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.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our Spritual Window Pocket

First published July 28, 2008

I Corinthians 3:12-14
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.

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One of my favorite television commercials is for the Cracker Jack snack food (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwq_x9QsLzg) . This 1960’s dialog-less black and white advertisement involved a little boy with his younger companion at a beach boardwalk wanting to purchase a box of Cracker Jack. Barely able to see over the counter, the little boy empties his pockets to scrounge up enough coins to pay for his treat. The proprietor picks through the various items to collect the money. When he indicates to the boy that he is short a few cents, the boy puts a marble on the counter. Once the man is satisfied of its value, he sets a box of the anticipated snack on the counter. The little boy and girl then run off to enjoy their “candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize.”

I have always been fascinated by the items that came from the boy’s pockets including a yo-yo with unraveled string, a hanky, and a frog. Those items told a lot about the boy. He used these things often; well, maybe not the hanky! His pockets were really a window into his life. My small pocket book (purse) is a window also. I have the usual I.D., keys, various cards and photos, (very little) money, a calendar, and grooming items. More uniquely I have a collection of “Be Prepared” items such as needles and thread, Band-aids, topical antibiotic, dental floss, a pocket knife, antiseptic wipes, tissues, LED flashlight, antacid, cough drops, and ibuprofen.

What do I have in my spiritual window pocket? I surely have prayer access to God. I have his scripture, the Bible. I also have friends and spiritual leaders I can consult, along with innate abilities to help me learn and make decisions. But the big question is do I use what’s in my spiritual window pocket? Do people just see me pull them out once in a while? Do I have flashy verbal prayers? Do I volunteer at church just to be seen? Does my Bible still have that new book smell? What does my spiritual window pocket reveal?

Today let’s assess our spiritual window pocket and choose one area to actively improve for God’s glory. Get on your knees and really talk to God. Write a card to someone who needs encouragement. Crack open the word of God to read, study, and mediate. Rely on the true spiritual building materials and let our spiritual window pocket reveal the God of our salvation.

Alley Oop!

First Published July 9, 2008

When my daughter Heather helps teach basic horsemanship she assists the beginning riders onto the saddle using a mounting block or giving the boost herself. Her intertwined fingers provide strength to help “alley oop” the student to the much higher seat. As lessons progress some riders are able to mount the saddle unaided. Others can safely use the mounting block, and the rest rely on another to “alley oop” them up.

Most of us Christians came to their faith as spiritual babies, beginners if you will. And, in the course of our life we have had a combinations of helps, or “alley oops” to boost our spiritual growth. We have needed the help of Biblically appointed teachers and leaders with their intertwined fingers of wisdom and experience boosting us up. “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.” (Eph 4:11-12)

We have needed and relied upon each other for help via prayer, or sometimes of a practical nature. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.” (Romans 16:2) “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)

And we all have needed and will continue to need God’s help through his word and his spirit, as we seek to be in his will. “So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the prophets and Moses said was going to take place.” (Acts 26:22)

That covers everyone. Giving. Receiving. Both. Okay, ready? One, two, three, alley oop!

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Lord, I read in your word that I can receive help from your holy spirit, leaders and teachers, and other believers. I acknowledge and thank you for the hundreds of believers that have boosted me spiritually. Please strengthen and equip me to also be an “ally oop” to others so that all of us can grow and mature.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

June Prayer

June Prayer

Proverbs 23:18-19
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Listen, my son, and be wise and keep your heart on the right path.

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This is the time of year in which people in America think of as graduation time. School terms are ending and millions of young people are contemplating and implementing a next big step in their life. Some are making educational choices. Others are planning to enter the job force. And still others are considering both.

Meanwhile, scores of parents are seeing many years of cultivating a life come to fruition at this time. They know from their own life experiences that hard work and great rewards lay in the future. And they also know of the temptations and challenges the world can throw at them.

As three of my daughters graduate from college, another continues advanced studies while pursuing a new job, and my son plans for his future, I offer this prayer.

Dear Father in Heaven, I come before you to offer prayers for my children. I pray for their future; the decisions that they make today and the consequences they face tomorrow. I pray for abundant strength for them to weather challenges. I pray for their hearts to continue to grow in love and kindness. I pray for the people they influence, may they know my children as beacons of Christ-likeness. I pray for the people overseeing my children. I ask that they be true instruments of your precepts. I pray for my children’s zeal to never be extinguished and their courage to stand strong for your standards. Thank you deeply Lord for all of them. Be with them always. I humbly ask these things in the name of your son, Jesus, the Christ. Amen.