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But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.


-Hebrews 11:16

Like Peanut Butter and Jelly -   

This devotional was written by Leslie Snyder

 

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so. — James 3:10

 

The advertisement on the box listed the different flavors of cream cheese available for purchase. Some seemed inviting, like cinnamon and brown sugar or garlic and herb. But, my eyes remained glued to the suggestion of mixed berry and chive. Confused, I read through the list again and still, the suggestion of mixing the sweet, refreshing taste of berries with the strong, herbal flavor of chive stopped me as my stomach began to churn. Some things naturally go together. For example, peanut butter and jelly make the classic sandwich, or chocolate chip cookies and milk come together for a most delicious treat. But, mixed berry and chive cream cheese?  Who could stomach it?

 

The same is true about believers who praise the Lord with their words on Sunday morning, and then turn around and gossip about the latest news, share an indecent joke, or speak cruelly to their family members later on that week. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow understood the power of words when he said, “A torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child.”

 

James is serious about the power of our words to destroy. He even goes so far to call the tongue, “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Friends, if we want to share our faith with those around us, we must use great caution with our words. In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “You must preach the gospel at all times, and if you must, use words.”

 

By the way, remember the mixed berry and chive cream cheese? I later realized that it was my own eyes misreading the punctuation. The advertisement offered both mixed berry cream cheese and chive cream cheese. The two, like blessing and cursing, obviously did not go together.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Listen to your own words.  What do you hear more often, words of blessing that build up or words of cursing that tear down?

 

2.How can you today make a noticeable change in the way you use your words?

 

FURTHER READING:

James 3:1-12

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Life in the Fast Lane -  

 

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

 

Far too many of us live in what some people call "crisis mode living." This lifestyle is when you spend most every waking moment of almost every day trying to figure how to keep all your plates spinning and how to juggle all the balls in the air. In crisis mode you keep running, even on empty; faster and faster, project to project; deadline to deadline, school, jobs, friends, church, lessons, homework; and it just gets faster and faster.

 

Usually people who live this kind of lifestyle eventually crash. Their plates fall, and they have to pick up their lives in pieces.

 

I keep these important words close to my heart. There is a lot of wisdom and prevention in them:

 

Slow me down, Lord.

 

Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.

 

Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time.

 

Give me, amid the confusion of the day, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

 

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory.

 

Teach me the art of taking minute vacations - of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to smile at a child, to read a few lines from a good book.

 

Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values, that I may grow toward my greater destiny.

 

Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

 

Let me look upward to the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What is the message in today's devotional for you?

 

2. A friend of mine once told me, "If the devil can't make you bad, then he will make you busy." What do you think that statement means?

 

FURTHER READING:

Psalm 37:7-11

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com. 

Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California. 

More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com

Learn to Say “No”    

 

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. —Jeremiah 6:16

 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned during my journey as a Christian is summed up in two little words you’ve heard before: yes and no. Christians tend to use yes a lot, but no, not so much. I want to challenge you to say no more often so you can say yes to the things that matter most.

 

While saying no results in many personal benefits, it’s a difficult word for many Christians to utter because Christian culture values yes. We learn to say yes because we want to please others—it just seems so Christian—and we don’t want to let people down, risk others thinking less of us, or become the target of disappointment or anger.

 

Does this sound like you? Do you want people to really like you? Do you dwell on it when you learn someone is angry with you? Can you identify with the “logic” that says, “I am a Christian, I care about people, and I’m supposed to help others—so when asked I must figure out a way to say yes at all times?” If so, welcome to my club! Actually, I’m trying to cancel my membership, and after many years of fighting, I’m almost out of the club. I think my speech goes something like this: “Hi. I’m Doug, and I’m addicted to busyness, people-pleasing, saying yes, and the belief that my busyness is a unique season that will soon end.” Okay, that’s me in pursuit of health and recovery. So, if this is you too, I know how difficult it is to read this and even consider adding more no’s to your responses.

 

Think about it: Is busyness really getting you what you want—or need? In the end, busyness makes us feel important but cripples our relationships. Busyness feeds our egos but ultimately starves our souls. Busyness fills our calendars but fractures our families. And busyness props up our images but shrinks our hearts.

 

Is there a gnawing sense in your gut that you can’t keep up the pace—and in your heart-of-hearts you don’t want to? Good! Take a deep breath, and let’s go after some hope. You may be at a crossroads in your life and learning to say no is exactly what you need. You need to learn to say no to the many good things and wonderful people so you’ll have space to say yes to God, yes to the important people in your life, yes to what matters most. So I want to challenge you now: In today’s Scripture, we read, “ask where the good way is, and walk in it…” In this case, the “good way” is saying no—have the courage to walk in it and find rest for your soul.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Do you say no enough? Why or why not?

 

2. What can you say no to this week that will enable you to say yes to something that matters most?

 

FURTHER READING:

1 Corinthians 6:12

DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California. 

More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com

FLUTTERING SPIRIT -  

BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN

"And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings" (Ezek. 1:25).


That is the letting down of the wings? People so often say, "How do you get the voice of the Lord?" Here is the secret. They heard the voice when they stood and let down their wings.

We have seen a bird with fluttering wings; though standing still, its wings are fluttering. But here we are told they heard the voice when they stood and had let down their wings.

Do we not sometimes kneel or sit before the Lord and yet feel conscious of a fluttering of our spirits? Not a real stillness in His presence.

A dear one told me several days ago of a certain thing she prayed about, "But," said she, "I did not wait until the answer came."

She did not get still enough to hear Him speak, but went away and followed her own thought in the matter. And the result proved disastrous and she had to retrace her steps.

Oh, how much energy is wasted! How much time is lost by not letting down the wings of our spirit and getting very quiet before Him! Oh, the calm, the rest, the peace which come as we wait In His presence until we hear from Him!

Then, ah then, we can go like lightning, and turn not as we go but go straight forward whithersoever the Spirit goes. (Ezek. 1:1, 20)

"Be still! Just now be still! 

Something thy soul hath never heard, 

Something unknown to any song of bird, 

Something unknown to any wind, or wave, or star, 

A message from the Fatherland afar, 

That with sweet joy the homesick soul shall thrill, 

Cometh to thee if thou canst but be still.


"Be still! Just now be still! 

There comes a presence very mild and sweet; 

White are the sandals of His noiseless feet. 

It is the Comforter whom Jesus sent 

To teach thee what the words He uttered meant. 

The willing, waiting spirit, He doth fill. 

If thou would'st hear His message, 

Dear soul, be still!"


The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.

- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/fluttering-spirit#sthash.dL9lHUqe.dpuf

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

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