths – EXPECT Him to help you to see, help you to hear, and help you to receive what He shows you, tells you, and gives you!!
This exercise is a doorway into the “The Paths of the Lord”
~~ The Way to Walk beside Him ~~
Marti Holcomb July 2020
I wish to thank my guest blogger and precious friend, Marti Holcomb, for sharing another familiar, simple, and powerful way to connect with
Love you, Marti!
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting that I may commission him.” Deuteronomy 31:14a NASB
Anticipation, a touch of nerves, and possibly grief collided inside Moses and Joshua as they responded to the Lord’s direction, ‘present yourselves at the tent of meeting” This was the day that leadership would pass to a younger man. Because of the day Moses disappointed the Lord when the people’s continuous murmuring and unrighteous attitudes pushed hard, and Moses responded by breaking faith with Elohim in their midst, near the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin. Moses hadn’t treated the Lord as holy in Israel’s presence.1 Today Moses would gracefully relinquish his responsibility of leading God’s people to the promised land.
As they stood waiting the Lord appeared in a pillar of cloud—in the tented doorway. I can imagine my body trembling in His presence. Did they feel the same? What did Joshua expect the Lord to say? Maybe something like, you’ll be a great leader. The people will follow what I tell you, and they will build a great nation in the promised land. The land Israel had pursued for forty years.
Instead—they heard the Lord speak of Moses’s death and that Israel would arise and play the harlot with strange gods. Israel would forsake Him and break covenant with Him. This meeting and transferring of leadership sounded less and less like Joshua being commissioned to lead God’s people into the bountiful land chosen by the Creator for His special beloved people. Yet the Lord saw ahead, past their spurning His provision, love, and agreements. Past their unfaithfulness and greed. Moses was told to write a song that would be remembered by the children of Israel as a testimony against them.2 And a long song it was.
Finally, Joshua, the son of Num, is told encouragements that we and probably he had hoped for. Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.3 Those last five words enriched his spirit for what would come! Receiving God’s promise would not be easy. If Joshua hadn’t been of excellent spirit, I’m sure he would have escaped through the tent’s rear flap. Away from the awful disappointments, pain, and betrayal revealed to him about the people he’d lead into the promised land.
Maybe you’ve been working hard for the Lord, for those you love. You’ve been waiting for the clouds to break and shed some light. Perhaps the weight of expectation vs. experience is colliding and teasing you to go the easier path. I used to think that God’s plan brought ease and obvious blessings as I journeyed. Taking God’s promised land was not an arrival of a finished destination for Israel, but a new beginning. One paved with trials because of their own desires for the gift and not the Giver. We do suffer for the faults and failures of others, but the good news is—we don’t travel the path in our own strength. It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Deuteronomy 31:8
Funny, we may think that we need to be the heavy-lifters in our God-given journey. But scripture doesn’t agree! Time and time again, the Lord clears the way before us so that we may boldly follow with amazement as His power, love, and ability to accomplish His promises prove true each time! May we ask Him for the desire to desire Him more fully in our lives. What a blessing to glorify His name!
1 Deuteronomy 32:51
2 Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:1 -43
3 Commissioning of Joshua, Deuteronomy 31:23
What path will you choose?
A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.
Pride. Pride can be a sneaky gremlin working mayhem in circumstances and perceptions about our Christian journey. Everything and everyone affects how we grow in the knowledge of the Lord on High. Is He the frighteningly righteous King of Kings, High Priest, or soothing Everlasting Father? And our reactions to calamity are not always predictable. Can you imagine Satan quivering with anticipation, watching intently to observe how his interference and chaos will turn the would-be follower? Or even the seasoned prayer warrior who has been allowed enough success—without much opposition—so that he or she can trip over a bit of pride?
Why did I mention a mogwai (gremlin)—an evil creature from a movie I’d seen in the 1980s. That creature multiplied—bringing havoc and destruction—in nightmarish speed. Sometimes, distractions or limited understanding can look cute and acceptable, like that pet mogwai. We don’t know the cost of embracing minimal focus and relationship with the Lord, so we ride on fluff. Like I rode on fluff. When I’d started following Jesus, someone complimented me, “You could be a pastor’s wife.” I agreed. Now I laugh. Being a pastor or pastor’s wife is not for the faint of heart.
Joseph’s story from Genesis shows the enduring loyalty and trust needed to purge pride from making its disastrous mark on God-given purpose. Joseph didn’t know why or how long he would have to endure prison. This was a day after day, tough—mundane existence, and Joseph didn’t crumble under its monotony. When God opened that restraining door, He did so quickly and richly rewarded Joseph’s patience. Such trying times benefited him and made Joseph a man of God. He became wise and powerful because Joseph relied on the Lord—his obedience allowed remarkable accomplishments, that saved countless lives. Joseph embraced this amazing perception concerning his brothers’ betrayal, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
Will you and I see such amazing results happen when we’re faithful to our Savior? If we are patient under fire? Maybe and maybe not. In one of Hannah Whitehall Smith’s books, she shares a similar thought—If God made you a potato, He made you a potato, and you should rejoice in that. I delight in the times that I followed His lead cheerfully and patiently. My regrets are the whining and pleading for change. I know more fully than ever that, We are the clay, and Thou our potter; And all of us are the work of Thy hand. Isaiah 64:8b Our Lord’s results fly in the face of Satan’s pride and deceit, bringing prosperity of spirit and grace to those of even humble circumstances as their eyes are fixed on the Door. Abba Father our Living Water and King of Kings.
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”. . . Therefore, I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Corinthians 12:9-10
Writing devotions puts me in our Father's presence. My heart, mind, and spirit are focused on Him.