Karen's Devotions

This is a selected collection of my devotions e-published on Daily Devotions, Journey Christian Church, Irvine, California; George Bragg, Editor. To join the mailing list, email George, gbragg@cox.net.

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As a 25+ year homeschooling vet, post-cancer, math prof, mother of five, master's track and field athlete, and certificated private pilot, I have a lot to share about what God has done in my life. In 2000 I began writing devotions as something to try when it seemed like accoustic pianists were becoming an endangered species at church. I have since found great blessings from writing and sharing. God is good.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Building Up Of The Body

July 13, 2005
The Building Up Of The Body
Ephesians 4:11-16

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure to the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

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One Sunday many years ago one of my daughters appeared in the kitchen with a question. “Where’s Daddy?” By her appearance I could see that something was amiss since her dress bow wasn’t tied and she was missing a shoe. Thinking that I was needed to remedy both problems I asked, “What for?” “I need him to tie my dress.” Though a little hurt, I directed my daughter to my husband at the computer in the family room.

As she left the kitchen she added, “Mommy, can you find my shoe?” Well, at least I’m good for something I thought. I assumed that I would be asked to tie the dress bow and my husband would be needed to find the shoe. But, my daughter knew our strengths. I was very good at finding lost things in the house and my Eagle Boy Scout husband could tie wonderful looking bows. So together, each doing his appropriate task, the job got done.

This incident illustrates verses 11 and 12 of our text. Though we are to be ready at all times to the will of the Father, he has equipped each of us for special work. As a matter of fact, most of us are aware of this. The problem lies in realizing, uplifting, and praying for someone else’s work. Think about it. How often do you consider those in ministries that aren’t familiar or pleasant to you?

Today, let us focus some time in prayer for the work of saints in areas that we are not connected with. Pray for strength for the saints that faithfully clean the church building week after week. Pray for wisdom for the scientists that witnesses to their colleagues. Send an uplifting email to the church secretary who must usually be the hearer and bearer of sad news. Sunday, hug that person you don’t know, but sense they are carrying a heavy burden. “As a result … we are to grow up in all aspect into Him, …held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, cause the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

Lift Each Other Up!

January 15, 2007
Lift Each Other Up!

Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and Pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

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You know it’s coming. You’ve seen it before. You have prepared for it in the past, but that doesn’t seem to work. “IT” is the unavoidable “Post Holiday Blues” or PHB for short. For some of us PHB strikes on Christmas Day right after the presents are opened. For others like me, PHB sets in after the last red storage tub marked “Christmas Decos” is hoisted into the attic. The realization that the holidays have ended is emotionally overwhelming. In the past I looked upon the dreaded PHB like Custer’s Last Stand, knowing that I would be defeated. But this year I stumbled upon the cure. And the cure had been there all along.

While waiting in a humongous post-holiday line at a major store, I happened to hear a conversation between two men also waiting to make a purchase. The subject of their conversation, though, wasn’t about sales, electronics, the hustle and bustle, or even the weather. One man was exclaiming to the other how a mutual acquaintance had tried to get the attention of a young lady at work, and how she was ignoring the man’s advances. The two in line agreed it was terrible that the young lady shunned the man, but that it would probably not work out since she was a “church” girl and each was married.

What? I was angry that people would think this way and was ready to pray that a couple of lightning bolts headed toward these two guys! But what I did was lift up this young lady in support in prayer. Right there in line I silently asked the Lord to bless this person for her steadfastness and to give her strength to resist what is sinful.

Today’s verses address “what”, “how”, and “the result of.” Combined we see a flowing plan of “sadness to gladness.” Out of Post Holiday Blues we may have all heaven has to offer through lifting another sister or brother in Christ up in prayer.

After my silent prayer I noticed how energized I felt. I was glad to have been in that line so I could pray for that young lady. Plus, I hoped to get another opportunity to lift another’s trials to the Lord. Perhaps that will happen when I stand in line to return yet ANOTHER Christmas gift!

Thank you, Lord for making your Word meaningful to my life. I was “poor in spirit” concerning the end of the holidays, yet you showed me how to spread blessings. Today, please show me other opportunities to lift up my brothers and sisters, and in that, accomplish much.

Monday, January 01, 2007

How Embarrassing!

January 31, 2005
How Embarrassing!
Psalms 69:5-7
O God, it is thou who dost know my folly, and my wrongs are not hidden from Thee. May those who wait for thee not be ashamed through me, O lord God of hosts; May those who seek Thee not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel, because for Thy sake I have borne reproach;
Dishonor has covered my face.

All of us have at one time or another experienced an embarrassing moment. In fact, I have lots of such moments under my belt, specifically in the area of communication. Speaking from first hand experience, I could even dub myself as the queen of foot-in-mouth syndrome in that I have a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It would be very embarrassing to be shown how foolish and sometimes hurtful my words were, so I decided to search for scriptures that dealt directly with embarrassment. My New American Standard Bible does not mention the word embarrassment or various forms of the base word. However, it does say some interesting things about being ashamed.

Today’s verses are found in the book of Psalms. In 69:5 we find David admitting that God knows of his sins. He then pleads that he will not be an embarrassment to those who are seeking God (vs 6). David has earned ridicule through sin (vs 7), reemphasized throughout the chapter, particularly in verses 20-21. When people look at him, they see shame. If we expand the meaning to include David, himself, we see that he recognizes sin causes shame or embarrassment to himself as well as others.

In fact, there are serious consequences for David’s sin as seen in verse 19. So we must consider embarrassment to be an indicator of sin. Physiologically, this may involve over active sweat glands, dry mouth, increased heart rate, paralysis, or a flushed feeling. Our body’s warning lights flash to tell us that there is sin to be dealt with. If we are the guilty party, then we must come before God’s throne in prayer, acknowledge our sin, ask for forgiveness, and ask for His power to cleanse us and help us overcome this sin in the future. Also, we need to go to the person or persons that were affected by our sin and seek their forgiveness.

Embarrassment due to another’s sin puts us in a position to lovingly help that person to deal with the sin. Again, go to God in prayer asking for wisdom and direction in approaching the person. All of this seems like a lot to accomplish, but isn’t it wonderful that we have a Maker who makes it possible to fix embarrassing moments?

O Great Father God, how terribly sinful I am. I come before you asking for forgiveness for my wrongdoings and to ease the effects of my hurtful words. Thank you, gracious Lord, for making me embarrassed, giving me this as a warning of my sinfulness. Help me to turn around and start anew with strength to conquer my sin. In your Son’s name, amen.

Daddy, Daddy, Guess What!

April 13, 2005
Daddy, Daddy, Guess What!

Luke 1:46-47
And Mary said, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God, my Savior…”

One of the greatest rewards of parenting occurs when your son or daughter (no matter what age) comes to you (or calls) very excited to tell you something. When they are little, they will bound into the room like a thundering herd and with blaring fanfare announce, “Mommy, Mommy, guess what!!!” And before you can begin to guess, they will breathlessly proceed to relay every exciting detail of their discovery, conquest, award, etc. They have shared this special moment of their joy with you, and how do you feel? The fact that they have opened their hearts to you is almost as wonderful as the subject of their joy or excitement.

Usually, when they come to you they want someTHING, like money, advice, or for you to fix their “boo-boo.” It’s really great when they come to share wonderful moments, making you part of their joy. Yup, you parents out there are grinning from ear to ear!

Well, just think, do we deluge our Heavenly Father with our wants, complaints, hurts, or needs? Do we fall to our knees in prayer mostly when things aren’t going so good for us? Obviously God wants us to come to him with our prayers and petitions, but don’t you suppose that he gathers great joy from us telling him of the wonderful things in our life?

Today’s passage is at the beginning of what is known as The Magnificat, or Mary’s Song (vs. 46-55). The angel Gabriel has just told Mary that she will miraculously give birth to the Son of God. Her overwhelming excitement flows in this beautiful prayer.

Read Luke 1:46-55 as a model, then “run” to God in prayer, and tell him of the great things that are happening in your life. Tell Him about those people who have recently brought you joy. Tell Him about the positive experiences of yesterday and how you are looking forward to the next exciting thing for today. As we are entrenched in this special moment and bask in our Heavenly Father’s smile, praise Him and thank Him. Your day will be greatly enhanced, and you’ll be surprised at how much you smile at others!!!

Oh Great Father in Heaven, you love me so much. You are excited when I am excited. You are joyful when I am joyful. As we spent this special time together in prayer, may your smile dwell in my heart and radiate today in my speech and actions. In your Son’s name, amen.