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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stress Management

March 16, 2007
Stress Management

Mark 6:49-51
But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were frightened. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid. And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished…

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Let’s see a show of hands. How many of you have heard of curbing stress and anger by counting aloud either from 1 to 10 or in reverse? Ah-huh, I see 5 gazillion731, 5 gazillion 732, 5 gazillion 733… Okay, I’d say a lot of us have heard this. Now, how many of us have tried this technique successfully? Wave real high! Hm.

Very recently I was trying to deal with lots of stress. Two extended family members had just died. And a co-worker of Jeff’s had died. And an old professor of ours had just died. And the copier at school was broken and I got to class late. And my kids were bickering when I got home. And I ran out of checks but not bills. And. And! AND! ARG!

I plopped on the bed. In my rapid breathing I said aloud, “God (inhale), what’s happening (exhale)? I know (inhale), there’s good from this (exhale). I am (inhale) blessed by you (exhale). I am (inhale) protected by you (exhale). God is (inhale) good (exhale).” Very soon I was calm and fell asleep.

Our verses particularly address the fear Jesus’ disciples had when they saw him walking on water from in a boat in windy conditions of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus’ not only commands the wind the cease, but first comforts the men with “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”

How should we take courage in stressful circumstances? I think counting to ten may not work because of the meaninglessness of the words. God’s words are powerful. The name of God himself is powerful. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Today let us use God’s words to ease our stress, to calm our nerves, to temperance our anger. Call upon his name for comfort and he command the winds.

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O help me, Lord. I am stressed and frazzled. I call upon your word to calm the troubled waters of my life. Help me to trust that you are in control. Thank you, Lord. Thank you. Amen.


May 29, 2006

“The heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him.” Job 20:27

Recently I got a different brand of trash container liners for the kitchen. The marked difference between the old and new types was that the former was opaque. The new kind was clear, and when I removed the full new bag from the container for the first time I was a little stunned. I was looking at trash for the way it really was, yucky.

Chapter 20 of the book of Job, Zophar, one of Job’s friends speaks to him in a second attempt to get Job to confess the sins that have brought on God’s wrath. Though Job was fully innocent of wrongdoing, today’s verse rings very true of the earthly consequence of sin.

“The heavens” refers to all that encompasses and that is characteristic of God. “Will reveal” provides certainty without doubt or exception. “His iniquity” personalizes the sin as that of one individual. “And” sometimes translated “then” points to the result or conclusion. “The earth” is the very world we live in. Again “will” refers to certainty. “Rise up” means to take over, and “against him” puts the iniquity right back at the individual.

Like my new type of trash bag this verse tells us that the trashy sin that we cause will be exposed for what it is. But perhaps we “dispose” of our sin so that no one will see it. We are fooling only ourselves into thinking that the sin is gone. Romans 1:28 says it best:

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderer, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

We must recognize our sins and repent. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is something we must do daily, for daily our iniquities exist. Only then can we accept Christ’s propitiation for our sin so we can appear sinless before God.

O merciful Lord, my trash bag of sin is huge. Open my eyes to see the reality of my thoughts and deeds as Roman 1:28 tells. I confess these iniquities Lord, and pray your loving kindness and guidance on me as I repent. I petition this in your son’s name, amen.