More Devotions for your Meeting or Group
Readings to Inspire You
Seventy or more devotions. . . When I started this lens, it dawned on me that this page marks seventy inspirational shorts written especially for people who lead small groups and church meetings. That doesn't even include the ones I've created for moms. I'm sitting here in awe of that number!
So, I just want to take a moment to thank you for showing up here! Thanks for your encouragement (just clicking on the link jumps the daily counter up and makes me want to write more). Thanks for reading! But most of all Thanks for taking time to get closer to Jesus Christ!
You'll find these devotions below:
- The Cure for Tired
- Hope Even in the Darkest Times
- Take Possession of the Land
- Reminders all Around
- The Promised Land . . . Is It a Give or Take Proposition?
- Always Try to Make a Good Impression
The Cure for Tired
Come to me, and I will give you rest.
I thumbed through my old journals today. Tired is a recurring theme. I wish my younger self had read “My Utmost for His Highest”, but perhaps the 30-something me wasn’t mature enough to grasp the wisdom the devotional has to offer. Funny how God would let me discover my old laments on the same day I read Oswald’s Chambers advice for finding rest.
Today’s devotion reminded me to invite Christ to “re-establish my rest.” It challenged me to abandon self and run to Christ to find this phenomenon that escapes most Christians. I wonder if “Lynne of the journal” would have understood finding rest in Christ-awareness.
In 1998, my thoughts were filled with speculation and doubt. I didn’t doubt Christ; I doubted myself. At least once a week, I wrote, “I want to do what God wants, but I wonder if I am.” I knew Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.” Well, I was seeking, but I don’t remember a lot of finding!
Looking back I can tell my heart wanted to know the will of God, but instead I was doing a lot of self-examination. My devotion today called it self-awareness, which awakens self-pity, and in my case, it leads to feeling tired. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to fix me instead of being aware of how Christ was already working in me.
Oswald Chambers says, “If we try to overcome our self-awareness through any of our own commonsense methods, we will only serve to strengthen our self-awareness tremendously.” I was definitely using “commonsense methods”! Every page reveals a deep desire to serve my Heavenly Father. And every page includes a commonsense search for what I should do next. I was seeking the fix instead of seeking Him, and I missed out on the rest!
I wrote in that journal nearly 20 years ago. My life is proof Mr. Chambers words are true. Today my children are grown. Instead of keeping up with three growing girls, I amble behind an aging octogenarian. Children were easier, yet I’m much less weary because I’ve discovered the rest that comes from seeking Christ.
When I work to make myself Christ-like, I get tired. But when I simply come to Christ, get to know Him more and live in His love, I find rest.
Hope Even in the Darkest of Times
In the days when the judges ruled . . .
Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. . .
So Naomi returned to Bethlehem from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law . . .
Ruth lived with her mother-in-law and stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. . .
Naomi said to Ruth, “Boaz is a relative of ours. Go down to the threshing floor” . . . So Ruth did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. . .
and said to Boaz, “ Spread your garment over me since you are our Kinsman-Redeemer . . .”
- The Nutshell Version of the Book of Ruth
The book of Ruth is one of the most well-known and beloved stories of the Bible. It’s a story of faithfulness and love, of restoration and beauty. But this time as I read it, these familiar words became a story of HOPE.
“In the days when the judges ruled . . .” Until this week, these opening words of Ruth had been lost on me. After all, they simply spoke of a time frame, a place holder, a reference to help us know where to put the story in chronological order. But this time as I read the book of Ruth, I was doing a somewhat intense study of the book of Judges, and it put a whole new spin on those six words that open this very short book.
You see when we read the book of Judges, we find the unveiling of a huge flaw in human nature. Over and over again, Israel falls away from the Father who loves them. No sooner does the judge that God sent to save them die than Israel turns away from her Savior and begins worshipping those false gods again. One would think they’d learn after three or four times, but by the end of the book, after God has raised up for them at least 13 judges, we see the human condition does not change, and perhaps worsens, even when faced with the truth that God loves them and wants to rescue them more than a dozen times. In fact, as we reach the end of this era, we find that even the ones God raises up aren’t at all Godly. They make rash promises that break God’s heart and are driven by selfishness and pride.
When we do a quick figuring of time based on the fact that Samuel was a bit older when he called out David, we realize it’s in these final chapters of Judges, the ones where worship of the one true God seems hollow at best, that Ruth is set.
The book of Judges reminds me of the world today. Everyone is busy following their own “gods.” They worship the god of work and the god of time. They put people on pedestals and are consumed with what’s best for “me.” When we watch the news and even comedy shows on television, we see the world as a place void of the one true God, a land that only cries out to her Creator when she is desperate to be rescued. Much like the book of Judges, our world appears to be a world without hope.
I use the word “appears” because on closer examination, we see that the book of Ruth needs inserted into our dim view of Israel. Yes, the nation was falling. Indeed, the nightly news of today brings primarily stories of destruction and a call to condone ungodly behavior. But just as the book of Ruth brings hope and light to the darkness of the book of Judges, God has given us signs of His presence today.
We are most supremely blessed because we have a man who followed God without swerving, a man our heavenly Father sent to be our Kinsman-Redeemer. And if we look carefully, we too will see short stories of HOPE woven into the many chapters of deviance and destruction we see in our world.
Jesus is our Kinsmen-Redeemer. He is the one who has “acquired us to keep our name alive” in spite of the fact that all of our sin and unworthiness could “endanger His estate.” (4:5-6) In the midst of a world that has reverted back to worshipping foreign gods and is constantly repeating history, God keeps raising up for us Godly men and women to lead us and give us HOPE.
As you listen to all that’s happening in the world around you, from the murder of the innocents to the growing number of young people who use offensive language, remember the book of Ruth. Be encouraged as you see that not everyone is following those foreign gods. The Sovereign Lord still has a remnant of those who are willing to follow Him as He brings us out of a foreign country and into the place where we can meet the One who will become our Kinsman-Redeemer.
More Devotions Online
- Or in Your Inbox
This page you are now visiting is one of the archive pages for devotions that Lynne e-mails about twice a month. This link will let you sign up!
- 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.
- Devotions for Christians and Small Groups
Ten devotions to help you in your Christian Walk, with links to even more!
Take Possession of the Land
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 & Deuteronomy 12
3 For this is the will of God, that you should be set apart for holy living and stay away from all sexual sins, 4 He wants each one of you should to take possession of your his own soul in a way that is holy and honorable. Don’t get lost in the passion of lust like those who don’t even know God. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
I’m taking some online classes right now, and this verse from 1 Thessalonians came up as the topic of discussion. The professor compared the class taking possession of their soul, or whole self, with Israel taking possession of the Promised Land. And although he just briefly touched on the comparison, my mind just kept going, marveling at the parallels and lessons I can learn.
In Deuteronomy 12 God told Israel to go take possession of the land. He gave them laws and decrees and He told them,
“2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.”
As I began to consider these verses alongside this verse from 1 Thessalonians, I started to understand the depth of God’s mandate to “take possession of my own soul.”
When Israel entered the Promised Land, they did pretty well for a while. They took Jericho and only one family saved some of the plunder for themselves. For a time, the people of Israel did wipe out the natives of Canaan and destroy their idols and sacred stones. After reading this New Testament verse, Israel’s initial zeal reminded me of myself immediately following my salvation experience.
Sadly, though, we know that eventually Israel started getting lazy or perhaps tired. Maybe they had lived in the land long enough that they began to know the people and become comfortable with them. Whatever the reason, we know from scripture that at some point, the nation of Israel didn’t “wipe out their names.” Occasionally, the men of Israel would take these women for wives, and when they did, they allowed them to bring the foreign gods that were supposed to have been destroyed completely.
When we consider the parallel, most of us can say that what we began with fervor often loses momentum when life hits us again. We intended to “destroy completely” all of the gods we worship, but we got busy or they were just too familiar to totally obliterate. Like the Israelites, we looked at some of those foreign nations within ourselves and decided they weren’t as bad as we thought. We say to ourselves, “Maybe they aren’t the enemy after all.”
Although God allowed Israel to continue in their sin for centuries before they felt the full force of their discipline, it doesn’t take long to see the problems that accompany ignoring God’s wisdom in destroying completely the places of worship and wiping out the names of our enemies. And the same is true in our own lives. If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that most, if not all, of the problems we face on a daily basis are caused by the remnants of those foreign nations and gods that “possessed our soul” before we met Christ.
This analogy challenged me to look at my own life, examining the remote places of “the land” to see where I may still be allowing those Hittites or Jebusites to hang out. It sent me to prayer because like Israel, I know I can’t begin to defeat these enemies alone, and it caused me to praise that God would show me once more that He’s given me all the answers I need in His Word so that I can live at peace in the Promised Land.
The Bible offers so much hope, but often we need help seeing it. The four Bible Studies included in this book all offer verses and discussion to help you find hope.
Reminders All Around
1 Kings 7:21
[Huram] erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. ~ 1 Kings 7:21
In my family, we tend to name a lot of things. I called my first guitar “Sam.” And while it really freaks a lot of people out, it’s a common practice in my culture to name all of our animals, even the ones we know will be going to slaughter someday. My nephews had to be corrected on more than one occasion when they shared the “name” of the family dinner with guests. Where I come from we like to give things names, perhaps even a personality.
When I read this scripture today it was from the International Children’s Version (ICV). That’s the translation I keep on my nightstand. After reading the New International Version (NIV) for so many years, the ICV tends to give me a fresh perspective on familiar passages. Today, this one really caught my eye.
Huram named the PILLARS. Now, in my neck of the woods, we might name the cows and the ducks, and all of my stuffed toys and even my guitar had a name, but the pillars of the church? I had never even considered naming those. And to top it off their names had a purpose. The name Jakin means “God establishes” and the name Boaz means, “In Him is my strength.” These names got my attention because in the ICV the names Jakin and Boaz are omitted. They are simply referred to by their English translations, and that’s how the names would have felt to the Israelites as they entered the temple.
Every time they approached the temple they would have been reminded as they looked right and then left, “In God is my strength and He establishes me.” The name of my guitar did nothing to inspire me to trust more in God, but all around them the Israelites put constant reminders of the power, majesty and goodness of their heavenly Father.
The story reminded me of an old friend whose daughter-in-law had named her dog “Paraclete.” She’d heard a sermon preached on the Holy Spirit (the English translation of the Greek word Paraclete) and like how it rolled off the tongue. But in addition to being a fun word to say, her dog’s name was an ever present recalling of the promise of Christ to send a comforter, a counselor, an advocate. I don’t think she intended to have that added blessing, but by bringing that name into her home, it couldn’t be helped.
It made me wonder what kind of reminders we put around ourselves every day. We have notes on the refrigerator and dates on the calendar, but do these cause us to remember the goodness of God or do they remind us to worry because of our busy lives? We have pictures on our walls, bookmarks, screen savers and more. Countless opportunities are given us every moment to cause our brain to focus on Christ or to think about the world around us and the problems and worries associated with it. As we add new items to our home or office, as we hang notes, reserve dates and receive gifts or tokens, let’s try to “name” each one so it will help us focus on our Jakin Boaz, the One who establishes and gives us strength.
Devotions are an important element in the life of a Christian. This book offers forty or more devotions for your group, meeting or personal use.
The Promised Land
Is it a Give or Take Proposition?
The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.” . . . 30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” ~ Numbers 13:1-2 & 30-31
So often when I talk with a group about the Israelites first glimpse into the Promised Land, and we realize that they were there, right there on the edge of all the goodness God wanted to pour out on them, we become more than a little critical of these desert wanderers. After all, they had seen the plagues; they witnessed the Red Sea parting and the Egyptians drowning. These men and women had actually SEEN the quail come in from the sea like a thick curtain closing after a show, they had picked up food from the ground that was so mysterious they named it “what is it?” (That’s the English translation of the Hebrew word manna). And now, just as the promise was set to be fulfilled, they feel the need to give God advice.
Reading the story of the Israelites, I have to wonder how often we foil God’s plans. The One who truly owns every piece of land we put our foot on had said to them, ”I am giving you this land.” It was a done deal, a signed contract, an irrevocable promise. God didn’t tell the Israelites to go in and see whether or not they could take it. The King of kings sent them in to explore; He sent them in so they’d know where they were going, so that when He said, “Head over to the big rock just outside of Luz,” they’d know the exact spot He was talking about. The Israelites didn’t need to “take” the land. God was “giving” it to them.
I wonder how many times God intends to bless us, give us exactly what He’s promised, but then when we get to the edge of the blessing, the last few steps look too big to conquer. Perhaps you’ve felt called to a change in careers, but you’re sure there’s no way you could pass the coursework to get the required degree. Everyday people are called to a mission field, some long term and others for just a short while, but when they see the immunizations they need, the cost of the plane tickets or the poverty into which they’ll be heading, they back down. We miss the blessing God wants to GIVE us because we feel like ants compared to the circumstances or people who stand between us and the goal God has set before us.
Most responsible men and women feel the need to take control. As we strive to head toward that goal God has given us, we feel the need to “take” something, to evaluate the path, size up the competition and make some sort of educated decision about our ability to complete the mission.
What if our real responsibility is to simply walk through the door that God has opened, reach out our hand and receive the blessing our Creator has already promised to give us? What if instead of looking at the size of the Anakites, we focused on the magnitude and the majesty of the One who promised to give us all we need to experience life abundant?
I challenge you to join me on the road to the Promised Land that God is giving us. Over the next couple of weeks, let’s look to the Author and Perfecter of our faith and ignore the larger than life armies. I pray we’ll be more like Caleb and Joshua than the ten who were too afraid to enter the Promised Land. May we always be able to see the beauty of what God is planning to give us, and that the promises He’s made are much bigger and stronger than any enemy we will ever encounter.
Always Try to Make a Good Impression
God is not impressed with the strength of your horse or with human might. The Lord is pleased with those who respect Him, with those who trust His love. ~ Psalm 147:10 NCV
We humans are always trying to make a good impression. Most of the population spends a great deal of time worrying about what everyone else is going to think. As Christians, we’d prefer to speculate that this co-dependent thinking is limited to the secular world, but I’m inclined to believe that many of us within the body of Christ over-estimate the opinions of humans.
I remember several years ago when I was preparing to sing at a church. I had rehearsed and planned. I was ready, but as I sat in the second pew back and waited for the liturgist to get to my spot in the service, I started wondering, “How will folks like my song selection? Should I have included this or that song instead?” Over and over in my mind I rehashed the song list until I started praying. My prayer started as a cry to ease my anxiety, but I finally got to the place in my prayer where I recognized that there was only One person in the room I needed to concern myself with, my Father, my Creator, my Friend.
As I turned my attention to pleasing the Almighty God and began to trust that He had been with me throughout the preparation process, my nerves calmed and my anxiety washed away. All over I simply felt an incredible peace. I remember knowing that I was loved, and there was nothing I could do to diminish that outpouring of God’s grace as long as I set my heart on being who HE wanted me to be rather than the person the congregation might want me to be.
Most of the mistakes I’ve made in life have had their roots in trying to impress some human somewhere. Nearly every ounce of anxiety I’ve experienced has been caused by worrying about how someone was going to react or the effects of my actions on another person. It’s not that I ever want to go to the other extreme and act out of careless disregard for others that God has placed in my life, but I’ve discovered that God wants the best for them too! So when I am acting out of respect and trust in my Savior, my actions will always be, not only what’s best for me, but also what’s best for those around me.
God is not impressed with the brand of guitar I play or the amount of RAM in my computer. He doesn’t care if I write a thousand best-selling books or a Grammy winning song. However, when I respect Him, love Him, trust Him and concern myself with whether or not HE is pleased with me . . . He is impressed!