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Seasonal and Holiday Devotion Readings
Something for those special times of the year
Devotional readings for Easter, Spring and Fall, every season and holiday, every special event; that's what you'll find on this page. (Except Christmas - they spilled over onto another page)
You can use them in your daily quiet time or for your meeting or small group. Whatever the need, I pray these short musings will help you grow closer to Christ.
- Devotion Sign Up
Devotions like these are sent twice a month to folks who request them.
- Devotions Influenced by Animals
Animals can teach us a lot about our relationship with God. This page offers short readings with lessons from God's humbler creations.
- Devotional Readings from the New Testament
How often do you spend time considering your relationship with Jesus Christ? How many times a week do you listen for His voice and consider His plan for you? Use these devotions to help!
Jesus Said . . . "Be Mine"
A Valentine's Day Devotion
Valentine's Day holds mixed emotions for many. There's a lot of pressure on women to find the right man or be sexy today. I know that some of you who read this are having a great day and have a great relationship. I praise God with you and wish you a very Happy Valentine's Day.
However, there are probably more of you who wish this holiday didn't exist. It's you who I am primarily writing this for. I see you (or beautiful women just like you) struggling in your human relationships. Some of you are single moms, and others have husbands who aren't there for you. A few of you may be separated from your spouse, not because you don't love each other, but jobs and family situations call us to be away from the ones we love most sometimes.
Because you're reading a Christian devotion, I know that somewhere inside you are striving to be more Christ-like and find that abundant life Jesus talks about (John 10:10), but today, of all days, with all the boxes of chocolate on TV and pictures of roses on Facebook, it's hard to find.So I wanted to take a moment to remind you that no matter how much love you feel (or don't), there is one who loves you more than you can imagine. I could tell you how much, but not as well as our Lover told us Himself. Here are just a few things on the Valentine that Jesus' sends to you today . . .
I have loved you with an everlasting love
I love you as high as the heavens reaching clear to the sky
(in Psalm 36 & 57)
My love for you will last forever
(more than 50 times in the Psalms)
Do you have any idea how wide and long and high and deep my love is for you?
Nothing can keep me from loving you . . .not the heights, not the depths,not death, not life, not angels, not demons,not the present, not the future,not anything in all of creation . . .no, nothing will ever stop me from loving you.
Happy Valentine's Day . . .
More than 40 devotion readings (including a few that you'll find on this page) to help you as you grow closer to Christ.
Something Special for Good Friday!
When you read those verses from Luke, you'll read about the mood of Thursday. The excitement of Sunday was just a memory of trampled palms along the road. There were many people in the city for the Passover, and the crowds caused the usually organized city to be a bit disheveled. And if that weren't enough, the disciples were very confused. Jesus had said, "before I suffer." And then he talked about one who would betray him. He had changed the words of their very familiar and dear ritual. No, things didn't go exactly as they were accustomed in their annual celebration. But this was just the first in a series of events that would change the disciples lives forever.It was just after this meal that the story of Good Friday begins to unfold. Jesus and the disciples went out on the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane. There Jesus prayed and anguished about what He knew was about to happen. He said to God, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." It caused Him so much anxiety that He actually sweat drops of blood.
Sometime between the meal and these moments of prayer in the garden, Judas went to the priests to deliver on his promise to get them access to Jesus. The apostles had fallen asleep waiting on Him, but now, as He was praying and the disciples were sleeping, the temple guards came. Judas led the way and identified Jesus to the guards by giving Him a kiss on the cheek.Jesus was arrested and taken to the chief priest who called a special meeting of the ruling council. And it was then that the unthinkable happened.
Luke 22 says: But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.  A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him."But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said.A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them.""Man, I am not!" Peter replied.About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean."Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.Peter wept bitterly.
Peter couldn't believe that he had actually denied knowing the man that he loved like no other he'd ever known. Holy Week and especially Good Friday is a good time to consider what our fear and pride causes us to do and say. Peter was afraid of the crowds and the soldiers. There's a good chance we have a lot less to fear, yet we still may find ourselves acting like we don't know Jesus. What about you, have you denied Christ in the last week? The last month? Not just with your words, but with your actions.Good Friday is the epitome of insult and injury.
Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial were only the beginning of this day that seems to never end. In chains and spat upon, Jesus was transferred from the religious leaders to the political where He endured even more questioning. Finally, Pilate did attempt to release this man He couldn't find a reason to condemn. But the tragedy wasn't over. When Pilate asked the people who they wanted him to release, it looks as though he was sure they'd choose Jesus over a known murderer. Luke 23 sounds as if Pilate was positive the Gallillean was innocent. Three times Pilate tried to convince the crowd to release Jesus. Three times this Roman ruler told the people he couldn't find any reason to kill this innocent man. And three times the crowds yelled "crucify Him." When it was all said and done, Pilate succumbed to the pressure of the people.
A Good Friday Sermon
But what about us? How often do we give in to the pressures of the crowd and allow evil to happen? When in the past year or even month have we recognized the good, the innocent, the pure, but fear of the crowd kept us silent? Like Pilate, it's not so much what we did as what we didn't do. Pilate had the power to release Christ. He could have put out Roman guards to counter any resistance from the population and declared innocent this man that he was sure had done nothing to deserve death. But Pilate chose to take the easy way out . . . and more than 2000 years later, with much less opposition . . . it seems we often choose to take the easy way out.So Jesus was taken and stripped until He was nearly naked. The soldiers' goal was humiliation and pain. The stones at the end of the leather straps they used to beat Him, took Him very close to death, and there's a good chance even His friends couldn't recognize Him.
After Jesus had endured more than you and I can possibly imagine, the nightmare continued. They took Him out to the hill, drove nails into His hands and feet and hung Him from the cross. The pain from the scars on His back, the sweat running into the open sores and the pain in His feet as He would raise Himself up to be able to breathe would have been unbearable. And yet in the midst of it, Jesus said, "Father Forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."Right there, as Jesus suffered the most painful moments of His life, in a time when you and I would probably be out of our mind because of the severity of it all, Christ forgave. He loved. His purpose in walking on this earth was to help us understand the nature of God, to help make His Father real to us. His only goal had been to show to mankind the enormous heart of God. And here on the cross, his perfect sacrifice fulfilled all prophecy and God's will to make a way for us to live with Him forever. When everything was complete, Jesus said, "It is finished."Not just His death. Not even His life. No, the plan God had made thousands of years before had come to its fulfillment. Everything that needed done was now complete. Nothing more was needed.That's what Jesus really meant.
So often we try to find salvation on our own. We think it's something we have to do. Throughout scripture and ever since Christ completed God's plan, humans ask, what must I do to be saved? How can I live forever? The answer to that question is this simple statement that Jesus made on the cross nearly 2000 years ago, "It is finished."The Friday before Easter is only "good" Friday if you believe that "it is finished." Otherwise, Jesus' death was the greatest tragedy known to mankind. This innocent man who came only to love and give, this perfect human who walked on the earth only to show us the wonderful love of God finished it. What God started with the commandments that man can only sometimes obey, Jesus completed with perfect obedience to the Father even to His death. The standard God set with the sacrifice of a perfect lamb was brought to fulfillment with the sacrifice of His own Son, the One John called "the Lamb of God."
There's nothing left for us to do but believe, trust and live like we are eternally grateful for this beautiful gift.Good Friday is a night for us to look at our life. Have we betrayed or denied Christ? Have we bowed to popular opinion and allowed Christ to be belittled or ridiculed while we stand by? If you have, tonight these words are for you, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."If you've always thought you have to be good enough, if you've always tried to do something to win God's approval, Good Friday is your night to understand "It is finished". Everything you need to be completely right with God has been done. All that's left is for you to completely accept it, trust that God has made a way and live like you love Him. Live as though you know you can never die!
Devotions for Christmas
- Devotions for the Christmas Season
Several devotional readings written especially for the Christmas season. Use them to inspire your church leaders or your small group around the holidays.
- Advent Through the Eyes of Mary
This is the place where daily advent readings for 2014 will be posted as the season progresses.
- Advent Readings
Advent Readings are short daily devotions to help us prepare our hearts as we make our Christmas preparations. Here you'll find a little more about advent as well as links to more Advent Readings.
Spring is a Long Time in Coming
It felt like it would never come!
Spring was a long time in coming to Eastern Ohio this year. It was so late in arriving that Punxsutawney Phil took a good bit of grief over his February 2 prediction of an early end to the cold snowy season. Yesterday, when it became obvious that Spring had finally arrived, I couldn't help but think that this season's delayed advent could teach us a lot about Jesus' second coming.
Second Peter 3:9 reminds us that "God isn't slow in keeping His promise, . . . Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish . . ." But there are a lot of people who've given up or gotten complacent about the faith because they think God is being too slow. Paul warned that many would turn away because they'd grow impatient.
This Spring is a great reminder that God keeps His promises. In Genesis He told us that "as long as the earth lasts . . . the seasons . . . will never cease." Spring may not come during the third week of March every year, after all, that date was set by humans, but Spring will come. Every year when we get tired of the cold and the snow, we can hold on to the hope that warmer weather is destined to show up. The Creator of the Universe who set the times for the seasons in place has promised.
In Mark 13, Luke 17 and Matthew 24 we read Jesus' own words, His promise that He will return. And just like Punxsutawney Phil and the weatherman can't quite predict the first day of Spring, no one can begin to guess which day Christ will return. We know that today is one day closer than yesterday, and we know that we must be prepared.
It made me wonder if we live like we believe that promise. I know most people believe that Spring will eventually arrive. Even before the weather turned warmer, we started to see shorts and lighter jackets. The temperature was still in the 30's, but people were holding on to the promise that the season of resurrection and rebirth would not let them down. Even the Robins and crocuses showed their faith in the promise of Spring.
Do you have as much faith in Jesus' promise to return? He told us over and over. Some of the last words in the Bible are Jesus' promise, "I am coming soon." If we believe His words, we should be telling others about Him and living for Him so that no one misses out on eternity with Christ.
So I encourage you, each time the seasons change, to be reminded that God keeps His promises, His promises for abundant life (John 10:10), and His promise to never leave us. (Deuteronomy 31:6 & 9 and Hebrews 13:5) And He will keep His promise to come back for you. He loves you!
Photo Credit: That's my brand new tree near my drive way!
I hope this finds you enjoying the tastes of Spring we've had these past couple of weeks. Nearly everyone enjoys the Spring. The beauty of Winter is so short lived. Snow is gorgeous, but when the first car drives through it, the white becomes dirty. And for most of us the awe of that blanket of white is overcome by the dreadful cold that comes with it. No matter how lovely it looks, somehow we always know, we can always feel, that underneath it all there is darkness and dormancy.
But Spring . . . Spring holds promise. Spring offers newness and hope. Spring is God's reminder that nothing is ever hopeless.Our life is often much like the seasons. We have those days that seem so painful or stressful we don't know how we'll get through them. And most often, we dress those days up and make them look pretty. Like a layer of snow makes the Winter look less gloomy, our jokes and smiles hide what's really going on inside.
But with Christ, we have the promise of Spring. In Revelation Jesus says, "Look, I've come to make everything new!" Jesus came to put Spring into our life.It's not a coincidence that Easter always falls just after the first of the season. Easter is Jesus' guarantee of new life. Jesus died and for three days the disciples experienced the darkest days of their lives, much like the short, dismal days of Winter. But on that third day, Christ rose again. He brought life back into those eleven men who thought all hope was gone. Jesus Christ's resurrection and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost changed their lives forever.
From uneducated laborers to bold spokespersons for the Kingdom of God, the account of these men prove that everything they experienced with Jesus Christ turned their world upside down.And it's not just in the Bible. I encourage you to really talk to someone whose found real life in Jesus Christ. I'm not talking about being good or being a member of a church. Find someone who has experienced Spring in his or her life. Talk to someone who has a real relationship with our Savior.
Have You Experienced Spring in Your Life?
Even today Christ has the power to make a difference in your life. Paul called it a mystery. Everyone wishes someone could explain exactly how it's done, however, all we can attest to is that it really does happen. Those who completely give themselves to the promise that God has made and believe that Jesus' death and resurrection is all we need to make us right with God, can experience an unexplainable newness. Their life is changed forever.And that's why we do what we do. The promise of Spring is real, we can feel it in the air. The possibilities life offers when we live in Christ are just as real. We've experienced it, and we don't want you to miss it. There is a fullness of life, a hope for a future, an unexplainable contentment, a newness, because it's Spring!
A Lesson I Learned From My Golf Game
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This week on the golf course I found myself really thinking about these verses. When I golf, I get to hit the ball a lot. No, I mean A LOT! And even though we use a cart, I wind up walking between shots because I'm not really that far from the last one. But no matter where I'm hitting from, the tee, the fairway, the rough, the woods or even 6 feet from the hole, I find myself constantly looking at the flag. When I'm walking from one shot to the next, I only look at the ball long enough to know what direction I need to walk, after that my gaze goes back to the flag.
I'm guessing that the pros (and all those golfers who golf better than I) do the same thing. I'm constantly evaluating the best way to get to the green, and ultimately, the hole. I'm looking to see what's between my ball and the hole, you know, sand traps or water hazards, but my concentration is fixed on the hole. Even when it's a dogleg fairway, I want to know where the hole is. It doesn't matter that I can't see it. Even knowing that I'm still 5 strokes from really getting on the green (yes, I golf that poorly), as I plan the next shot, I have to keep my goal in view. And finally on the green, I generally walk around to my ball the long way around so I can look at the hole from every angle to determine the best way to get there in the fewest strokes possible.
As I eyed up a shot on one of the final holes this week, I wondered how our walk with Christ would be different if we approached it more like a golf game. So often we just walk from day to day and forget there is a goal before us. It's so easy to forget to "fix our eyes" on Jesus and just keep looking at the "rough" or the "hazards." Much like golf, we can't ignore the hard times, but they become much more manageable when we are focused on the author and perfecter of our faith.For example, I end up in groves of trees a lot. Sometimes I'm right at the base of one and other times there are trees all around and I can hit straight toward the hole. If I just focus on the ball and the easiest way out of the trees, I may find myself further from the hole. On the other hand when I keep my eye on the way out that will get me closer to the hole, I can set up my next shot so I have a chance to make it to the green.Compare that to the hard times in our life. Sometimes the easiest way out isn't the way that will get us closer to Christ. Often we have to take a path that seems less attractive. It may seem more difficult or full of stress, but when we're focused on Christ instead of the problem, we'll discover He opens up the path and even helps us stay in the "fairway" a bit more often than when we're focused on the problem. Even when it seems like Christ can't be seen, we need to remember He is still there. When we focus in the direction that we're sure He's in, and continue walking toward Him in faith, we will, as Hebrews says, "not grow weary or lose heart."
Freedom . . . America was built on the principle of freedom, particularly freedom of religion. Jesus made it quite clear that part of His mission here on earth was to set us free. We were created with an inherent desire to be free. And everyone knows that being a slave, even to a kind and wonderful master, is not the life humans were made for.American independence became official in 1776; however, the spirit of freedom started long before. It may have begun in 1620 when 103 individuals boarded a ship to America to have the freedom to worship God without fear of reprimand from the Church of England. More than 50 of those original passengers lost their life that first winter, but even with such great loss, when the Mayflower returned to Europe in April of 1621, those who had survived stayed in this land of freedom.
Spiritual independence began on the cross and was completed at the resurrection when Jesus defeated death and gave us a way to break free from the slavery of sin. The Apostles risked their very lives to spread the word about this freedom and Paul spent time in prison to make sure those who had never known the truth of a Creator could meet the Son who could set them free.
Today, close to 2000 years since Christ gave His all and almost 400 since those first Americans risked their lives to worship the One who proclaimed their freedom, it appears as though we may be taking both for granted. We too often forget the price that was paid for our freedoms.The Revolutionary War seems so long ago. Most Americans don't even give it a second thought anymore. However, more than 4,000 lost their life and another 6,000 were wounded. Since that time countless others have put themselves in harms way in order to defend our freedoms and allow those of us who stay at home to feel safe.
Prior to Christ's death, the nation of Israel lived with rules, sacrifices and fear. They worked hard to live up to the standard God had set. But they were slaves to the commandments, and their inability to follow them had made them slaves to Babylon, Persia and eventually Rome. They waited for a Messiah to free them from their bondage. They didn't realize their release from Roman rule was much less important than the freedom that Christ brought.
Perhaps the pilgrims understood the magnitude of what Christ's death and resurrection meant. Although others had come to America to "colonize" the new land, these believers were the first to stick it out despite incredible loss. They were willing to risk their lives to live in a place where they could be free to worship.
Do we appreciate Christ's sacrifice enough to give up everything we know just to worship Him?On Independence Day, I pray our celebration will be more than picnics and fireworks. May the fun of the day never stop us from worshiping the One who made the day possible. My prayer is that each of us will truly appreciate all of our freedoms, spiritual and physical and we will help those around us understand the great gift we have received. This year let's celebrate our freedom to worship, our freedom to work and speak, our freedom to truly live. Let's celebrate our freedom in the Son. Because when the Son sets us free, we are free indeed.
For the Fourth of July or Memorial Day
A Nation in Need of Healing . . . A People in Need of God
It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you sit on, I’m guessing you think our nation needs “healed.” Just the other day I was shoveling snow and praying. I want to know what I can do personally to help turn our country around and set it in the right direction. As I prayed, the Lord gave me just a few words . . . “If my people who are called by my name . . .”
I know the verse well, but I looked it up to make sure I didn’t forget any of it. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says: “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” As I pondered this verse and what it means to the healing of a nation, these were my thoughts.
2 Chronicles does not say that God’s people should lobby congress or protest with signs on a street corner. I’m not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing to do, but according to what God spoke through Moses, that’s not the answer.
While posting our point of view online and trying to help others see “the light” is noble and perhaps even worthwhile, there’s nothing in this directive from God asking us to persuade our fellow man to see things His way.
There are places in the Bible where God tells us to take care of the marginalized and protect the fatherless. Our Creator instructs us to love mercy and act justly. His Word gives us guidelines and boundaries. We find all kinds of life lessons and things we can do to follow His will. However, none of those provide a way to “healing our land.”
As Christians, we know that having Jesus as the center focus of our existence is the key to life abundant. We want that for our nation. Liberal or Conservative, Libertarian or Green Party, Right, Left or Moderate, it doesn’t matter which political line you follow (or choose not to), we have one common goal. We want the Sovereign Lord to step in and heal our land. I believe that as I shoveled snow this week God asked me to remind us all (even myself) that the answer to the healing of our nation, any nation, begins within His people. Not WITH His people, but WITHIN His people.
I think God is trying to tell me that I don’t need to start a revolution. The change doesn’t need to start in the government or the judicial system, the change needs to begin within me. No matter where I am in my faith, I can always humble myself more, pray more, seek God’s face more. Because of what the world defines as wicked, I might have trouble thinking I need to turn from wicked ways, but when I hold my life up against the canvas of the Life of Christ, I will find those things I need to “turn from.”
A new year has just begun. What might happen if God’s people, those who are called by the name of Jesus Christ, humbled themselves? How might we change if we prayed and chased after God in an attempt to finally see His face? What might be different in our lives if we held our lives up to the example of Jesus Christ and turned away from anything that didn’t look like Him? And the ultimate question . . . If the healing of our land is completely dependent on you and I humbling, praying, seeking and turning, how soon will our Lord hear our prayer and heal our land.