Hiatus

Dear Reader,

I wish that the “Hiatus” title was a clever introduction to a devotion, but at this time I need to put the devotion writing on pause. I do not mean to quit permanently and hope to return to daily writing in the future.

Thank you for sharing in scripture study with me! I do still plan to continue study on my own but won’t be posting for a while. At this time, I need every spare minute of the day I can gather to use for other purposes.

Jesus bless you! Thanks so much for reading. Stay in the Word and keep writing!

Little Manna author

Baby God

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:29-33

We know the scene well: a quaint stable housing a few sheep, a gentle cow, a tired donkey and of course, baby Jesus. Jesus is a baby, sweet and little; he is the King come to earth! Perhaps the little coos and grins associated with a tiny infant are some of the reasons Christmas feels so charming and beloved among Christians.

How often, though, do we look at the babe in the manger and simply say, “God.” Because that’s not just a perfect little human with a majestic future before him, folks. That baby is God! God who is, who was, and who will be. God, the creator of the universe! God, the almighty Lord. God, who humbled himself so greatly that he became one of us in our most helpless and weak state. The Lord of the universe had to learn how to crawl! He relied on his mother for nourishment, he spit up, he cried, he slowly took his first steps, he learned how to speak. God became a baby.

And I cannot think of a more powerful and yet beautiful truth: that the One who created all life became the humblest of humans to save his own people who had betrayed him and brought on a messed up world. This is not made up! No one would ever craft a story where the superhero takes on the most lowly of states to save people. But that is the power and love of our God. It is so real, and so loving. He did it for you, and me.

 

Comfort from Courage

Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!” Joshua 1:16-18

As Israel’s new leader, Joshua must have been excited, nervous, and anxious. Moses was dead. Nations needed to be conquered. The promise land was still awaiting. The fate of millions of people now belonged to his leadership. Joshua was mighty; he was ready to battle and lead his people to victory. But leading Israel had to have been a daunting task.

God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous. He promised Joshua his presence and guidance; Joshua would never be alone. He also provisioned Joshua with the loyalty of a great number of soldiers from three of Israel’s tribes. These men were smart, loyal, and fierce. They trusted in God and trusted in Joshua, offering him their full support, even to the death.

With the support not only of Israel’s finest soldiers but of the Lord himself, the One who parted the seas and drowned charioteers and blazed ahead of his people as a pillar of fire, Joshua must have found great comfort. With God with him, how could he fail? The Lord stayed with him; the Lord was his strength and his courage.

God is our strength and courage, too, just as he was for the leader of Israel.

Not Bound by Mineral Rights

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11

In the oil-rich parts of our country, wealth is often determined by mineral rights; that is, by owning the rights to the resources below the land. If someone owns a fair amount of acreage, large pay checks result from any oil company who drills for liquid gold on that person’s land. This person is enriched. Everyone wants to have mineral rights, to have a chance for riches.

We all crave riches. With so much money, we could eliminate our debt or aid a sick family member with ridiculously high hospital bills or send our children to the finest schools and universities. It’s something we dream about. If only it could happen.

God does bless us with finances and the earthly things we need to survive, like food, relationships, clothes, and jobs. Most importantly, he blesses us with a Savior who is leading us to eternal victory. Through Christ, we are enriched in every way. We are not bound by the wanting of mineral rights. In Christ, we will not want. He cares for our every need – emotionally, physically, and spiritually! And when he blesses us so deeply, we cannot help but share our gifts with others.

His Presence

…Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. John 12:28-29

The people of Israel were craving a king – someone with strength and power to deliver them from earthly political turmoil. But Jesus was the king they weren’t expecting. We would deliver them from eternal turmoil.

Even God the Father spoke as a voice from heaven for all the people present to hear, and still the people did not understand who Jesus was. “It was just thunder, or maybe an angel.”

It’s easy to criticize the people of Israel for seeming so oblivious. Yet, we too ignore God or fail to recognize or appreciate his power and presence among us. We are quick to judge, but we need the King, too. He came two thousand years ago, enduring torturous pain on our behalf. And he will return again to draw all believers to himself. And in the meantime, he blesses us with his Word, his gifts of baptism and holy communion, and prayer so that we can talk to him and be blessed with his presence, right here and now.

It is for our benefit, not his.

Salvation out of Sorrow

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

We all feel bad at times. Guilt can envelop all other thoughts. “I shouldn’t have done that; I was supposed to do this.”

God has given each of us a conscience. It’s the reason we know when we’re doing something wrong and it reminds us that we are far from perfect. When we fall short, we feel bad. We are sorrowful.

But guilt isn’t the end. It drives a repentant heart to confess before God all wrongdoing, and to ask for forgiveness. God will forgive us; he always does. And he promises salvation to all his children. It’s kind of an interesting thought: sorrow leads to salvation! Praise God!

Sweet Words

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Words can go a long way. A fine compliment, an earnest thank you, a sincere apology, a thoughtful encouragement… these gracious words can do a world of wonder for someone’s wellbeing.

King Solomon reminds us of that through the simple words of his wise proverb. Speaking is easy, and sharing some kind words doesn’t take long at all. It brings sweet joy to the recipient.

We all need encouragement. Since none of us are perfect, it helps to have a good chunk of grace thrown our way as we do our best to work, live, and have relationships. Know that polite comments and kind compliments are very helpful. And remember that Jesus offers the best grace of all. It’s sweet!

Timidity? Nope!

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

When was the last time you witnessed to someone? Maybe it was just yesterday or last month. Or, are you racking your brain, trying to think of a specific time? That’s pretty normal.

We are nervous about speaking out about Jesus and faith. It makes us uncomfortable. What if we offend someone, or say something wrong? What if we come off as a complete buffoon? Evangelism is not a walk in the park for most of us.

But Paul reminds us that God gives us a powerful spirit: not one that leaves us timid, but one that fills us with love, strength, and self-discipline. You know, it’s the desire to tell your grieving coworker that life is more than downfalls and disappointments, that there is a greater truth that uplifts and saves. Jesus’ Gospel is powerful. It saves and strengthens. It’s hard to hold in! Ask God for boldness, and remember than he has already blessed you with a strong spirit. Don’t hold back; let it out!

 

 

A Good Life on Earth

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when life seems to be going really well I wonder if all the good things are distracting me from keeping life’s focus on Jesus and furthering his mission. You know, things like a birth in the family, a new house, better pay, nice car, succeeding at your job, and so on… can these blessings also be distractions?

I suppose they could be, at some point. When life’s “good things” start taking so much precedence in life that Jesus and church and thinking of others and prayer get pushed in the old dusty closet or even forgotten, it may be time to reflect on things.

But Ecclesiastes 5 reminded me today that it’s ok for life to be going well. This is a gift from God! Praise him and rejoice in the blessings. Thank him; he is caring and helpful. When life is going swell, just say “thank you” and enjoy it!

The Reality of False Gods

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. Psalm 16:4

King David knew the uselessness of seeking meaning, security, and identity in anything other than the Lord God. We too know that the Lord is our strength and our salvation and in him alone is found our true meaning and value. Unfortunately, at some point or another, we have all failed to remember this.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan performs a clever skit about guilty pleasures that he simply labels “McDonalds.” Whether we delight too much in a certain TV show or become enveloped in celebrity gossip or go for our favorite café latte umpteen times a week, “it’s all McDonalds.” It’s all stuff that feels good going in but leaves us empty and dissatisfied.

David understood this. He knew that false gods only bring about suffering. Money and alcohol and Netflix will never be enough to satisfy our souls and give our life true meaning, identity, and security. Only Jesus can do that. He has done it, when he defeated sin, death, and the devil on the cross. When you need something, go to Jesus. He’ll never let you down.