Tag Archive | devotionals

i saw you

This devotion fiirst appeared on our blog on June 3, 2013. It features a devotion by M Jean Pike and a photo by Marge McCoy.

wisaw

The Gospel of John has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible, and one of my favorite passages is the account of Nathaniel’s first-ever encounter with Jesus (chapter 1,verses 44- 50.)
Having met and decided to follow the Lord, Philip hurried to tell his friend Nathaniel the good news. He discovered him relaxing under a fig tree.
“We’ve found him whom Moses and the prophets wrote about,” Philip excitedly told his friend. “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“Nazareth?” The Bible doesn’t say so, but I can almost see Nathaniel rolling his eyes, almost hear the sarcasm in voice. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
“Come and see,” Philip urged him.
Later, Nathaniel found himself face to face with Jesus.
“Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile,” Jesus said.
“How do you know me?”
“Before Philip called you, while you were sitting under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Understandably, Nathaniel was astounded. He was awed. He fell to his knees and worshipped this man he’d never met before, but who knew where he had been just hours before, knew even what he’d said to his friend in private.
Sometimes I forget how closely connected God is with his children. I forget that in my hour of darkest sorrow, in my most extreme joy, and even in my everyday busy-ness I am never alone. Nothing I see, nothing I hear or feel or think is hidden from God. What a comfort it is to have a friend that close. When I really stop to think about it, like Nathaniel, I am overwhelmed that the God of the Universe would care about and take notice of me.
Like Nathaniel, I seek to understand and take it in … Lord, how do you know me? I ask. And in the stillness, He answers.
When you were weeding the flower bed, I saw you.
When you were folding the laundry, I saw you.
When you cheered at the football game, drove to work, sat in the garden with your coffee at the end of the day, I saw you.
I knew your every thought, I saw your dreams and desires. I heard even the prayers you did not speak. I know you because I created you. I delight in you because you are my child.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that you know me fully. Thank you that I am important to you. Thank you for the days when I shine for you, and on the days when I fall short, help me to remember that nothing I could do would make you love me more. Nothing I could do would make you love me less. I am fully known and fully loved, just as I am, because you created me. In Jesus name, amen.

Devotional by Jean Pike
Photo by Marge McCoy

road ends

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.  2 Peter 3:17

Have you ever been driving on an unfamiliar route following a GPS only to be led astray?  You start to get the feeling you are off track but you continue to follow the device’s instructions.  Did you ever keep going longer than you should have because the device told you to?  I spotted this sign on a ride one evening.  “STOP- GPS is wrong. Road Ends Here”.  It struck me as funny because it was posted in front of  what looked like a little path that was clearly no longer a road.    It seemed obvious that the road ended yet people must have kept going enough times that someone felt the need to put up the sign to clarify the point.  

Sometimes when we travel life’s road we don’t see the roadblocks ahead. We might be so  focused on what we are doing in the moment that we don’t see that we are getting off track.  Or perhaps we are so determined to follow  the  advice we were given that we keep trudging along not  looking around at our surroundings to see that the advice is not accurate. 

Much like a faulty GPS we sometimes  get off track and follow the wrong guidance.  What seems obvious to a discerning onlooker is not clear to us.  Isn’t  it nice when we come upon  a warning sign and realize we need to turn around?

The Bible is full of warning signs. If only we take time to look for them.  Safe travels to you!

Photo and Reflection: Marge McCoy

unfinished task

There is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  Ecclesiastes 3:12

The day after Halloween my “to do” list  included taking my light up pumpkin, light up candy corn and  Snoopy blow up off the front porch to store away in the basement until next year.  I had an appointment in the morning and since I was in town I decided to get my groceries and do my  beginning of the week errands before heading home to work on my porch.  After I got home and put the groceries away I took my dog for a walk.  After a very rainy week the afternoon was bright and beautiful.  Forgetting my porch chores, my eyes turned to the spring bulbs sitting on the counter.   It seemed the perfect day for bulb planting.  I spent my afternoon weeding and planting 63 new tulip, daffodil and crocus bulbs. At the end of the day Snoopy was still on the porch smiling and bobbing around waiting to be packed away another day.   That evening  I realized that sometimes an unfinished task can be blessing. 

About 5:00 that evening the door bell rang and a woman I did not know was on my porch.  She asked if it would be ok if she took some pictures of my Snoopy.  I said, “Sure, that would be fine.”  Then she started to cry.  She apologized for getting emotional and then went on to explain that her sister is fighting a battle with cancer and a Snoopy is one of her favorite characters.  She said a picture would  really lift her spirits.  Over the weekend the sisters had been talking about how much they both love Snoopy.  

She said she has driven by my house several times but never noticed the Snoopy until today. When she saw it as she drove to town today she just had to turn around so she could share it with her sister.  I am one who loves taking pictures and sharing them to make people smile so I was happy to let her snap away.  As we chatted I told her that putting Snoopy away was on my “to do” list for the day but things came up and I did not get to it. She said it was meant to be still sitting there so she would notice it and share the picture for her sister.

It was a neat little encounter.  As she left she said, “God Bless you.”  I asked what her sister’s name was and promised to pray for her.  

She stayed just a few minutes to take some pictures then drove away. I may never see her again but I will be praying for her sister.    I will pray for her health problems.  I will pray that Snoopy brings a smile to her face.  I will pray these sisters have many happy times ahead.  As I pray I will also thank God that I ran out of time to put Snoopy away.  You never know what little thing could be a blessing to someone else.  It’s a good feeling to bring joy to others.

Reflecton and Photo: Marge McCoy

one day

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to one day bring an end to all suffering. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to comfort us. Please renew my strength. All throughout today, show me opportunities where I can offer comfort to someone else who may be suffering. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

–Alan Hopkins

Photo by John Brasley

lean on me

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 Philippians 2:4 

One June afternoon the sky got very dark and it got extremely windy at our house. In fact, our wind gauge showed gusts up to 17 mph.  We have heavy  wooden rockers on our back porch.  During this storm we heard a loud noise and realized a gust of wind had picked up one of our big rockers and thrown it off the porch.  The rocker is made of sturdy logs so luckily it was not damaged however, it landed right on top of my gladiolas. My glads were not in bloom yet but they were standing straight and proud and growing a little taller each day.  I could see that several of the stalks were trampled and lying flat on the ground.  Once the storm was past and the rain had stopped I took my gardeners tape and went out to survey the damage.  My husband moved the rocker off the plants and I could see that although many were flat on the ground none of the roots had been pulled out of the soil.  As my husband placed the rocker back on the porch I got busy with my garden tape and gently began to  tie the stalks together in small groups. I thought the sturdy stalks could help support the weaker ones while the weight of the strong ones could help secure the injured ones.  As I finished I looked at the groups all tied together and had a hopeful feeling. With a little intervention and support it looked like even the   droopy stalks had a chance to bloom.

After I got back inside it struck me that the stalks were a lot like people and I was reminded   that we really do need each other.  When someone gets bogged down others can reach out and support them. When one gets trampled by life’s worries, others can be there to bolster them up. 

That June morning all the glad stalks were standing straight and tall. They were all doing well.  None of them knew that  a big wind was coming later that day. None of them knew which of them  might need help in the near future.  Sometimes out of no where a gusty trial comes our way and we find ourselves in need of a helping hand.   Sometimes in our lives things are going along smoothly and it is at those times we can be a help others.  Sometimes we need someone to lean on and sometimes we can be there to let someone lean on us.  Just like the glads we can all do our part to help one another so everyone has the chance to bloom. 

Photo and Reflection: Marge McCoy

the cross

I have a wood shop in my garage. I have built a lot of things. The other day, my wife asked me to build a cross. “A cross?” Well, that’s easy. Nail a couple boards together. So, I found a couple of old barn siding boards. One of the boards was too long, so I had to cut one end, but my saw cut it too smooth. She wanted it to be ragged and rough like the other end. So, I got out an ax and started hammering the end, chipping pieces to make it look “rough”.

Then it dawned on me. As I was hammering, I realized that “I” put the nails in the cross. As I chipped away with the ax, “I” was the one that made my life “look rough”. It was because of what I have done, the decisions I have made, the sins I have committed, that there IS a cross.

I MADE THE CROSS. I am often proud of the things I have made in my wood shop, but not this. Now, every time I look out my kitchen window, I will see the cross that “I” made. I will remember, I made the cross.

I Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered from sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteousness, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit.” He died on that cross that I made, so that he might bring me to God. Because of his death and resurrection, my sins are gone……That is beautiful.

Now, when I look out my kitchen window and see that cross, I am reminded of what He did for me. He loves me so much, He gave his life, on the cross that I made, for me. What does the cross you made look like? …He can make your cross beautiful.

Devotion and Photo: Bryan Leach

it’s worth it!

On a recent trip to California my sister, brother in law and I decided to take a hike and have a picnic lunch on Mt. Tamalpais. We had heard the view was beautiful but we did not know the hike would be as steep as it was. At one point I slipped, scuffed my elbow, dropped my water bottle and saw part of our lunch slide down the hill. My sister and I thought about giving up and turning back. My brother in law wanted to keep going. We stopped to catch our breath and told him to go on ahead and let us know if the hike was going to be worth it. As he kept climbing I scooted back down and got my water and our lunch items. After a short time we heard him call down to us, “Keep coming. It’s worth it!” So my sister and got our footing and carefully continued the steep climb. His encouragement and knowing something beautiful was ahead propelled us on. We were so glad we completed the hike. The view was breathtaking. We could see the San Francisco Bay area off to the left and the Pacific Ocean ahead and to the right. As I looked at the beauty before me a calmness filled my soul. It was a special moment that I will not forget. All three of us felt like we were having a picnic on top of the world.

Sometimes in our Christian walk the climb gets steep and we lose our footing. We may even stumble and slide back a little bit. We wonder if we can keep going but then someone comes along to offer encouragement or to remind us not to give up. Christian brothers and sisters help us refocus and remind us that It’s worth it!

Hebrews 10:35-36 also reminds us to Keep going with these words: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Keep Going My Friends . . .It’s Worth It!
Devotion and Photo: Marge McCoy

little bulb

In early spring I planted six glad bulbs on one side of my front garden and six on the other side. After a time I noticed all six were sprouting on one side and only five on the other. I thought perhaps one of the bulbs had rotted in the ground, been nibbled by a hungry bunny or devoured by a sneaky ground mole. As the shoots of my 11 new glads grew taller and stronger it was time to do some weeding around them. While weeding my garden I moved my little turtle garden figure out of my way and was surprised to see a little pale sprig bent over and squished inside the turtle. There was my missing bulb sprouted and doing the best it could to stay alive in this dark enclosure. I moved the turtle and kept an eye on this blade over the next few weeks. In time the pale stalk got greener and the limp stem grew sturdier. All the other glads bloomed one by one and this little lag-behind began to thrive as it embraced the sunshine. Finally, a few weeks after all the other glads were finished blooming this little one bloomed in full beauty.

I feel like the little glad has a message for me to share: “Do not give up – even if you are in a dark place for a time – know that light is coming. Others may prosper around you – don’t despair – Your time is coming.”

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.” I don’t know what caused the little bulb to hold on and not give up when there was no light but I believe the power of God’s presence (His light) can hold us steady in our dark times.

A truth this little bulb reminded me of is that we need a light source to thrive. God wants to be our source of light. We need to let Him be that source! Don’t block Him out – let Him shine on you and through you and then go share His beauty.

Devotion and photos: Marge McCoy

worthy

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 46:5

In the fall of 2016 I was feeling very confused. One day I ran into Walmart and my cashier was a beautiful young lady that told me I was beautiful. It startled me! She then took the bracelet off of her arm and gave it to me. I loved that bracelet and wore it for a very long time.

There was a reason I received that bracelet that very day!

A couple moves later I had misplaced the bracelet. I have thought of it and its meaning several, several times and even told someone about it just this week! Today, as I was getting dressed to go paint at my once again “new beginning,” I just so happened to spot my bracelet that had been missing for years (??????) Its meaning is very humbling to me.

My point is this…..no matter where you are in life, or where you have been, no matter what kind of silly wishes or desires you have……God says that you are WORTHY!!!!!

Photo and Reflection: Amanda Lewis

stop!

This year the flowering trees have been extra beautiful around southern Ohio. I have been noticing them in town and out on country roads. The blooms don’t last long so we need to give ourselves time to STOP and take in their beauty. The other night while on a ride I was taking pictures of the pretty trees we passed. We saw red bud, dogwood, crab apple and magnolia trees. Later when I uploaded the pictures onto my computer I noticed that I mistakenly got part of a stop sign in my picture of some redbud and white dogwoods. I started to crop the sign out of the picture so it just showed the trees but then I thought maybe I would leave the sign at the bottom of the picture as a reminder to STOP and take time to enjoy God’s beautiful creation. We live in a crazy, confusing world that can be pretty ugly at times. These little whispers of beauty are a nudge to reflect on the God of creation. Our God sees and cares about us and His world. He loves us and blesses us with beauty. We just need to take time to STOP and notice it.

O LORD, how great are YOUR works! Psalm 92:5

Reflection and Photo: Marge McCoy