Unless otherwise noted, all devotions are written by Lois Lang. Recently retired, Lois spends much of her time with her grandchildren and is a freelance contributing writer for jennifercadamore.com. I know that because of her love for the Lord and study of the Word, you will be blessed by the insights she shares!
—By Lois Lang
Exodus 3:11-12...But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And [God] said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be a sign to you, that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
It sounds as if Moses was in need of a little reassurance about his assignment to go to Pharaoh and take the Israelites out of Egypt. Who wouldn’t want to check twice about a task like that? Even Gideon put out a fleece (more than once!) to confirm what God called him to do. In Moses’ case, though, God said that confirmation would come after the work was complete. Moses pressed God for a little more help: “What do I do if this happens? Or that? What do I say?” If you read further into this story, God did give him some pretty powerful advice. And let’s not forget that God was speaking with Moses from a burning bush. That should have bolstered Moses’ courage a bit as well.
There are times when God will assign us a task, and will confirm it before we begin it. But, as we see in Moses’ case, God sometimes asks us to do something and expects us to obey in faith and trust, without His giving us a sign until after the job is done. That can be a little (or a lot!) scary. But if He asks it, He will help us to accomplish it. He just needs us to be willing vessels. As Zechariah put it so succinctly, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Father, You have all power and all wisdom. Help us to trust You to perform by Your Spirit whatever you ask us to do, because we have no power without You. Thank You for confirmation and assurance, whether it’s before or after the fact. We really do love You and want to do what You ask of us. Please forgive our hesitation and trepidation. May You always be glorified. We pray in the Name of Jesus, our Soon-Coming King. Amen.
--By Lois Lang
Psalm 17:3...Thou hast tried my heart; Thou has visited me by night; Thou hast tested me and dost find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
Did you ever buy a nice set of shelving, only to receive a box full of pieces and pocket screws? (Pocket screws: those screws you have left over after you assemble the shelves--they probably were supposed to go somewhere in the thing you’ve built, but you just put them in your pocket.) You set out to build the shelves and follow the directions to the letter. You are determined to get this right. Then something doesn’t go quite as the directions and the diagram show. But you are determined, so you tweak the instructions a bit. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. As my husband used to say, “Hit it with a bigger hammer.” You keep trying, because you are determined. Without that determination, you would have quit after a try or two and stored the box of pieces in the back corner of the basement.
Or do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you pledge to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, read your Bible daily? Few people (for instance, me) keep their resolutions without a backslide or two.
The Psalmist David was determined. He “purposed” that his mouth would not transgress. Of course, he erred now and then, but because of his determination, he persevered. If his lip slipped, he sought forgiveness and tried again. God really loved David, despite his many falls from grace. God forgave David, helped him back onto his feet, and encouraged him to try again. David didn’t quit; he “purposed.”
I thought of David as I bandaged my boo-boos from the shelf project...and I am now the proud owner of a new set of shelves (and only two screws left over)!
Lord, please help us to “purpose” to follow You, to be determined to live our lives according to Your leading and teaching and commandment. When we fall, You have said we would not be hurled headlong, because You are the One holding our hand (Psalm 37:24). Please forgive us and help us to try again. Thank You for Your patience and encouragement. We pray in the Name of Jesus, who never gave up: on His mission or on us. Amen.
--By Lois Lang
Ecclesiastes 10:10a...If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he [he who splits logs] must exert more strength.
Solomon was a pretty smart fellow. God really answered his prayer for wisdom! His one-liners hit the mark time after time. Some of his admonitions are God-given revelation, but most seem to be just plain common sense. For example, the truism above--the duller the axe, the harder it is and the more energy it takes to split logs. Doable, but more difficult.
A memory just popped into my head. Please allow me to share it with you. My father was a farmer, who began farming back in the late 1930’s. A lot of the field work was done by hand. When it was time to harvest wheat or corn, he took his large scythe to the fields and started cutting. But he also took a sharpening stone. Every so often he would stop and run the stone along the blade of the scythe to keep it sharp. That made the cutting a lot easier.
The wisdom of Solomon’s advice, as well as the memory of my dad, resonated with me. No, I don’t do much log-splitting or corn-cutting. But it goes beyond axes or scythes or cutting wood or wheat. What I saw in this was that if I stay “sharp,” whatever I’m doing is much easier to do. Sure, I can clean house or cook a meal, but if I am rested and prepared (sharp), those tasks can be done much more easily. I think it works the same way with life. I can muddle my way through day to day even if I’m not sharp. But if I am “sharp”--staying in God’s Word, following His leading, worshipping, fellowshipping with His people, praying--life gets a whole lot easier.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to work any harder than I have to. So it’s time for me to sharpen my axe and keep the honing stone handy.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wisdom You gave Solomon, who passed it along to us. It’s as real and fresh today as it was when You first inspired it. Thank You for Your Word, which is “living and active and sharper than two-edged sword.” Please help us in our efforts to remain sharp. We pray in the Name of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh. Amen.
Psalm 37:1-8, 34...Fret not yourself because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not yourself, it leads only to evildoing. Wait for the Lord, and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
Psalm 37, a Psalm of David, gives a basic course in living a godly life. Here is a quick summary:
- Trust in the Lord. (Good one to start with!)
- Do good.
- Cultivate faithfulness.
- Delight yourself in the Lord. (Another good one!)
- Commit your way to the Lord.
- Trust in Him. (This must be important, for him to repeat it.)
- Rest in the Lord.
- Fret not yourself.
- Cease from anger.
- Fret not yourself. (Again!)
- Wait for the Lord.
- Keep His way.
And what is the result of following all the above directives? Verses 39 and 40 tell us. “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord helps them, and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.”
Lord, thank You for giving us ways to please You. And thank You for the reassurance that, no matter what is going on around us, You are ready and willing to handle it. All You ask is that we trust You and love You. That’s easy, Lord--You have proven Yourself trustworthy and entirely lovely. We praise You with mind, body, soul, and strength. We pray in the Name of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Amen.
--by Amanda Figgins
Psalms 5:11-12 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with your shield of love.”
Has anyone made you feel worthless or unhappy? I think we have all fallen into that trap at one time or another.
Navigating life has its ups and downs, and at times we take some life events too serious. A lot of times friends and family can help us through the roller coaster ride of life, but sometimes we let them jolt our ride to a stop. All it takes is a simple phone call from a family member saying you’re not a good enough Christian or close enough to God…Or a friend who no longer wants to continue a friendship because of a misunderstanding or the outcome of a situation isn’t what he/she wanted. It’s amazing how we can dwell on situations like these and let them steal our joy and possibly harden our hearts towards others.
Through these tough times, when words and actions can hurt so bad, we must remember to keep our focus on God. Our true joy does not come from earthly possessions or our family and friends, but from God. During these challenging times in life we must remember to take refuge in God’s protection and let Him heal our hearts with His love, mercy, and grace.
Dear God – Thank you for your everlasting love. Protect us throughout life’s ups and downs, and protect our hearts as we face challenging situations with others. We ask that you help us to stay focused on You as You are our only source of true joy. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
--by Amanda Figgins
Proverbs 15:3…“The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping an eye on both the evil and good.”
Have you felt the brush of the devil on your skin? I definitely say I have…
In high school, a good friend of mine at the time had a sleep over with a bunch of girls. Although I didn’t know the other girls well, I still went hoping to have a great adventure with little sleep (of course). As was typical for me, I was reserved from the others and did not participate in most everything they deemed as fun. The one activity that I remember so clearly from that night was the Ouija Board. As I had heard bad things about the “game,” I decided – once again – to sit this one out. I was raised in a strong faith family and I was not about to purposely step into what was possibly Satan’s territory.
As this spooky game advanced, and I was the only one in the group not participating, I felt colder and colder along with a random swirling breeze around me. This wasn’t a constant breeze, or a window was open breeze, but more of a “something brushed against me” and a light drafty breeze. I mentioned how I was feeling and asked for a blanket – no one else felt the drafty breeze, and everyone was warm.
Throughout the game, one other girl decided to quit playing for a brief time. She also got extremely cold and felt what I was experiencing, which made her thrust herself back into the game. As for me, I was frozen, didn’t feel well, and fell asleep on the couch wrapped up in a warm blanket.
I knew what I felt around me that night was not right, but no matter what tricks Satan tried on me they didn’t work. With God as my guide and defender, I knew that Satan truly couldn’t touch me. He may have tried to scare me, but I want no parts of anything that would make me feel that bad in order for me to join in his games. As I wrapped up in that blanket, I knew I was also wrapped up in God’s love and protection. He would never make me feel bad!
We must always be vigilant for any games Satan may try to use to entrap us. We must also remember that in any situation, even when facing evil, God is watching over us and will protect us against all things bad.
Dear God - We thank you for your constant and unfailing protection, love, guidance, and grace that we often times don’t deserve. We ask that you continue to guide us in making the right choices as You help us navigate life, and ask for forgiveness in those times when we did not fully seek You or did not make the right decisions. We pray that Your continued grace will fall upon us as we try to follow You better. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
--by Lois Lang
Song of Songs 2:15...Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom. [spoken by the Bride]
Doesn’t take much, does it? The Bride could have said to catch the foxes and left it at that. But she said, “Catch the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards.” I can relate to her concern. Being an avid gardener, I’ve encountered any number of little things that could (and sometimes did) cause great damage. There were birds that stripped twelve full blueberry bushes of every single berry even though the bushes were covered with netting; a chipmunk ate most of the strawberries one spring, dragging them one by one back to his hole by the phone pole; a single squash borer munched his way into a zucchini plant, killing it overnight. There were also the groundhogs, and the deer, and the stink bugs (they love raspberries), and even a small black bear.
What do I learn from this? That I should be vigilant, watching for anything potentially destructive in my life, and removing it. It doesn’t take much--an unkind word, or a lack of prayer, or being too busy to help a friend, or making a too-hasty judgment. No, it doesn’t take much to “ruin our vineyard.”
So grab your pruning shears, your protective nets, your hoes and rakes, and let’s protect the vineyard!
Father, the Bride was so right. Please help us to watch and be ready and willing to remove any little thing that might separate us from You. We love You, and we want nothing to stand between us and Your love. We pray in the Name of Jesus, our Sanctification. Amen.
--by Lois Lang
Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is counted prudent. Proverbs 17:28
The other day as I read Proverbs, this verse caught my attention. I thought, “How true this is!” Sometimes when I spout the first thought that comes into my head, what comes out sounds stupid or foolish or wrong or even hurtful, even to my ears. If I had kept my mouth shut for just a moment before I spoke, I would have appeared much wiser/nicer to my listener.
God must have wanted to get His message about my words across to me, because in my Adult Bible Fellowship group the next Sunday, our teacher presented a lesson on using our words, and the power of our tongues. Part of the lesson was a prayer guide, which I have copied from this teacher’s notes, because he did it much better than I could have. (Thank you, Don Anderson.) I’m glad he did not include the very convicting words from James 3:5-6: “So the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” It’s so true--our tongues can wound, hurt, and destroy. But it is also true that our words can soothe, heal, encourage, teach, help, and comfort. I am hoping that the following prayer will help us all in our attempts to “tame the tongue.”
Lord, please make my words and the thoughts of my heart acceptable in Your sight. (Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”)
Lord, please keep me from speaking when what I say could get me in trouble. (Proverbs 21:23 “Whosoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”)
Lord, help me not to sin with my mouth. (Psalm 17:3b“I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.” Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”)
Lord, please keep my words focused on praising You and pointing others to You. (Psalm 71:15 “My mouth will tell of Your righteous acts, of Your deeds of salvation all the day,”)
Please fill my heart with Your Word so that my tongue will speak Your Truth in my conversations. (Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”)
Help me to share Your words that bring eternal life. (John 6:68 “Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’”)
Help me speak words that build up others. (Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up,”)
Now, having prayed these things, I’m adding Psalm 39:1: I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle...”
Father, words are so powerful. You used words to speak all of creation into existence. Help me to use my words to continue to build up Your Kingdom. May what I speak bring You praise and glory, for You alone are worthy. Thank You for Your Word, in which I see everything I could ever need. I find myself struggling even now to find the right words to say to express how much I love You. I pray in the Name of Jesus, who is The Word. Amen.
(from Lois Lang)
Ecclesiastes 2:1-26...I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives. I enlarged my works...I built houses for myself...I made gardens and parks for myself...I planted fruit trees...I made ponds of water for myself...I bought male and female slaves...I had flocks and herds...I collected for myself silver and gold...and singers...and concubines...This too is vanity and striving after wind. (You can read the chapter in its entirety, but I think you’re getting the gist of what Solomon was saying from these excerpts.)
Solomon (who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes) had it all: wisdom, riches uncountable, slaves, flocks and herds, concubines. And he loved God with his whole heart. But he was depressed. It’s easy to see why: his thoughts were solely on himself. I--I--I--I--I! The words “I” or “myself” are used thirty-six times in this one chapter. Because his focus was entirely on himself, he was disappointed and dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Yes, he “had it all”--but he found it all to be futility, or vanity, or “striving after wind.” Once he turned his focus back to God, he found the fulfillment and satisfaction and meaningfulness of life he’d lost in his time spent in the Kingdom of Self.
I’ve done what Solomon did, and with the same results. When I have focused on my needs, my desires, my problems, my possessions, I become afraid and worried and defeated. But when I turn to my heavenly Father, my Shield and my Help, my Healer, my Provider, my Peace, the God Who Will Never Leave Me or Forsake Me...then everything falls into perspective. Yes, without God, it is all futility. But with Him, it is all joy.
O Father, how can I thank You enough for caring about me? You love me in spite of the stupid or sinful things I do. You forgive me, pick me back up and dust me off, and encourage me on my way. And You sacrificed Your Son to save my soul. What wondrous love this is! Please help me to keep my eyes on You. I love You, Lord. We pray in the Name of Jesus, who emptied Himself in obedience to You. Amen