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The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

-Exodus 14:14

Just What You Have -  

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden   

 

Moses answered, “What if they don’t believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. —Exodus 4:1-2

 

One day, while Moses was tending sheep, God got his attention through a burning bush. When Moses investigated, God spoke. He called Moses to return to Egypt and lead the effort to free God’s people from captivity.

 

Moses didn’t want to go.

 

Moses offered excuses why he shouldn’t be the one to go. “I can’t speak,” Moses said. “They won’t believe me,” he explained. “Please send someone else,” he pleaded.

 

God told Moses, “Hold out your staff and drop it.” The staff turned into a snake. I find it interesting that God didn’t tell Moses to run over and tear a branch off of a tree. He didn’t send him home to pick up a weapon or to a marketplace to buy a new outfit. Rather, God told Moses to use what he already had: the staff of a shepherd.

 

Many of us are like Moses. God calls and we feel inadequate or ill prepared for what He has for us. We come up with excuses (even some good ones!) and plead with God to send someone else, anyone else.

 

I can picture God shaking His head and sighing, saying, “I want you to go. Can’t you see that I have given you everything you need? Don’t you know by now that in those areas of your life where you feel weak, I am strong? Don’t be afraid. I am with you.”

 

It can be scary to answer God’s call. But, when you feel Him tugging and leading you, have faith. You can trust that He won’t give you more than you can bear. Let Him use just what you have. And with God’s strength, you can do anything.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What are ways that the Lord has gifted you? 

 

2. We read in the Scriptures, “When we are weak, He is strong.” How have you seen that in your life?

 

FURTHER READING:

Exodus 3:7-17; 1 Corinthians 12:5-10; Philippians 4:13

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/

Just a Lump of Clay -  

This devotional was written by Jim Grams

 

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. —2 Corinthians 12:10

 

Martin Luther once said, “God created the world out of nothing, and so long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.” And yet, it is so very hard to be nothing. We like to think we’re somebody and when people tell us we’re wonderful, we want to believe every word. It is human nature to look at our successes and achievements.

 

I’m not saying we should dwell on our failures or live with constant self-criticism. I’m convinced that God doesn’t want that from us. But neither does He want us proud.

 

The very best way to be a servant of the Lord is to become a lump of clay in His hands. His design for our lives is perfect – Only He can take an ordinary lump of life and make it beautiful. I’m reminded of that wonderful chorus we used to sing. “Something beautiful, something good. All my confusion, He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful out of my life.”

 

God knows just what each of us needs to shape us perfectly. To become a lump of clay in God’s hands means total surrender on our part. The words He longs to hear from us are: “Here I am Lord, break me, mold me, and make me into whatever you want.”

 

We need to ask God to remind us that we are lumps of clay. Then we need to place our lives with their flaws and needs in His strong, creative hands. He will make us useful and we will bless others with a touch of His love.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Give God your life today….all of it.  Just say, “Here I am Lord, I’m yours.”

 

2. Expect God to mold you into a vessel of beauty, honor and usefulness.

 

3. Thank God for making you what you are.

 

FURTHER READING:

1 Corinthians 1:20-25; Jeremiah 18:1-6

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/

Just Passing Through?   

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

 

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. —Psalm 33:11

 

Did you know that this year worldwide, it’s estimated that over 57 million people will die? We hear, read, or see a lot about deaths due to violence, war, disease and accidents. Yet, it amazes me to consider just how many people die annually of all causes combined. There’s just no escaping the fact that everyone dies sooner or later from one cause or another. It’s a good reminder of just how fleeting our lives are.

 

For me, time seems to be moving faster and faster the older I get and it is strange to think that I have fewer ticks of the clock left than those that have already gone by. I’m also reminded, however, that our time on earth is not the entire story. God’s story—His plan for the world—is continually unfolding. And, everyone has a role to play.

 

Make no mistake about it: you are part of God’s story! God has chosen that people be given temporary charge of the planet. Further, Christ-followers are given temporary charge as God’s ambassadors—His personal representatives to be His messengers to enlarge His place in the hearts and minds of people. With these “charges” also come responsibility and accountability. According to the Scriptures, there will be a judgment day where we will have to give an account for our stewardship.

 

In a world of over 7 billion people, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in God’s story, every person matters. You may feel sometimes like just another lemming in the crowd on the way to the end of the cliff! But, I believe that what God said to Jeremiah applies to each person, “Before you were born, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5).

 

In God’s story, you matter! We may not be able to see beyond the current chapter of how our lives play out in His story. But as Christ-followers, I do know this: our most important tasks involve doing the necessary things that lead to growth in our relationship with Jesus so that we may in ever-increasing fashion reflect Jesus in all we do. In this way, we pass on this unfolding story of what God has done and what He is doing in the world to following generations. Then, at the end of our days, we can rest assured that we have kept God’s story moving along. 

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Think of someone whose faith has been beneficial to your own faith. Sometime in the next couple of days, thank him or her for being part of God’s work in your life.

 

2. What “chapter” will you write today as part of God’s story?

 

FURTHER READING:

Psalm 90:2; Corinthians 3:18, 5:9-10,20; Hebrews 9:27;1 Corinthians 4:2

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/

Nurse Trees -  

My backyard, I’ve discovered, is filled with nurses. Not the human kind, but the tree type of nurse: sturdy, fast-growing trees that shelter a host of baby trees growing up beneath their protective branches. In our case, the nurse trees are the brushy ashe junipers that cover our property. Their tangled lower limbs form a strong barrier to any creature – primarily deer – that would gladly eat the tender shoots of oaks, elms and maples, while providing the shade and shelter from the wind that those sprouting seeds need to survive.

This protection of the nurse trees is so good, in fact, that we didn’t even know we had dozens of baby trees scattered under our mess of junipers until my husband began to clear out dead branches. The first time he discovered an oak sapling nestled next to a mature juniper, we were thrilled since we had been planning to plant oaks in our effort to restore some of the native habitat; by the time we’d identified almost a hundred more seedlings, we were stunned by what the nurse trees had facilitated.

Here’s the thing about finding those healthy seedlings, sprouts, and saplings, though: now that we’ve found them by clearing out the nurse tree’s protective arms, we have to take responsibility for the next stage of their growth. So guess who’s spending time these days constructing little wire cages to keep the deer from chomping on our future mixed-woods forest until those saplings can hold their own against predators?

Got wire crimpers?

In some ways, it’s like raising children, I’ve realized. (Except that the trees won’t be asking to get driving permits in another 15 years, thank goodness.) While they’re infants, we wrap our children in security so they can thrive. As they grow, we gradually withdraw our protection to expose them to the elements of life so they can be toughened up to prepare to stand on their own resources. Hopefully, by the time they are mature adults, they’ll be able to live well in the world.

God does the same thing with us. He is our mighty nurse tree, hiding us beneath his branches as we root deeply into the soil of faith. At some point, He will begin to clear out the protective coverings, leaving us to face adversity and challenge as we grow stronger and more capable. Finally, we find ourselves in the full sun of life, ready to do the will of our Lord. Just as trees differ in their growing stages, some of us, however, take longer to stand in faith than others. That doesn’t make any Christian less than another; it simply makes us all individuals – and individuality is what makes God’s Kingdom especially strong and beautiful. As I’ve learned from our yard, mixed-wood forests are the result of cooperation, and every tree has its role as it contributes to the health of the whole biome.

So who are you these days in your faith development? Are you a nurse tree? A sprout? A sapling? An oak? No matter where you are in your faith development now, take heart and continue to grow, for even the strongest tree in the forest begins as a seed.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2

Jan Dunlap is the author of the new suspense novel Heaven’s Gate: Archangels Book I, the bestselling memoir Saved by Gracie: How a Rough-and-tumble Rescue Dog Dragged Me Back to Health, Happiness and God (Authentic Publishing) and the acclaimed Birder Murder Mystery series (North Star Press, Inc.). She holds MA degrees in Theology and English Studies and lives in the Hill Country of Texas where she spends every clear night marveling at the stars and the brilliance of God’s creation. She is a frequent contributor to FaithHappenings.com and welcomes visitors at www.jandunlap.com and on Facebook at her two author pages BirderMurderMama and Archangels.

More of Jan Dunlap: http://www.jandunlap.com/

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